By Julianne Alejos
America: The land of the free and the home of the brave. It is meant to be the place we cherish and call our home; however, since the election of our new president it seems like it has become more of a place of prejudice and a land of loathing. To me, America looks more like an intolerant, sexist, racist, homophobic country. I am scared of the hostility and hatred that seems to be consuming us. Yet, everyday I am asked to stand at attention to our flag and pledge my allegiance. And so I beg the question, if someone disapproves of how society has come to accept the negativity rather than fight against it, why should they rise?
It seems as though we lack unity as a nation. We are fighting our own people rather than our enemies. In my opinion, the America we live in today is a disgrace to the morals and ethics it was first built upon. Our ancestors made great sacrifices, however, we seem to have disregarded them by electing a president who allows discriminatory remarks to be flung about without any consideration of feelings. With a man who best exemplifies the hatred the country has to offer now placed in the most powerful position, blatant discrimination has risen without being criticized. Donald Trump, beloved by many and hated by most, has opened up those doors, creating a safe space to say hateful things. Freedom of speech has always been a promised amendment, but it is now used to intentionally hurt people without any consideration, or remorse.
Furthermore, Trump has been known to say and act extremely sexist, whether they are remarks concerning women in power or literally sexually harassing women. Even before he was elected, a tape was released where in the midst of bragging about the perks of being a celebrity, he actually confessed to committing crimes of sexual harassment. The tape made it evident that Trump believes he is above the law and the election reassured him he is just that. Isn’t it ironic that a studio producer is fired from his job for sexually harassing women, yet our own president is exempt from the same crime?
Not only does he discriminate against women, Trump has also been labeled a racist. Since his presidential campaign was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, Trump has become a voice for those who are racist towards minorities. During the election, the infamous campaign promise was to “build a wall,” thus preventing Mexican immigrants from entering America. His reason, he stated, was because, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Instead of considering the fact that America has been built by immigrants and blatantly characterizing an entire diverse race, Trump continues to insist that America will become great again if we prevent immigration.
President Trump can also be labeled homophobic because of his harsh comments directed towards the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) community. Not only did he choose Jeff Sessions as his attorney general, a man who strongly opposes the civil rights of not only the LGBTQ community, but also people of color, women and immigrants, Trump also revoked several initiatives put in place by the Obama administration, such as transgender equality in bathrooms. In addition, he signed an executive order banning transgenders from entering the army. How can a transgender be any less of a patriot? With that said, our president symbolizes all of the hatred and animosity that is plaguing this country.
We rise for the Pledge of Allegiance as a sign of patriotism and nationalism, but how can a person rise each day if it no longer reflects that? I still stand every day, but it is with heavy heart. I take note of those around me who choose not to and I admire their courage. If a student chooses to sit during the Pledge of Allegiance, consider the fact that they may be taking a stand. I believe, whatever a student can do, no matter how small, will still bring awareness to the prejudice and discrimination that our country faces. Like I stated at the start…America: The land of the free and the home of the brave.