Trump’s Harmful Language

The majority of Americans are mad about Trump at this point. “If you’re not mad, you’re not paying attention.” There are plenty of things to be mad about without looking very far into who he is or what he’s done. Sexual assault accusations against him, unfair tax cuts, and issues he’s had with the FBI are just a few things that have happened in the first year of his presidency, in addition to the language he uses, which is what we’ll be looking at.

I’m not trying to say that Trump is starting a genocide, because that’s not the case. I am, however, saying that the way he talks about people he doesn’t like is not just unstatesmanlike, but could incite worse actions from others.

Based on a chapter “Background and History,” from the book Key Issues Associated with Genocide, we know that genocide starts at the top of the political ladder. Usually during times of war, the leader of a country convinces their people to think that the targeted group is less than they are through dehumanization and demonization. The leader does this through the language and imagery they use to describe the targeted group. We aren’t at war with the countries he has spoken poorly of, but let us compare what he has said to quotes from history.

In June, 2013, he tweeted, “Sadly, the overwhelming amount of violent crime in our major cities is committed by blacks and hispanics-a tough subject-must be discussed.” Not only does that claim not have a source and not constructive, but it incites unnecessary hate for the groups in question.

It’s impossible to forget when he said about Mexicans when he was running his presidential campaign, “They are not our friend, believe me. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

To compare, and quoting from Key Issues Associated with Genocide, here are some phrases used against groups of people during times of genocide:

You are a “rodent, vermin, or a disease carrier.” (all)

You and an “undesirable parasite.” (Bosnia)

You are “a sleazy cockroach.” (Rwanda)

You are “dog food.” (Turkey)

Additionally, without actually saying it, he has targeted Muslims by retweeting videos of supposed Muslim crime without any context or constructive discussion, just intent to plant a negative seed in the minds of the people about these targeted groups.

His most recent language offence this month was during an Oval Office discussion about “protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal” according to The Washington Post. Trump’s thought on the matter was this question: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” He continued by suggesting that the US should take more immigrants from countries like Norway. Without explicitly saying it, he was suggesting that we receive more white people into the country than people of color. Using the aggressive “shithole” descriptor, it undermines and dehumanizes the entire population of a whole country.

His words have power. The President is the leader of not only the United States, but also a major influence on the free world. Him making harmful statements like the ones we have discussed is not only personally offensive to those groups of people, but creates a hostile attitude against them from his supporters. If it doesn’t already, his language should worry Americans because only negative consequences can come from it.




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