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Essay on Trapp’s Influence on the Growth of Hate Crimes

Updated August 8, 2022

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Essay on Trapp’s Influence on the Growth of Hate Crimes essay

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Past elections could not prepare the American people or the world for the events that would follow the 2016 election. For the first time, a candidate was willing to cross the line that bordered along the usual political quarreling and outright bullying. Sociological and psychological pundits everywhere warned that Trump’s campaign tactic could lead to detrimental messages (Bobo, 2017). As the saying goes, monkey sees, monkey do. Soon after the election was over, the concerns of experts turned into accurate predictions.

Trump’s influence has emboldened many to openly endorse hateful views, and as a result, a rise of hate and racist crimes rose in both rural America and even in purported “blue” safe havens after the 2016 election (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2018). As painful as it is to admit, racism has always been deeply rooted in American history. But since the inauguration of Donald Trump, the number of hate crime incidents rose to an outstanding high. Over the course of just 10 days after the 2016 election, there were nearly 900 hate incidents reported to Southern Poverty Law Center— an average of 90 per day (2016). By comparison, from 2010 through 2015, about 36,000 hate crimes were reported to the FBI — an average of 16 per day (Majumder, 2018).

What a president does – or even conduct – a president tacitly approves. This could not be more evident when a Florida man was accused of groping a woman on a flight from Houston to Albuquerque, in which he was later reported telling authorities that his actions were permissible because “the President of the United States said that it was okay to grab women by their private parts.” Here, the man was referring to a leaked tape from 2005 of Donald Trump talking about how fame and power allowed him to grope and have sex with women, and where the infamous, yet highly controversial “grab them by the pussy” statement originated.

Despite this and many other controversial moments that spewed from racial tweets and political slogans, Donald Trump was still handed the keys to the White House. This led me to investigate how Trump’s presidency perpetuates and affects racism in America, and how the trickle-down effect of the divisive rhetoric used in Trump’s tweets and political slogans affect American culture.

The Significance of Trump’s Tweets

One of President Trump’s favorite form of communication with the public is through Twitter, an American online news and social networking service. On multiple occasions, President Trump has used this platform to tweet about his opinions, often in the form of insults, on certain politicians and celebrities. His disputes with prominent African Americans display the type of language the President uses to speak about people of color. Often, these terms are nothing short of offensive and degrading.

One group of people that Trump likes to target are athletes. In order to silently protest and bring more attention to the issue of police brutality, many NFL players, most of whom are African Americans, have chosen to kneel during the National Anthem. This, of course, did not sit well with Trump. Often times, Trump’s opposition on the issue surrounding the NFL protests have been used as rallying cries. Many believe that the usage of this rhetoric fuels racial division in America.

Furthermore, in a series of Trump’s tweets, he equates taking a knee as a sign of disrespect for the country when in actuality, the gesture is meant as a respectful protest against police brutality while simultaneously “show more respect for men and women who fight for the country” as Colin Kaepernick the first NFL player to initiate the National Anthem protest puts it (Martin, Park, & Vercammen, 2016). Furthermore, in August, Trump tweeted a post about notable black athletes saying, “The NFL players are at it again – taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem. Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their ‘outrage’ at something that most of them are unable to define…” (realDonaldTrump, 2018a). By doing this, he is catering to the racist ideology that blacks are inferior and not as intelligent as whites. But this is not the first time that Trump has undermined the intelligence of notable African Americans.

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, a black Democrat from California, has been the target of many Trump tweets due to her opposition to his policies. In past tweets, Trump has described Waters using terms such as “crazy” (realDonaldTrump, 2018b), “unhinged” (realDonaldTrump, 2018c) and even an “extraordinarily low IQ person” (realDonaldTrump, 2018d). In other tweets, Trump has doubted the intelligence of NBA superstar LeBron James and CNN anchor Don Lemon, and even stooping so low as to call former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman a dog (realDonaldTrump, 2018e). Trump’s predisposition to compare those he does not like to animals is rather disconcerting. As history has proven, dehumanizing others by referring to them as animals open the gates for cruelty and genocide. This rhetoric can be interpreted by white supremacists as a way to justify violence and could even be a cause of motivation.

In addition to Trump’s dehumanizing tweets, there have been instances where Trump used Twitter to spread, ironically enough, “fake news.” One such instance could be traced back to November 22, 2015, the day after a black activist was kicked and punched by voters at a Donald Trump rally in Birmingham, Alabama, Trump tweeted an image packed with racially loaded and incorrect murder statistics (realDonaldTrump, 2018f). According to the tweet, 81 percent of murdered whites are killed by blacks. This is simply not the case. According to the U.S. Department of Justice Homicide Trend statistics, (1) most murders are intraracial, meaning within one’s race because crime is motivated by proximity and opportunity, and (2) 84 percent of white victims are killed by other whites (Cooper & Smith, 2011). By exaggerating the likelihood that a white person would be murdered by a black person, Trump is feeding into the racist ideology that black people are criminals. Perhaps the most notable thing about this whole issue is that the source cited in the tweet—the “Crime Statistics Bureau of San Francisco”—doesn’t exist (Farley, 2015).

