This morning, as I walked to go vote in the U.S. presidential elections, I thought about what I would do if violence breaks out after the U.S. presidential elections. I realized that I had no plan. I called the Los Angeles-based Consulate of Kenya, my country of birth, to see if they had any plan.
A woman answered the phone. I asked her if the Consulate, or the Embassy in Washington, D.C. had any plan or advice for Kenyans, in the event of violence following the U.S. elections.
“Violence in Kenya?” she asked.
“No. Violence after today’s U.S. elections,” I clarified.
“That question …” she began, clearly surprised by my question, “Just a moment, please.”
When she returned to the phone a moment later, she asked me to write an e-mail with my questions. I did. It’s been more than 7 hours of no response to my question.
My guess is that the good people at my Consulate had a good laugh after reading my e-mail. The idea that the United States — supposedly the most peaceful nation on earth — would descend into violence like Kenya did following the 2007 elections might seem funny. But I don’t blame them for thinking that I was making a joke.
A few months ago, the thought of post-election violence happening in the United States came to me as an idea for a joke. I imagined this beacon of democracy descending into violence because extremists in either party have decided that they can’t take four years of a president they severely hate. And I imagined armed gangs going from house to house, killing anyone they thought had a hand in rigging elections.
I imagined it because that’s exactly what happened in Kenya after the disputed elections of 2007. That was not funny. At least 1,500 people died, thousands were injured, and hundreds of thousands more became refugees in their own land.
The thought of similar violence breaking out in the United States was funny because it was unimaginable. But as time went by and Donald Trump, the Republican candidate began to talk about rigging, I realized that the fear of violence is real.
It’s real because this U.S. presidential race is like none of the previous four I have witnessed in my 22 years in the United States. No matter how you look at it, this is a historic election. If Trump becomes president-elect tonight, he will be the first commander-in-chief without ever holding an elected office. But what will anger his opponents is that he will be the first openly misogynist and racist president in modern United States. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, will become the first female president. That would anger Trump’s supporters, many of whom are racists and male chauvinists like him.
If it’s Trump who is elected today, the extremist left might take it to the streets in protest. They might overturn and set ablaze a couple of police cars, but mostly they will go home and cry in disbelief, like I saw them do in 2004, when George W. Bush was re-elected. But if it’s Clinton who is declared the winner, you better fear for your life, especially if you are a black person.
I say so because Trump is backed by several nationalist hate groups, including the Ku Klux Klan, better known by its acronym, KKK. These groups are usually heavily armed, and lately they have been buying more heavy weapons because they wrongly believe that a President Hillary Clinton would take away their right to bear arms. They are dangerous because they believe that the United States should only be inhabited by white people. But the most dangerous thing about them is that — like the tribal militias of my country of birth — they are poorly educated, which makes it extremely easy for any politician to manipulate and incite.
Just last week, Joe Walsh, a former Republican U.S. congressman, said that he’d lead an armed revolution if Clinton wins. Walsh has since said that his comments were figurative, but everything else seems to indicated that there are “tribal” elements in the Republican party who believe that an armed revolution could be easier than waiting four years for another chance on the ballot.
I called my Consulate because I know that any “revolution” will without any doubt be based on race. And no race in America is hated more than my black race. Already, there have been incidents that indicate how much people of African descent are hated. On Nov. 1, suspected white supremacists burned a black church in Mississippi and wrote “Vote Trump” on its wall.
And I called my Consulate because, if this had been going on in Kenya, the American Embassy there would have issued warnings to its citizens, and provided a way out.