We expect our president to be hard at work, even on weekends. So when Trump spends his weekend tweeting support for islamophobic TV hosts, hate for an American hero, and insane conspiracy theories, we can only assume that he thinks that’s the most important work of the nation.
It’s easy to crack jokes when you see such unhinged rants unfolding in real time. But this isn’t some 2-bit reality TV host anymore, this is the President of the most powerful nation on Earth. When he spreads hate and conspiracy, the world listens. Worse yet, potentially violent people who share that hateful or conspiratorial vision, feel comfort and community from his words.
And he isn’t alone. Sadly, there’s an entire ecosystem built around amplifying, and even influencing, Trump’s dangerous rhetoric. Trump shares messages from the man who invented the pizzagate conspiracy which ended with one devotee shooting up a restaurant. He calls the media enemies of the people, even as several journalists in the US and across the globe are murdered for searching for the truth.
And just days after a murderous, bigoted, white nationalist murdered more than 50 Muslims as they prayed in New Zealand, he demanded the return of a Fox News personality who equated hijabs – a constitutionally protected act of faith – with hatred of America and the constitution.
Trump isn’t responsible for bigotry, hatred, or even heinous acts of violence like that in Christchurch. But his words – both those said and unsaid – give succor to those who wish violence upon those who look, talk, act, or worship differently from them. He makes room for white nationalism and xenophobia by defending their defenders and performing only the minimum, unenthusiastic condemnation.
He sends his spokespeople out to tell the world he condemns violence and hate, while he himself issues public defenses of those who stoke – and in the case of Charlottesville – perpetrate such heinous acts. It is the definition of speaking out of both sides of his mouth, and it gives hope not to victims of such violence, but to those who cheer it on, and who may one day commit it themselves.
But there is some good news. If the careless, hateful, and deceitful rhetoric so regularly spouted by the president, the far right, and his enablers on TV has this kind of power, our words have the power to fight back. The president has a platform we can’t match – the bully pulpit spreads his every word far and wide. But the strength of our words springs from two sources he could never hope to match: our honesty and our numbers.
We don’t have to shout, so long as we all speak together, calmly, clearly and passionately, to declare that America is a nation who embraces all people, and that hate has no home between our shores.
It’s remarkable to think that we are in a place where we the people must speak over our president, making sure that ours are the words people hear, rather than the steady stream of vitriol and lies emanating from the president’s twitter feed and TV surrogates. But if we want to stand up for the principles which ought to define our nation, that’s precisely what we must do.
As a supporter of Stand Up Republic, your voice is already part of that countermessage. We’re working daily to reinforce America’s commitment to liberty, equality, and truth, and to make sure the world knows that we are a nation that respects all life and denounces hate in its many forms.
The president has long been seen as a symbol of America. But in this case, he does not define us. We must define ourselves for all to see. We can only do that by standing up for the principles which we hold dear.