anne mikolay 2012 120The current state of affairs in our country baffles me. This brave, new world of “alternative facts” feels very much like an alternate reality. This pervasive temperament of irritability and intolerance is not the world I grew up in; it is not what I wanted for my children. My parents taught me consideration of others, acceptance, to think for myself, guard my tongue, and be respectful toward all. I tried to instill the same in my sons. Currently, however, I am in unfamiliar territory.

Donald J. Trump is our 45th President. His was an Electoral College victory; he did not win the popular vote. His presidency has stirred the masses to exercise their right to protest. The downside of this new political awareness, however, is the arrogance and hypocrisy of some, not all, of President Trump’s opponents. Those who have derided Donald Trump in the past for mocking a disabled reporter or for spontaneously speaking his mind sans filter are now practicing the very same ignorance by publicly voicing contempt for President Trump and his family. Unfortunately, celebrities use their notoriety to condone, practice, and motivate verbal abuse of this very unpopular president.

Shortly after the inauguration, a Saturday Night Live writer tweeted a shockingly controversial statement (which I will not repeat) about ten year old Barron Trump. Saturday Night Live has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity with their comical parodies of the recent election and the Trump/Clinton rivalry. Satire is their bread and butter, but bringing a child into the mix is irresponsible and abusive. It’s bullying. Barron Trump is a kid and can’t be held accountable for his father’s political positions or actions. Throwing insults at the boy is trashy behavior. The Saturday Night Live writer was suspended; she should have been fired for her lack of common sense and sensitivity.

Apparently, there’s a lot of that going around. Actress Meryl Streep sparked controversy when she used her Golden Globe acceptance speech to rail against Donald Trump. Not to be outdone, Madonna sparked outrage when she took the podium at the recent Women’s March in Washington and declared her despair so great that she thought about blowing up the White House. Madonna later defended her comment as metaphor. Metaphor or not, publicly announcing such terroristic fantasies is irresponsible, dangerous, and downright stupid. Celebrities are quick to chide President Trump for alleged transgressions; when will these people cease over-estimating their importance and get over themselves? Is there no one in Hollywood with guts enough to step up and promote tolerance?

Lack of sensitivity is contagious. Shame on each and every person who shouted “lock her up!” when Hillary Clinton arrived at the inauguration. Did it never occur to them that inauguration day was difficult for Mrs. Clinton? Apparently, no one considered how she might have felt. How would you like it if a twist of Fate very publicly denied your greatest desire? The downside of SNL parodies, memes, and taunting facebook posts is dehumanization. We can giggle all we want, but we shouldn’t forget that Hillary Clinton, Donald, Melania, and Barron Trump are people, not cartoons.

Satire has been employed throughout the ages to make political statements and sway the public, but certain things posted on facebook lately are motivated by sheer hate. There is no excuse for being hurtful. There is no reason to post a film clip on facebook of former President Clinton glancing around at the inauguration with an alleged roving eye, no reason to post a clip of Melania Trump smiling at her husband and then frowning, no reason to speculate about Barron Trump. Nobody knows what President Clinton was looking at. Nobody knows why Melania frowned (maybe the woman was tired, for heaven’s sake!). Nobody knows Barron Trump. If political satire and personal opinions of President Trump have sunk so low that we no longer apply sensitivity, it’s going to be a very long, offensive four years in this alternate reality we have created.

This is neither a pro-Trump nor anti-Trump essay. It’s a pro-people piece. Pro-kindness. Pro-tolerance. Pro-sensitivity. That’s what will make America great again.