When Donald Trump announced over the summer that he was running for president, I—like many people—laughed. I looked forward to the hilarity that would be his campaign. No one could possibly take this joke seriously, I thought. But at least the entertainment factor of some rich reality TV show guy running for president would bring more attention to the election, causing more people to vote, thus improving our democratic process.
Yet, as Trump’s campaign has gone on, his candidacy has become a lot less funny and a lot more problematic.
Trump showed us his ignorance when he said in July that Sen. John McCain, who was tortured during the Vietnam War for more than five years, should not be considered a “war hero” because he was captured.
He displayed his sexism when he remarked on CNN that Megyn Kelly, one of the hosts of the first Republican debate, had “blood coming out of her…wherever” when she asked him a question about his attitude toward women. Trump later said he meant Kelly’s nose or ear, but in reality it was a hidden reference to Kelly’s menstrual period. In other words, Trump was saying women cannot ask tough questions, cannot be strong. When they do, they are just angry and hormonal because they’re on their periods.
Worst of all, Trump’s sweeping generalizations about Mexicans are sickening. His idea to deport all the undocumented immigrants in the United States is not only a logistical nightmare, but a sign of xenophobia and hatred. As many people have pointed out on social media and in the news, the way Trump places the problems in American society (for example, a struggling economy and unemployment) on immigrants, resembles how Adolf Hitler scapegoated the Jews for Germany’s economic issues after World War I.
This comparison may sound extreme, but Trump’s rhetoric creates an environment of fear and hatred toward a particular group. Some Latinos say they have noticed people have treated them differently since Trump called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and criminals in his candidacy speech. In one editorial for The Guardian, Tina Vasquez, a Latina woman, describes how in the past few months strangers and acquaintances have asked her friends and family members about their legal status.
“As a light-skinned, biracial Latina in one of the most diverse and Mexican-centric cities in the nation, I have never been asked the type of questions I’m now fielding from white people,” Vasquez writes.
Already Trump’s views may be inciting violence toward Latinos. For example, the Boston Globe reported in August that two men beat up a homeless Hispanic man, and one of the alleged assaulters told the police: “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.”
Trump’s response to the incident was no less disturbing.
“It would be a shame,” Trump told the Globe. “I will say that people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.”
The way Trump dismisses the actions of his supporters shows how ill-prepared he is to be president. Part of the job should be standing up for what is right and shutting down bigotry and violence.
Instead, Trump capitalizes on the backing of right-wing extremists. It is not a coincidence that white nationalists are throwing their support behind the candidate, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. They know Trump best represents their racist ideology.
Supporters praise Trump for saying what’s on his mind, even if it’s not “politically correct.” But one should not say offensive and incorrect things, especially if he is running for president. It would be one thing if Trump pushed for positive change by speaking his mind. But he has only fostered hatred.
Check out our competing column here.