By: Emily Balogh, Staff Writer
A white man walks into a Kentucky Kroger and kills two African Americans after trying unsuccessfully to invade a black church. Multiple mail bombs are sent to Democratic leaders. An anti-Semitic man shoots and kills 11 synagogue members during worship. Over the past weeks, the news coverage has been particularly difficult to watch due to this spike in hate crimes, not to mention the recent shooting in California. These hate crimes may have been fueled, or at least incentivized, by one commonality: President Trump’s rhetoric.
President Trump has repeatedly criminalized news outlets from the Left as well as Democratic leaders, a conscious choice that has led to further bipartisanship in America. Giving possible radical Republicans, like the man who sent bombs to CNN and Democratic leaders, this common “enemy” is a dangerous move. This rhetoric creates a scapegoat for their anger and fuels them to action. The pipe bomb suspect was a known Trump supporter and rally-attender and had a criminal past consisting of bomb threats and multiple other charges. This paints a dangerous picture of an unstable radicalist. The pipe bomb suspect used Trump’s rhetoric as an excuse and an impetus to act violently; this put the lives of powerful public figures in danger.
Trump also verbally attacks minorities using belligerent, discriminatory language including Jewish and African Americans. With two of the most recent hate crimes targeting these minority groups, it is clear that Trump’s rhetoric is becoming more influential and dangerous than just words. When our nation’s leading figure repeatedly slurs minorities, it creates an America where white supremacists feel comfortable acting on premeditated violence. It is scenarios like these that lead to hate crimes like the ones in the Kentucky Kroger and the Pittsburgh synagogue.
Americans need band together to fight against oppressive violence, even small instances of bigotry, because it is an accumulation of these smaller instances that lead to horrific violence. We must identify radical behavior before it becomes radical, and we must watch that our own language can never be used to fuel violent or bigoted behavior. Most importantly, we need to use our civic power to elect officials that will fight for minorities and not use offensive, prejudiced language. We hold more power together than those few who become radicalized. For many of us, it is time we set aside the protections our privilege affords and use it to safeguard those who are vulnerable to this kind of violence. Only through action can we avoid being complicit in these tragedies.