When asked to denounce white supremacy and white supremacists, Donald Trump instead told them to “stand back and stand by”. Instead of sounding like a condemnation, it sounded more like a command to stand down until further notice. And the entire country took note of his words. But, how will this refusal hurt America? How will it fuel an already divided nation?
To begin answering that question, we have to look back at the events that happened this summer in the wake of George Floyd’s killing. And more importantly, Donald Trump’s response to what happened. Now, we won’t be recalling every single event that happened since June. Instead, we’ll focus on the gravity of those incidents.
Summer of 2020 – George Floyd protests and Black Lives Matter
As soon as news broke out of George Floyd’s tragic murder at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, protests broke out immediately across the US. But, these protests reached far beyond the borders of the US. In fact, there were Black Lives Matter protests everywhere across the world. Even in Syria and Kashmir, people were coming out in solidarity for the Black community of America. That is how much these events shook the world. However, Donald Trump’s reaction to it was underwhelming.
Instead of trying to build bridges, Trump decided to go on the offense. There was increased violence between the police, law enforcement, and the protestors. At one time, when protestors were outside the White House, he literally hid in his bunker instead of trying to communicate with the protest and to ensure that he is trying to manage the situation. It’s as if he is not the President of that part of America that does not vote for him. He pretends like they do not exist, and that is a sign of a divisive President in an already fractured country.
Throughout the summers, we saw various trends and online discussions that addressed just how severe the issue of racism is in America. There were arguments about defunding the police, a genuine debate about how systemically embedded racism is in the law enforcement of the United States, with the police actually tracing its roots from slave police back in colonial times.
How Donald Trump fueled the divide in a divided nation
Despite evidence of such systemic racism in America, Donald Trump still deflected from all these glaring issues. He hid in the bunker underneath the White House, and the very next day after the protests went to a church holding the Bible in his hands as while law enforcement was brutalizing protestors.
And then, in yesterday’s first Presidential debate with Joe Biden for 2020 Elections, we saw Donald Trump deflect the chance to condemn “Proud Boys,” a white supremacist group when asked to by Chris Wallace. Now, white supremacy is not something that can or should be tolerated as “the other side”. This is a side that has a history of lynching black people and thinking that they’re racially superior to them. This is a side that is antisemitic as well. A refusal to condemn them is just one word shy of condoning them. And to make matters even worse, Trump told “Proud Boys” to “stand back and stand by”. It sounded more like a commander telling his foot soldiers to hold their position for an attack.
And Proud Boys, Trump supporters, and right-wing activists celebrated Trump’s remarks at the debate. So, after this point, it is obvious what Trump represents. And we cannot discard this as a mistake any longer. Trevor Noah recently highlighted that he has constantly deflected condemning white supremacy for years now. And even his friends over at Fox News are not able to defend his words anymore. This is because it is abundantly clear now that he doesn’t condemn white supremacy because he believes in it, despite everything that happened over the summer. Therefore, voting for Trump is voting for an intolerant and racist America.