Issue 36 / Donald Trump's Age Of Intolerance In America

Donald Trump’s Age Of Intolerance In America

Feb 08, 2016

The seeds of hate have been planted, fertilized and watered. It’s just a matter of time before they sprout.  

An elderly Sikh man was attacked while waiting for a ride to work. A hijabi woman was ridiculed and thrown out of a political rally. Another Sikh-American man was taunted and ejected at a different political rally. An emboldened white supremacist group has found a voice. These are the makings of a new America. Thanks to Donald Trump.

Trump is no stranger to the political space. His birther-buoyed presidential run in 2012 provided much fodder and harmless punch lines. Now we have a 2.0 version; a bolder and angrier Trump. And it seems that his messianic complex fits in nicely with his supporters who have long looked for someone who shares their xenophobic ideology.

It doesn’t matter whether Trump wins or loses. The damage to America is done.

America’s racial divide isn’t something new. The country’s history is comprised of many sordid chapters throughout the development of the nation. Drawing on current history, the immediate post 9/11 world was rife with anti-Muslim, anti-Sikh (as they are often mistaken for Muslim) and overall anti-Arab/brown hatred.

As much as we hoped it would be, it wasn’t an anomaly. This brand of hatred was tweaked, fostered and rebranded for years in the political arena, evolving into a handy political fear-mongering tool wielded by the far right. The “Ground Zero” Mosque, the threat of Sharia Law and buzz words like “indoctrination” and “recruitment” were bandied about whenever specific issues related to President Obama were discussed. However they were filtered to the masses through coded messages of hate. But now, code breaking isn’t necessary with Trump’s blunt force verbal attack and his version of the truth is attracting enough supporters to fill stadiums across America.
Trump’s America
Trump has always been a gold-gilded showman when it came to sound bites. He mastered the media before a Kardashian was even born. He knew what branding was even before branding became a thing. Add the presidential platform to the mix and you’ve got a monster.

His parameters of America were defined last June when he launched his presidential campaign. He addressed America’s illegal immigration problem by singling out Mexicans as dangerous thugs, saying “They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists.” This Latino community was enraged and Trump started losing out on some high profile business deals as a result including NBC firing him from The Apprentice and refusing to televise his Miss Universe pageant. Meanwhile, 30,000 people showed up to his rally in Alabama.

A snapshot of the rally held in Mobile, Alabama.
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In August, immediately after his first televised Republican debate, Trump targeted a sexist remark at one of the moderators, Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly, interestingly enough because she asked him a question about his history of sexist comments during the debate. The remark took to the airwaves and grabbed headlines. It also got him more supporters.

Then, in September, Trump’s security team punched an immigration officer who was holding a protest sign. In November, a Black Lives Matter protestor was beaten at a Trump rally. In December, racist remarks were hurled at Latino protesters by a Trump supporter and in Las Vegas someone heard “Sieg Heil,” a Nazi verbal salute, at a rally.

Trump was just warming up.
Teflon Don

Days after the San Bernardino attacks in early December, Trump took to his podium and proposed a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” (since then revising his ban to a “temporary” one). He justified this move by referencing President Roosevelt’s internment of the Japanese during the Second World War. The timing was typical Trump. The announcement was made on Pearl Harbor Day.

He continued to ride the wave of his ban controversy while racking up more publicity via global headlines and outrage. During media rounds he supported the idea of a database system to track all Muslims in America, stating, “I would certainly implement that.” More supporters flocked Trump’s way.

 A packed stadium in Dallas, Texas.
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It’s clear this isn’t the fringe movement a la The Tea Party’s racism we saw in 2012. Now it’s on the main stage and slowly bleeding into America’s mainstream consciousness. A recent poll in December showed that one third of Republican voters (one in six) supported Trump’s Muslim ban, (it's also worth noting that half of Republican voters polled still think Obama is Muslim.) White supremacist groups climbed on board the Trump train and openly pledged their unsolicited support. The anti-Muslim views expanded into an anti-anything-but-white movement with various hate crimes being reported, including one against 68-year-old Amrik Singh Bal from Fresno, California who, while waiting to be picked up for work, was chased down, beaten and hit by a car by two Caucasian men who reportedly shouted “Why are you here?”

