Let us hate again

John Boyle, Staff Reporter

Trump supporters at rally in Louisville Ky

When I was around 10 years old, my dad took me to see a professional wrestling match in Freedom Hall. It was a circus atmosphere, with snacks, blaring music and kitschy merchandise all available in abundance. Thousands of people packed the room with their favorite signs and middle fingers handy, ready to cheer as men with monstrous egos delivered fan-favorite slogans.

On Tuesday March 1, I got to relive all the excitement of that wrestling match at the Donald Trump rally. This time, however, nobody was on the receiving end of The People’s Elbow from superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, nor was there any comfort to be found in knowing the entire show was staged.

Trump supporters did their best impressions of their favorite wrestling stars, grabbing and shoving even the most mild-mannered of protesters who found their way into the venue. Anti-Trump attendees were met with such quality quips as “make America straight again!”, “feel the ‘Bern’ of Chlamydia!” and my personal favorite “Jesus was there when the Constitution was signed!”

It’s ironic that these people are using the GOP stage to promote their bigotry. After all, it was the party of Lincoln, a man who during his second inaugural address preached of “malice toward none” and “charity for all.” For Trump, however, “malice toward none” equates to antagonizing every group he can fit into one speech, including immigrants, Muslims and the press. His definition of “charity for all” is a wall separating the United States from Mexico, who Trump says will be footing the bill for the project, even though “they don’t know it yet.”

The people showing up to these events aren’t what one might consider politically savvy. According to The New York Times, Trump’s most reliable source of support comes from those who are less educated, less affluent and less likely to vote. It isn’t Trump’s political stances that have these people flocking by the thousands, but rather his lack of political correctness in speech.

For all intents and purposes, these campaign stops have been hate rallies disguised as a legitimate political movement.

Our nation’s trajectory towards equality had stifled these people in the mainstream until Trump entered the picture. With him as their mouthpiece, these people are growing more open about their distaste for the current state of America. Trump shouts things his supporters wish they could still say without being viewed as bigots. For many of them, Muslims are terrorists, gays are hellbound and Mexicans are criminal rapists. As Trump’s campaign momentum snowballs, so does his supporters’ confidence in their right to spout such hate.

In response to the chaos that occurred in Louisville during Trump’s stop, the New York Daily News printed that “it’s only a matter of time until someone is killed or critically injured in one of these Trump rallies.” After what I witnessed during the rally and the protests that occurred afterwards, I’m more surprised that nobody has yet.

Trump supporters seem to be acting out of a need to feel empowered and they are reverting to more animalistic behaviors to achieve this. This behavior entered the national spotlight when cameras at the rally caught footage of Shiya Nwanguma, a student at the University of Louisville, as she was leaving the event. As she maneuvered her way through the sea of people, she was repeatedly shoved by several Trump supporters, including members of the Traditionalist Worker Party, which the New York Daily News referred to as a Neo-Nazi group that promotes white supremacy. According to Nwanguma, the assault involved more than physical abuse, as she claims many in the crowd shouted out derogatory slurs regarding her race during the scuffle.

My biggest problem with the Trump spectacle isn’t the fact that he is the front-runner despite having zero political experience. Even if Trump gets the Republican nomination, I have confidence that he will be beaten by whichever candidate he faces. It isn’t necessarily the bigotry of his supporters or the violence they use against those with whom they disagree, either. These things have always existed within the American population and I’ve learned to accept them as a depressing constant. What troubles me most is the widespread openness and toleration of this sort of behavior at the rallies. The mob effect of these like-minded, angry Americans has caused rally-goers to genuinely believe that verbally berating and physically attacking other people based on religion, sexuality and race in public is acceptable again. This was the America of the past, but we cannot allow this to become the America of today.