Donald Trump, Your Silence on Bigotry Is Shameful

November 14, 2016, 5:34 PM UTC
Republican National Convention: Day Four
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 21: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives two thumbs up to the crowd during the evening session on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump received the number of votes needed to secure the party's nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicked off on July 18. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images

It was something, but not enough.

In his first television interview since his surprise win, President-elect Donald Trump gave a few glimpses of how a person with no government experience might actually run the government.

Trump sat down with Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes” in an interview taped last Friday and talked about the Mexican border wall. “It could be – it could be some fencing,” he said. “But certain areas, a wall is more appropriate. I’m very good at this, it’s called construction.” He reaffirmed his plan to “get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, we have a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million,” out of the country or into prison. Obamacare? Repealed and replaced, with no gap in coverage. “And it will be great health care for much less money,” he said.

But when asked about the dramatic uptick in racial violence since his election, he had only this to say: “I am so saddened to hear that. And I say, ‘Stop it.’ If it– if it helps.”

It’s not helping.

In the six days since Trump won the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has documented more than 200 reports of hate crimes, roughly the amount they see in a six-month period. The incidents are primarily anti-black, followed by anti-immigrant, and many involve direct threats of violence. Many, but not all, reference the Trump campaign. Sadly, a shocking number of incidents occurred at K-12 schools. “The white supremacists out there are celebrating his victory and many are feeling their oats,” said SPLC CEO Richard Cohen. Click through for a partial list.


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But there isn’t a list of the people who are becoming more, not less, afraid for their safety and economic well-being as the days tick down to the inauguration. If my inbox and social feeds are any indication, that list is growing by the day.

On that front, no help seems to be forthcoming. With the installation of Steve Bannon, the former president of the controversial Breitbart News as his chief strategist and senior counsel, Trump is sending a clear message that he will continue to associate himself with white nationalism and the alt-right. “It is a sad day when a man who presided over the premier website of the alt-right – a loose knit group of white nationalists and anti-Semites and racists – is slated to be a senior staff member in ‘the people’s house,’” said Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt in a statement.

Like him or not, Trump is one of the great communicators of the modern age. For all his bluster and intemperance, when he talks or tweets, people pay attention. His silence on the issue of unleashed bigotry speaks volumes. On this matter, true leadership lies elsewhere.


Ellen McGirt is a senior editor at Fortune

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