With the wounds of the Paris and San Bernardino tragedies still fresh, Trump used the attacks to further fuel his vitriol. There were concerns of an uptick on anti-Muslim hate crimes across the U.S, while the fear of immigrants grew with 25 U.S. governors flatly rejecting to accept Syrian refugees.

Ibrahim Hooper, the national communications director and spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, noted in an interview with that the backlash may not be entirely related to Paris or San Bernardino, "It may not be so much San Bernardino but Donald Trump keeping it going."

With incidents occurring across America, including in New York, California, Texas, Pennsylvania and Florida, The New York Times reported that the uptick was three-fold, with nearly a dozen attacks taking place within a month. “We’re seeing so many of these things happening that it’s unbelievable,” Hooper said in the December interview. “It’s off the chart, and I don’t think we’ve seen the end of it.”

Newsweek reported FBI findings of general hate crime stats low — but hate crimes against Muslims have spiked (keeping in mind that hate crimes are traditionally underreported) and just an idea of an uptick is worrisome.  

 Buttons at a Trump Rally.
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An Unlikely Supporter

As the New Year dawned, Trump released his first video ad on January 4th with harsh tones and emphatic key anti-Muslim and anti-immigration messages. In an interview with The Washington Post, Trump confirmed that he’d be spending $2 million US a week running ad spots in time for the Iowa and New Hampshire caucuses (key states where the election momentum traditionally moves into high gear). So where is the Republican Party in all of this? They are helplessly watching Trump’s ratings rise, while white supremacist groups (one even created a Super PAC to support Trump) are robocalling voters in Iowa and New Hampshire — a male voice on the line preaching "We don't need Muslims. We need smart, educated, white people.”

Donald Trump's first television ad "Make America Great Again."

A White Supremacist group show their support for Trump at a recent rally. 
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Trump is striking a chord with supremacist groups. In a recent post on the white nationalist blog Occidental Observer, Kevin MacDonald noted that a “very large number of white people are furious about the where the country is headed. A major political candidate is saying things that have been kept out of the mainstream for decades by a corrupt elite consensus on immigration and multiculturalism that dominates both the GOP and the Democrats.”

Trump hasn’t officially asked for their help. It doesn’t matter. Trump’s America is coming to fruition.  
Hatred in Numbers

Trump continues to break record attendance for a political rally with 10,000 in Biloxi, Mississippi; 20,000 in Vermont; and up to 17,000 (with 5,000 who waited outside) in Oklahoma. He is now averaging 10,000 per rally.

Two days after his video broke, a Muslim-American woman, Rose Hamid, who wears a hijab, was thrown out of a Trump rally in Iowa when she stood up in silent protest with her friend, immigration lawyer Marty Rosenbluth. Both were wearing yellow star-shaped badges labeled “Muslim.” A deliberate move eerily reminiscent of the yellow badges the Jews were forced to wear by the Nazis.

Hamid and Rosenbluth silently protest at a Trump Rally in Iowa. 
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Just a couple of days later, Arish Singh, a Sikh-American man, was thrown out of a Trump rally in Iowa for holding a sign reading “Stop Hate." He later tweeted, "I am not a Muslim. But you don't have to be a Muslim to stand against anti-Muslim bigotry."

"Mr. Trump's denigration of a Sikh man falls within a larger pattern of negative statements against minority communities," The Sikh Coalition's Simran Jeet Singh told NBC News. "Comments and actions such as these are especially dangerous given the sheer amount of hate violence that Sikh Americans are experiencing today. Every time he does something like this, it has negative consequences for Americans of all backgrounds."

Singh being approached by Trump's security at a rally in Iowa.
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So now that we are in key February battleground states there is a ways to go before July 18th when the Republican National Convention picks their presidential nominee. What happens then is anyone’s guess. What is for sure is that Trump's end game clearly is marking the end of America as we know it. 

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Hina P. Ansari


Hina P. Ansari is a graduate from The University of Western Ontario (London, Ontario). Since then she has carved a successful career in Canada's national fashion-publishing world as the Entertainment/Photo Editor at FLARE Magazine, Canada's national fashion magazine. She was the first South Asian in...


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