Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Should NOT Sing at Trump Inauguration!

This beautiful sight:

Is tarnished by association with this man whatever his government title may be:

Will he want to be photographed in similar poses with the Sisters of the Choir? Will he want to grab any inappropriate parts of their bodies?

I understand the sentiment expressed by LDS Church Public Affairs that it's an honor to sing sacred, patriotic music in front of a national crowd. It's the man in front of that crowd I'm concerned about.

Yeah, he won a majority of the electoral college constitutionally as he lost the popular vote by nearly three million (!!! Look it up!) and a distinct minority of Americans made him president.

And this is not just a political dispute with someone I happen to disagree with on policy (which I do most strongly). This man stands for everything contrary to family values. He has bragged about assaulting women in the crudest terms. He has been otherwise very crude in numerous public statements (and Tweets) about Women. He has publicly bragged about affairs and his two divorces. His current wife is a former nude model. Trump himself has appeared in Playboy porn videos (fortunately, with clothes on). He has made questionably crude public comments about his own daughter.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir stands for much more important values. It should not be cheapened by this performance. Some of us feel very strongly about this as the man to be president has made us traumatized and ill.

I have permission from my wonderful and brave daughter to share her perspective on the election of Trump:
It’s Not Just Politics - Why the Election Results Bother Me.
*Warning: this is about something that happened to me that is graphic/mature in content*
December 21, 1998. I was 16 years old.
It was the beginning of Christmas break, and I was on my way home from work at the Georgia O’Keefe Café in downtown Santa Fe. I used public transportation to get to and from work, as I didn’t have a driver’s license and parking in downtown Santa Fe is limited. The week before in seminary, we had picked names for a Secret Santa gift exchange. I remember thinking about what I wanted to get for my Secret Santa and decided to stop at a grocery store on the way home. It was a few bus stops from my house, but easy walking distance on the pedestrian trail that ran through the arroyo behind my house.
I picked out a number of items so that my Secret Santa would have something to open each day of the break. I stuck everything in my backpack and headed towards home. There were a few blocks between the grocery store and the pedestrian trail, and I remember seeing the bus I had been on, now broken down on the side of the road. Looks like I would have been walking either way.
It was late afternoon, still light outside. I had on jeans and an oversized Philmont jacket that belonged to one of my parents, and my shoes were brown lace up ankle boots with a little bit of a square heel. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed someone running down in the arroyo, but didn’t think anything of it. A few minutes later, I noticed him again, so remember hurrying a little more. The third time I saw him, I was between the north and south campuses of my high school, not far from Yucca road, and not far from home. He was a number of steps behind me and started to say something, but I ignored him and walked faster. He repeated himself, and I finally caught what he said, “I want some p****”. I remember seeing him coming towards me with his pants open and holding his penis. He repeated himself a number of times, his message was certainly clear.
I ran. He caught up.
Whether it was Divine Intervention or coincidence (I prefer the former), just the week before, at my young women’s youth night, we had a lesson on self-defense.
The exact sequence of events is fuzzy, but there are specific parts and images about it that I remember. He grabbed my backpack and tried to push me down. I remember swinging around trying to hit his face with the heel of my hand, straight up and towards his nose. I know that I never hit him hard. At some point I ended up on the ground with him on top of me. I tried kneeing his groin, and somehow rolled away. He pushed me down twice, but I was able to get up both times. My backpack was on the entire time.
After a few moments of struggle, I finally found my voice and screamed over and over and over again. I remember standing, looking at him in the face, and screaming at the top of my lungs as he ejaculated and then walked away. My pants were wet. I peed them the first time I hit the ground.
One of the weird things is, I sometimes view the events as a third person. I sometimes remember things from the attack as if I was a few feet away and above it. I don’t know why, but maybe it’s a way the mind processes traumatic events.
I ran home. I wonder sometimes if any of the drivers on Yucca road noticed my tear-streaked face or pee-soaked jeans. I ran in the front door of my house, right into two women from my church who were visiting my mom. I just cried, “He tried to rape me!” as I fell into my mom’s arms, hysterical and struggling to breathe. The women from church left quickly, and my mom rushed me up to her room, helped me out of my clothes and into the shower. She called the police. After I was showered, I gave them my report, but they didn’t seem particularly optimistic about finding anything. The missionaries were coming for dinner that night. We didn’t tell them anything, but my dad had them help give me a blessing.
I don’t even know how I slept that night. The next day, I was scheduled to work again. My dad rode the bus with me and walked me to work. He and my young women’s leader (who happened to work at the museum next door and knew my boss) sat with me as I explained what happened to my boss. I think I stayed and worked that day, I’m sure my parents figured trying to keep things as normal as possible would be best, and they were probably right.
The fear was constant, incessant, and unpleasant. I could literally feel it eating my insides, and I knew I had to get rid of it. My dad said I should try counseling, and I agreed. I only went a few times, but I guess it helped. I probably needed the counseling much longer.
I didn’t know how to tell people. I think my parents called a few of my closest friends during the break, so that they would know when I got back to school after the break. The first day back, I remember them being very protective of me, walking me to my classes – especially when I had to walk to south campus, past the trail and the spot where it happened.
Fear, depression, self-doubt, and hopelessness ruled my life for a number of months…years, actually. My parents were more protective of me, my teachers cautiously watched me, and friends did their best to stick close, even with my prickly change in personality. I was damaged, for a long time. It took a long time.
