The Mayor of West Hollywood v. Trump
As mayor of West Hollywood, I represent a diverse constituency. Over 40 percent of our community identifies as LGBT. Half of our city is under the age of 40. Of our 34,339 residents, 7,902 are over the age of 60, with a good percentage of our older adults being Russian-speaking immigrants — some of whom are Holocaust survivors. Each constituency uniquely contributes to the fabric of our society. Thus, I take very seriously the role I play in building community, especially how my words and actions help or hurt our collective ability to work together and solve our city’s problems.
Several months into my term, a constituent sent me a letter, comparing a recent vote I cast “to the Nazis who stole from less fortunate and weaker people, enjoyed their wares and eventually could not walk down any path without being recognized as evil wrongdoers.” She asked, “How do you sleep at night knowing you are, in spirit, an awful person?” And she concluded by noting, “I want to look you in the eyes and see if there is anything human or decent.”
I felt compelled to call out her language as well as other behavior I had witnessed from different members of the public and from my colleagues on the dais during a City Council meeting. Stating for the record that certain words and actions are unacceptable and antithetical to our goal of building community, I thought, was important to create a safe space for all to participate. While some called me thin-skinned, most appreciated that I tried to return a level of decorum to our public discourse.
I firmly believe it is the responsibility of those of us in leadership to use our words and actions wisely. That is why I took the opportunity to express how deeply disturbed I am by the Trump presidential campaign and to call out their destructive tactics. The campaign has gone beyond its right to express a political point of view or policy differences, which we all have to greater or lesser degrees. The hate speech and implicit calls to violence coming from Trump and his campaign are beyond the pale and have no place in any community in our country.
With the primary making its way to California, I wrote to the mayors of the other 87 cities in Los Angeles County, which has seen its share of violent hatred. We know firsthand how charged language can incite dangerous activity that puts our residents and neighborhoods at risk and at great cost to our cities. While we must always make room for free speech and reasonable — even passionate — debate, as elected leaders, we cannot allow the kind of violent rhetoric and hate speech that has become commonplace in the Trump campaign. It is wrong at every level.
From mocking people living with disabilities to classifying entire ethnicities as violent criminals to persecuting specific religious communities, Trump has pursued headlines in this election season with reckless abandon. The policy positions he has taken — opposing marriage equality, reproductive freedom, and a pathway to citizenship, to name a few — violate basic human rights. Furthermore, his encouragement and defense of acts of violence at recent campaign events is conduct unbecoming of any decent American, especially someone seeking the highest elected office in our country.
As West Hollywood's mayor, I have stated for the record that Trump’s campaign of violence and intimidation is not welcome in our city. We can all express political differences of opinion without endangering the safety and well being of the members of our community. Below is the letter I sent to the Trump campaign. I encourage you to consider reaching out to your local elected officials and asking them to do the same.
Trump Campaign Headquarters
725 Fifth Avenue
Manhattan, New York 10022
To Donald J Trump & staff –
I am compelled to state for the record how deeply disturbed I am by the Trump presidential campaign. The hate speech and implicit calls to violence coming from your campaign are beyond the pale and have no place in any community in our country.
The people of West Hollywood have seen the devastation and destruction that hatred and hate speech can bring. We are home to Jewish immigrants who escaped Nazi occupation in Soviet Russia, to LGBTQ people of all ages including survivors of the AIDS crisis, and to many other diverse constituencies, of which we are most proud. We know firsthand how charged language can incite dangerous activity that puts our residents and neighborhoods at risk – and at great cost. While we must always make room for free speech and reasonable – even passionate – debate, your reckless rhetoric is wrong at every level.
With the primary making its way to California, as West Hollywood's Mayor, I want to make very clear that your campaign of violence and intimidation is not welcome in our City. I demand that you renounce calls to violence and consider the role you play in shaping public discourse, specifically with the words you choose and the behavior you exhibit and encourage.
We do not have to agree or like one another, but as Americans and political figures in the public eye, we share a responsibility to lead by example. I take that responsibility very seriously, and I ask that you do the same.
Lindsey P. Horvath
Mayor, City of West Hollywood