Throughout history, authors and poets have always been the voice of reason, the human element in a somewhat mechanised world. Where politics brings numbers, figures, policies and borders, authors write of emotions, ideas, and often unity.
Long before the first guns were fired in World War II, authors were chronicling the rise of fascism across Europe, and as the movement spread like a virulent disease we saw novels such as Hugo Bettauer’s satirical A City Without Jews and many other novels that reflected the growing anti-Semitism of the time.
We’re yet to know what the novels of the future will be, or the world events that will inspire them but after an election won on inflammatory promises, hatred and division, today’s authors have been given a chance to comment. Pen America has published these responses in full and many of them are both interesting and inspiring.
You can read the responses in full at the Pen America website, but here we have a selection of quotes and comments from the authors:
Wajahat Ali, playwright makes an impassioned response to Pen but it’s maybe these words we should find the most encouraging…
“Instead of being despondent, I am woken. A slumbering, hibernating sloth has been energized and empowered. For the sake of my children. We’re all still here—minorities and our white allies. And none of us are going anywhere.
This includes the Mexican Immigrant. The Pakistani Muslim father of a fallen soldier. A Michigan factory worker. An evangelical Floridian forced to declare bankruptcy.
For those who feel emboldened by this victory to fan the flames of bigotry, to ban Muslims, to deport Mexicans, to humiliate women, please know this: We’ll survive. People of color and minorities are used to taking a beating and thriving. We can take the beating, but we’ll still be here and we’ll be rising.”
Author Alexander Chee starts his response with the words
“A Korean American friend of mine has an elderly mother who was chased down the street by a white woman just a few days ago, telling her to get out of the country.
My question today is, to those who felt it, or said they did, “Does it still feel like Clinton and Trump would be the same?””
And many others around America will have experiences to echo these.
Author Negin Farsad talks about the bigotry build up that happened throughout the campaign with.
“What this election has taught us more than anything is that we let bigotry Slip. Through. The. Cracks. We knew there were bigots, of course! But at times we treated them like they were the cost of doing business. In retail, you’re not going to catch all the shoplifters, you’d have to spend too much money on security for that. So there’s a certain amount of shoplifting that you just live with. That’s where we were with the bigots.
It was easy for us to forget about the bigots because we elected a black president and he had this diverse cabinet and they started to make more female governors, and Mindy Kaling got a show, and Kevin Hart was selling out stadiums, and Beyoncé was a feminist and it looked like, hey, we’re doing okay! But it turns out, we were putting lipstick on a pig, only to find out that the pig was racist.”
Aleksandar Hemon makes the same parallels to 1930s Europe that I am finding myself making, and he pulled no punches with his response…
“The cataclysmic immensity of Trump’s victory cannot be overestimated. Nothing like this has happened since the rise of European fascism in the thirties of the last century. Not only is Trump a racist and a psychopath—he ran on the platform of racism and psychopathy. This was not an impediment for him, but an advantage. What carried him to victory is a sense in the white population that this election might be their last chance to retain its historically privileged position of majority. Vacuous in and of himself, Trump is the vessel for his constituency’s anger, which made white nationalism the central political platform for the Republicans. Now aggressive racism has a full mandate, while white nationalist structures will have complete control over all the branches of the American government: the White House, the Congress, and soon the Supreme Court. Trump’s power will be enormous. To maintain control, the Republicans will have to enhance and retain the system of white supremacy, for which manufacturing and exploiting internal and external enemies will be useful—that means violence and war. The election of Trump is the end of America as a liberal democracy, maybe of America itself. This is no longer a viable country.”
Though you can read all the responses on the Pen America website, we’ll finish with Walter Mosley’s comments…
“5:44 a.m., Wednesday, November 9, 2016. On this sobering morning I am reminded of the phrase, “the older we are, the more we live in the past.” When the Republicans refused to recognize the winds of change in Barrack Obama’s sails after his second election, they hobbled themselves and also the potential character of their party. They denied the changing landscape of the makeup (and the break-up) of the U.S. and lost the reins of their own party to the maverick Donald Trump.”