This past weekend, I and many other Holy Cross students traveled to New York City to cheer for the Crusaders at the Ram Crusader Cup (most of us rashly dropping our studies in the process). If the crowd spirit at Yankee Stadium confirmed anything, it was my conviction that the prolific and thriving alumni base and caring student body of the College speaks volumes about the kind of “family” connection fostered by our beloved Sader Nation. While in the stadium, the familial energy of the Holy Cross Crusaders seemed palpable—in the excitement of long-lost friends finding one another at the game, in the mothers and fathers grooming their little ones as the next generation of Purple Pride, and in the general and genuine pride with which our “nation” donned HC sweatshirts, jerseys, and caps both retro and modern. So caught up with pride for our institution, I momentarily turned my back on the field during the third quarter to look at the sea Holy Cross fans sitting behind me. What I saw left a sick taste in my mouth and subjected my heart to terrific pain: a man, around his mid-forties, wearing a white Holy Cross football jersey and a bright red “Make America Great Again” hat.
I was shocked, and I was mortified—not for any personal sense of political affinity, but for such injurious malapropism of a Holy Cross education. The irony of a Holy Cross sweatshirt accessorized by a Trump hat emphasizes the sheer incompatibility of Jesuit teachings with the hate-speech spewed by our new Commander-in-Chief. With the election a week behind us, I hope not to express my personal sense of defeat with Trump’s actual win, but articulate my thoughts on the real and immediate consequences of such a victory. I call for a recognition that this Presidential election proves different than past—this election was not for “America’s people,” but a tiny subset of the America that could never be truly “great” the first time around because it never included the majority of American citizens. I articulate my anger not at Donald Trump, the individual—rather, I hope to expand upon the worldview that the man represents through the reprehensible rhetoric he spews. I contend that the newly elected leader of this nation does not represent mainstream Republican political ideology—how could he, with not a single concrete fiscal plan included on his platform, and with the sheer numbers of conservative citizens who reject him for the incompatibility of his words with their values? No, Donald Trump reflects dangerous ideologies, not in his actions (he’s done very little), but with his words: the misogyny, homophobia, and racism still present in this country.
To the men that read this article—last Tuesday night, the worth of my humanity was redefined in the eyes of the Electoral College. Though Trump said some abhorrent things about immigrants, people of color, and LGBTQ+ men and women, the scope of his travesty leads me to restrict my consideration of his subjugation to gendered issues for the sake of this article’s length. Imagine yourself in the shoes of a woman in this country—a woman who is also a person of color; a woman who was not born with a biological gender that matches her identity; a woman who raises her children alone; a woman who defended herself from an abusive partner; a woman who regularly fears for her safety; a woman who fearlessly, tirelessly, fights a series of glass ceilings; a woman who braved fences, hatred, and danger for better opportunities—any woman.
Donald Trump threatened to “grab [you] by the pussy,” and, instead of reconciling his disgusting sexism, Mr. Trump told you to quiet down because his use of such misogynistic, rape-culture-fueled language seems excusable within the cultural framework of “locker room talk.” When you challenged Mr. Trump for his degrading comments about female bodies, Mr. Trump pointedly questioned whether or not “[you] had blood coming out of [your] whatever,” referencing your capacity to menstruate. When you were sexually harassed at work, Mr. Trump wondered why “[you] didn’t just find another job,” implicating that the consequences of workplace sexual harassment should fall on the victim’s shoulders—moreover, that you, who did not quit or change careers, are at fault for encouraging continued sexual harassment. That’s akin to telling the victim of a home robbery to “move into a new house” instead of pursuing legal action, and then blaming the homeowner if the burglars return. If you spoke in disagreement with Mr. Trump’s proposed plans, the man interrupted you and called you a “nasty woman.” He called you Miss Piggy, and rated your worth on a scale of “1-10.” Mr. Trump evoked his celebrity stature as a kind of insurance against unwitting chastity, claiming you would let him “get away with anything.” Mr. Trump, an individual without the capacity to get pregnant, told you, the Mormon mother of six, who had to make a heartbreaking decision to terminate a very much planned, and wanted, 3rd-trimester pregnancy that the fetus was “ripped…from your womb on the ninth month, the final day” with zero scientific or medical backing. You watched as the man currently standing trial for sexual assault against your sisters was elected to one of the most important positions in our country. You saw the man with zero political background beat one of the most highly qualified candidates in the history of the Electoral College. He denigrated you unabashedly, because Mr. Trump has never had to stand in your shoes, or fend off sexual harassment from men like him. Unlike you, Mr. Trump has never needed to bridge the labor gap, or worry about how the uninformed reasoning of a white, male-dominated congress affected the decisions you can make about your own reproductive health.
I believe very much in the democracy of the United States, in the tenet call for peaceful transfers of power, the important value of bipartisan leadership and a multi-party system, but in the wake of this election, I am reeling at the failures of this country. I recall a middle school experience, where my whole grade was charged with a recitation of the Constitution at an assembly. I remember very specifically the single modification my teacher added. While half the class thundered the line “that all men are created equal,” the teacher had them pause after the word “men,” just long enough for the other half of the class to interject with “and women” before the recitation continued in unison. At the time, I remember feeling a little confused about the addition—in my head, the contextual “men” always registered as “humans.” It wasn’t until the teacher had my class add in the “and women” that I began to realize the explicit exclusion featured in the first few lines of the United States Constitution: blatantly, the founding document of our nation leaves out half of the citizens to whom she seemingly refers. I include my anecdote to better illuminate the truthful exclusion of this Election. In 2016, an individual charged with the protection of my worth as a citizen can blatantly, openly dehumanize half the population— can exclude and alienate— and still gets the job.
In many ways, the truth of our Jesuit education challenges that literal meaning of the Constitution. In his mission to “educate the whole person” and create a generation of “men and women, for and with others,” St. Ignatius of Loyola tasks Jesuit educators and their pupils with a condemnation of the very same hateful slander Donald Trump spoke on his campaign trail. The Jesuit pursuit of service emphasizes, above all, the inalienable dignity of each and every individual, a message paramount in Holy Cross classrooms, extracurriculars, and community service initiatives. Our Jesuit education does not condone sexual assault, uninformed fear-mongering and hateful rhetoric. In fact, the mission of the college, to “educate the whole person,” very specifically condemns the xenophobic uneducation which fuels comments made with rash stupidity. Our Jesuit education requires, above all, its recipients serve humankind in solidarity, and accordance with that tenant call to serve as “men and women, for and with others” means for no true recipient of a Jesuit education may innocently accessorize a Jesuit logo with a Trump hat.