Trump’s Words Matter

In a political world full of well-rehearsed speeches, I find Donald Trump’s blunt, unscripted style of speaking somewhat refreshing. In my view, it is important for politicians to speak their minds. The content of Trump’s message, however, deserves careful consideration.

Last November, Trump claimed that he witnessed thousands of members of Jersey City’s Arab population cheering as the World Trade Center fell on September 11, 2001. FactCheck.org, a nonpartisan, nonprofit fact-checking website, found no conclusive evidence to support Trump’s claim.

In the same month, Trump retweeted a bogus race-based homicide statistic that exaggerated the percentage of whites that are killed by blacks in America. Interestingly, it also minimized the percentage of whites murdered by other whites, which gives the impression that black people are a serious threat to white people. According to the latest data from the FBI, the individual that is most likely to kill a white person is, in fact, another white person.

Trump has rightfully expressed concern for individuals that are struggling with heroin addiction in New Hampshire. Admittedly, it may be a coincidence that New Hampshire’s population is 91.3 percent white according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that white males are most at risk for heroin addiction.

On Trump’s website, he proposed that the solution to New Hampshire’s drug problem is to build a wall along the Mexico–United States border. It is worth noting that his response was not mandatory minimum prison sentences for heroin users or stressing the importance of personal responsibility. Instead, Trump’s solution is to deploy the resources of the federal government in an attempt to make heroin less accessible. Now, I believe this approach to dealing with individuals that break the law is admirable, but it ought to extend beyond a particular region, demographic, or offense.

Taken together, these examples of Trump’s statements fall well within the bounds of a familiar narrative. It is a narrative that responds to the issues affecting members of America’s white population sympathetically while spreading damaging untruths about minorities. Given that, it is not surprising that Trump’s campaign received endorsements from David Duke, a white nationalist and former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, and Jared Taylor, a prominent white supremacist. One cannot separate the content of Trump’s message from his campaign’s success. Regrettably, he has repeatedly chosen to put a minority face on a variety of America’s problems. This perspective is not new. Indeed, it is a view that is old as America itself.

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