Over the past year, as all of us have watched many people try to justify voting for Donald Trump in spite of his racist and bigoted remarks, it has become obvious that a large percentage of his supporters not only like his racist remarks, they thrive on them. The recent video that the New York Times posted showing the people at his rallies pretty much supports that notion. Plain and simple, there are still many white people who feel they are superior to people of color and Trump gives them a voice and the courage to come out of hiding.
That leaves us with the people who have not lived their lives as haters and bigots, who have been trying to justify their support of Trump using a variety of arguments. Everything from “Hillary is worse than he is,” to “Hillary will destroy our country.” Some people say it is the future of the Supreme Court while others like Paul Ryan indicate it is a matter of getting their agendas passed into law.
There are people (usually the more educated people who support Trump) who say he is not really a racist or bigot. They say he is just using this approach to get votes from racists and bigots and that in his personal life he is not really like that. If the latter is true then it is in many ways worse than him being a racist because racists are ignorant, but playing to them when you are not one just to win an election is taking advantage of that ignorance. Unfortunately, based on what others who have worked closely with Trump have written about him, it is hard to write his actions and words off as simply playing on people’s fears.
Let’s look at this from an objective point of view. What is a racist? According to Webster’s Dictionary when used as a noun, the definition is “a person with a prejudiced belief that one race is superior to others.” When used as an adjective, the definition is “discriminatory, especially on the basis of race or religion.”
For those who think Donald Trump is just playing a game with voters and really does not have racist beliefs and tendencies, here is a quick history lesson on Donald Trump:
- In the late 80’s, Donald Trump took out full newspaper ads in 4 New York newspapers pushing for the death penalty for the Central Park 5 (all young black men). Years after they were found guilty, the verdicts were overturned as DNA evidence proved they did not commit the crime. Of course to this day Trump has not backtracked or apologized for what he did.
- The Trump Management Corporation has been sued on more than one occasion by the Justice Department for racial discrimination, including under Richard Nixon’s Presidency.
- Minority workers who worked for him in Atlantic City have accused Trump of racial discrimination. They have said it went so far that when Trump came into town with his wife, all black workers were taken off the floor at the Casino.
- His workers have specifically quoted him saying blacks were lazy. Even a former executive for Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino has written that Trump commented that “black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys wearing yarmulkes.”
- Trump headed the birther movement trying to delegitimize our first black President and in many ways succeeded with a large percentage of Republicans.
- Throughout his campaign, Trump has inferred that President Obama is working with terrorists insinuates he is not an American.
The list goes on and on and on but you get the point. Based on numerous accounts of people who worked for Trump, he likes white people and tolerates minorities when it suits his needs. He feels they are inferior to him, or at least that is what the record seems to indicate. In many ways, he is no different than many of the Americans he is appealing to.
For people who are still willing to support someone who is selling hate and thriving on it, at a minimum they are putting their party or political and social beliefs before their country knowing that Trump is not only selling hatred but probably is not fit to hold the office of President of the United States. At worst, they are OK with it because they themselves have many of these tendencies but have hidden them for years. In some cases, hiding their beliefs from family members and friends in order to avoid ridicule or the look on their faces when they realize how they really feel. These are the people who have no problem with Blacks and Hispanics as long as they don’t live next door or work next to them or eat at the same restaurant as they do.
It is hard for people to come to the realization that a parent or brother or sister or friend may have racist tendencies. I have seen people in the media who are not voting for Trump try to justify why family members or friends are voting for Trump, but in the same breath indicate that family member is not in any way racist. It’s about other things like being angry with the system or economic anxiety. This is the lie that people have been telling themselves for decades in this country.
Instead of enabling people who feel this way, it is our responsibility as decent human beings to confront them with their acceptance of Trump’s racism as an extension and continuation of racism in America. As tough as it is to do this, it is the right thing to do. It is uncomfortable and may cause strife among family and friends but what is the alternative? To just make believe it is okay based on many of the false premises we have mentioned, is the coward’s way out and reinforces that things are just fine the way they are.
If we wake up on November 9th to the reality that Donald Trump is the President-Elect after running a campaign based on racism and bigotry and hatred in the year 2016, it will not only be the shame of our country but put the United States at peril in a variety of ways.
So here we are facing another moment in history when good people are confronted with a choice to either speak up or remain silent. It is up to us, all of us, to convince people we know that accepting the hate speech and racism being spewed by Donald Trump, by allowing him to be elected to the most important position in the world, is simply unacceptable. We need to realize that who sits on the Supreme Court or having a liberal or conservative government, is not as important as this single issue of accepting or rejecting hate and racism. If we do not reject him, this country may begin a downward spiral that divides us in ways we may never recover from.
Most of us are aware of the quote first spoken in the 18th century by the Irish Statesman Edmund Burke; “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” So I’ll end where I started, by asking the question: “If you vote for a racist, what does that make you?” We should ask ourselves that question, as well as what we can do about it. Ultimately all of us will at some point have to look into a mirror and decide if we like what we see and ask a simple question. When confronted with racism and bigotry during this election year, did we speak up against it?