An end to a term of hate

As the projected winner of the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden has already begun to plan a series of executive orders to repeal Donald Trump’s current policies. One of the policies on the chopping block is the ban Trump put on travelers from Muslim majority countries, a cornerstone of a term that has continually incited hatred and violence. Discrimination and division have been definitive aspects of  Trump’s term, and as his term enters its final months, I want to reflect on a few of the many incidents where Donald Trump targeted a minority group as well as the turnout of the election.

Even on the campaign trail, Donald Trump ignited hate. One infamous aspect of his 2016 campaign was his emphasis on planning to build a border wall between Mexico and the United States. Throughout his campaign, Trump vilified Mexicans in speaking of his future immigration policies. He repeatedly referred to them as criminals, drug dealers, and rapists, the first time being during his speech to announce his bid for the presidency. This pattern of hateful language encouraged racial violence and set off a rise in hate crimes against Hispanics. Regardless of where you stand on immigration, this language was unnecessary and perpetrated harmful stereotypes.

Trump also has a contentious relationship with the Black Lives Matter movement. Trump referred to white nationalist protesters in Charlotteville as “very fine people,” yet he referred to Black Lives Matter protesters from this past summer as “thugs” while glorifying violence against said “thugs.” If Westminster has taught me anything, it’s how to analyze word choice, and this alarming contrast between Trump’s treatment of different protestors makes his racial bias undeniably apparent. Trump’s language misrepresents this movement that is largely peaceful as violent, causing many others to follow along in believing that this movement is dangerous and to withhold their support. The Black Lives Matter movement is at the forefront of the fight against police brutality and for racial equity, and Trump’s characterization of BLM protesters highlights his disregard for black Americans. 

During the pandemic, Trump has continually vilified China, an issue personal to me. China worsened the outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic with its lack of transparency; however, Trump racialized the pandemic, calling the coronavirus the “Chinese virus.” Though many have argued that Trump refers to the virus in this manner because that is the geographical location where the virus originated, the name “Chinese virus” places a whole nationality of people in conjunction with a virus that has wrecked millions of lives. An entire group of people is not responsible for a pandemic, and the repercussions of the name “Chinese virus” have been blatantly visible as Chinese people, as well as people mistaken to be Chinese, have experienced physical and verbal attacks across the country. Additionally, he has also referred to COVID-19 as “Kung Flu,” a directly racist name. Unsurprisingly, his language led to an uptick in racism against East Asian Americans, and for weeks, I could not scroll past a video or Instagram post featuring someone of East Asian descent without seeing a crude and racist comment. 

Another shocking moment was during the first debate when Trump was unwilling to condemn white supremacy when asked to do so. Instead, he said “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” failing to denounce the Proud Boys, an organization whose participants have allied with white supremacists and displayed misogynistic and racist views. The founder of the Proud Boys, Gavin McInnes, said in response to this comment, I think he was saying I appreciate you and appreciate your support,” showing how the Proud Boys have interpreted Trump’s comment as encouragement. Donald Trump’s declination to condemn white supremacy is another testament to how he has been a bystander to, or more often a stoker of, racism. 

There is an unmistakable trend of hate in Trump’s actions and words, and with all this considered, it was demoralizing to see the election be such a tight race. Joe Biden may not be a perfect candidate, but he has vowed to support women, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community and to protect what should be considered basic human rights. I personally expected more people to vote against the candidate who has generated so much hate throughout his term, and it was a little disheartening to see so many people overlook Trump’s pattern of discrimination. I hope that in the future, a respect for people of all backgrounds will be a prerequisite all political candidates will have. Watching the numbers of the election run so close to each other has demonstrated the harsh division and undervaluation of fair treatment in America. Equity among all identities should not be a hotly debated issue. 

Though election week was a reminder of the distance our country still has to go in order to secure just treatment for all, I am hopeful that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s victory is a step in the right direction, and I will hold them accountable to the promises they have made on the campaign trail. Finally, regardless of political beliefs, Kamala Harris’s historic win to become the first woman of color in the vice presidential office is a monumental win for women and people of color in America. She tweeted following her victory, “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” and following a tumultuous week, these words remind us that though progress has been slow, progress has still been made.