The Consequences of Hatred
My views on the current political landscape and the unfair, depressing realities of it
Let’s rewind all the way back to September — when I was beginning my sophomore year of college—and I was about to be done with my first week. There was just one class I still had to go to before I was free to go home for the weekend and spend my free time doing nothing. However, an unexpected variable was thrown into the mix as I found myself face-to-face with my Kryptonite: A girl. “Oh joy,” I thought, “of course there had to be something that causes me tremendous anxiety and a strong possibility of embarrassing myself.” Just when I believed I’d make it through my first week unscathed, I’m hit with a dose of reality like a bird being hit with a wrecking ball.
Funny enough, I ended up not embarrassing myself. By my approximation, I even had a good first conversation. I think I made her laugh, like, twice (!) and even got her phone number (!!!). Astounded by my own success, I proceeded to jokingly text my friends the following:
“Guys I just had a successful conversation with a very attractive girl and that never happens so I think this means something bad is going to happen like the Chargers going 0–16”
Despite my intent of simply providing some self-depricating humor, it turned out to bite me in the ass. That following Sunday, the Chargers blew a 24–3 lead to the Chiefs and their best receiver, Keenan Allen, suffered an injury that ended up being a season-ender. Let’s just say I tried my hardest to avoid speaking to girls for the rest of the year (this is 69% a joke).
This personal anecdote of mine was — aside from, hopefully, being something you all can chuckle at — told because I feel like it’s an appropriate reflection of my overall feeling about the year of 2016: The year of innocently joking about terrifying prospects that actually ended up becoming true — and, in this case, revolving around the unpredictable and unprecedented election of Donald J. Trump.
The rise of Donald Trump — a man who’s cultural relevancy was, once upon a time, almost entirely predicated on being a reality TV star — is the 45th President of the United States, for better or worse. Saying Mr. Trump is a polarizing candidate would be putting it lightly. No matter what side you’re on, there’s no debating that the United States is currently in one of the most politically divided, and unstable, climates it’s had for decades. Such division has caused an unquantifiable amount of hatred, fear, and distrust being more prevalent in the daily, mainstream consciousness of everyday people; among and between people of all backgrounds, beliefs, and statuses. One unfortunate result of such divisiveness, though, is the topic of the various protests/rallies that have taken place over the past year — both before Mr. Trump was in office and during his current standing — and the incidents of tremendous hatred that have accompanied them.
Two incidents stuck with me; one during the day Mr. Trump’s inauguration and before it. The latter occurred way back in the summer, where a pro-Trump rally of some sorts had been taking place. Many of the Trump supporters, including an older white woman, were attacked by a crowd of people with a bombardment of objects being thrown their way (probably like food or rocks, I can’t recall, but that’s not the point). It was especially jarring to see people — which was promptly brought to light in the coming days in the media — being physically attacked for the sole purpose of being Trump supporters.
The other incident took place on the day of Trump’s inauguration, and in this case revolved around one specific person instead of a large group. Richard Spencer, known idiot and prominent figure of white supremacy, was punched in the face by a random individual while answering questions about his views and beliefs that an angry crowd of people had sent his way. The entire ordeal was caught on camera and — as all viral videos do in today’s internet era — turned into a widespread sensation of memes and music dubs, some of which I admittedly found to be quite humorous.
The common thread between these two incidents—if it weren’t blatantly obvious already—is the use of violence against people for professing their beliefs. When it comes to my personal views on this topic, there’s one specific scene from an older film that I found to be an appropriate for expressing my opinion. You didn’t think I’d write an article without some kind of pop culture reference, did you?
The scene is from the movie Die Hard with a Vengeance, and it takes place at the very beginning of the film:
To summarize, John McClane (the film’s main character) is forced to carry out a specific task by a criminal mastermind who threatens to detonate a series of bombs randomly scattered throughout New York City. The task is simple, he must stand in the middle of Harlem with a sign on him that says “I hate niggers” and await further instructions. Obviously, this is a pretty easy way to get yourself killed; standing in the middle of a place with a large black community and with an insulting racial slur firmly displayed on your body. Unsurprisingly, McClane is violently attacked by a group of black people and is nearly brought to death’s door (which was the point of the villain’s request, of course). Furthermore, I chose this clip because I feel like it’s an appropriate catharsis for explaining my perspective of the current political landscape. Yeah, that’s right, only on PopCandie will you get someone comparing a Die Hard movie to politics.
Donald Trump has, irrefutably, openly casted many disparaging comments about many groups of people: Mexicans, by starting out his presidential campaign by referring to them as rapists, drug dealers, and murders; Muslims, by attacking Gold Star parents of Khizir Khan and imposing an unconstitutional Muslim ban; Blacks, with his chronicled discrimination of refusing to let them stay in his hotel, questioning President Barack Obama’s birthplace, saying the Central Park Five were guilty despite DNA evidence proving otherwise (and many more); Special Needs, by mocking one reporter with a disability during his rallies with an insulting impersonation; Women, by being caught on tape bragging about sexual assault.
Policies aside, Donald Trump has shown an overwhelming amount of evidence that his character consists of being a racist, lying, xenophobic, misogynist, sleazeball of a human being with plenty of other negative qualities I didn’t even mention. Then, come election day, the country essentially responded by saying “Eh, that doesn’t disqualify you from being the President.” This is why those that support Donald Trump, unfairly or not, are now viewed by those that were insulted as being individuals that hate them. In short, it’s like a rigid dichotomy of hate versus peace; us versus them; racism vs equality. It’s one extreme side or the other, and the middle ground has begun to dissipate.
That’s where this Die Hard scene comes in, as it’s what symbolizes the basis of what kind of rationale is currently taking place. Wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat has now become the equivalent to the sign used by McClane. Was it okay for McClane — or the real-life examples of Richard Spencer and the Trump supporters over the summer — to be attacked, to be met with violence because of what he’s professing? No, of course not. Violence has never, and will never, be the answer to anything. It’s an extremist approach, akin to many other extremist actions and beliefs that society has seen throughout history.
But ask yourself this: What did you expect would happen? If you keep talking down on people, or degrade them to significant degrees, human nature’s yearning for revenge will eventually come into play. The United States has come a long way in progressing past it’s deep-seated racism and prejudices, but there’s still much work to be done. So, when such a morally deplorable person is made the country’s leader, those groups of historically disenfranchised people will feel an alarming sense of deja vu — and that things are going backwards; they’ve seen this story before.
This column isn’t entirely meant to be a politically-motivated spiel, but rather my personal interpretation of how things are unfolding. It isn’t fair, this war of extremist hatred, because making harsh presumptions about people — regardless of political leanings, or any other facets of someone’s life — is never the appropriate course of action.
If I supported Barack Obama in 2008, does that automatically mean I was also against gay marriage? No. If I really love Tom Cruise — and I, like, really love Tom Cruise—does that mean I’m in favor of Scientology? No. If someone supports Donald Trump, does it mean they’re an inherently racist individual with no redeemable qualities? Of course not. Going down that dark, desolate road — one where we tear each other apart will not benefit anyone. But, to me, that’s what happens when such a person like Donald Trump is given a platform. We make a statement, and that statement is that this kind of hateful rhetoric is excusable.
Being a Trump supporter carries with it the connotations of hatred, and such hatred will inevitably lead to extreme conflict, and extreme conflict will only breed catastrophe. Expecting otherwise is, unfortunately, an incredibly naive mindset to have.