As a Canadian, much of the American presidential campaign has been a blur. Most of the information I get about it comes from social media-shared videos that get tons of views, an article or a blog post about the race, or my personal favourite, the memes.
But nothing made it more clear where one politician stood than his comments about the Black Lives Matter protest last week.
Donald Trump has been in the spotlight not only for his campaign, but because of the controversy he leaves in his wake. While he has made some ridiculous claims about Mexicans, “anchor babies” and China, he’s now taking aim at the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I think they’re trouble. I think they’re looking for trouble,” Trump said of the protestors in a Fox News interview last Tuesday with Bill O’Reilly.
The Black Lives Matter movement began after a series of shooting deaths of young, unarmed black men at the hands of the police. Some of these deaths became high-profile media spectacles in Baltimore and Ferguson, where riots and protests erupted after the deaths of Freddie Gray and Michael Brown.
“I looked at a couple of the people that were interviewed from the group,” he said of the Black Lives Matter protestors. “I saw them with hate coming down the street last week talking about cops and police, and what should be done to them. And that was not good. And I think it’s a disgrace that they’re getting away with it.”
So just to clarify, by looking at “a couple of the people that were interviewed from the group,” that gives Trump grounds to characterize the entire movement? Has he ever sat down to listened to these people, to hear the personal stories about their interactions with the police on a daily basis? Can he truly say that he understands the frustration and the rage of the constant dismissal of consequences for the police officers whose hands are stained with the blood of young black men? Better yet, has he ever lost a loved one to a police officer over something like racial profiling? Because he doesn’t “fit the description” of someone who has.
The nature of these comments aren’t out of character for Trump. Much of his campaign has been founded on his immigration agenda, which would essentially end birthright citizenship.
The presidential hopeful has also campaigned on some heavy accusations that imply the Mexican government has been purposely sending rapists into the United States, as well as an over-exaggerated amount of illegal immigrants that reside in America. According to Trump, most of them are Mexican.
In a separate interview, O’Reilly pointed out that this aspect of Trump’s immigration agenda is very contradictory to the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which protects birthright citizenship. Trump went on to say that “anchor babies” are not protected by the Constitution.
As sad as all of this is, what is even sadder to anyone with a heart and some degree of social consciousness, is his popularity with voters. In a new CNN/ORC poll that came out the same day as the interview where he slammed the Black Lives Matter movement, Trump proved to be the popular choice for two of the most important issues to Republicans; the economy and immigration.
According to the poll, 45 percent of Republican respondents believe Trump is the best equipped to help the U.S. economy, followed by Jeb Bush, with only 8 percent of voters thinking he had the same capabilities.
A whopping 44 percent of Republican voters said that he was the best fit to tackle the immigration issues going on in the country. Trump doesn’t hide his comments or race or try to couch them: his supporters are aware. Which means that the root of the problem doesn’t just lie with Trump’s racial narratives—it lies with the voters who believe and accept them.
We get it, Trump. Sometimes being radical is the best way to win the hearts of a nation. But with the harsh and unwarranted comments and accusations that target and offend minorities, what kind of country will America be if he really wins?
Clearly, Trump isn’t ready to run America yet. So let’s all hope that “Celebrity Apprentice” gets another few seasons to keep him occupied.