When six Muslims were killed in Canada Donald Trump gave us silence. Last week, when a legal immigrant from India was killed in Kansas we got the same thing. Our president and his administration seems to be more comfortable talking about the fictional terrorist attacks that occurred in Atlanta, Bowling Green, and Sweden than addressing the renaissance of white nationalism. I hope people of color and religious minorities are taking these slights seriously. This administration's silence about white supremacist attacks on racial and religious minorities, their houses of worship, and their burial sites says more about their concern for you than the lawyerly crafted statements about bigotry they've been guilted into reading days and sometimes weeks later. Don't get it twisted: you were not a key component of their electoral victory and your otherness isn't endearing to them or their conception of what it means to be an American. In other words: you are collateral damage in the fight to "Make America Great Again".
President #TwitterFingers never misses an opportunity to tweet about the media, or call for boycotts against companies he doesn't like, yet he struggles to get his tweets off when it comes to attacks perpetrated by the white supremacists who've aligned themselves with his brand of nationalist populism. His silence is compounded by the silence of his supporters. I’ve been impressed by the lengths some #Trumpstans are willing to go to disconnect the actions of white supremacists from the rhetoric espoused by the president.
Hate crimes committed against Muslims are up 67% in the last few years. Srinivas Kuchibhotla (a man of Indian descent) was killed because xenophobia, bigotry, and hatred have become a (re)normalized part of American life. Sikhs, Hindus and other racial minorities have been the victims of bigoted attacks by people too ignorant to understand who they were supposed to be hating. This could become the new normal. I have friends of Puerto Rican heritage who've been mocked with chants of build that wall. The Trump administration may not be directly responsible for the actions of their supporters, but they put the battery in their backs. At rallies, Trump plays to the fear and hatred of some of his supporters and when something bad happens he denies any culpability. This is a dangerous game. I would rather have a treacherous enemy than a weak-willed ally.
I've read social media posts from people who live in the Blue Ridge Mountains (isolated from racial and religious diversity) that echo the calls for a soft nationalism as advocated by the Alt-right/white supremacist wing of their party. These aren’t inherently bad people; some of them are angry and others are afraid, but all are being misled for the sake of ratings. Many of them don't know the difference between a Sunni Muslim and a Sikh, but they see them both as potential members of Isis. Fox news and conservative talk radio has disseminated so much blatant xenophobia for so long that many of their supporters have tacitly accepted the fact that all brown people want to kill them. When "real" Americans or people of European descent are the victims of terrorism the presses stop and there’s wall to wall coverage, but when black and brown people are the victims of American terrorism there's a noticeable difference in the level of outrage. Here I was thinking #AllLivesMatter. Sadly, there will be more blood spilled by those who equate “Making America Great Again” to making it less colorful. There are people who are questioning what place, if any, they have in America.