I was sitting in the food court in one of the largest outlet malls in the country doing one of my favorite things: watching people go by. I was waiting for my family who were doing what most people do when they go to a mall: shopping, looking at things they want but don’t need, eyeing goods supposedly on sale, an old trick to get people to buy, a trick no one ever seems to see through.
For my part, I was enjoying the panoply of American culture that paraded through this large, jam-packed space. Shades of America strutting along, dressed in all styles, dressed for all occasions. There were blacks and whites, Arabs, Indians, Asians, Hispanics: a wide range of humanity concentrated right here in this common room. There were Muslims among them, as there were Christians, and, I assume, Buddhists and Hindus and a sampling of other religions. There were families and couples and individuals, perhaps alone, perhaps, like me, waiting for their loved ones. Some were mixed: black and white, black and Asian, white and Asian, etc. And some were homogeneous. And through it all, I heard strands of English — standard, broken, black English and even a southern drawl. As there was dialects –Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Vietnamese and what I assumed were languages from Eastern Europe and Russia.
All here in this room. All passing by each other, politely asking if a seat at the table was available. All co-existing, perhaps oblivious, or, at least, tolerant of one another.
And then I thought of Trump, that strumpet of a “politician” if ever there was one. And I thought: if he were to get elected, if his rhetoric of deporting “Mexicans” (I doubt he could tell a Mexican from a Peruvian from an Arab or even from me, an Italian), of banning Muslims – an entire religion (would he know a Muslim from a Sikh from a Hindu from a Baha’i?) – if he did what he said, what would become of this food court? At least three-quarters of the faces I saw would be gone. Wiped out. What would he do to blacks? Would his facade of law and order wreak havoc on that already fragile community? Imagine, black people being rounded up because, in the words of one policeman, “they are violent.” And then imagine: camps for Muslims. Holding tanks for immigrants before they are deported. Camp Mohammad or Camp Jose. You choose the name.
This is a repetition of what has gone down before. This is a broken record in the history of America that keeps skipping back. Rounding up Native Americans and putting them on “reservations.” Putting Japanese Americans in camps. Whitewashing the language of anything outwardly Germanic (hot dog or frankfurter, your choice). These are realities that have already happened. This is the “new,” dangerous reality that is now upon us.
And so I thought: if three-quarters of everyone in this room were suddenly gone, what would happen to this food court? To this mall? To all the malls across America? They would fall empty and silent. An eerie quiet would settle — so quiet, let me tell you — because the shops and restaurants would have to close for lack of business. A great way to create jobs, Mr. Trump!
And so I ask you as you read this to not just “like” it. Share it. Share it with all you know. Share it with the closet Trumpians you suspect are you neighbors, the ones who won’t admit it, the ones who, unlike in the past, do not put yard signs in front of their homes. And ask them: is this the America you want to render with your vote? Do you really want to shut down the mall of America?
And then offer them a bottle of bleach. Ask them to open it and spill it on their most expensive garment. Their lavish evening dress. That suit they just purchased at that bargain boutique. What would become of it? Would the color fade? Would the material be ruined? Would they wear it to their next soirée? Business meeting? Or on a date with that special person they’ve been courting for so long?
I don’t want my best suit being ruined by bleach! I don’t want my flag – the red, white and blue I have cherished since my childhood, the flag I have defended in protest after protest – to be discolored. So ask them: what happens to that flag when Trump’s toxic bleach stains that most enduring of fabrics?