We woke up, on 11/9, with a reality that last week seemed improbable: Donald J. Trump will be sworn in Jan. 20 as the 45th president of the United States. As hard as that is to accept for many, Trump’s victory has already had tangible and terrifying outcomes for immigrants and hundreds, if not thousands, of people of color all over the country. Did anybody think electing him would mean otherwise? This is a candidate who ran a 17-month-long campaign rooted in anti-immigrant hate and Islamophobia, with clear white-
supremacist undertones. That’s no longer just rhetoric; it’s going quickly from words to actions.
Let’s count some of the ways. Over the past two days, we’ve seen local reports of two Babson College students harassing black students at Wellesley College, while in Cambridge a US Postal Service worker allegedly yelled to a Latino-looking man to “go back to your country. This is Trump land. You ain’t getting your check no more.” There have also been stories of Hispanic kids being bullied all over the country, swastika graffiti and Nazi propaganda popping up, Trump supporters assaulting hijab-wearing women, and so on and on. These are hate crimes, plain and simple.
And what has President-elect Trump done so far? He’s stayed mum. He did address the protests that broke out all over the nation against his victory, which of course are connected to the climate of fear felt among minorities. In a tweet Thursday night, he characterized the thousands of protesters who have rallied against his victory as unfair and called them “professional protesters, incited by the media.” Less than 12 hours later, by Friday morning, he had tweeted the opposite, saying he loves “the fact that the small groups of protesters . . . have passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud!”
Which is it? And why can’t the president-elect take the simple step of directly condemning the outbreak of harassment and hate? The presidency requires leadership, especially when the safety of some of our most vulnerable populations is at risk. One need only look at Mayor Marty Walsh’s quick and unambiguous statement of support and protectiveness for the Boston immigrant community as an example. Attorney General Maura Healey has also made it clear that she will “push back hard if the federal government tries to set us back.”
Empathy and condemnation must come from Trump supporters as well. No one can possibly believe that all of them are bigots, but undoubtedly his election as president has unleashed a new kind of assertive racism. Until there is acknowledgment and rejection of that painful development, the country will not have the kind of unity that Trump says he wants.