Are Trump Supporters Even Human?

Shane Shuma ’22, Opinion Columnist

“I’ve met so many iterations of the #magakid in my life; his smug insolence; his confidence that there will never be any real consequences for his behavior that he KNOWS is indefensible; his contempt for the culture, identity & personhood of the elder standing in front of him…” – @NithinBritto. 

“You wear your MAGA hat so proud. Doing your duty of hatred. Your white inheritance of ignorance. Mocking a man who can teach you humility, humanity and bravery. A hero in front of you, yet you deny his sacrifices.” – @debbiem92704. 

“#Truth The #MAGA cult is one of the most dangerous elements that threatens America and Democracy. Willful and hateful ignorant based on fear mongering, xenophobia and racism. Just look at the willful hatred in the #magakid eyes.” – @briandaly473. 

To be a Trump supporter is to essentially be a mistake in the eyes of many individuals. Of course, the argument is, how can you respect someone who does not believe in equal rights for LGBTQ identified folks, people of multiple ethnicities and heritages, people who hold varying religion and beliefs, and someone who hates women? These beliefs that are often attributed to the President seem to be inseparably linked to Trump’s supporters. So much so, that simply an image of a teenager in a Make America Great Again hat smiling at a Native American activist is immediately seen as racist and bigoted, even before the entire facts of the case are available. It does not matter that the teens had been harassed all day, that the Native American activist (who has every right to protest) was banging his drum in their faces and forcing them to move, or the individual circumstances. People reported chants of “Build the Wall” and the like because that is of course what they would say, even though audio reviewed by CNN had no evidence of the chants. The individual circumstances of the situation are immediately removed from consideration once it is established that the teen is wearing a MAGA hat and his “victim” is a Native American person. The teen’s act of defiance in the face of being forced to move is seen through a racial paradigm, and not as an interaction between two unique individuals. This view does not allow for an honest discussion of facts, as the stage has already been set. This view in the end hurts the Native American elder, as it immediately assumes that he is a victim and someone lesser than the MAGA teen. The view also hurts the teen, as it automatically attributes to him an unearned and unreal superiority and power.

The reason why this issue of perception of Trump’s supporters is so important is because it has real life consequences. On July 5th, 2018, in my home state of Texas, a teenage kid wearing a MAGA hat was assaulted in a Whataburger fast food restaurant simply because a person didn’t agree with his support for the president. On November 15th, 2018 Jonathan Sparks was assaulted in Tucson, Arizona because he was wearing a MAGA hat. In both these incidents police charges were filed. These are just a few among many incidents including individual people’s lawn signs being vandalized, conservative and centrist speakers like Ben Shapiro and Carl Benjamin getting de-platformed or assaulted by Antifa demonstrators. Many people now feel fear disclosing their support for Trump outside their family and immediate friend group. The problem is that these are not just simply side effects of valid or invalid criticisms of Donald Trump and his supporters, fear is the goal. The goal is to shut people up, to make sure their opinions are not presented on an equal playing field to others. To many this makes sense, why give a voice to bigots? My response is even if every single Trump supporter is a bigot, who are you to decide whether they speak. 

You can ridicule them, debate them, challenge their ideas, hurt them through boycotts and other means, if you fundamentally disagree with them, but don’t try to scare your opponents into submission. Don’t assume evil or ill intentions to them because they hold different beliefs. This message doesn’t apply to the overwhelming majority of readers. Every leftist or Democrat I know is tolerant of others’ opinions and can separate their dislike of the President from his supporters. In fact, I am impressed by how our campus has handled intellectual diversity and the many students of all political stripes genuinely interested in real dialogue. The main message of this article is this, if you are a Republican, Democrat, or Independent, you are not superior to others simply because of your political beliefs. And the next time you see a media clip that looks too good to be true, wait for the facts before making that angry comment.