Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Sad Unveiling of Americas Bigotry

If there is one thing to take away from this election cycle, it is this - America is a disturbingly bigoted country.

The campaign of Donald Trump gave the ignorant, the unwashed, and the uneducated a voice.  This empowered them and gave them a validation that they have not had for many years.  It was okay for these people to take their profoundly disturbing views and bring them out into the light.  You have seen the gleeful faces of his supporters as they have attended his rallies with t-shirts saying "build the wall" "immigrants out" "lock her up". 

The disturbing issue is not that these opinions are there - we knew they were - it is the sheer number of these people that came out of the bigot closet via the validation and permission given by their Fuhrer - Trump.

It is quite permissive to use a Hitler reference with Trump.  Having studied the Holocaust, I had to also study the rise of Hitler.  And it mirrors - or has been mirrored by - Trumps campaign strategy;
  • Define a segment of the population to blame your problems on.  Hitler used The Jews, Trump used the undocumented immigrant.
  • Leave truth behind.  Hitler simply made up truths and statistics to suit his argument.  Trump has done the same thing.
  • Speak loudly and often.  Hitler picked a few core concepts and them belted them home repeatedly and loudly.  Trump has done the same.
  • Validate your audience.  Hitler would often tell his rallies that 'They knew who the real villain is.  You understand'.  Trump validates his supporters often.  This makes them feel both victimised and smart.
  • Ignore facts about your opponent, attack them personally.  Hitler didn't use any serious facts about The Jews, he simply insulted them and portrayed a caricature of them.  Trump has done the same re undocumented immigrants.  They are murderers, rapists, they steal your jobs, they get entitlements that you are not able to access etc.
  • Tell the people you come from them.  Hitler made much about how he came from a poor family amid the working class.  Trump has often told his supporters that he is from them, even going so far at one point to say he is "a type of blue collar".
If this election cycle has done anything for the informed voter, it shows how much work still needs to be done in terms of bringing America together.

Racism and hate is far more prevalent in this great country than many would like.  I certainly know that I am profoundly disturbed by the prevalence of hate.  In 2016 we should be better than this, but we aren't.  Transphobia, Islamophobia, misogyny, 'All Lives Matter', LGBT hate, these are issues that should be significantly less than they are.  We should not still be having to mobilise at the large scale that we are in this day and age. 

This election cycle was not just about the continuing legacy and good work of President Obama - who history will show as one of the most effective Presidents we have had - it was about a diagnosis of our social health.  And we are clearly chronically unwell.  We are a patient in a hospice who has mostly been forgotten by the nursing staff, and thus we have gotten progressively more sick.

There are still challenges that have to be overcome.  But I refuse to give up my hope.

Donald Trump will not win.  Neither will the divisive and hate filled message of his campaign.  But to ensure that this message dies a death so dreadful that it does not come back anytime soon, we have to continue our vigilance.  Get involved.  Influence opinions and attitudes within your own daily life.  Change hearts and minds. 

We are better than this.


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