Dean Obeidallah: During this campaign we have seen an uptick in hate directed against various minority groups
Idea that extremists will be less hateful toward minorities because they have Trump in the Oval Office is misplaced, Obeidallah says
Editor’s Note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM’s radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @TheDeansreport. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.
If you think the hate we are seeing from some extreme Donald Trump supporters against Jews, Latinos, Muslims and African-Americans is bad now, it’s nothing compared to what we might see if he’s elected President.
Yet several people I have spoken with believe that a Trump win would somehow make things better. They believe a Trump presidency could satisfy the radical elements of Trump’s base – that these extremists will be less hateful toward minorities because they have Trump in the Oval Office.
They are 100% wrong. History tells us otherwise. A President Trump would likely embolden the worst elements of his base to be even more public, more outspoken, more visible – and possibly more dangerous.
For those unaware, during this campaign – and especially in the last two months – we have seen an uptick in hate directed against various minority groups by either self-professed Trump supporters or those invoking Trump’s name. Just a few days ago, a 111-year-old black Baptist church in Mississippi was burned down, and the words “Vote Trump” were spray-painted on the side of the building.
In September, two Muslim women wearing hijabs in New York were attacked by a self-professed Trump supporter. (The attacker was charged with a hate crime.) And a few weeks ago, three men in Kansas were arrested and charged with plotting a terrorist attack to kill Muslim immigrants, and at least one of the three alleged terrorists was reported to be a Trump fan.
We have also seen a stunning rise in anti-Semitic hate directed at various Jewish journalists who have criticized Trump. As the Anti-Defamation League noted in a report released in October, the anti-Semitic attacks on these journalists included using Holocaust imagery and death threats by self-identifying Trump supporters.
Trump-inspired hate has even made its way to high schools, where white students have taunted Latino students with a chant of “Build that wall.”
The idea that if Trump wins these hateful people will feel they don’t need to demonize minorities is woefully misplaced. We will likely see it get worse. If you need proof, look at what happened during the civil rights struggle.
Even after pro-segregationist politicians were elected, the violence against blacks and their allies in the civil rights movement didn’t end. In fact, it arguably became more lethal as these bigots felt emboldened by having leaders in power who shared their racist views.
For example, in January 1963, George Wallace was sworn in as governor of Alabama. Wallace had campaigned on the platform of enforcing segregation, and at his inauguration he delivered the infamous line, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever.”
Did this election satiate the violent extremists who supported Jim Crow laws and opposed integration? Not at all. Eight months after Wallace took office, the St. James United Methodist Church in Alabama was firebombed. And the next month the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham was bombed, killing four African-American girls. On that very same day, 13-year-old black teen Virgil Lamar Ware was also killed in Birmingham by white teens coming from a pro-segregation rally.
Mississippi saw similar developments. Despite the state having a racist, pro-segregationist governor in Ross Barnett, a man who viewed integration as “genocide” for whites, there was still a rash of black churches burned to the ground. And worse, in 1965, three civil rights activists – Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner – were killed by a group of racists opposed to integration.
This history tells us that the extreme elements of Trump’s base will not simply high five each other if he wins and go back to the shadows. They will feel the President of the United States is on their side.
Never has the famous quote “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it” seemed more appropriate than now. It is a warning about what a Trump presidency would mean for our nation.