Jamelle Bouie, Slate’s chief political correspondent, writes that all of the voters who cast their ballot for Donald J. Trump voted for a racist, so they don’t deserve any respect. Moreover, despite several days of anti-Trump rioting across the nation since the presidential election, harassment incidents by Trump supporters apparently concern Mr. Bouie much more.
Donald Trump ran a campaign of racist demagoguery against Muslim Americans, Hispanic immigrants, and black protesters. He indulged the worst instincts of the American psyche and winked to the stream of white nationalists and anti-Semites who backed his bid for the White House. Millions of Americans voted for this campaign, thus elevating white nationalism and white reaction to the Oval Office.
Understandably, critics of Trump have used this to condemn Trump voters, tying them to the likely consequences of their vote, blaming them for foisting Donald Trump on the country and the world. To this, there’s been a pushback. “[P]lease understand what is happening here,” writes Michael Lerner in the New York Times in a column titled “Stop Shaming Trump Supporters.” “Many Trump supporters very legitimately feel that it is they who have been facing an unfair reality.” He continues: “The left needs to stop ignoring people’s inner pain and fear. The racism, sexism and xenophobia used by Mr. Trump to advance his candidacy does not reveal an inherent malice in the majority of Americans.”
On Twitter, Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post gave his version of this argument. “The assumption that ‘Trump voter = racist’ is deeply corrosive to democracy. Also wrong,” he said, adding that there “is nothing more maddening—and counterproductive—to me than saying that Trump’s 59 million votes were all racist. Ridiculous.”
Meanwhile, more than 300 incidents of harassment or intimidation have been reported in the aftermath of Trump’s election, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. NBC News confirmed several, including incidents where vandals spray-painted slurs (“Heil Trump”) and swastikas on churches serving Hispanic or LGBT communities. At San Diego State University, a hijab-wearing Muslim student says she was confronted and robbed by two men who made comments about Trump, and at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, a Muslim student says a man approached her and threatened to set her on fireunless she removed her hijab. At the University of Pennsylvania, black members of the freshman class were added to a racist social media group, where students were threatened with lynchings.
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