I’m afraid.

Jill Fertel
4 min readOct 26, 2018

I’m afraid.

That was the point, I suppose, of the midterm campaigns. You wanted to scare us. You succeeded. But in a season marked by portents of doom from every Republican chasing a seat in Congress, it’s not the border that scares me. I’m not afraid of a mass of half starved humanity marching through hundred degree heat. I’m not afraid of George Soros and a fictional mob of paid protesters. I’m not even afraid of MS13.

I’m afraid of my county. I’m afraid for my country. And I am terrified that by the time we crawl out of this hole, there will be nothing of our Republic left to save.

You might not know the names Maurice Stallard or Vicki Lee Jones. They were murdered this week while shopping at a Kroger in Louisville, Kentucky, and while local authorities seem unwilling to call it a hate crime, I am. Maurice Stallard, a 69 year old man shopping with his grandson, and Vicki Lee Jones, a 67 year old woman, were murdered by a racist monster who wanted to shoot people of color. He first tried to enter a predominantly Black church, then settled for a nearby Kroger. When a bystander heard gunfire and drew his weapon, the shooter responded by saying “Don’t shoot me. I won’t shoot you. Whites don’t shoot whites.”

I am horrified for the people of Louisville. I am heartbroken for Maurice’s grandson who watched his grandfather murdered in cold blood. I am angry that Maurice Stallard and Vicki Lee Jones are dead and they shouldn’t be.

And I am afraid because this murder has been reported by the media, but received so little attention. I am terrified that my country has forgotten to care.

I’m afraid of the dramatic surge in hate crimes. Crimes like the murder Maurice Stallard and Vicki Lee Jones. Attacks on Jewish people, Muslim people, members of the LGBTQ community have been skyrocketing since 2015. This is a national crisis and the nation isn’t paying attention. And I’m afraid.

This week we learned that the Department of Health and Human Services is trying to erase Transgender people from existence. With a swipe of a pen, gender would be defined as male or female as determined by assignment at birth and unchangeable thereafter. Transgender people, non-binary people, all erased by their government.

I cannot begin to understand the pain of being negated and unseen, of being denied your very identity. Almost as perplexing- what can be gained by this? How will the government benefit from denying people their truth? How can anyone benefit from forcing a label on so many of your countrymen that will never fit.

I’m afraid that our humanity is crumbling. Because this is about hurting people just to enjoy their pain. And as I see my fellow Americans rejoicing at the misery of their neighbors, I do not recognize what we have become. And I’m afraid that I just don’t want to.

I watched in horror as explosive devices were sent to the Obamas. The Clintons. James Clapper. John Brennan. Kamala Harris. Tom Steyner. Cory Booker. George Soros. Joe Biden. Maxine Waters. Eric Holder. CNN. As I write this note, with a suspect in custody, we are still waiting, wondering if there are more. If one will go off. If someone will be hurt. If someone will be killed.

Someone tried to assassinate United States Presidents. A Vice President. An Attorney General. A Congresswoman. Senators. Intelligence Officers. Political contributors. And while Jeff Sessions stammered that he didn’t know why these victims were targeted, we do. We saw the bomber’s van. We saw his postings on social media.

And yet we still see pundits insisting it is all a hoax to hurt Republicans. We see masses at rallies insisting that this is all a setup. A liberal scam.

We are more polarized now than any time since the civil war. We see those who disagree with us as evil. We see ourselves at war. And I’m afraid that we are on our way. With each lie, with each hateful threat, we get closer to an absolute right and an absolute wrong. And history has taught us that nothing good comes of a house divided that cannot stand.

We hear calls for civility from people who demand their political opponents be jailed. We see a false equivalency between refusing to serve Sarah Sanders a Cornish game hen and sending a pipe bomb.

An election is coming and I am terrified that we will fall into a familiar pattern of a people to apathetic to vote. I am afraid we are reaching a place of no return. I am afraid of losing the country that I love so much. The imperfect dream. The unfinished symphony. The hopeful ideal that we have not yet reached. I love that America. It saved my family when they fled state sanctioned murder. It has so much to offer, even to those it has wronged for hundreds of years. It can be better. It can do better.

That America. My America. I don’t want to lose it. And I am afraid.