By Miriam Hwang-Carlos ’17
Content note: This article contains descriptions of hate speech and harassment.
We now all live in Donald Trump’s United States of America, and we likely will for at least the next four years. Hate crimes have spiked. Just a few miles from our campus, in swing state Pennsylvania, every black first year at UPenn was added to a GroupMe group message titled, “N—– Lynching.” In solidly blue Western Massachusetts, where I grew up, a mountain side was spray-painted with hate messages including swastikas, “Gas the Jews,” and “Kill all n—–s.” Among the spray-painted messages, “Trump 2016.”
In the days before and after the 2016 election, I have seen various calls to stop generalizing about Republicans or Trump supporters (which I recognize are not necessarily one and the same thing). Various classmates and acquaintances, article writers, and Facebook users have claimed that it is unfair to label all Republicans or all Trump supporters as racists, sexists, homophobes, xenophobes, islamophobes, etc.
Republicans (and conservatives in general) are undeniably a minority on Haverford’s campus. Recognizing this minority status, I have never before felt the need to demand action of conservatives on campus. However, Republicans and Trump supporters now belong to a group that holds incredible power over the entire United States and the world. Republicans control the Presidency, the House, the Senate, and likely soon the Supreme Court.
“Minority” does not equal “disenfranchised and systematically marginalized minority.” (For example, people with green eyes are a minority but are not deprived of power or rights due to their minority status. Millionaires are a minority but actually have more power due to their minority status.) Comparisons of Republicans on campus to people of color, queer people, or other marginalized groups based on a shared minority status are historically dishonest and contextually ignorant. Republicans and Trump supporters now belong to a highly empowered group, despite remaining a minority on campus. If you identify as either a Republican or Trump supporter, now is the time to use your membership in these groups to fight the violence that they have unleashed.
If you are a Republican, Donald Trump was your nominee, and he is now your President. Whether or not you voted for him, he claims to represent you. For better or worse, he has been the representative of the Republic Party since the Republican National Convention. If he does not represent your views, what are you doing to change your party? How are you showing your neighbors endangered by this presidency that you stand with them?
If you did vote for Donald Trump, now is not the time to complain about being labeled a bigot. Now is the time to stand up and take action to stop this rash of hate crimes and to fight oppression in all its manifestations. If these hate crimes are not what you voted for, do something. If you voted for Trump, you voted for a candidate who said that Mexicans crossing the border bring drugs, crime, and rape, who threatened to register all Muslims, and who has been accused of rape or sexual assault by twenty women. You voted for a Vice-President who endorses conversion therapy and voted three times against legislation to ensure equal pay for men and women.
If this is not the America you voted for, it is your responsibility to protect others from the violence your vote has enabled. Regardless of your own opinions, many other Trump supporters are feeling emboldened by his win and seizing the moment to harass and attack people of color, women, Muslims, Jews, trans people, queer people, and immigrants. If I am to believe that not all Trump supporters are fueled by hate, I want to see groups of his supporters out in the streets to protect Muslims from harassment. I want to see Trump supporters blocking deportation proceedings. I want to see Trump supporters escorting trans people to the bathroom to make sure they aren’t murdered. I want to see Trump supporters demanding justice for rape victims. I want to see Trump supporters strategizing how to get their disabled or chronically ill neighbors health care if they lose their insurance.
Now is not the time to lecture those harmed by the Republican president-elect’s policies on acceptance and understanding. Now it is the responsibility of Republicans and Trump supporters to hold themselves accountable for the violence their party and candidate has released and to take concrete actions to minimize this violence.