“I do not concede.” A remarkably thoughtful and defiant response by Michael Cerveris to last night’s election .

michaelcerveris

 

This morning, a guy — me — who quite often and much too easily comes up with an embarrassing surplus of words to babble, was speechless.

It’s not that my mind wasn’t racing with rage, frustration, and the realization that so many voters — regardless of how they might now try to spin their vote — selected a man they knew was an enthusiastic supporter of loathing, sexism, racism,homophobia, and Islamophobia.

It’s that no words came.

And then I read the short essay below written by Michael Cerveris, a distinguished actor, singer and musician whose remarkable performance in the musical Fun Home,  along with the  the rest of an astounding cast, shed a blindingly bright light on the universal struggle we wage with all our “selves,” our families, and our memories to discover meaning and identity.

I do not concede.

Michael Cerveris

November  9, 2016

I do not concede.

I will not make nice with bigots and racists. I will not “reach out” to those who would oppress my brothers and sisters and take away their hard-won rights.

I will not cooperate with those who have shown their disregard for the laws of decency and civility and compassion.

I will not reward those who traffic in the politics of fear, hate and brutality in act or speech or thought with my allegiance or loyalty.

I will not forget, excuse or dismiss the despicable things you have said and done on the way to this ‘victory.’

You lied and scared people enough to win a statistic popularity contest. You did not win my heart or spirit or good will. You have done nothing to deserve it, and unless and until you do, you will NEVER have it.

Instead you have my promise that I will look for ways to defeat you at every turn. To whatever extent I can, I will not give my money or my patronage to those who support you or applaud you or think like you. I will stand between you and those of my brothers and sisters you mean to denigrate, disenfranchise and disregard. I will work for and look to celebrate your undoing–legally, but steadfastly. I will support all those who will stand in your way.

I will speak up and defy you.

I will call your sins by name.

Racist

Bigot

Misogynist

Elitist

Liar

Cheat

Huckster

Narcissist

Buffoon

I will hold responsible all those who followed you and made your rise possible by their collaboration–including the media and others on our side who neglected their responsibility to the country, profited by your ascent, and refused to stand up to you sooner

I will not “heal and mend” with the very people who have sickened the country, planted and fed the disease at its heart.

I will work to make a new one

I will remember and I will watch and I will wait and I will work.

I will never be united with you.

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Uncommon Political Courage

“Authentic  acts of political courage are like blazing comets in the sky. If we are lucky, we might see one or two in our lifetime, a fleeting moment when the civic landscape is suddenly illuminated by  someone unafraid speak a harsh truth.
Those are the rare moments when, empowered by a sudden moral clarity, we can set aside our usual self-deception, jettison reluctance grounded in fear, and begin to slowly and boldly build  a just world.”
Prof. D.M.M. Veste
Doctorat de Droit
Faculté de Droit et Science Politique
Université Nice Sophia Antipolis
Nice, France
Two Acts of Political Courage
1. Joseph Welch, 1954
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“Little did I dream you could be so reckless and so cruel as to do an injury to that lad. It is, I regret to say, equally true that I fear he shall always bear a scar needlessly inflicted by you. If it were in my power to forgive you for your reckless cruelty, I would do so. I like to think I’m a gentle man, but your forgiveness will have to come from someone other than me. …. “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”
Joseph Welch, Chief Counsel for the United States Army, US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Washington DC, June 9, 1954, confronting Senator Joseph McCarthy,  who had cruelly and recklessly accused a young lawyer, Fred Fisher, of disloyalty.  This confrontation set  the stage for McCarthy’s eventual censure and defeat.
2. Khizr Khan, 2016
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“Let me ask you: Have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy … Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities … You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”
Mr. and Mrs. Khizr Khan,  parents  of US Army Capt. Humayun Khan, Democratic National Convention,  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 28, 2016, asking that Republican leaders repudiate the virulent anti-Muslim hatred of a cruel and reckless Donald Trump.