On Nov. 15, a letter to the editor appeared in The Lantern titled “Give President Donald Trump a chance,” alongside a second letter to the editor about white supremacist posters appearing in Hagerty Hall.
If it’s not clear to you what’s wrong with this picture, it’s clear to me that you’re not looking hard enough.
Donald J. Trump has run a campaign founded on ethnic resentment and false promises, which you will probably be familiar with if “The Wall,” “Muslim ban,” or “national Muslim database” ring any bells. He has advocated racist “stop-and-frisk” policies, and has claimed that authoritarian “law and order” is the sole solution to inner-city crime. He has fueled hatred against racial and religious minorities and legitimized sexual assault against women. He has been elected on the blessing of Vladimir Putin and the Russian government, which have launched cyberattacks against the Clinton campaign to his benefit. He is the least qualified person ever to be elected to the presidency, having no experience in politics, the military or any realm of public service. This does not make him an “outsider.” This makes him untested, probably incompetent and potentially dangerous.
I should not need to remind anyone of any of this. Any reasoned observer of his sordid campaign could tell you the same. It feels pointless to keep repeating the same charges against Trump, since the only people who would deny them are those who have already bought into his stump speech.
It should be clear that Trump is an unabashed demagogue, that he appeals to the worst of our country’s sentiments, and that we have no reason whatsoever to normalize his presidency by “giving him a chance.”
But for those of you already headed down that path, here’s a reminder of the material reality of what a Trump administration means.
During campaign season, the Southern Poverty Law Center observed what it termed “The Trump Effect”: a general increase in anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment among K-12 students across the country, accompanied by a spike in uncivil political discourse. Two-thirds of teachers surveyed nationwide reported that students from minority groups — including immigrants, children of immigrants, Muslims and African-Americans — were afraid of what might happen to them or their families after the election. Muslims worried they might have tracking microchips implanted in their skin, and African-Americans expressed concern about “being sent back to Africa” or having to return to slavery.
One teacher wrote to the SPLC: “My students have one thing in common. Apparently, America hates them.”
The FBI reported Monday that hate crimes in the United States rose by six percent between 2014 and 2015, apparently justifying these students’ worst fears. Assaults, threats and destruction of property increased across the board, with perpetrators targeting sexual, racial and religious minorities, as well as women. However, the most significant increase occurred in crimes targeting Muslims, which reached their highest level since immediately after 9/11.
Trump has recently appointed Steve Bannon, former editor of the far-right, “alt-right” website Breitbart News, as his chief White House strategist and senior counselor. Bannon has since received glowing endorsements from the chairman of the American Nazi Party and David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the KKK. By no strange coincidence, the posters put up in Hagerty Hall this past week were put up by members of Bannon’s “alt-right” movement, who were probably well-versed in the toxic white-supremacist ideology that Duke and Bannon promote. Under a Trump presidency, it is probable that events like this will become commonplace.
All this goes without saying, of course, that Trump’s economic policies, which have been roundly criticized by economists from all across the political spectrum, would probably add trillions to the national debt, leave millions of Americans without health care, ignite trade wars and widen income inequality — all of which would hurt the working-class people who elected him.
Trump has also appointed a climate change denier to lead the EPA’s administrative transition and vowed to kill the international Paris Agreement, which is our last best hope to stall the progress of anthropogenic climate change.
Trump has also taken a firm stand against women’s reproductive rights, has vowed to reverse Roe v. Wade, and has a vice president with a proud history of engaging with anti-gay legislation.
I think it should be clear that Donald Trump is in no way a president for all of America and that he is not at all interested in “love” or “unification.” Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, being high-profile public figures, may be obligated to “give him a chance,” but that does not mean that the rest of us are.
For those interested in fighting back against the Trump presidency, please consider supporting Planned Parenthood, the National Resources Defense Council, the International Refugee Assistance Project, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Trevor Project for LGBTQ Youth, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and/or joining a political activism or advocacy group here on campus. We can only win this together.