By Dolores Huerta, civil rights leader, People For the American Way board member and president of the Dolores Huerta foundation
Given his belligerent rhetoric and extreme policy proposals, the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency personally scares me and so many in our communities, as well as other racial and religious minorities. What should worry everyone, and serve as a call to action, is that Trump is galvanizing white supremacist groups and violent activists who are taking his popularity as a signal that their own anti-Latino and anti-Black views have newfound legitimacy. Trump is emboldening people across the country who are taking their cues from him about the use of violence and bigotry.
The attacks against people of color carried out by Trump supporters continue to accumulate. In August two white men in Boston badly beat a Hispanic man with a metal pole, battering his torso and breaking his nose, telling police that “ Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.” When told about the attack, Trump responded that “ people who are following me are very passionate.” At a high school basketball game in Indiana last month, students reportedly held up photos of Trump and chanted “build a wall” and “speak English” at a team made up mostly of Latino students. There was a similar incident at an Iowa basketball game just days before.
At Trump events, the scene is even worse. During a December campaign rally, Trump supporters shouted, “light the motherf***er on fire,” “shoot him,” and “sieg heil” as a Black Lives Matter protester was forced out by security. After another protester, an African American man, was punched and kicked at a rally in November, Trump suggested that it was warranted: “ Maybe [the protester] should have been roughed up.” Protestors have been sucker-punched and shoved and tackled.
And Despite Trump’s insincere insistence he doesn’t “ condone violence in any shape,” he is encouraging it. He has promised supporters that he would pay their legal fees if they attacked protestors getting ready to throw tomatoes and lamented that violence against protestors is less accepted than in “the old days” when “ they’d be carried out on a stretcher.”
The ugly reality is that Trump’s vision for making the country great again involves mass deportation, banning Muslim people from our country, and squelching those who disagree in the name of fighting “ political correctness.” Trump is pushing what commentators have called an “ ideology of violence” that’s all about Us versus Them.
It’s no wonder, then, that Trump has attracted the support of not just racist individuals, but racist groups who have long seen the world through a stark Us versus Them lens. White nationalist organizations have released pro-Trump robocalls, and his candidacy has reportedly become “‘ a great outreach tool’ for the KKK.” Far-right anti-immigrant activists like William Gheen – who has insisted that President Obama’s supposed “conflict with white America” may need to be confronted with “illegal and violent” action – are thrilled with Trump’s candidacy. Former KKK leader David Duke told listeners of his radio show that “voting against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage.”
The disturbing rash of violence surrounding Trump’s rise cannot be separated from the candidate himself. Trump’s candidacy is built on dehumanizing entire groups of people and his rally speeches are used to cheer on attacks against those who disagree. It’s up to us to mobilize against this ugliness. Our communities have the power to decide who will be the next leader of the United States, so we need to come together to ensure that Donald Trump never becomes President Trump.
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