Donald Trump is one of the scarier things to happen to America. His exponentially growing campaign is the highlight of the year. It makes sense: the bright orange glow of his face is mesmerizing. When he’s on TV you think you are watching a Saturday Night Live skit and the show has suddenly become funny again. But then you notice the CNN Live logo in the corner of the screen.
He is not joking around. The scariest part of the whole campaign is not the questionable phrases that come out of Trump’s mouth or even his outrageous behavior. Rather, it is the people who so passionately stand with him.
Trump is quickly and not so quietly building a coalition of white supremacists and closet racists alike. As frightening as it sounds, it is not surprising. In fact, the support he is drawing is about the only thing in his campaign that makes sense. His slogans and ideas are capturing people’s fears and prejudices.
A rich white male saunters on stage and tells the country that his one concrete proposal as president is to build a wall on the Southern border. The same man announces his intention to ban all Muslims from entering the United States. He has also proposed a national registry to identify remaining Muslims. To achieve these ends, he might as well force them to wear a star and a crescent symbol on their clothing. With proposals like these, it is not shocking that he has attracted the support of white supremacists and closet racists.
However, this demagogic campaigning is extremely dangerous. It threatens productive conversation and actions taken to advance human rights. Trump has created a hostile environment that fosters a less civil and democratic process. At his rallies, Trump’s harassment of protesters and critics has become commonplace.
In fact, Trump has become infamous for his inability to take criticism, and for his vicious attacks and comebacks. In any other campaign and with any other candidate, a single one of these remarks would have sent a candidate packing. Trump is changing the way politics is done, but certainly not for the better.
At recent rallies, Trump supporters have acted violently and angrily towards identified protesters. In Kentucky earlier this week, many protesters were asked to leave a Trump rally. As Trump yelled for them to “get out,” his naively loyal fans violently shoved and assaulted the people as they attempted to walk out of the mass.
One young black woman’s walk through the sea of Trump’s mini-bullies was documented on video. She is seen peacefully exiting the scene as man after man shoves her away. They yell obscenities in her face, and it is very difficult to watch.
The visceral hate on the faces of the men is despondently reminiscent of the contorted and enraged faces of the white students who were captured in famous black and white photographs yelling at the black students of the Little Rock Nine.
The side-by-side display of the two events is eye-opening. It is a dark reminder that despite the notion that we have made serious strides since the 1960s, we are still a country divided. The deeply-rooted hatred of black people has never stopped burning for many white Americans. Donald Trump’s message is drawing out that ugly hatred for people we deem as “others.”
This is the scariest part of the Trump phenomenon. We can shake our heads at his outlandish behavior and his obsession with his own success. We can ignore his failed business ventures and the one million dollar head start he received from his father, while pretending he is an economic genius.
We can try to push aside the endless offensive remarks, with one exception. I do not think I can get past the part where he said he would like to date his daughter, but you can certainly try. In the end, he and his campaign feed a dark and hateful part of society that so many Americans have dedicated and given their lives to change. This is not something to laugh off. This is the real threat that Trump poses.
As the press focuses on the increasingly violent and hateful conduct at Trump rallies, his campaign has had a quick response. Trump did not condemn the assaults or the explicitly racist behavior, just like he chose to not condemn the pledged support of a former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard on national television. Instead, he has tightened security and cracked down on the ability of the press to document any of said behavior.
In addition to the heightened security, Trump has also unveiled a charming new campaign tactic at his rallies. He takes the stage and asks the voters for their loyalty. Trump then asks them to raise their right hand towards him and pledge their vote. However, his supporters forget their most important line: “Heil Trump!”