Not every president or politician is skilled at uniting the American electorate toward a shared set of values, nor does every elected official excel when it comes to finding common ground with lawmakers or Americans across the aisle.
But President Donald Trump by far eclipses all other presidents in recent memory in his blatant disregard and open disdain for wide swathes of the American public — from people of color and Muslims to women and the LGBTQ community — inviting the worst among us to come out of the shadows and join his movement.
He appears to have no qualms about publicly sharing his racist views, be it the time he called Mexicans rapists or referred to immigrants “infesting” our country; or when Trump indicated there are some “very fine people” in the ranks of neo-Nazis and white supremacists; or the time he verbalized his desire for Norwegian immigrants over those from “shithole” countries; and then there are his attacks on black football players who kneel to draw attention to police violence — he’d like to “get that son of a bitch off the field right now”.
Trump will say he loves immigrants. He loves African Americans. He loves all people.
But that makes the above truths impossible to square.
And how might he explain the following, reported by The Washington Post last year:
> Trump reminded them the crowds loved his rhetoric on immigrants along the campaign trail. Acting as if he were at a rally, he recited a few made-up Hispanic names and described potential crimes they could have committed, such as rape or murder. Then, he said, the crowds would roar when the criminals were thrown out of the country — as they did when he highlighted crimes by illegal immigrants at his rallies, according to a person present for the exchange and another briefed on it later. Miller and Kushner laughed.
The election of Donald Trump has presented a “rare opportunity” for conservatives to stop a “dangerous movement, undetected by many” that is eroding religious freedom in America, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said this week.
Sessions’ “Religious Liberty Task Force” will help end the (imagined) persecution of American Christians, he says, but in reality the only erosion going on targets LGBTQ rights and women’s right to choose.
> Mediate reports that Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBTQ hate group with several former staffers firmly embedded in the Trump administration, is largely behind the task force’s formation.
> “ADF holds dozens of extreme anti-LGBTQ positions on nearly every every aspect of life, including supporting laws that would punish sodomy by imprisonment, writing in favor of Russia’s so-called ‘gay propaganda’ law, and advocating against efforts to protect LGBTQ youth from the harmful and discredited practice of conversion therapy,” the site reports.
Another high profile anti-LGBTQ leader, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, was appointed to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Perkins — who has described same-sex marriage as the marriage between “a man and his horse” and labeled anti-bullying efforts in schools as “disgusting” attempts to “convert” kids to the “gay lifestyle” — also praised the Trump administration’s new task force:
> “In the wake of the Obama administration, we are witnessing a revival of freedom!” Perkins sent out in a press release shortly after Sessions’ speech. “The announcement of the creation of a new Religious Liberty Task Force by Attorney General Jeff Sessions is the launch of the next phase of President Trump’s campaign promise to protect the religious freedoms of all Americans.”
> “The formation of this task force puts bureaucrats on notice: you will respect the freedom of every American not only to believe but to live according to those beliefs.”
Many who attend Trump’s campaign rallies exhibit no shame in hurling expletives and racial epithets at protesters, or using sexist and demeaning language toward Hillary Clinton.
Trump encourages such behavior with his own hateful rhetoric — who can forget the time then-candidate Trump told a supporter he would pay for any legal fees if the supporter roughed up a protester?
Watch the video below and listen to the raw audio from the president’s events:
All things considered, it is no coincidence and no surprise that hate crimes are on the rise under President Trump.
The Washington Post reported earlier this year that, according to FBI data, crimes with racial or ethnic bias jumped the day after Trump won the 2016 presidential election — and further, “the daily number of such incidents exceeded the level on Election Day for the next 10 days.”
While it has not been proved that Trump caused a spike in hate crimes, there is indeed a correlation between the emergence of his vile rhetoric and an increase in such activity.
According to BBC News, 2016 saw the second straight year of an uptick in U.S. hate crimes.
> The number of hate crimes in 2016 was 6,121 - about a 5% jump from 2015. About half of those incidents were motivated by race, the [FBI] says.
> In incidents where the perpetrators were identified, the FBI found that about 58% of crimes were motivated by the victims' race, ethnicity or ancestry.
> Meanwhile, 21% of crimes were motivated by religion and nearly 18% by a victim's sexual orientation.
One study has made a strong case for a link between Trump’s anti-Islam rhetoric and an increase in hate crimes:
> A disturbing new paper by researchers Karsten Müller and Carlo Schwarz of the University of Warwick suggests that Donald Trump’s Islamic-related tweets may be directly linked to an increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes over the past few years. If Trump’s tweets have, in fact, played a role in spurring hate crimes, then social media may be playing an even more powerful role in people’s lives than previously thought.
> Muller and Schwarz analyzed the relationship between Trump’s tweets and anti-Muslim hate crimes by drawing upon a number of data sources, including the FBI’s hate crime data between the years 1990 and 2016 as well as Twitter usage across the country. First, they documented that the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes recorded by the FBI increased during Trump’s presidency. In fact, anti-Muslim crimes have been more prevalent under Trump compared to any other previous president, including George W. Bush following 9/11. Second, the researchers found strong statistical correlations between the number of Islam-related tweets made by Trump in a single week and the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes that took place in the days and weeks that followed. Trump’s anti-Islam tweets were only correlated with anti-Muslim crimes and not other types of hate crimes. Therefore, it seems likely that it was the specific content of Trump’s tweets, and not growing anti-minority sentiment in general, that were linked to the uptick in anti-Muslim hate crimes.
The researchers are careful to note that correlation does not equal causation, but the results are highly suggestive nonetheless.
One could go on to discuss Trump's vitriol toward women and the press -- few but his supporters and those close to him are safe from potential attack.
In the end, it is extraordinarily clear that America has in President Donald Trump a leader who actively works to liberate groups and individuals that wish harm to others — for no other reason but the color of their skin, place of their birth, God that they worship or political ideology to which they subscribe.
President Trump has empowered the worst of American society.