“Waiting for the day when you can be you and I can be me” Christina Aguilera
Do we have permission to judge Americans for ‘acting’ the way they are? Especially when they’re influenced by and following their president.
This question was sent to me through facebook, and honestly my mind started racing. I had no idea how to answer this for at least three hours, I sent a very quick one word answer back at the time and that answer was no. There is no way I can judge somebody else for what is currently happening over in the United States, but then I realised that I in fact felt slightly differently, my answer before writing this post? Yes and no . You can blame them for the sexual harassment, gender and racial discrimination as well as violence that has followed President-Elect Trumps unexpected victory. Though I do believe that nobody is ever in the position to judge another, throughout this post we will see if I change my mind further.
The quote at the top of this article sums up exactly how I feel, now please note I do have family and friends in the US so I’ve had some information fed to me to assist me in understanding what is actually taking place at this time. I often say that we aren’t ever in the position to judge another, although I do believe when actions such as the rising destruction of the riots are taken those involved void the right to the public turning a blind eye.
To further explore how I came to my answer we should look at various moments in Donald Trumps campaign, this will show what the American people may be following. I will also continue to refer to the original question to see if my answer does in fact change. Shall we begin with sexual harassment? In 2005 President-Elect Trump was recorded during a conversation in which he said “I don’t even wait” he continues saying “and when you’re a star you can do anything, whatever you want”. This behaviour is deplorable and unacceptable regardless of who it is. Such behaviour should result in legal action immediately whether it be verbal or physical, the fact of the matter is it’s still assault.
As a result of Mr Trumps remarks (and I remind you this is not the only instance of such comments) reports have started surfacing that specifically state American citizens assaulting women. This is all happening as they vocalise obscenities much like those heard in the now infamous ‘locker room’ tape. It doesn’t stop here though, many if not most of these women are also of other races which quickly became another target for Trump during his election. This election campaign soon became one of hate, discrimination and bigotry. Did this message actually get through to the American people? And when did they choose to accept this and begin acting like this?
Unfortunately I believe the campaign that was run is largely to blame for these specific actions, to an extent I am sure that those assaulting women may have done so in the past. In others circumstances they saw Trumps comments as a get out of jail free card. But can we judge them for these actions? Absolutely, and for sexual assault we should be doing so. At no point should women be subjected to such horrific acts against them or have any man force themselves on her, therefore my answer is leaning to yes they should be judged for thinking that acting in this way is okay.
If you were told to jump of a bridge and below you was a dried up lake or river, would you? So why should it be okay for people to be hiding behind the excuse of their president-elects behaviour?
The next focus in answering this question will be the racial vilification that seemed to become so prominent throughout this election year.The problem that arose for me is the fact that so many different minorities became affected, so many that are already disadvantaged. Let’s begin with the latino population and some of the remarks that were made about them. Considering I identify as Latino these particular comments hit quite close to home, one of the comments that really sticks out in my mind was “they’re bringing drugs, crime and are rapists”, never have I been so offended at being painted with one brush. Don’t get me wrong Mexico in particular have gone through many trials and tribulations, but this overall image that was constructed was beyond offensive. It doesn’t sit well with so many and while I was offended the feelings go well beyond that, I know that momentarily I was almost ashamed to be Latino, I then became sad and finally had an immense anger and hunger to prove this statement incorrect.
I highly doubt Donald Trump even thought about the repercussions of this statement, he was all about making America great again although by saying this many citizens began to back him and agree with his comments. This in turn creates division and personally I think that is only going to limit his ability to follow through with his slogan. These comments also seemed to allow for violence and racism to be more brazen, the most worrying part of these actions is that nobody seemed to step up and say enough was enough and stop his comments or others actions.
This takes me onto my next minority that seemed to be positioned in Trumps firing line, the Muslim people and culture was under attack very early on and remained a staple in Donald Trumps campaign. Trump blatantly directed the below comments at the Muslim population, “Look, we have to stop with political correctness. We have to get down to creating a country that’s not going to have the kind of problems that we’ve had with people flying planes into the World Trade Centers, with the — with the shootings in California, with all the problems all over the world. … We have to find out what’s going on”. Yet again we witnessed an entire race being stereotyped and segregated. During an election this is the worst possible image you want to set, to the public it conveys the message that this behaviour is completely acceptable and appeals to the majority in a way that should never be validated by a political party.
The reason I am so much more upset about his comments toward the Muslim community is due to the blatant ignorance shown and misinformation that has been spread. As a presidential nominee you have the responsibility to provide the public with logical and factual information, whereas the Republican Party have allowed for fear to be instilled in citizens instead. One fact that can’t be denied is that acts of terror are on the rise and too often we see world leaders point the finger of blame at terrorist groups that originate from countries in the Middle East.
Through allowing Trump to advertise his plans for screening of Muslims and mass extradition of Latinos we have seen an increase in citizens becoming less concerned with hiding their racist views. Upon Trumps election the media circulated multiple stories that showed just how brazen people had become, there were instances of anti-Muslim and anti-Latino phrases being written on cars, garage doors and even sidewalks. This simply strengthened the feeling of fear and uncertainty for those targeted as well as increasing the risk of danger as well. Using the same thought process as the previous point, yes we absolutely should be judging those who are acting out in this way.
While throughout this post I have said that we are well within our rights to judge the behaviour being exhibited both during and after the election, we should not extend that judgement to specific individuals. In saying that I do believe that there is a group who should have quite a lot of judgement cast and that is the Republican Party. I thought it would be good to end with some of Trumps tweets, I feel as though these perfectly convey not only how he acts publicly but gives an insight to how effective he will in fact be as president of the United States.