Jon Stewart recently did an interview on “CBS This Morning” and was asked about his thoughts concerning the recent election of Donald Trump to the presidency. I am seeing a lot of this conversation being shared online, with a highlight on Stewart’s claims of “liberal hypocrisy” regarding viewing all Trump voters as a monolith of racists. He makes the point that a lot of people he knows that aren’t afraid of blacks, Muslims, Mexicans, etc. voted for Trump because of reasons other than his racist rhetoric, and the message is being taken that we shouldn’t call all Trump voters racist. The interview can be found here.
Well, nope! Jon Stewart is wrong on this point. I know some people want everyone to get along, and unify and settle our differences, but in my opinion he is letting Trump voters off the hook too easily. Racism is not something that exists in absolute forms – that is, it’s not a simple black and white, yes or no question. There are varying degrees of racism that people can have and display. And racism is not just defined by one’s behavior, but by the behavior they tolerate. And at the end of the day, Trump voters saw a man who disparaged Muslims, Mexicans, the disabled and women, and ran a campaign promising to register people based on their religion, or outright banning their immigration to the country. And those Trump voters said, by voting for that man – “hey, that’s okay with me.” And that is despicable, and we shouldn’t forget it.
It’s like when we had slavery. Not everyone was personally a slave owner, but the people who supported those in power who did own slaves were in their own way supporting that practice. So, by voting for Trump, people validated and supported all of his divisive rhetoric and the campaign promises he made (whether he actually fulfills all of them or not.)
I understand that people have an instinctual desire to get along with other people, and it’s easier to brush differences under the rug than to expose them and talk about them honestly. But the election of Trump is and should be viewed as an outrage. Those who voted for him displayed absolutely no respect or empathy for any of the groups he routinely disparaged. So, we’re divided. And I don’t know if it’s even possible that we can “heal” that division. But that’s reality, and we shouldn’t hide from it. Hiding from and denying reality are part of the reasons that led to a president-elect Trump in the first place.
Photo credit: Defense Dept. photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons