Donald Trump has normalized hate speech. His bigoted rhetoric has targeted women, racial minorities, religious minorities, and immigrants, among many other marginalized communities. He has simultaneously and repeatedly empowered and emboldened white supremacists, who the FBI Director recently called the greatest domestic terrorist threat.
Unfortunately, Mr. Trump’s words matter. And they have led to devastating consequences in the past four years. A recent United Nations report found that Mr. Trump’s racist overtures when referring to COVID-19, such as calling it the “China virus,” has legitimized racism against Asian-Americans, which according to the report, have reached “alarming levels.” There is also mounting evidence that incidents of hate crimes have increased since Mr. Trump’s election and correlate with his particularly incendiary language. For example, a study of FBI data by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino found that during August 2017, the month of the violent clash between white supremacists and counter protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia — when Trump infamously said there were “very fine people on both sides” — reported hate crimes nationally increased to 663 incidents, the second-highest tally in nearly a decade. In the 2019 shooting rampage that killed 22 people at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, the shooter said he was responding to a “Hispanic takeover of Texas,” echoing Mr. Trump’s rhetoric. Mr. Trump also repeatedly attacks women leaders, including most recently Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, even after the FBI foiled a plot by white supremacy and militia groups to kidnap her.
This hate speech has reverberated in the American workplace as well. In 2016, a Latina employee in Iowa filed a lawsuit alleging that her coworkers used images of Mr. Trump to racially harass her for months after she mentioned Mr. Trump’s reference to Mexicans as “rapists.” Since Mr. Trump’s first presidential bid, there has also been an alarming increase in workplace harassment and bullying against individuals perceived to be, or who actually are, members of immigrant or religious minority backgrounds. For example, according to the New York City Commission on Human Rights, the surge of workplace anti-immigrant and Muslim (or perceived Muslim) discrimination complaints seen since the 2016 elections in New York City are comparable to those after 9/11.
Even worse, Mr. Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric has been coupled by his administration’s systematic roll-back of anti-discrimination and anti-harassment protections for workers. In 2019, the Trump Administration asked the Supreme Court to legalize workplace discrimination against gay and transgender employees (the Court declined to do so). In 2017, Mr. Trump signed an executive order that rolled back the Obama-era Fair Pay order, which included two rules that impacted women workers: paycheck transparency and a ban on forced arbitration clauses for sexual harassment, sexual assault or discrimination claims for companies with federal contracts. In March, it was reported that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – the federal agency charged with enforcing federal anti-discrimination law – omitted new sexual harassment guidance from its online portal. In addition, Republicans in Congress have repeatedly blocked important legislation that would expand anti-discrimination protections for workers, including the Equality Act (which would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit, and the jury system), the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act (which would end forced arbitration for employees and consumers), and the Protecting Older Workers against Discrimination Act (which would lower the threshold that older workers would need to meet in order to prove an age discrimination claim).
Neither Mr. Trump’s inflammatory language nor its harm on marginalized communities will stop in a second term. It is part and parcel of his character. America’s only hope to put an end to his hurtful words is to vote him and his enablers out of office on November 3rd.