Donald Trump’s public feuds started out innocent enough. Sure, he insinuated that the majority of Mexican immigrants are “rapists,” but he also said that “some, I assume, are good people.” He insulted John McCain for being captured in Vietnam, but backed that up with criticism of McCain’s poor treatment of vets. He’s repeatedly attacked President Obama and Megyn Kelly on racial and gender-based lines, yet he's also ensured reporters that he’ll win both the African-American and the female vote. He's outspoken, but he always responds to any criticism by explaining that he has nothing wrong with whatever population he's just insulted.
Trump’s latest fiasco involves Univision reporter Jorge Ramos, who asked him a question about his immigration policy during a recent appearance in Iowa. Trump, given the fact that he’s embroiled in a legal battle with the network for dropping his Miss USA pageant after his comments about Mexicans during his campaign announcement speech, reacted harshly towards Ramos. “Excuse me, sit down, you weren’t called. Sit down! Sit down! Sit down!” Trump yelled at Ramos, who was ultimately escorted out of the room. Ramos was later allowed to return and engage in a dialogue about immigration with the candidate, but Trump’s initial reaction was all it took to make headlines once again.
Interrupting the speeches of presidential candidates has become a trend during this campaign. From the Black Lives Matters protesters taking the microphone from Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley to Ramos telling Trump “you can not deport 11 million immigrants,” there’s an overall sense that the public deserves to get in a word over politicians with presidential ambitions. Ramos was, indeed, speaking out of turn at Trump’s event. Yet the dismissive attitude with which Trump responded, first by kicking him out, then engaging in an argumentative debate, reveals much about Trump’s character. The racial implications of it all are the most dangerous part.
A recently released video shows one of Trump’s supporters saying “get out of my country” as Ramos exits the room. The malicious intent of those words is palpable. Ramos responds, calmly, “I’m a U.S. citizen.”
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The video is just one example of a Trump supporter going too far with racist attitudes towards Hispanic-Americans, yet it’s a sign of how influential Trump’s speeches have become. Despite all his talk about winning the Hispanic vote, getting jobs back to America’s Latino population and supporting legal immigration, Trump has introduced a dangerous culture of nationalism to the U.S. In Trump’s America, immigration is only celebrated if people are coming from civilized, white countries. Hispanics are ruining it for the rest of us. And Trump explains this all in a charismatic, loudmouthed manner to enthusiastic supporters.
Matt Taibbi published a great article in Rolling Stone explaining the exact moment when Trump stopped being funny and started being dangerous. It pinpoints Trump's reaction to the beating of a homeless Hispanic man in Boston, whose attackers claimed “Donald Trump was right, all of these illegals need to be deported.” Rather than taking a firm stance against the attack, Trump used the opportunity to talk about how amazing his supporters are. “I will say, the people that are following me are very passionate. They love this country. They want this country to be great again. But they are very passionate. I will say that,” Trump said.
A recent Quinnipiac poll asked respondents “What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of Donald Trump?” The top answer, with 58 responses, was “arrogant.” But “clown” received 34 answers and “funny” received 8. "Honest" received 30 and "truthful" received 8. The word association exercise doesn’t reveal much about the feelings of the overall voting population, but it is telling that so many believe he’s nothing more than a “clown,” yet so many also believe he's "honest" and "truthful." By most political pundits, his candidacy still isn’t being viewed as a legitimate threat. He’s consistently led the GOP polls, yet few believe he’ll actually obtain the nomination.
The most concerning aspect of that poll is the amount of people who find Trump “truthful.” Despite the dismissive attitude of journalists towards Trump, it’s clear that voters are taking him seriously. Immigration has been central to his campaign, and the racist, nationalistic messages he spews are being adopted by Americans across the nation. From the attackers in Boston to the supporter in Iowa, Trump’s fans are building a dangerous, backwards, anti-Hispanic culture. Not only is there nothing funny about it, but it’s more serious than most people suspect. The U.S. can't afford to become an anti-immigrant or nationalistic nation. That goes against the principles this country was founded upon. Trump's not making America great again; he's just making race relations worse.
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Image Source: Politico