Melania …Time to Tackle Post-Election Cyberbullying

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THIS IS WHAT I KNOW-This has been a long week. As a politically engaged vocal activist and a writer, I find it beyond challenging to silence my voice on social media. I respect and appreciate my friends’ decision to remain unwired for respite, peace and healing. 

I realize that unfortunately leaves me vulnerable to attacks. No matter which side of the aisle, we can probably agree that Trump has legitimized the voices of racists, sexists, homophobes, white supremacists and others. He may not be any of these things (well, pretty hard to walk back the sexist part) but in that scenario, he used the dog whistles to court the KKK, ant-Semites, and others in those camps to "win."  

I had a bizarre cyberbullying experience two nights post-election. A woman with a substantial following had posted about the protests on her Facebook wall. Some had written some pretty heated comments, which is their right. I’m not even sure at this point why I even bother to parachute into enemy territory but I did. I wrote a fairly innocuous fact-based comment and seconds later, “Laura Israel” asked if I “support criminals.” I took the bait. Her response included pretty vitriolic words about Hillary Clinton and an attack on me that included personal information. I felt violated. Did I know this woman? 

Moments later, I received a message from “D, whom I didn’t know but who shared this same Laura Israel had attacked her on one of the blogger’s Facebook threads about same-sex marriage and called her pretty vile names. Both “Laura Israel” and her “friend” had similar profiles so I suspected they might belong to a group. 

About an hour later, D. messaged that she had uncovered both Laura and her “friend” were troll accounts belonging to the same woman. It turned out “Laura” was someone I know. I had been a guest at her daughter’s bat mitzvah, celebrated at her holiday parties and her son’s bris. 

Since Donald J. Trump’s “season opener” with The Wall, I’ve wondered who nearby was on board. After Tuesday, I’ve begun to feel like we are in inside-out McCarthyism or the Salem Witch Trials. We aren’t really sure whom we can trust. I do not believe every person who voted for Trump shares the views he spewed at his rallies or in his early morning Twitter rampages. We don’t even know if he shares them. But we’ve turned the corner on what is accepted form. 

On the flip side, Donald Trump’s “anti-PC” scapegoating and rhetoric have exposed not only those who stand behind his dog whistles. He has also exposed our neighbors and Facebook “friends” who are appalled, people like the nurse from my children’s elementary school who turns out has a pretty strong activist bent. 

So, look around. We don’t know who might hold racist, sexist, ant-Semitic views or who might be hiding behind a phony troll profile or two to fire off cyberbullying missives to anyone who disagrees. But we also don’t know who among us is gearing up to protect our collective rights and to save the planet. 

Good will prevail. And despite the Electoral College outcome, Love Trumps Hate.

 

(Beth Cone Kramer is a Los Angeles writer and a columnist for CityWatch.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

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