Donald Trump’s primary campaign tactic has been to foment hatred, fear and racism in order to get supporters. The scary part is, it’s working.
Americans have historically been somewhat isolationist. This country was founded as British colonies that decided to break away from Britain. Throughout American history, we have resisted being pulled into the long festering disputes between the many political factions throughout Europe. We only came to the table in WW II after we were directly attacked at Pearl Harbor–Hitler’s European blitzkrieg did not motivate the U.S. to join the war.
We also have a long history of being ambivalent to immigrants. On the one hand, we have the Statue of Liberty which beckons-
Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
On the other hand, we have very restrictive immigration policies which serve to greatly limit the number of people we allow to legally immigrate to the U.S. And, admittedly, we do have a significant number of “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” who have come here illegally.
We have a history of racism which transcends that which has existed in other parts of the modern world. Slavery was legal in a large part of the U.S. only 150 years ago. Government sanctioned apartheid was part of American culture until only 52 years ago. The federal government stepped in, in 1964, with the Civil Rights Act which ended official apartheid. And in the fifty two years since, American society has come a long way (externally) towards a “color-blind” society. But racism is deeply rooted in the American psyche and a lot of disenfranchised whites who appeared to have gotten past their hatred of minorities and immigrants merely kept their mouths shut out of “political correctness.”
In stepped Donald Trump. His popularity can be directly attributed to his call to this suppressed racism and xenophobia.
“You don’t need to be politically correct. You and I know what’s wrong with America (i.e., minorities and illegal immigrants) and if you elect me, I’m an outsider who isn’t afraid to do the politically incorrect thing. I’m not afraid to deport millions of Mexicans. I’m not afraid to call for the registration and monitoring of Muslims. Believe me.”
In other words, Trump gives voice to and legitimatizes racist and xenophobic sentiments that many people have but would not speak about because it is (or at least, prior to Trump, was) socially unacceptable.
In effect, Donald Trump has made the unacceptable acceptable. He has unleashed the racial hatred that apparently still infects a significant part of the American psyche. In doing so, he is following in the footsteps of Hitler and Mussolini. “Let’s Make America Great Again” contains three false predicates (false assumptions without which the statement is meaningless).
- America was great once;
- America is now in decline; and
- Getting rid of Mexicans and Muslims will make it great again.
Let’s look at these assumptions. First, America was great, once. I disagree. The idea and ideals of America have always been great. The dishonest and racist way in which it was carried out (slavery and apartheid) was never great.
That brings us to the second assumption. Untrue. America is greater now than it ever has been in the past. It’s in the opposite of decline. The U.S. has been slowly moving towards an inclusive, secular and color-blind society. We elected an African American president, twice. Our youth (at least in urban areas) are tolerant of religion, color and sexual orientation.
Finally, the third assumption. If we get rid of undocumented Mexicans, there will be more jobs for Americans. What jobs? Jobs that Americans have no interest in? Mowing lawns, picking fruits and vegetables? Jobs that we previously relegated to slaves because no white American was willing to do them? And of course, register and monitor the Muslims. That will go a long way towards making Muslims feel like they’ve got a stake in America– the unifying common thread that binds this country.
Hitler promised to make Germany great again after it was defeated in WW I. He blamed the Jews, the Gypsies, the homosexuals and the intellectuals for what was wrong with Germany. He appealed to the German people’s suppressed racism and 60 million human beings died. Because Hitler was a vile, hateful person.
Trump promises to make America great again after globalization has depressed it. He blames the Muslims, the undocumented Mexicans, the trans-genders and the liberal media for what is wrong with America. He appeals to the American people’s suppressed racism. If he is elected, God help us. We will have succumbed to the will of the mob.