This past summer a gunman killed 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando, and two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, were senselessly killed by police. These acts of bigotry can often feel as if they are disconnected events that steal the spotlight and grip the nation for a few days. You would expect a candidate for the highest office in the land to speak out against bigotry, hate, and violence. Yet time and time again, presidential candidate Donald Trump perpetuates and encourages this bigotry, and his reactions to these tragedies reveal more and more about what he stands for.
In the wake of the Orlando shooting, one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history, rather than speaking out against the violence inflicted on the gay community or offering support to the families and friends of those who died, Trump first used this horrific tragedy to congratulate himself, taking credit for “being right on radical Islamic terrorism.” Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, called the lone gunman what he was: “A madman filled with hate… consumed by rage against LGBT Americans, and by extension, the openness and diversity that defines our American way of life.”
After Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were shot in Louisiana and Minnesota respectively, Trump first ignored the events and then confused basic details about the two men in his official statement about their deaths. Compare that to Hillary Clinton, who called for an end to racial profiling and asked for “better training on de-escalation and implicit bias.”
Perhaps you think that these two instances were unusual for Trump, and argue that he should not be judged on a few missteps. But what about the time when he continually attacked Khizr and Ghazala Khan, a Gold Star family, after Khan’s heartfelt speech about their deceased son? What about the instance when he dismissed injured veterans, saying, “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier?” And what about the other instances when he insulted the LGBTQ+ community, war veterans, disabled persons, people of color, women, members of the media, immigrants, and refugees?
Trump’s insults are habitual. Throughout his entire political campaign, he has spread his hateful rhetoric through his speeches, comments, tweets, media interactions, and press conferences. Just what does this say about him and his beliefs?
Are we going to simply sit back and condone Donald Trump’s hateful speech and intolerant views or condemn them? Trump does not limit his hatefulness to acts of police brutality and mass shootings. He has suggested that Muslims can’t be trusted and that their religion is virtually inseparable from terrorism. He has referred to Mexicans as rapists and drug dealers and focused his “foreign policy” on the building of an actual wall between Mexico and the United States. He has been endorsed widely by white supremacists and has refused to disavow those groups and their endorsements.
Given our diverse student body, with students hailing from an estimated 37 different countries, I am surprised that any Deerfield student could support Donald Trump and his xenophobic approach to the world. Deerfield students live together as a family, and that includes Mexican students, Muslim students, and Black students. Can you look one of these students in the eye and explain why you’re supporting Trump?
Among my friends, I count people who are pro-choice and people who are anti-abortion, people who believe in the death penalty and those who do not, and people who believe in stricter gun laws and those who do not. I’ve always believed that regardless of which presidential candidate a friend was supporting, it wouldn’t affect our friendship.
Not in this election. In this election, as much as I can honor a different viewpoint, if you are supporting Donald Trump, you are not my friend. This is not simply about party loyalty anymore. This goes well beyond any fundamental philosophy about how a government should run. This is an ultimate decision about whether we will allow hate and bigotry to thrive in this country.
Each one of us has the potential to make a difference this November, even if you’re not yet of voting age. I urge you to make your voice heard, because love trumps hate every time.