I arrived in New York beyond excited to take on two research positions; one in NYC and one in a picturesque village upstate New York, both in the heartlands of the American liberal elites.

The 9 November 2016 will never be forgotten in American history. Beyond partisan politics, the election campaign of 2016 has unleashed amounts of hatred that this country has been keeping very quiet for a long time. It would be naive to think racism, sexism and xenophobia were new anywhere, let alone in the USA, but the shock was extreme and the American nation has to face the fact that now the country is led by a person putting those attitudes into legislation. This change has put a whole different mirror in front of the Land of the Free. From the infamous immigration ban, to rise in hate crimes of sorts[1] policy was bringing those attitudes to everyday life and making structural inequalities a reality to those on the top as well as the bottom of American society.

I am a left wing Israeli activist (I am half Israeli and half British). I grew up in the peace movements of the 1990s in Israel; my position has always been one of speaking from the Wrong Side of History, and arguing that no justice can come to Israeli society while the Occupation of Palestine is in place. At the same time, the urge to stand in solidarity with various groups whose human rights are under attacks comes with thinking of response to antisemitism specifically. I get lectured by various well-meaning Jewish American liberals on how my understanding of my own homeland is false. My calls for all groups feeling under attack to stand side by side and shoulder to shoulder in solidarity are often pooh poohed and dismissed as naivety. It is astounding seeing how the liberal elites are shooting themselves continuously in the foot, falling into the discourse of us versus them rather than understanding strength always comes in numbers and solidarity is indivisible. As the saying goes, nobody is free unless everyone is free.

The word that springs to my mind more than any while living in Trump’s America is alienation. The superficial materialistic American dream has taken over the Land of the (un)Free. Theodor Adorno wrote a statement that reads very poignantly today: ”If across the Atlantic the ideology was pride, here it is delivering the goods”. The most lavish, elegant landscapes, urban and rural both, conceal communities of women and men whose lives are completely separate;  which do not intersect, and do not even touch; neither with their fellow townsmen nor with their fellow countrymen whose lives have never been picturesque or idyllic . The feeling of uncertainty and being left out that has been the share the lives of many Americans is creeping up, and alarm bells are being sounded.

But there is hope and there is change. As a political theorist by vocation I’ve always loved teaching De Tocqueville’s Democracy in America; and especially love this quote: “The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.” I am inspired and moved daily by the waves of resistance across the nation; by the refusal to stand silent when civil liberties and human rights are under attack. Random acts of kindness towards those who feel alienated and marginalized become featured in the media, from the taxi drivers strike when immigration ban was announced to the day without women and day without immigrants; they are certainly becoming part of everyday America. We are gaining constant reminders of the power of solidarity.

At the same time, as argued above, this learning should be extended abroad. What can my fellow Brits learn from Trump’s America? If there is one statement to be learnt, it is that no challenge can be  fought in vacuum and no injustice amended without thinking of the greater injustices and inequalities that constitute our lives today. In a recent blog Diane Abbott has called for Labour to take a fiercer stand against scapegoating[2]. This is timely and must extend further; the International left must consider its stands when the most vulnerable in society are under daily attacks; no one is safe when hate is unleashed, and if you didn’t stand up when they came for the socialists no one will speak up for you.

In a powerful speech in the House of Lords Baroness Helena Kennedy QC had asked her fellow Peers to reflect on their understanding of the longer view of history[3]. She asked: what will you answer your children and grandchildren when they ask you about your decisions in 2017? Did you dance to the tune of the Daily Mail? I extend this question; did you speak up when your neighbor felt threatened and you didn’t? Did you take to the streets when your comrade’s rights were under attack? We must keep fighting for justice and reconsider our own position and privileges in society. In a quote that was written in 1884 by Eleanor Marx[4], but feels should be imprinted on campaign slogans in 2017: “The man who could not hear a tale of distress without attempting to relieve it can now brag of abetting acts that endanger the lives of innocent women and children”[5] . It is crucial, and very timely, to not forget the larger fight we are battling, and not let those who are benefiting from others’ suffering win.

As for me, at least I have Bambi. [6]

[1]http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tampa-mosque-arson-fire-trump_us_58b0843fe4b0780bac29244a?ncid=engmodushpmg00000003; http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/21/us/jewish-cemetery-vandalized/ these only from the past week.

[2]https://leftfootforward.org/2017/02/diane-abbott-amid-rising-hate-crime-labour-must-stand-up-against-scapegoating/

[3]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iq1DNubGJmU

[4] Rachel Holmes’ groundbreaking biography of Eleanor Marx (Eleanor Marx: A Life; Bloomsbury, 2014) is the most extensive study of Marx’s life and work.

[5]https://www.marxists.org/archive/eleanor-marx/1884/irish.htm

[6] I can see deer from my window!

Dana Mills

Dr. Dana Mills is an academic and an activist. She has held positions in New York University, Bard College, New York, Oxford University and Oxford Brookes. Her first book: Dance and Politics: Moving beyond Boundaries was published In 2016 by Manchester University Press. .