There are many reasons and angles to these backlashes but the one I want to focus on here is Trump voters who are hurt and offended at the suggestion they are racists.
The hurt and offence are perfectly understandable. Although my feelings on the election have already been made clear, it’s obvious that millions of Americans decided that of all the depressing options that were presented to them, Trump was the least worst. I don’t doubt for a moment that nearly all of them had completely genuine and heartfelt reasons for making that decision, and that these reasons don’t even begin to resemble any kind of racism.
Just in case you need me to say it in as many words, I am happy to:
Not all Trump voters are racists.
But all racists are Trump voters.
Now if you find that statement simplistic, misleading and insulting (because it is!), then I suggest you reflect on that.
Remember this is the candidate who calls for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” Now sure, maybe that’s not why you voted for him, but the last time I looked, you don’t get a line-item veto when you vote for a candidate.
Trump’s proposal was blatantly aimed at a notion that has pervaded right wing politics since 2001: not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims. It’s patently untrue and unhelpful. And now you know how it feels.
Donald Trump was supported by the Ku Klux Klan. Of course, I’m not saying klansmen can’t be right about some things – what day of the week it is, whether it’s raining or not – but I don’t think those are the issues they endorsed Trump on. And for sure, Trump neither sought nor accepted the endorsement, but that almost makes it worse. When the world’s oldest white supremacist group completely independently decides they’re with you, does that not give you pause for just a moment?
Although I profoundly disagree with their choice, I sympathise with all the Trump voters who now feel they are expected to denounce racism before their views can be considered legitimate. It’s like being expected to denounce terrorism just because you’re a member of a faith that includes one seventh of the world’s population. No-one deserves to be considered guilty, or at least complicit, until proven innocent. No-one deserves to be automatically defined by the absolute worst examples of their group – not Muslims, not Christians, not conservatives, and not Trump supporters.
I hope we can all learn from this. I hope Trump voters who feel slandered perhaps have a little more empathy for their Muslim sisters and brothers than they, and their candidate, might have had before. And I hope the people who rightly objected to the idiotic smearing of all Muslims can refuse to make the same mistake just because they feel right is on their side this time. If you’re a Trump supporter, I’ll still ride with you. You can sit beside my friend in the hijab. We might all find something to talk about.