Mr. Trump is mainstreaming HATE

August 14, 2016

by  Nicholas Kristof

FOREST GROVE, Ore. — ALL across America, in little towns like this one, Donald Trump is mainstreaming hate.

This community of Forest Grove, near the farm where I grew up in western Oregon, has historically been a charming, friendly and welcoming community. But in the middle of a physics class at the high school one day this spring, a group of white students suddenly began jeering at their Latino classmates and chanting: “Build a wall! Build a wall!”

The same white students had earlier chanted “Trump! Trump! Trump!” Soon afterward, a student hung a homemade banner in the school reading, “Build a Wall,” prompting Latinos at area schools to stage a walkout.

“They openly express their dislike of my race,” Briana Larios, a 15-year-old Mexican-American honor roll student who hopes to go to Harvard, said of some of her white classmates. Wounded by accusations that she doesn’t belong in the country in which she was born, Briana is thinking of being home-schooled rather than returning to the high school when classes resume.

 “People now feel that it is O.K. to say things that they might not have said a year ago,” she said. “Trump played a big role.”

Among any nation’s most precious possessions is its social fabric, and that is what Donald Trump is rending with incendiary talk about roughing up protesters and about gun owners solving the problem of Hillary Clinton making judicial nominations.

Trump only mildly distanced himself when an adviser suggested that Clinton should be executed by firing squad for treason, and his rallies have become toxic brews of hatred with shouts like “Hang the bitch!” The Times made a video of Trump fans at his rallies directing crude slurs not just at Hillary Clinton, but also at blacks, Latinos, Muslims and gay people.

We need not be apocalyptic about it. This is not Kristallnacht. But Trump’s harsh rhetoric tears away the veneer of civility and betrays our national motto of “e pluribus unum.” He has unleashed a beast and fed its hunger, and long after this campaign is over we will be struggling to corral it again.

“We’ve spent the last 15 years fighting bullying in schools, and the example set by the Trump campaign has broken down the doors, and a tidal wave of bullying has come through,” said Maureen Costello of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The center issued a report documenting how Trump’s venom has poisoned schools across the country. It quoted a North Carolina teacher as saying she has “Latino students who carry their birth certificates and Social Security cards to school because they are afraid they will be deported.” Another teacher reported that a fifth grader told a Muslim student “that he was supporting Donald Trump because he was going to kill all of the Muslims if he became president!”

Here in the Forest Grove area, west of Portland, students of Mexican heritage at four high schools — most of them born in the United States — described to me how some local whites take cues from Trump.

“They say, ‘We’re going to deport your ass,’” said Melina McGlothen, 17, whose mother is Mexican. “I don’t want to say I hate them, but I hate their stupidity.”

A delegate with a “Trump Wall” hat attends the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July.CreditLucy Nicholson/Reuters

Ana Sally Gonzalez, 17, said a school club had put up posters criticizing racism, and they were then marred by graffiti such as “Go back where you came from” and “Trump 2016.”

The tension reflects deep resentment among some white working-class families. They are angry at immigrants who have taken over some jobs, at the way communities they cherish are changing demographically and linguistically, and at what they perceive as a stifling political correctness that leaves whites accused of racism when they speak up.

Many of my old Oregon farm-town friends are strong Trump supporters, and they will completely disagree with this column. Their headline would be, “Big Media Suffocates Real Americans With Political Correctness.”

The upshot is that this election year, we’re divided not only by political party and ideology, but also by identity. So the weave of our national fabric unravels. And while our eyes have mostly been on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the nation’s history is being written not just in the capital and grand cities but also in small towns and etched in the lives of ordinary people.

I wrote a column recently exploring whether Trump is a racist, and a result was anti-Semitic vitriol from Trump followers, one of whom suggested I should be sent to the ovens for writing “a typical Jewish hit piece.” In fact, I’m Armenian and Christian, not Jewish, but the responses underscored that the Trump campaign is enveloped by a cloud of racial, ethnic and religious animosity — much of it poorly informed.

The Trump-inspired malice seems ubiquitous. A Georgetown University study found a surge of anti-Muslim violence, from murders to attacks on mosques, coinciding with Trump’s hostility toward Muslims. In March, a man attacked Muslim and Latino students in Kansas, shouting “brown trash” and “Trump will take our country from you guys.”

