It has been five days since the 2016 election was called in favor of candidate Donald Trump. In the immediate aftermath of the election, a rash of protests have broken out in major cities across America but, disturbingly, a rash of hate crimes has spread everywhere.
It comes as no surprise to those who have followed the 2016 election since it truly began in 2008. For nearly a decade a movement, now known as “Birtherism”, attempted to delegitimize a sitting president with accusations of a foreign birth. The figurehead of this movement: Donald Trump.
In 2015, during the first official day of his campaign, Trump made a declaration that illegal immigrants are rapists and thieves. Supporters have since backtracked on this statement with caveats such as, “he said some” or “only the illegal ones”. Many of these supporters, if Twitter is any barometer for this sort of thing, who can explain away Trump’s blanket statement regarding Mexicans still seem unironically offended that Hillary Clinton may have called them “deplorable” but that is for another article.
If one were to point blame on the uptick of hate crimes levied against Muslims, women, or Hispanics, it would have to squarely be placed on Donald Trump’s shoulders. Critics of this statement will exclaim that Trump never instigated these crimes (which is debatable) but his seemingly willful neglect to condemn these acts coupled with 18 months of prejudice-legitimizing rhetoric puts the blood on his hands.
Donald Trump has not walked into a theater yelling fire. He whispered in the ear of every person in the theater and asked if they smelled smoke. What’s the difference? When you run into the theater yelling fire, it’s easy to see where the source of the chaos originated but if you plant the suggestion of fire into everyone’s mind the chaos will have the illusion of organic hysteria.
Trump is not a stupid man. If, by some crazy turn of events, the President elect reads this article, that will be the only sentence he’ll understand but it’s true. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He said just enough to plant the seeds of hate while leaving just enough room to wiggle out of real accountability. His constant conflating of the terms “inner city” and “African-American” inserted race into a battle of classes with rural versus city suddenly becoming white versus black.
Further, by making outlandish promises that he will, likely, be unable to afford or drum up support for, such as a massive Muslim ban, a multi-billion dollar wall, or a deportation of 13 million members of the United States labor force, he plays to the unease and uncertainty of a large number of Americans.
It is no secret that many of the terrorists that have plagued the world over the past 15 years have been members of radical Islamic cults. These people are no more representative of Muslim teachings than the KKK is representative of Christian values but most Americans (on both sides) know very little about the teachings of Islam and that little grain of uncertainty, that little bit of “what if they are all trying to kill us” that has crossed all of our minds at some point needs only a small spark to start a wild fire.
In the wake of so much terror in the world, it is understandable (which is not the same as being right) that some people have a negative view of Muslims. Those who are most afraid of this “threat” are not living among large populations of peaceful, patriotic Muslims, they only learn of the religion by what they see of the worst examples of it. If every person who cut you off on the freeway were blue, you’d start looking at blue people differently on the road, it’s natural for the mind to find patterns and to group like subjects.
Therefore, for people who see the threat of terror coming from the entire religion as opposed to cult offshoots, it only takes a simple message from a person of authority, or power, or credibility to legitimize the fear and once their fears are verified, it quickly morphs into hate.
By constantly using race, religion, gender, and political viewpoint to stoke the fears of his followers, Donald Trump has applied the spark that converted fear and uncertainty into a perception of justifiable hate. By not condemning the support of Klansmen, and racists, and bigots, Donald Trump has validated their hate. By demonizing the media and those who are protesting his propositions (nobody is protesting the validity of the election), Donald Trump has created a common enemy.
A lot has been said about being politically correct. In many ways, the entire notion of political correctness is a fool’s errand, but in many real ways it is necessary. At this point, with 60 some odd days to go until inauguration, the politically correct thing would be condemning all hate crimes against all groups and encouraging protesters to do so in a peaceful manner and avoid riots and mob mentality. Instead, he is willfully doing the opposite which will only broaden the chaos and one must question why a President elect needs this firewall of chaos on the streets.