The Best Response to Trump-Related Hate

John Becker

“Trump Nation, faggot!”

Those ugly words, screamed at me this week by an anonymous male as he drove his car past me on the street, sent chills down my spine. Not because of the slur itself — I’ve been targeted by that word far too many times to be scandalized by it — but because it happened in the heart of bluer-than-blue Washington, D.C., just days after Donald Trump, a dangerous, divisive demagogue, won the Electoral College vote and the keys to the White House.

Trump’s presidential run unleashed a wave of bigotry and hatred on this nation the likes of which we hadn’t seen for decades. From slandering Mexicans as drug-dealing rapists, spreading anti-Semitic images on Twitter, and shamelessly stereotyping black people to baselessly fear-mongering about Muslims, bragging about sexually assaulting women, and embracing one of the nation’s vilest homophobes as his running mate, the Trump campaign gave voice to white voters’ ugliest and most animalistic prejudices and earned the endorsement of the Ku Klux Klan to boot.

In the aftermath of Trump’s win, the wave of hate has become a tsunami as newly emboldened white supremacists revel in their victory. Reports of hate crimes and bias-motivated incidents have poured in from around the country. The Southern Poverty Law Center has documented over 400 examples of harassment and intimidation, and accounts of dozens and dozens more are cropping up on social media. To name just a few examples:

  • A transgender woman in Denver found her car vandalized with anti-trans slurs, swastikas, and Trump references
  • A high school student in Georgia left a note for a Muslim teacher telling her to hang herself with her headscarf because it “isn’t allowed anymore”
  • A New York state senator found a pair of swastikas carved into a door in his apartment building
  • High school students in Maple Grove, Minnesota discovered racial slurs, including the words “f**k ni**ers,”scrawled on a bathroom stall door
  • A California woman with lupus received a threatening note and had her car window smashed in after someone mistook her head covering for a Muslim hijab
  • White middle school students in Michigan taunted their Latino classmates with chants of “build the wall” the day after the election, reducing them to tears
  • A gay Jewish journalist received graphic death threats after publishing a post about the harassment he regularly receives from Trump supporters
  • Several students of color at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse found racist vandalism on their apartment door the morning after the election
  • A sign advertising a Spanish-language mass at an Episcopal Church in Silver Spring, Md., was slashed and vandalized with the words “Trump Nation. Whites Only”; another church, in Indiana, was defaced with swastikas and the words “Fag Church” and “Heil Trump.”
  • Vandals in Durham, N.C., tagged a wall with the words “Black lives don’t matter and neither does [sic] your votes”

So far Trump’s only response to the harassment and violence committed in his name has come during an interview on 60 Minutes with Lesley Stahl, where he half-heartedly told the perpetrators to “stop it” after initially denying he’d heard reports of any such incidents at all. Apparently he’s been too busy surrounding himself with alt-right anti-Semitic white nationalists and rabidly homophobic hate group members to notice.

Those of us being targeted by these attacks — people of color, Jews, Muslims, women, people with disabilities, and LGBT people — have no such luxury. We can’t ignore them. We know all too well what it’s like to feel unsafe as we move about in our communities and walk on our streets, to watch demagogues wield the power of government as a weapon against ourselves and our families.

But we also know, from years of practice, how to respond to bullying. Whether it’s a faceless coward shouting slurs from his car or the soon-to-be president of the United States sowing division and discord with the biggest megaphone on the planet, the only way to respond to a bully is to stand tall and fight back. We will not be intimidated or silenced, and we will not allow the majority to look the other way for the sake of their own comfort when our very survival is at stake. We must band together, hold our heads high, and get as loud as we can for as long as we have to.

We’ve done it before, and during these next four years, we’ll do it again.

JOHN BECKER is an LGBT activist, writer, and blogger and the social media coordinator of Gays Against Guns DC. He can be contacted on Twitter at @freedom2marry.

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