In the wake of Donald Trump’s Electoral College victory, hate crimes are being reported* against Muslims, LGBTQ youth, and other minority groups across the country, presumably perpetrated by Trump-supporting racists emboldened by his victory. And I’ve heard one refrain over and over again from Trump voters across social media:
“It’s not ALL Trump Supporters!”
(It’s actually three refrains I’m hearing repeatedly, but we’ll tackle ‘But Hillary…!’ and ‘The other side is doing it too’ later – this first is by far the most common, and the most disturbing).
Let me explain to you the two reasons why this response is so dangerous, and why those of you that are using it are still a huge part of the problem, even if you’re not scrawling swastikas in public parks.
It is immediately ignoring and diminishing the incredibly serious and terrifying circumstances millions your fellow US citizens are in right now.
Think about the profound lack of empathy or basic decency you’re displaying when you hear someone was attacked by a large group you’re associated with (Trump voters) and you very first reaction is to respond with “We aren’t all committing these terrible acts!”
That doesn’t need to be where your mind immediately takes you. You don’t need to leap to your own defense before all other concerns. It costs you absolutely nothing to instead say, for example “That’s absolutely awful – I’m so sorry that happened to them.” That “I’m sorry” isn’t an apology by the way – it’s an expression of sympathy.
And guess what? By expressing sympathy first, besides being the decent and American thing to do, you’re also still distancing yourself from this strain dangerous extremism we cannot allow to become commonplace.
It is selfish.
When your first response to news reports of Muslim women having their hijabs ripped off is “Not all Trump supporters!” you’ve completely shifted the discussion away from the Muslim women having their hijabs ripped off and instead made the conversation about yourself.
The dialogue is now about protest votes. Or about whether a person can vote for a candidate while opposing their rhetoric. Or about lost rust belt coal jobs or something else completely unrelated to to Muslim women having their hijabs ripped off.
It’s self-centered verbal judo.
And not for nothing, but even if you don’t consider yourself a racist, you did vote for the guy that ran on a campaign platform of making Muslim US citizens all register and mocked the wife of a Muslim gold star mother specifically because she was Muslim. These weren’t comments from decades ago. He campaigned on them. So that’s part of what you voted for. By casting a Trump ballot, you’re stating that his anti-American, racist remarks and policy proposals aren’t deal-breakers for you.
So you’ll excuse me for not being more concerned that your feelings are hurt so many people are now mistaking you for a racist.
* As a lifelong skeptic (just ask my friends), I’m very aware that that many of these reports are unverified, and some have even been proven false. It’s very easy for angry or frustrated or scared people to share a story that simply never happened. It’s important we continue to confirm the veracity of these reports, but it’s more important that we listen, and that we care. The KKK is marching, and we can’t allow the freedom of religion or the beautiful diversity of America to be budged one inch.
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