Trump emboldens the darkest side of American society

Trump emboldens the darkest side of American society
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At least 14 explosives were recently mailed to Democratic critics of President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Hackers are making big money MORE, including two former presidents, and a news organization. A white supremacist in Kentucky who attempted and failed to attack a Black church instead murdered two Black shoppers at a grocery store while sparing white shoppers on Wednesday. A gunman opened fire on worshippers at a synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, killing 11 people in the deadliest attack on the Jewish community ever in the United States. All of this happened over the course of a single week.

Each of these hate-motivated acts of violence are the fault of no person but the perpetrators themselves. It is undeniable, however, that they come at a time when the darkest undercurrents of American society have entered the mainstream — and are being emboldened by dangerous and hateful rhetoric from cynical politicians, including the president of the United States.

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Through his actions — and inactions — Trump has emboldened the peddlers of racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, prejudice and bigotry. When any other president would seek to extinguish the flames of hate, Trump has fanned them, often for his own political gain.

Look no further than his actions this past week. In the wake of an unprecedented mass assassination attempt against his political opponents by one of his own supporters, Trump attacked the media. After the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue, Trump seemingly blamed the victims for not having armed security (four armed police officers were injured during the shooting).

This comes from the same president who said there were “very fine people” among crowds of Neo-Nazis and white supremacists reciting racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic chants at Charlottesville. This comes from the same president who has advanced policies targeting the rights of the most vulnerable among us, including people of color, immigrants, women and LGBTQ people. This comes from the same president.

Sadly, hate violence is nothing new. The nation was reminded of that fact last week as Matthew Shepard’s ashes were interred at the National Cathedral 20 years after he was murdered for being gay. And over the past year, as the Trump-Pence administration has worked to erase and dehumanize the transgender community by undermining crucial protections and banning transgender Americans from serving in the military. During that period at least 22 transgender people have been murdered — nearly all of them trans women of color. But what is new are the ways in which this president’s dangerous rhetoric and policies are emboldening and inflaming hateful and violent acts.

Words have consequences. Turning a blind eye has consequences. Silence in the face of injustice has consequences.

The nation is desperate for leadership to stand up to a wave of hate that seems to only be surging with each passing presidential tweet and political rally. Trump has proven himself incapable of fulfilling some of his most basic responsibilities as president, including consoling a grieving nation.

Trump’s allies in Congress, who have abdicated their constitutional duties to the American people in service of their own political interests, have proven themselves to be no better. As such, others must fill that void — by standing up to hate and violence, by taking action to prevent tragedies like we saw in Pittsburgh, by passing common sense gun reform, and by making our nation whole again.

Next week, Americans will head to the polls to decide the direction of our nation. The choice they make will have a lasting impact on the future of our nation and our democracy. And so I have a message to every voter across America: When you cast your ballot, consider which candidate will actively work to curb the tide of hate, and which will embolden it — either through their rhetoric or their silence. The time has come for we as a nation to declare that enough is enough.

Chad Griffin is the president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization.