Two days before I wrote this article, the New York Times released a compilation video consisting of uncensored footage from various Donald Trump rallies around the country. Although the video only clocks in at about three minutes, there is plenty to be said about it and its implications for the 2016 presidential race.
I will ask that you watch the video first before continuing on. It would also be helpful to look over this article. Now, turn your attention back to Odyssey. How did watching that video make you feel? Shocked? Sad? Angry? For me, all three of the aforementioned emotions hit me like a tidal wave. As someone who's never been to a Trump rally, I've only ever experienced his racist and otherwise hateful comments indirectly, usually via Internet or newspaper article. Watching a video taken from the audience's perspective, however, provides an entirely different experience. Reading about Trump's negative comments directed toward war veterans, including John McCain and more recently, the family of a Muslim soldier killed fighting for American armed forces is painful and disappointing, but not surprising--any politically-informed person in America is well aware that Trump is a vitriolic, narcissistic and fear-mongering man. Watching video footage of his supporters, however, provided a real wake-up call as to what Trump's campaign is doing to America.
To preface this, I would like to let it be known that I do, in fact, have a few friends who are adamant Donald Trump supporters. They tend to be very devoutly Christian and are not normally interested in politics. The people in this video do not represent these friends of mine, nor do I think they represent all Trump supporters. However, their behavior does demonstrate a troubling trend that started with the first GOP debate and probably won't end until/unless Hillary is elected president.
One of the first offensive comments in the video starts at 0:24: "Build the wall! F*ck those dirty beaners." Shockingly, this is not the most vulgar comment in the video, but it does provide a descriptive blanket statement that most Trump supporters seem to agree upon. After all, much of his popularity was built upon the idea that immigrants, particularly Mexican immigrants, are ruining this country and need to be kept out at all costs. At 0:40, a man with a shirt reading "F*ck Islam" is removed from the venue but continues to shout and create a scene outside. A few people stop to take a selfie with him and congratulate him on leaving his t-shirt on. The most offensive part of this exchange, however, is what follows his vulgar statement: "God bless Donald Trump." This is a sadly ironic statement. As one of the main Abrahamic religions, Islam has a lot in common with Christianity. Most importantly, both religions believe in one benevolent God. Although they may call Him by different names, His benevolence is absolute--this God wants people of all religions to live in peace and would never endorse the hateful rhetoric that this Trump supporter espoused. At 1:21, the racial epithets become even worse. As Trump criticizes President Barack Obama, the crowd cheers and one voice is heard saying "F*ck that n*gger." Shortly after this, the audience goes wild as protestors are removed. The video then shows several clips of violent interactions between protestors and Trump supporters.
Obviously, Trump did not create racism. There have always been bigots in America and to look on the bright side, we seem to be getting a little more open-minded every year. Unfortunately, someone with a platform as *yooooge* as Trump's is the perfect catalyst to bring out the Mr. Hydes in America. Finally getting to hear someone powerful espouse their most offensive and heinous prejudices is giving millions of people justification for their biases and fuel to act upon their bigotry. If it weren't for a charismatic leader like Donald Trump, the mob mentality displayed in this video would not have even been created. It can be manageable to attack bigotry on a personal level, but Trump has created a monster: a team of millions of bigots who feed off of each other's bigotry and grow stronger with each racial or sexist slur yelled at Obama, Hillary Clinton, or even their innocent next door neighbor who just happens to be of a different race or gender.
This election cycle is troubling for many reasons. I hope that watching this video and reading my article resonated with at least some of you. Hopefully we can find a way as a country to recover from the hateful rhetoric that has overtaken many of us.