I hope Trump and his aides will soon come to recognize that words have consequences that go far beyond politics, consequences that cannot be undone. It’s perhaps inevitable that some overzealous supporters will periodically go too far, but Trump need not incite them, and he certainly shouldn’t joke about harming protesters or tolerate advisers who propose a firing squad for his rival.

So far, Trump has arguably benefited from his fondness for over-the-top rhetoric. He gets attention and television time and is always at the center of his own hurricane. But in November, after the ballots have been counted and the crowds have gone home, we will still have a country to share, and I fear it may be a harsher and more fragile society because of Trump’s campaigning today.

Inflammatory talk isn’t entertaining, but dangerous. It’s past time for Trump to grow up.

Yet if bigotry has been amplified by his candidacy, let’s remember that there are still deep reservoirs of social capital — including in conservative neighborhoods — that have proved impervious to Trump’s insinuations.

In Georgia, an India-born Muslim named Malik Waliyani bought a gas station and convenience store a few months ago and was horrified when it was recently burglarized and damaged. He struggled to keep it going. But then the nearby Smoke Rise Baptist Church heard what had happened.

“Let’s shower our neighbor with love,” Chris George, the pastor, told his congregation at the end of his sermon, and more than 200 members drove over to assist, mostly by making purchases. One man drove his car around until the gas tank was empty, so he could buy more gas.

“Our faith inspires us to build bridges, not to label people as us and them, but to recognize that we’re all part of the same family,” the pastor told me. “Our world is a stronger place when we choose to look past labels and embrace others with love.”

This is a wrenching, divisive, polarizing time in America, and we have a major party nominee who is sowing hatred and perhaps violence. Let’s not succumb. Good people, like the members of Smoke Rise Baptist, are reweaving our nation’s social fabric even as it is being torn.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on August 14, 2016, on page SR1 of the New York edition with the headline: Trump Is Making America Meaner.

20 thoughts on “Mr. Trump is mainstreaming HATE

  1. Yes he is just like in Malaysia Najib is trumpeting hatred toward the Chinese.When has the UMNOMelayus agreed to treat the non-Malays as equal citizens? Therefore promotion of hatred is a product of modern day politics. Respect begets respect.

  2. This is a typical piece of political article in USA with a partisan agenda. I would say it is one of the worst type of political articles where the author Nicholas Kristof not only failed to analyze Trump’s messages under their respective contexts (Mr. Kristof did not mentioned even one context of Trump’s words), but he shamelessly attribute all cursorily related hates out there to Trump.

    For Malaysians, we should enjoy the distance between Malaysia and USA, and just enjoy the stories from all sides. Here is story from another side of US political spectrum:

  3. The Office of Civil Rights and Department of Justice together with American Civil Liberties Union should put Trump on notice that his outburst against Hispanic and Muslims is not acceptable and he will be held accountable for any consequences arising.

  4. Asian-Americans will be targeted by Trump and his supporters too.
    Especially if economic tensions increase between USA and China, and South China Sea controversy continues.

    I remember the hostility to East Asian-looking people when I was a student in the USA in the 1980s — this was during a time of USA-Japan trade imbalances and when books such as Ezra Vogel’s “Japan as Number One” were best sellers.

  5. Trump is in kindergarten when it comes to mainstreaming hate. What do you think UMNO and the Malay press had been doing all these years to the non-Bumis?

  6. just curious knows that people that’s related to are dead. There are 5 death in June and no mainstream media highlight these suspiscious death.

  7. Why are you so uptight about US presidential candidates? You can’t vote anyone in or the other out? Unless you have a vested interest of them in this country? Cheers.

  8. Trump like all politicians will say and do anything that will get them elected but once in power will just proceed to do whatever they had intended to do anyway.
    Ultinately, the electorate deserves the government or leader that they bring to power. Hopefully, the American voters will seize the moment to create history by simply not voting for either Trump or Killary and be wise and brave enough to realise that they have a better alternative.

  9. If you listen carefully to all the Main Stream Media on Trump you will find that in most cases he is responding to attacks on him. His response is then taken on by the MSM and then played to the end for days. Just make a study on the Khan issue and you will get the drift. And by the way you may ask why is this. Well Democrats have spent close to US 60 Million on TV advertising on MSM. The Republicans have spent on last count US 5 million.

