This past week, several prominent figures within the Democratic Party were targeted in coordinated attempts involving attempted deliveries of pipe bombs to the addresses of former U.S. President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Vice President Joe Biden, and to the office of CNN in New York City, among others such as investigator George Soros. The primary suspect for these acts of terror was named as Cesar Sayoc, a former pizza delivery man and DJ, an active white supremacist, and a prominent Trump supporter who wholeheartedly opposed the very notion of integration within American society, as could be determined by his commentary on members of the LGBTQ community, Muslims, African Americans, and other minorities. In addition, a Pittsburgh synagogue was attacked this weekend by another white supremacist whose only reasoning for his savagery was to eliminate as many members of the Jewish faith as possible.

These proponents of hatred that claim to have a love for the United States stand in stark contrast to the very notions of freedom and independence for all (regardless of race, religion or creed) that this great nation was founded upon. Moreover, they have found a political figure that has catered to their wills, a man who is willing to appeal his vilifying rhetoric towards their sick notions of supremacy based on the color of their skin-- that same man now sits as the President of the United States. The rise of Donald Trump's charismatic ascent to power was marked by increasing surges of marked resentment against minorities around the country. Groups such as the Ku Klux Klan had found a rallying point behind Trump to promote their ideology of superiority over those they considered lesser human beings, with former Grand Wizard David Duke endorsing Trump's anti-immigrant, America-first appeal. Despite the problematic nature of these relationships, Trump's fan base chose to stand firm with their candidate, pouring back years of neglect and rage at Washington's inability to help their increasingly dire situations, as many have lost their jobs due to outsourcing (a la China and Mexico) and are fearful of the growing tide of immigrants populating the country. They fear that one day their descendants will become the minority and that the power balance that has protected their interests for so long will finally be shifted.

The strategies utilized by Trump to harness this fear are the same ones that were used by totalitarian rulers such as Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler throughout their campaigns. He smears the credibility of the media and encourages violence against reporters in order to silence those who would speak out against him-- a clear breach of the First Amendment and an unforgivable offense on all counts-- and routinely parrots his views by scapegoating multiple groups in order to increase a sense of hyper-sensitive nationalism within his constituents. By targeting a wide variety of minorities such as Mexicans, Muslims, and African Americans (amongst a plethora of others), Trump has normalized the style of racist belligerence that one would expect of disenfranchised citizens who have grown jealous of the leaps that people of diverse backgrounds have taken in the past century.

It is important to note that Trump himself is not the cause of this bigotry-- those seeds had been sown centuries ago during the nascent years of this country's existence, and such roots contributed to the explosion of the Civil War and the outbreak of the Civil Rights movement in an attempt to maintain the old status quo of submitting people of color and dissidents of religion to the will of the white man. Trump's consistent calling for a Muslim Ban and his consistent denigration of Mexican immigrants has simply brought the ugly truth of racism and discrimination to the forefront of the American paradigm, challenging the very notion of what it means to be a citizen of the United States.

It is this normalization of hatred that has led to an uptick in attacks against those considered deviant from what is considered "normal". Hate crimes against minorities increased approximately 10% from 2014-2016, and have continued to grow steadily as more organizations of prejudice, such as Stormfront, increase the promotion of their biased viewpoints to their expanding consumer base. Such acts of violence against minorities will only continue as long as leaders like Trump are in power-- their very appointments are an abomination of the very ideals of equality, and their hypersensitive sense of nationalism and overwhelming narcissism are extremely dangerous traits that do nothing but encourage violence against those who do not represent to them, in their eyes, the picture of an ideal American society.

It's up to us, my generation, to solve this conundrum by breaking the cycle of hatred that has bound our great country for so many decades, by choosing to believe in each other as Americans in spite of our differences. Only then can we stem the tide of fascist ideology perpetuated by Trump and his cronies that have polluted the mindscape of American society, and return to the standards of acceptance and diversity that defined our trajectory as a nation long ago. If any feel angered that I have chosen to compare the actions of what is presumed to be a few radicals as the representation of an entire group, then congratulations-- you now know what it's like to be a minority in this country, and you now know what it's like to have your identity as so-called "authentic Americans" thrown into question.