People have informed me that the “Make America Great” sign in Butterfields A and the “Trump 2016” phrase chalked on Usdan are not serious – they are “ironic” jokes. Assuming this is true, I have a few words for you, “ironic” Donald Trump supporters.
I left Louisiana fast. I love the South and I will always cherish my memories there. But, the South can also strike terror in me. For instance, I know people who attend Ole Miss where a couple students found it funny to put a noose on a statue of the first black student to attend the school, James Meredith. My friends attend universities where they say there are legions of serious Trump supporters. I attended the same gym as KKK Grand Wizard and Louisiana politician David Duke. To rephrase that point, I occupied the same space as a modern-day, white-hood racist, and my neighbors elected him into office. In case you have not paid attention, David Duke endorsed Trump. In light of my upbringing, I hope you will excuse me if I do not find your humor funny.
I will share an anecdote with you that I hope sheds light on the grave nature of Trump. In customary fashion, I completed homework in Sci-li on Sunday morning. First, I read for French class about how Nazis in German-occupied France portrayed Jews as spider-like chimeras taking over the world. Next, I read a historical account of the portrayal of Native Americans and African-Americans as “savages,” dehumanizing them to comfort the white men who benefitted from their subjugation. Trump’s racist language mirrors these and other oppressive regimes throughout history. Calling undocumented immigrants “rapists” and saying that they are “bringing drugs” dehumanizes an identity around which Trump can mobilize millions to inflict hate. In context of history, I hope you will excuse me if I do not find your humor funny.
Immediately following my homework, I opened Facebook like every other day. There, I saw a high school friend, one of the previously mentioned “un-ironic” Trump supporters, had posted a link to a speech in which Trump compared Syrian refugees to “snakes.” I suddenly froze. Seconds after I read about identical tactics used by Hitler, I witnessed him compare terrified men, women, and children experiencing violence and horror to a predatory reptile waiting to strike. Trump employs this well-documented, reductive rhetoric designed to incite hate and violence (and his rallies prove it works). The man is an authoritarian fear-monger with an army of followers internalizing his message and actively battering those who dissent. In support of victims of his rhetoric, I hope you will excuse me if I do not find your humor funny.
Finally, I would like to notify you that this letter is in no way the outgrowth of a “sheltered” college liberal. I grew up with conservatism all around me. I know many Republicans here and at home with whom I connect and love. Trump is no Republican. He is a peddler of terror who presents a legitimate threat to people of color. I hope you excuse me, but Donald Trump is not a joke to me.
Aberle is a member of the class of 2019.