  10. Trump rightly said that Obama and Hilary Clinton are IS founders because IS is born when US abandoned Iraq after US invasion as they could not find the weapons of mass destruction there.

  11. Should we allow unregistered immigration from every country and let anybody come here without legal documentation? The wall it’s about the fact that we are right next to Mexico and get alot of criminals breaking the law from there. Are all of them bad people? No. Does that mean they’re not breaking the law? No. Does this mean we should just let people fly down the highway at whatever spotted because not all of them are bad people? No. The law is the law. If you want it changed, work for it. If you just want to ignore it, go ahead, but it’s not going away just because you don’t like it.

  12. “Why are you so uptight about US presidential candidates?” graugarau

    Yup.. I was wondering the same.
    The only comment my poor dogie brain understands from the copious amounts of print and electronic media, can be summed in this short phrase:
    “Me, Trump – big White Chief! You are all Indians!!”

    Over here, it’s:
    “Me, Jibros – big brown Bugis Pirate! You are all Melayu Javanese!”

    See the same difference?
    Both lack something.. Wonder what it is..?

  13. Why should we care whether Trump gets to be President of the USA or what happens in USA politics?

    1. Because the USA is a superpower and when they have an unstable personality in power, the rest of the world is at risk e.g. George W. Bush and his invasion of Iraq (following the advice of his neo-conservative advisors)

    2. Because what happens in US politics and politico-economic thought (as well as in the UK) can spread to the rest of the world later e.g. Anglo-American ideologies such as neoliberalism, and Huntington’s “clash of civilisations” thesis (a debatable thesis which, unfortunately, militant Islamists and their counterparts – the white neo-fascists/clerico-fascists – have adopted)

    3. Because the USA has great influence in organisations such as the WTO, IMF, and World Bank which affect the developing nations. It can also carry out disastrous interventions in the internal affairs of the developing countries, e.g. the USA under President Nixon and his Machiavellian advisor Henry Kissinger.

    4. Because many of us have relatives and friends living in the USA who are affected by white supremacist hostility to Asian-Americans and Muslim-Americans.

    5. Because some of us Malaysians have studied, lived and worked in the USA for many years (17 years in my case, with plenty of time to study the American politics and American society ) and are just appalled by the ignorance or lack of understanding of US society (e.g. unsavoury aspects such as white supremacist ideology, and racism toward African-Americans) shown by certain Malaysians who comment on this blog.

    6. My prediction is that support for Trump will continue to decrease because of his unstable personality and his behaviour. He will turn off the moderate Republicans of the NE USA and the Mid-West. But I agree with the writer of the article Mr Kristof that the consequences of Trump’s campaign will be bad for the fabric of US society.

  14. For those who want to challenge their critical thinking minds, here is the latest video straight from Trump, unfiltered, starting at minute 35th:

    A presidency of Clinton will be bad for the world, especially for smaller countries like Malaysia. Her presidency will present the worse side of USA to the world while she rides on the strength of USA; She will present these:

    1) Universal good will is the basis of the world while nation-state is an afterthought.
    2) Democracy is the top-most consideration while feature of a culture is an afterthought since multiculturalism must come first.
    3) Human right is the new religion while time-tested religions and their records are to be ignored.

    This liberal side of USA, marked by Eleanor Roosevelt as wife of FRD as the president of USA as the victor of WW2, is toxic to the world when she, as a non-elected official, led international team to write UN Human Right Declaration. Her action is like a florist taking the beautiful cut flowers from the farmers and sold the flowers to all her customers but she didn’t tell how farmers grow the flower plants because she did not know planting in the first place.

    Late Lee Kwan Yew didn’t fall for the trick of the “florists”; he learned straight from the source, the “farmers”. In his autobiography, incidentally, he even found the right plants from other tropical nations to line the streets of Singapore. Remember, he scolded the starry-eyed idealists about worshiping democracy and human rights.

  15. Shiou, you are a right wing nutjob conflating a whole range of issues and muddled in your thinking.

    Never has an ad hominem been so warranted.

    The fact that a demagogue like Trump elicits such water carrying from folks like you is indicative of the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the Unitised States and modern American conservatism.

    The reality that more or more Republicans are abandoning this bigoted lunatic perhaps is evidence that all is not lost and maybe real conservatism instead of the right wing pap you spew in defence of Trump could make a return.

    End of sermon.

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