Time moves forward no matter what, and fear diminished, self-confidence slowly returned, but I was still warier and less trusting. I did not venture out in the dark by myself (and still don’t). Every once in a while something happens that triggers a response I can’t control. That’s the weirdest thing, how a mind can be perfectly rational, the soul seemingly healed, but the body has a physiological response that the mind can’t always control.
Fast forward 5 years. It’s Halloween, 2003. It’s my last semester of classes at BYU before student teaching. I’m engaged to be married in December. The Provo library is showing ‘Hocus Pocus’ in the upstairs auditorium space. My roommates and fiancé think it would be fun to go see it. Across the street is a gas station and convenience store. I tell my fiancé I’ll run across the street to pick up some treats for the movie and be right back. As I return and start walking through the poorly lit parking lot, I literally feel my adrenal glands drain into my abdomen as my mind notes that something isn’t right. My fiancé jumps out from behind a car to surprise me. My mind registers that it’s him, but my body goes into a full scale panic attack. I can’t breathe, I can’t talk, and I shake uncontrollably. My fiancé quickly recognizes his mistake and holds me tight. I try to reassure him that “I’m okay, I’m okay” in between gasping breaths, but it takes a full 5 minutes for me to normalize my breathing and actually talk to him. I can vividly remember thinking through the entire experience, but I could not stop my body’s physical reaction. Needless to say, my fiancé, now husband, never tries to surprise me.
Despite all that happened, I turned out fine – better than fine. I earned a full ride scholarship to school, I met and married an amazing man, am an accomplished teacher, have three incredible children, have a master’s degree, live in a beautiful house, own an impressive number of shoes, and am surrounded by wonderful friends and family. If I could go back and tell my 16-year-old self that it will all be okay, that it was going to be better than okay, I still would have struggled, but maybe hope would have returned a little sooner. However, if I had to go back and tell my 16-year-old self that 18 years down the line, a man who proudly brags about sexually assaulting women is who America chooses for president – knowing full well that he brags about sexually assaulting women – I don’t know that my 16-year-old self could have handled that.
It’s been 18 years. Most of my current associations don’t know about this part of my life. I don’t feel I need to share it in most cases. But it needs to be shared now in context of this election. I didn’t ever support Trump, I initially thought he was running just for the sake of his own entertainment. I didn’t think he was really serious – it seemed like it was just a farce. I certainly didn’t think he could actually make it as president. I was bothered by his behavior. I was really bothered by his racist comments and when he made fun of the reporter. I didn’t know my reaction would be what it was when the tapes came out.
I only saw brief glimpses of what the tapes were about from various news headlines and Facebook updates. Based on what I saw I knew I couldn’t actually listen to them. I was literally sick to my stomach. And scared, AGAIN: that same gnawing, incessant fear in my gut – I hadn’t felt it for a number of years. The words in the headlines, the words that Trump used in describing how he sexually assaults women were the same words my would-be rapist used. THE SAME WORDS. I don’t know how many years it’s been since I’ve seen him in my mind, but Trump brought him right back. At first, I wanted to say something, I wanted to let people know what this was doing to me, but then I thought, it’s not worth the time and emotional effort it would take. I really dislike political discussions, and I really dislike political posts on Facebook. I don’t want to be angry or hurt by people I consider friends because their views are different, so I just don’t engage. So, I didn’t say anything.
Then the unbelievable thing happened. Tuesday, going into the election day, the predictions were significantly in favor of Clinton winning. As polls started closing, the predictions drastically changed. My husband was fascinated by the changing numbers (he’s a math guy) and kept trying to update me. I was trying to hold it together as the realization that the embodiment of my nightmares might actually be elected president. I finally told my husband to stop updating me – he asked me if I was okay. No, I wasn’t – no, I’m not – but I’m saying something about it this time.
By voting for him the message is that you can do whatever you want and still be president. You can treat people TERRIBLY, just because you want to, and it’s no big deal. I can’t support that. This president does not represent me and never will. I struggle with the comments on Facebook about coming together as a country and being one again now that the election is over. You want me to become one with people who think what that man did is okay? I’m supposed to forget my sexual assault as any sort of real problem, just get over it and band together in support of a man I think is heinous? This president does not represent me and never will.
Despite that, I will be a better American, and even more importantly, a better Human. I will be kind and show compassion to all of my fellow humans no matter their gender, race, religion, country of origin, or sexual preference. I will stand up against oppression and discrimination. Unkind words and actions will not be acceptable in my home and in my classroom. I will not fight it with violence, but with the insistence that every human life is as valuable as the next and is to be treated as such.
That being said, unfortunately, I’m not ready for civil discourse. This isn’t about politics for me. My experience as a 16-year-old girl left deeper scars than I realized. I have visceral reactions that surprise me, and I don’t know how to deal with them yet. It’s my own form of PTSD. I need time. Don’t ask me how I’m feeling or what I think about the election. Don’t try to justify your political leanings to me. Don’t ask me to band together, unless it’s with the purpose of supporting humanity. I might have to walk away from some discussions, until I can figure out how to deal. I’ll likely be wearing a safety pin from now on.
The story is out there now. If you feel the desire to share it, you have my permission. If you feel the need to unfollow or unfriend me, that’s fine too. I won’t notice and I’ll let it be. I’m not planning on signing into Facebook after this anytime soon, I just need a break from it, and time to heal again.
Back to me.
I don't believe many people in Church Public Affairs, in the leadership of the Choir, or maybe even in the leadership of the Church understand this kind of trauma that the election of someone like Trump has caused. This is not a man to honor as President of the United States.

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