Washington, DC—Through racially charged rhetoric and statements ripped from the fringes of the anti-immigrant and white nationalist movements, Donald Trump has been attempting to mainstream hate speech.
His words are having consequences. Politico reports today on the “combustible” atmosphere and numerous incidents of violence at Trump campaign events and rallies. Here at America’s Voice, we’ve been tracking instances across the nation where Trump, his supporters, or his staff have harassed or attacked Latinos and immigrants. Unfortunately, as Trump has expanded the scope of his intolerance to focus on Muslim Americans and African Americans, there are new and troubling incidents to add to the list of hateful behavior with disturbing connections to Trump’s hateful speech.
At long last, Trump’s dangerous vision is now receiving wider condemnation from observers who understand that Trump’s mainstreaming of racist rhetoric and racially-charged lies could have lasting consequences on our society and democracy. Some of the nation’s leading editorial boards and columnists are more vocally condemning Trump’s views, with many calling on Trump’s fellow Republicans to stand up to bigotry and calling on the media to stop treating his intolerance with kid gloves.
See below for a sampling of key editorial and opinion voices weighing in:
Washington Post Editorial, “Republicans Need to Stand Up to Trump’s Bullying”: “[Trump’s lies] are not random errors. All of them appeal to the basest instincts in supporters; they reinforce fears and prejudices. All of them, Mr. Trump knows by now even if he did not know when he first stated them, are false, but he does not care. The amplification of the lies is accompanied by growing intolerance in his campaign, with Mr. Trump praising supporters for beating a protestor, crudely denigrating anyone who challenges him and penning reporters into designated zones so that they cannot speak with his followers. And all of this matches the brutality of his policies: mass deportation of longtime U.S. residents, torture of foreign detainees, expulsion even of refugees who are here legally … The only way to beat a bully is to stand up to him.”
New York Times Editorial, “Mr. Trump’s Applause Lies”: The Times editorial compares Trump to Joseph McCarthy and George Wallace, noting: “In the Republican field, Mr. Trump has distinguished himself as fastest to dive to the bottom. If it’s a lie too vile to utter aloud, count on Mr. Trump to say it, often. It wins him airtime, and retweets through the roof. This phenomenon is in fact nothing new. Politicians targeting minorities, foreigners or women have always existed in the culture. And every generation or so, at least one demagogue surfaces to fan those flames … His right to spew nonsense is protected by the Constitution, but the public doesn’t need to swallow it. History teaches that failing to hold a demagogue to account is a dangerous act. It’s no easy task for journalists to interrupt Mr. Trump with the facts, but it’s an important one.”
Michael Gerson, “Republicans are Still in ‘Denial Mode’ Over Donald Trump”: “The presidential candidate who has consistently led the Republican field for four months, Donald Trump, has proposed: to forcibly expel 11 million people from the country, requiring a massive apparatus of enforcement, courts and concentration camps; to rewrite or reinterpret the 14th Amendment to end the Civil War-era Republican principle of birthright citizenship; to build a 2,000-mile wall on our southern border while forcing Mexico to pay the cost. He has characterized undocumented Mexican immigrants as rapists and murderers, and opposed the speaking of Spanish in the United States … It does not take much political talent to turn this sense of cultural displacement into anti-immigrant resentment; only a reckless disregard for the moral and political consequences. As denial in the GOP fades, a question is laid upon the table: Is it possible, and morally permissible, for economic and foreign policy conservatives, and for Republicans motivated by their faith, to share a coalition with the advocates of an increasingly raw and repugnant nativism?”
Dana Milbank, “The GOP is Running Out of Time to Find the Anti-Trump”: “Republican elites are panicky about the durable dominance of Trump (and to a lesser extent Ben Carson) in the presidential race. They are right to worry, but I don’t feel much sympathy. Trump is a problem of their own creation. Trump gets ever more base in his bigotry — and yet, with few and intermittent exceptions, rival candidates, party leaders and GOP lawmakers decline to call him out. So he continues to rise, benefiting from tacit acceptance of his intolerance … The longer Republican leaders take to find their anti-Trump voices, the more their quiescence becomes an endorsement.”
Jonathan Capehart, “How Trump is ‘Defining Deviancy Down’ In Presidential Politics”: “Just when you thought the Big Apple billionaire couldn’t sink any lower, he does. He gleefully dances through the nativist, racist, misogynistic slop as if he were Gene Kelly in ‘Singing in the Rain.’ And to make matters worse, Trump is rewarded for it … No amount of condemnation of his divisive, racist rhetoric seems to halt his advance. What he is doing, what he is saying is not who we are as a country. What he is doing and saying is not just ‘defining deviancy down,’ it’s destroying our country.”
Michael Tomasky, “Who in GOP Will Finally Stop Trump”: We’re at the point where we’re debating whether the Republican Party frontrunner is or is not objectively a fascist. Who in GOP is going to step up?
Ruth Ben-Ghiat, “Donald Trump Hits New Lows”: Ben-Ghiat, a history professor at NYU, writes: “After slandering Mexicans as drug dealers and rapists, and retweeting images of monkeys trying to cross the border, Donald Trump has declared open season on African-Americans.On Sunday, Trump defended the beating of a black protester who disrupted a campaign rally. White supporters punched and kicked the man, who was wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt. Hours later, Trump retweeted an image of a black gunman, twinned with false statistics that blame blacks for 97% of violence against blacks in America, shifting attention away from the white police brutality against blacks that has been so much in the news lately. As in the gallery of images he retweeted a few weeks ago — which attacked Hispanics and rival candidate Jeb Bush as their protector, but also included an image of a Nazi swastika — Trump chose visuals meant to fan the fires of prejudice in his supporters. Conservatives and political commentators such as Tom Bevan of RealClearPolitics.com minimize Trump’s outrageousness as all part of a social media strategy designed to keep him in the spotlight. But this blunts the political force of his tweets, helping his more mainstream followers to avoid uncomfortable truths about the causes they are supporting by backing him.”
Ryan Cooper, “Donald Trump’s Alarming Skid Toward Outright Fascism”: “As of August, Trump had most of the ingredients for a fascist movement: the victim complex, the fervent nationalism, the obsession with national purity and cleansing purges, and the cult of personality. He was missing the organized violence, a left-wing challenge strong enough to push traditional conservative elites into his camp, support for wars of aggression, and a full-bore attack on democracy itself. He’s made much progress on all but the last one. It’s clear now that the Paris attacks enormously energized the Trumpist movement. He’s now speculating openly about invading Syria. Trump’s proposals have gone from overt prejudice to things literally taken out of late Weimar history — closure of mosques and a national Muslim database. The rank-and-file have both fed off and stoked this behavior. When a lone protester started chanting “black lives matter” at a Trump rally, Trumpists jumped him (he was luckily not badly injured). Trump later said, “Maybe he should have been roughed up.” Hours later he lied about witnessing Muslim crowds celebrating 9/11, and retweeted nonsense racist garbage from a literal neo-Nazi.
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