Scrape away the buffoonery, oddities, and hyperbole, Donald Trump is a dangerous man.
Trump has presided over our country with a rabid nationalistic fervor, clawing away at a multitude of scabs that for long veiled deep divisions among Americans. One enduring feature that came out of the Civil Rights era was a degree of civility in the way people addressed each other. The racial epithets hurled easily and overt acts of racism in an earlier time became more subtle and nuanced with coded words as scabs hiding the deep gashes of the past. For much of the post-Civil Rights era, we have had what Duke University sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva calls "smiley-face racism."
Since Trump campaigned for the presidency and particularly after he was elected to the office, the smile has given way to a menacing scowl.
Trump has spewed utter hate, virulence, and antagonism against individuals, groups, and countries alike. With boastful masculinity, he wants to lock up Hillary Clinton, describes Congresswoman Maxine Waters as a woman of low IQ, and refers to women as pigs and dogs. Trump publically airs his hate toward LeBron James, NFL football players who protest by kneeling during the playing of the national anthem, and he associates certain African countries, Haiti, and El Salvador with excrement. Trump hails his disgust toward Univision anchorman Jorge Ramos, refers to Mexicans as rapists, drug dealers, gangsters, murderers, essentially the scum of the world, and heartlessly separates Central American children from their parents as if they were cattle. Trump characterizes Muslims, Middle Easterners, as well as Mexicans and Central Americans as terrorists. He despises the mass media, characterizing it as the enemy of the people that generates fake news. In Trump's world, there are many enemies that he abhors.
Unfortunately, the hate does not end with Trump. He is a vehicle for carrying that virulence to his supporters, providing them a license to hate and do harm to these enemies. Put simply, Trump, the self-proclaimed nationalist, is the Instigator-in-Chief.
In the last couple of weeks, part of Trump's hate list has turned into the hit lists of homegrown terrorists. Cesar Sayoc, a 56-
year-old white man from the Miami area has been charged for mailing 14 pipe-bombs to critics of Trump, including Barak Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Senator Corey Booker, Senator Kamala Harris, Representative Maxine Waters, and George Soros. Sayoc, whose van is covered with anti-media and pro-Trump stickers, possessed a hit list of 100 potential targets.
On October 24, Gregory A. Bush, a 51-year-old white man, sought his way into a predominantly black church in Jefferson, Kentucky, but could not enter the building. He subsequently drove to a local Kroger store where he started shooting, killing an African American man and woman inside the store and in ts parking lot. A witness reports that Bush said "whites don't shoot whites" during the melee.
On the morning of October 29, Robert Bowers, a 46-year-old white man, entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and unleashed a barrage of shooting that resulted in the deadliest mass attack against Jews in the history of the United States. Bowers killed 11 members of the synagogue and injured six others. Before the murder spree, Bowers made numerous anti-Semitic comments on social media criticizing a Jewish resettlement agency for bringing "invaders" to "kill our people." After being captured, he is said to have told a SWAT officer that all Jews need to die.
Over six days, 13 persons killed and six injured. An additional 14 persons could have potentially lost their lives.
Is Trump directly responsible for these killings and potential loss of lives? No, the three assailants are responsible for their own actions. The Instigator-in-Chief, however, is not an innocent bystander. We need to recognize the recklessness of Trump's words and deeds that prod others to take action.
Imagine, for a moment, if President Obama tweeted and spewed hate against whites and Republicans. Imagine further if ardent Obama-supporters took up arms and killed innocent people. No doubt, Obama would have been removed immediately from office.
Rogelio Sáenz is a sociologist and demographer. He is Dean of the College of Public Policy and Peter Flawn Professor of Demography at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Sáenz has written extensively in the areas of demography, Latina/os, (more...)