President Trump has often been accused of racism and fear-mongering and the latest Republican campaign ad endorsed by Trump, has once again brought these allegations to the forefront. Many of his supporters adamantly dismiss these claims as outrageous and ridiculous, stating he simply tells the truth.
The thing is, Friends, our language matters. The way we say things is important, and most especially when we are leading an entire country. The manner in which we present information is critical. The POTUS often uses scare-tactics to prey on the fears of America. When discussing the problem of illegal immigration, he has referred to immigrants numerous times as rapists, murderers, and “very bad people.” And yes, there have been some horrendous crimes committed in this country and elsewhere by individuals who entered the USA illegally. I’m not denying that or justifying it, nor am I suggesting that we shouldn’t discuss those cases when looking at policy changes to our immigration system.
The issue, though, is to hear the President speak, one would think that these bad apples are the majority and they are not. The majority of individuals who have entered this country legally or illegally, are simply looking for a better way of life for themselves and their families. Many are trying to escape extreme poverty, government corruption, and/or terrible violence. Most are just trying to give their children a chance at life. Not even necessarily a chance at a good life, guys! Just an actual chance to live to see their 16th birthday!
But President Trump doesn’t talk about these things. Of course not. That wouldn’t fit in with his political agenda. That wouldn’t build that wall.
To be fair to him, though, the President’s fear-mongering is nothing new in politics. Look back in history and we see countless incidents from politicians and news rooms from all sides who have employed the same tactic. It’s just easier for us to see it when we, or the causes we support, are the scapegoat.
I’m a Christ-follower. Do you know how many people in history have been viciously murdered by individuals in the name of God, in the name of the same God I love and serve? Millions, my Friends. Millions. Yet, I would find it ridiculous if people started using those facts to denounce Christians as dangerous. Why? Because I know we’re not all like that. In fact, most of us aren’t.
I support the 2nd amendment, though I support some policy changes regarding gun laws. Lots of people I know do, too. And lots of people I know get so frustrated with the fact that after another mass shooting in America, politicians and the media prey on our fears and lump all gun owners into the same category: dangerous. My news feed will be inundated with people’s arguments that most gun owners are responsible citizens and they’ll be furious with “the other side” refusing to distinguish between the majority and the bad apples.
I don’t support abortion because of my religious and moral convictions. Yet, there have been quite a few individuals with allegedly the same convictions as my own, who have committed heinous crimes against abortion clinics. I would never condone such actions and I certainly don’t want to be associated with them. I definitely don’t want my convictions and those of the majority who believe like me, to be judged by the violence of that minority among us. That would be crazy. Right?
I support our law enforcement. I believe they should be respected and appreciated for their work and sacrifices. I also know, though, that not all who wear that badge, are good people. There are incidents where minorities have been profiled, unjustly apprehended, and yes, even murdered by racist cops. But I recognize that most of the men and women behind that badge are not like that and I would never condone violence against them based off the disgusting actions of the minority among them.
I’m a 34-year old white woman in America. I didn’t live through the Civil War. I didn’t own slaves nor do I condone it. But my ancestors did. I know plenty of white racists today, sadly. There are white supremacists marching around in KKK hoods and preaching hatred even today. But I definitely don’t want to be associated with those kinds of people. In fact, it annoys me when people assume that I am a racist because of the color of my skin, the history of my people, and the actions of a bunch of morons who happen to have the same skin tone as I do.
Am I making my point, here, Friends?
I think every single one of us in some way or another have experienced frustrations at being grouped into the same category as extremists and minorities in our individual groups. Most of us don’t have any difficulty identifying how unfair or ludicrous it is to be scapegoated against when we are the victims of such actions. So why is it so difficult for us to not hold ourselves, to not hold the individuals who we align ourselves with, to the same standards? Why can we not see past our politics, our religions, our genders, our races, etc and recognize prejudice even when it’s not personal to us? Do we have to be the scapegoat before we’re willing to step up on our soap boxes? Do we have to be the victims of bigotry before we are willing to demonstrate integrity?
I’m not an “open all our borders and let anyone come and go as they please” advocate. I believe in a system to immigration. I believe in enforcing immigration laws when they make sense. But I do not support, nor will I ever support, preying on the fears and lack of understanding of my country to bring about changes to the broken system. I will never support any leader’s policies on the issue, who demonizes entire populations based on the terrible actions of a minority among them and refuses to address all the truths on a subject, not just the ones that support their agenda.