If you’re broken but find a way to stand up
Give it up!
If you’re hopin’ to never give it up
So we know who’s here
Who wants to open up the machine
And rage against the gears?
“Stand Up (Let’s Get Murdered)” — P.O.S.
It’s always intriguing when 15-year-old girls display more leadership potential than elected senators.
I’m talking about Aleida Ramos, a young Latina from Texas who recently celebrated her quinceañera. Although Ramos had every right to be the center of attention at her own party, she dedicated part of the event to a bigger cause.
You see, Ramos devoted a section of the hall where her party was being held to the Latino youth advocacy group Jolt Initiative, “so it could register her mostly Hispanic guests to vote.” There were all the traditional activities of a quinceañera, but “slipped between the speeches of thanks to family and friends and the dances with her uncles, Ramos and her father spent a few minutes urging their guests to register to vote.”
Yes, we are living in an age when even quinceañeras are getting political.
And it’s about time.
Because the truth is that right-wing fanaticism has never been more powerful in this country than today. For years now, Nazis have been cavorting in the streets like they own the damn place, and overt acts of cruelty have become commonplace in an administration that mocks the very idea of compassion.
Hell, there are even packs of teenage racists punching out grown adults, without fear of repercussions.
And in response to the surge in hate crimes and the fact that there are now concentration camps in America, the Republican Party has said, “Hey, what can we do?”
So clearly, Americans do not have the luxury of claiming that they are apolitical, or implying that they are staking some moral high ground by remaining neutral.
First, it is not admirable or morally pure to be in the middle on social issues. It is a political position defined by a lack of passion — nothing more.
Second, if you are indecisive about whether it is O.K. to, for example, stuff children into cages or joke about raping women, then you have abdicated your responsibility as a human being.
So fucking speak up already.
Listen, I understand your hesitancy. America prides itself in being civil (even if our history is one of constant bloodshed), and maybe you’re concerned about offending your high-school ex on Facebook (who, weirdly enough, is not concerned about offending you with a constant stream of pro-Trump memes).
But perhaps you can take inspiration from this:
The magazine Teen Vogue has been fiercely anti-Trump since he took office. If a publication devoted to fashion and makeup tips can take a stand, so can you.
Or consider the situation at Wayfair, where hundreds of employees walked out of work to protest the online furniture retailer’s sales to migrant detention centers.
Or how about the fact that “the publisher of a 73-year-old apolitical children’s magazine felt the need at this time to speak out about how completely fucking inhumane our government is.”
Or consider that Axl Rose — an aging, hedonistic rock star with millions of sexist fans — has ranted that “most of us in America have never experienced anything this obscene at this level in our lifetimes.” Yes, that’s from the guy who wrote “One in a Million.”
This is the world we live in. No one would begrudge Aleida Ramos, the workers at Wayfair, or the publishers of Highlights for refraining from messy political statements. But they are doing it because to remain silent is to acquiesce. Apolitical equals amoral.
Do you really want to be the last American to say, “Yup, this is bad, and I’m against it”?
Who would ever believe you?
Featured image: Kali187/Flickr