[Editor’s note: Reprinted from December 2015.]
Like many progressives, liberals and Democrats I was giddy when billionaire Donald Trump entered the presidential race. He was sure to shake things up on the Republican side and thoroughly amuse us all in the process.
Well six months later he has now delivered on his promise to shake things up but month-by-month he’s become less amusing. His angry rhetoric has veered from merely divisive to dangerous. And he’s become a cancer, not just in the Republican race, but throughout our democracy.
Some of his outrageous and dangerous statements have been to refer to Mexicans as rapists; call for a ban on all Muslims entering the country; creating a database for Muslim Americans; comparing Syrian refugees to a Trojan horse; applauding the folks who beat up a black protestor at his rally; and even going so far to hint that President Obama is in bed with the terrorists saying “there is something going on with him that we don’t know about.”
Trump’s fear mongering reminds me of Pastor Martin Niemöller’s famous poem about the rise of the Nazis. Here’s my slightly revised version.
First Trump came for the Mexicans, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Mexican.
Then Trump came for the Syrian refugees, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Syrian refugee.
Then Trump came for the immigrants, and I did not speak out — Because I was not an immigrant.
Then Trump came for the Muslims, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Muslim.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.
Do we really think that Trump will stop at Muslims? What group will he use to scare people with next? The transgender community comes to mind. Right wing fanatics did it recently in Houston with ads featuring predators dressing up as women in order to come after little girls.
Will Trump use a similar attack?
Why not? He has nothing to lose. If he doesn’t win the presidency he goes back to be being a bombastic billionaire reality star. But each time he comes after another group we lose – we all lose. And unlike Trump, who can simply go back to life as normal, we will have to live in the new normal he’s created for us.
It’s easy to dismiss Trump as (insert adjective), or his policies as not being “serious,” as former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said. And while that may be true, his rhetoric may very well have serious consequences on the Republican Party and our democracy. Most other presidential candidates have condemned Trump’s latest policy proposal of banning all Muslims from entering the U.S., but not all Republicans have done so.
Presidential candidates former Sen. Rick Santorum and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz both stopped short of condemning Trump. Former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, would only criticize Trump’s tone – not his proposal. Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican, refused to directly address Trump’s comments.
Ann Coulter, a prominent far right pundit and author, showed her excitement for Trump’s latest policy by tweeting out: “Add in every other kind of immigrant and it's perfect!” and “My best birthday gift! Donald Trump Calls For ‘Complete Shutdown’ of Muslim Entry to U.S.”
That’s why it’s more important than ever for the LGBT community speak out on behalf of our fellow humans whether they are Mexicans, immigrants, Syrian refugees or whomever the next group Trump decides to go after. We know oppression. We’ve been singled out. So while these other groups may differ from us we must stand together in the face of bigotry and hatred.
I am no longer giddy with Trump in the race. I am scared – not of Muslims and immigrants, but of what he is doing to our democracy.