How Political Slogans Cultivate Racism

Besides Trump’s tweets, his political slogans also play a huge role in his campaign and presidential career. Phrases such as “Build A Wall” is one example of how racism lurks closely underneath Trump’s political agenda. Often times, Trump would advocate for his wall by describing Mexican immigrants as “drug dealers, criminals, and rapist.” By doing this, he is using fear to motivate people to support him and his plans for border patrol. Trump’s attitudes towards immigrants shaped many’s views on immigration policies. Even though the slogan is meant to push for stricter border patrol, it evolved into a way for whites to declare their white superiority. Over the years, numerous viral videos of white people shouting racial epithets have sprouted up everywhere. Many of these videos would show a white person ranting at minorities followed by a “Go back to [insert country here]” and “We’re going to build this wall.” An instance that showcases this chauvinistic bigotry happened literally a day after Trump was elected, high schoolers from a school in Dewitt, Michigan created a “wall” blocking Latino students from reaching their classes and lockers.

Another popular, political slogan that Trump uses excessively is “Make America Great Again”, or MAGA. But, what exactly does “Make America Great Again” actually mean? For some, it means a time that entails greater economic prosperity. For others, it means a rewind to times of oppression. As PBS host Tavis Smiley puts it, “To what specific period of American greatness are you wanting us to return? When black folk suffered segregation after slavery? When women had no right to vote or control their own bodies? …When we stole land from the Native Americans? When we sent Japanese families to internment camps? When Americans lynched Mexicans” (2016)? Due to the slogan’s vagueness, many people interpret it in different ways which can lead to problems with those who do not share the same interpretations. This was evident during the Howard University incident where two white high school girls entered the campus cafeteria wearing MAGA hats. Students at Howard University did not appreciate the gesture, being that it was a historically black university. And as a result, the girls were chastised for their action.

In addition to understanding what MAGA means, it is also significant to know who it is meant to benefit. To answer this, in a Washington Post-ABC News poll, people were asked if they thought the U.S. is worse than it’s been in the past, greater than it’s been in the past, or about the same? More than three-quarters of Trump supporters replied America’s greatest days were behind us. When the poll asked other demographic groups the same question, the majority of whites agreed with the view that America is worse, but only 1 in 6 African Americans agreed as well. Some factors that could affect the “greatness” of America is income, political representation, and employment. All of these factors largely depends on one’s race, gender, and level of education (Soffen & Lu, 2016). In other words, white males, especially those working in the blue-collared sector, have disadvantaged the most due to the fact that the power balance has changed as a result of the recent movements towards equality for women and minorities (Rose, 2017).

Some like Jeffrey Lord, American author and political strategist in Pennsylvania, who served as an associate political director in the administration of former United States President Ronald Reagan, argues that Trump is exactly what America needs right now. In his book What America Needs: A Case For Trump, Lord attempts to convince readers by giving seven reasons why people should support Trump. Using terms such as “defender”, “truth-teller”, “Debt-Bomb Diffuser”, etc., he tries to paint a positive image of Trump in hopes to persuade skeptics (2016). His aim was to relate the typical American to Trump by stating that Trump has also lived the American Dream — absurdly enough, an American Dream which began with a “small loan” of a couple million dollars. In fact, the entire book does little to convince opposing viewers to alter their political views on Trump. With little to no evidence to back any claims, the entire book is just an extended parroting of the views of most people at many of Trump’s campaign rallies.

The fact of the matter is this: America has always been racist. This should be unsurprising since America was literally built upon the labors of millions of slaves. The only difference then and now is that political correctness and society made outright racism unacceptable. But when Trump became president, it was as if the hate that has been embedded and hidden in people’s hearts were let loose. Trump was the key to Pandora’s box, and his presidency unleashed many great unexpected horrors. Dare I say that Trump normalized racism? Due to Trump’s divisive rhetoric, the perpetuation of trickle-down racism in America will cause many implications to rise, which will affect posterity. One possible implication centers around what is known as a “tacit deal” between the Supreme Court and the American people.

In The Will of The People, Barry Friedman, American academic and one of the country’s leading authorities in law, defines a tacit deal as a mutual agreement where “the American people would grant the [Supreme Court] justices their power, so long as the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution did not stray too far from what the majority of the people believed it should be” (Friedman, 2009). Experts and politicians alike agree that the dangers of the Trump presidency are not just the number of Supreme Court appointments that he may make. If Trump’s presidency proves to move the populace towards a more bigoted viewpoint, this will also compel the Supreme Court to follow suit (Johnson, 2017).

In a recent study, researchers found that general attitudes toward policies, people, institutions, or events are found to correlate well with behavioral patterns (Ajzen, Fishbein, Lohmann, & Albarracín, 2018). Even though President Trump is the one who perpetuates racism in America, due to Trump’s impact on how people view and treat minorities, he could also be the solution to our problem.

Essay on Trapp’s Influence on the Growth of Hate Crimes essay

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