Intolerance runs rampant in the White House

Matthew Rago, Editor-in-Chief

White House Senior Policy Advisor Stephen Miller pushed white nationalist literature, mourned the loss of Confederate symbology following Dylann Roof’s murderous rampage and shared racist narratives that depict immigrants as criminal and subhuman, according to leaked emails between Miller and far-right media outlet Breitbart.

The emails, reviewed by Hatewatch, include plans to implement arrest quotas for immigrants, Miller’s favorable view on a blanket ban against five predominantly Muslim countries and the promotion of family separation in immigrant detention centers. 

The United States will never eradicate intolerance. However, it is not an unreasonable request to ask that those tasked with indiscriminately representing American interests don’t harbor deep-seated distaste toward minority demographics. The White House’s continued acceptance of hateful, demeaning rhetoric has consistently proven that overt racism, xenophobia or homophobia is not a political disqualifier. 

Most of us are familiar with Trump’s propensity to promote unfounded, nonsensical claims in hopes of appealing to far-right conservative voters. During his 2016 election campaign trail, the then-Republican nominee infamously suggested that emigrating Mexicans were rapists. He propagated the birther conspiracy, outright stating his belief that former President Barack Obama was a Muslim spy from Kenya. He took out a full-page ad demanding the death penalty for the since-exonerated Central Park Five, five black teenagers who were wrongly convicted of the assault and rape of a white jogger in New York City. 

But aside from Trump’s own actions, his apparent indifference to intolerance within his administration is disconcerting. Vice President Mike Pence is noted for his homophobic sentiments. Pence, whose wife works at an anti-LGBTQ school, has gone on record with his belief that homosexuality is a choice that can be cured by conversion therapy, a belief that has been repeatedly rebuked by the American Psychological Association. 

So is it any surprise that the man who believes homosexuality is a choice in need of an antidote voted against the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” legislation? Should we be surprised that Pence has been a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage under the guise of Christian principles? 

Trump also used his executive powers to pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio, who has claimed that he would perform sexually explicit acts on President Trump if asked, earned the moniker of “America’s toughest sheriff” for his inhumane policies targeting immigrant detainees. Twice cited by the U.S. Justice Department for discriminatory policing practices against Hispanics, Arpaio was arrested in 2017 for criminal contempt after failing to comply with a court order demanding that he halt his racial profiling. 

However, Arpaio’s most startling admission came when he infamously appeared on camera and called his Tent City prisons “Mexican concentration camps.” You see, institutions that don’t tolerate racism refuse to entertain overtly racist sentiments. Nonracists don’t pardon a man who invokes memories of the Holocaust or Japanese internment camps to detail his inhumane treatment of Hispanic immigrants. But nothing says “I don’t care about hatred based on skin color” better than commuting the sentence of those partaking in racially discriminatory practices while referring to said practices as “admirable services.”

Finally, Trump nominated former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to the position of Attorney General. Sessions, who was denied federal judgeship 31 years earlier for exhibiting alarming patterns of racism, called a white lawyer a “disgrace to his race.” By his own admission, Sessions referred to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as a communist-run and un-American organization. Through it all though, Sessions has maintained that he is not a racist. 

But rational men and women don’t refer to others as a “disgrace to their race,” introducing the concept that we define people based on, you know, the color of their skin. Nonracist also don’t refer to the NAACP as un-American.

So Americans must ask themselves: How many instances of overt, calculated racism or homophobia must be uncovered before we acknowledge that the current administration invites racism? How many times must far-right extremists cite the current administration as inspiration for their racially-motivated violence? And most importantly, why do far-right terrorists gravitate toward the current administration?

Under Obama, the Ku Klux Klan rallied against the White House. Under Trump, former KKK leader David Duke pledged to “fulfill the promises of Donald Trump.” At one point in time, terrorism against Americans was committed by men and women who detested U.S. leadership. Today, we must acknowledge that our leadership inspires their attacks and fuels their hatred.