The comment piece ‘Trump: wrongly portrayed?’ published in the last issue of Concrete struck me as missing the mark. To claim it’s the media’s responsibility to stop ‘playing Mr Trump’s game and fuelling this social divide’ not only ignores the media’s responsibility to keep citizens informed of the latest comments and actions of the leader of the free world, but shifts the goalposts away from the fundamental issue at hand: that we can’t consider Trump’s vitriolic comments independently of both what they suggest about his underlying beliefs, and the very real consequences which they lead to.
Given Trump’s long track record of lying, about everything from already building his long-promised US-Mexico border wall (Congress has denied funding for it) to passing the biggest tax cut in US history (he didn’t – Reagan did), the assumption that anything Trump says or does is grounded in fact seems laughable. As of 30 October, the Washington Post’s fact checker has recorded 4,229 instances of false claims from Trump, not including those he may have made during his Presidential campaign. It’s hard to believe that claims Trump has made about the Muslim or Hispanic community stem from a genuinely informed point of view and not from a biased or bigoted perspective. In fact, his claims about Mexican immigrants are an outright lie – a 2015 National Academy of Sciences study found that undocumented immigrants are far less likely to commit crime than natives. More than that, the presence of large numbers of immigrants even seems to lower crime rates.
While Trump seems extremely concerned with Muslim terrorism, he’s paid little attention to, and instigated few measures against, the increase in white homegrown terrorism. Such violence comprised the majority of domestic terrorist incidents between 2008 and 2016, and are more often than not racially, ethnically or religiously motivated towards the very minorities Trump attacks. His attitude is in spite of the fact that, since he took office, more Americans have been killed by white, rather than Muslim, terrorists.
As for the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting – which hit particularly close to home for me as a Jewish person – Trump’s denouncement of anti-Semitism, his dubbing of the shooter as a ‘maniac’, and even his official visit meant nothing in the face of his failure to address the rise of white supremacy and white nationalism throughout his presidency. I believe this provides a far better measure of Trump’s attitude towards anti-Semitism than his daughter and son-in-law’s faith. Ivanka’s Judaism will do nothing to prevent future anti-Semitic attacks should the underlying message of Trump’s racism and bigotry go unchallenged.
I don’t believe Trump’s comments are taken out of context. Rather, they’re not supported by nearly enough of it. Even if you’re willing to trust that he’s just doing it for ‘attention’, the fact that the hate crime rate is on the rise should be more than enough proof that Trump couldn’t care less about the vulnerable minorities he often victimises.