I didn’t want to write this. Firstly, I assumed all that could be said about this topic had been said and as someone who is not American, I wasn’t sure it was my place. But due to the bright spark who decided to run for President of my students’ union as Donald Trump, I now feel it is my duty to carefully explain why that is problematic at best and mainly just another example of white people being tone deaf.
Before I start I wold like to explain my bias. You see I co-founded the Ethnic Minority Network in my students’ union, to serve as a platform so that the voice of ethnic minority students could be heard (although this seems less like an achievement and more like a waste of time at this moment). So I hope you can understand why I take issue with the fact this candidate has chosen to run as this racist, sexist, demagogue.
So by now (as I hope you have been following) you might have picked up on how I like to substantiate what I say. So without even touching on some of the weirdest things he has said (such as wanting to date his daughter, defending the size of his penis or implying that Frederick Douglass is still alive) I want to briefly explain why Donnie is not a role model.
- he claimed Mexicans were rapists
- he claimed a judge was biased towards him because the judge was Mexican, he’s not
- he spread lies that President Obama was not born in the US
- he said he would ‘grab them by the pussy’ and then claim it was ‘locker room talk‘
- he then said that was just locker room talk
- he called for and then enacted a Muslim ban
- he insulted a Muslim gold star family
- he refused to condemn the white supremacists that supported his campaign
- he appointed an attorney general who was not confirmed as a judge as it was thought he was too racist to be a judge (he is now in hot water due to recently revealed meetings he had with a Russian Ambassador)
- his company was sued by the Justice Department, twice, for not renting to black people
- he supports stop and frisk
- he mocked a disabled reporter
So given this (incomplete) laundry list, think about the implication of someone running for any position, using his personality as a template. To be honest it feels like a tremendous slap in the face and I am not even sure who to be angry at or blame. The student who thought this was funny, his friends who supported this exercise in stupidity or the union who sanctioned the apparent promotion of the man-child Trump and who apparently at no point thought of the potential bad PR this could attract.
Or maybe they did and maybe they just don’t care. Maybe they just don’t care about ethnic, female, Muslim or disabled students.
Now you may think I am overreacting and that this is all just banter but allow me to explain the slippery slope we are on using an example. In the tweet below, the student makes a joke about #fakenews.
This is not funny, this is dangerous. This trend of delegitimising media that does not say what you want it to is something dictators, not democracies encourage and joking about this normalises this behaviour, which leads us further down the slope. But that’s just one example you might say, the candidate hasn’t done or said anything racist, he’s just playing a character. See the thing about change is that it doesn’t happen overnight, it can be slow and insidious even. Normalising this kind of behaviour opens up the door for more of trumps antics to be rationalised and thus adopted by the mainstream. Today we joke about fake news, tomorrow we start burning crosses.
And furthermore, although the candidate may not be a racist or sexist does that even matter, if you’ve just been mugged and you see someone dressed as a police officer are you going to go up to them and ask for help or assume they are just in fancy dress?
I am reminded of a few weeks ago when I was showing off my department to potential students and was asked by one prospective student about the level of diversity within the university and town. She asked the question subtly but I instantly knew what she was getting at. At the time I gleefully told her of how it had been improving in leaps and bounds and was a far-cry from the days in my first year where I was the only male Black fresher in my hall. I can’t help but regret that now. This really hurts me because I have spent a good part of my time at university trying to make ethnic students more visible and more welcome in this mainly white and middle-class arena. But the fact that apparently no-one in the union thought it was a BAD idea for a candidate to base their campaign to be the student union president on Donald is quite a loud indication that efforts to do so have been in vain.
Peace and Love,
Aharoun the Author.