I’m sitting here stunned, reading about the mass shooting that claimed 11 lives at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and hearing President Donald J. Trump comment, “It’s a terrible, terrible thing that is going on with hate in our country.” Wait, didn’t he just proudly claim himself to be a nationalist? Doesn’t he know that the term Nazi comes from the word nationalist? What message does he think he is sending to America when he declared himself a nationalist? This is what David Duke, ex-Ku Klux Klan leader, had to say on Twitter in response to Trump’s bold assertion: “Trump IS a Nationalist and he does believe in the rights of all Americans — But the difference in Trump is that he ALSO Defends the Rights and Heritage of White People & White people love him for it!”
This implicitly hateful rhetoric follows the unprecedented attempted bombings by Cesar Sayoc of two ex-U.S. presidents and many others who Trump has verbally assailed. A coincidence you say, but look at all the posters on Sayoc’s van with crosshairs on images of people like Hillary Clinton. Proud images of Trump and Pence displayed for everyone to see demonstrate where Sayoc’s loyalties lie. Trump has been calling for violence from the early days of his presidential campaign. Google it; you will find plenty of videos with him saying he would like to personally “smack” so and so.
It doesn’t take much detective work to connect the dots. Trump’s loaded and often hostile rhetoric is not falling on deaf ears. People with an inclination to do harm to others are hearing the dog-whistles in his speeches and they are acting on those evil urges. It is perversely hypocritical for Trump to now say that this is a “terrible, terrible thing.”
If you have not done so already, it is time to speak out. Colleagues, staff and students, it is time to step up to plate and start voicing what you can clearly see. Write your own letters, march, vote and let people know what you think of this. In this time and place, it seems like the poem by German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller is apropos:
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Alexander Escobar is a senior lecturer in biology.