Mayer: Trumpism: A Violent Ideology

Perspectives that support oppression are more than “opposing viewpoints.”

by Michael Mayer | 1/5/17 11:05am

The column “Why I Voted for Trump” perpetuates violence and reinforces perspectives that must become unacceptable if we are to create a world of peace and justice for everyone.

Undeniably, President-elect Donald Trump has embodied racism, sexism, xenophobia, queerphobia and a plethora of other “phobias” and “-isms” throughout his campaign. Trump has served as a figurehead for white supremacy and has created a platform that empowers others with similarly horrifying values. He did not create this oppression, he merely harnessed it for his political ends.

The column by Tyler Baum ‘19 published by The Dartmouth on Nov. 15, plays a role in these systems of oppression by encouraging readers to either actively support or passively condone the harmful perspectives maintained by the Trump campaign and all it represents.

For example, the author perpetuates sexism and rape culture when he writes, “To clarify, I do not condone President-elect Trump’s comments regarding women, but I believe in his ability and commitment to leading our great nation.” Not only is this claim false — as evidenced by the author’s vote for Trump — but it also excuses Trump’s words and actions and encourages others to do the same.

The author advances racism and xenophobia when he writes, “I grew to appreciate [Trump’s] strong ‘tough-guy’ stances on a wide variety of issues including his opposition to illegal immigration.” This “tough-guy” stance includes the dehumanization and detention of millions of people in the Latinx community and the violent deportation of tens of thousands of individuals. Trump’s campaign has provided a platform to celebrate such xenophobia and racism.

Baum demonstrates an ignorance of history when he writes, “I was concerned by Trump’s campaign slogan, ‘Make America Great Again,’ a slogan I now cherish and defend to the core.” For many people, America has never been great. This perspective ignores five hundred years of resistance to settler colonialism by indigenous nations; hundreds of years of slavery; a hundred years of Jim Crow Laws; the creation of the prison-industrial complex; the devastating impacts of American imperialism in Latin America, the Middle East and Asia (in which former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had a hand); and the rampant history of sexism, queerphobia and transphobia in the United States. To support returning to a period filled with even more hatred, oppression and violence is not morally acceptable.

To date, hundreds of white supremacist hate crimes are being reported and transgender suicide hotlines have been slammed. This is on top of the dozens of police-involved shootings since Election Day, which have mysteriously disappeared from mainstream discourse. In short, for many this is a matter of life and death.

The author leaves us with this: “As Trump is now the president-elect, I would like to draft a call to action for all Americans: unification.” I agree in part: unity is necessary for our collective freedom, though oppression has no role in that. We must call on those who share our identities. We as white folks must become uncomfortable, acknowledge our privileges and be vocal and active in fights against injustice. It is through thoughtfulness and the destruction of oppressive systems that we build a path towards a more compassionate and just future.

In the meantime, perspectives like “Why I Voted for Trump” should not be treated as simply an “opposing viewpoint” but rather as dangerous discourse that threatens the lives of many people.