This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Last Wednesday, the day after the 2016 election, students at Utah Valley University arrived on campus to find flyers reading, "Donald Trump Won! Now All You Liberal P-s Better Shut The F- Up With Your Muslim Rights, Gay Rights, Illegal Immigrant Rights & All That Other Bt!"
That same day, Latina students at Kearns High School were told, "You wetbacks need to go back to Mexico." On Friday, a gay couple in Ogden woke up to find their car spray-painted with threatening homophobic slurs: "HOMO DIE" and "FAGET" (sic).
These are just three, local cases that made the news. I received far more reports from people who did not want their experiences publicized for fear of retaliation. They are all examples of a shocking trend that played out nationwide in the days following the election public expressions of hate aimed at minorities and those who advocate for the rights of those vulnerable populations.
Presidential elections are about many things the Supreme Court, health care, America's role in crises overseas. For the 65 million Americans who voted for a candidate other than Donald Trump, the presidential election was about all of those things. And it was also about the Republican nominee's pattern of demonizing others of blaming the United States' problems on people who don't look like the typical white American or don't pray like the typical Christian American, and then suggesting that the solution to making America great again lay in keeping those people out or kicking them out.
History is replete with examples of national leaders who rose to power in precisely this fashion. And those experiments didn't end well. The isolationist mindset stifled economic growth, and then the pool of people to blame expanded to explain the downward spiral. Most people in the nation didn't actually translate that blame into violent acts of hate. Instead, a small fraction did, while the vast majority simply turned away apathetically focusing elsewhere because the anger and aggression wasn't directed at them. For smaller nations, this produced local chaos that persisted for decades. For larger nations, the chaos spilled out into a region, a continent, beyond.
So the burst of hateful expressions since the election is terrifying validation of many people's worst fears concerning what a Trump presidency could bring. They are fears about how people we know and love could be treated, and they are fears about what a nation we know and love could become. To be clear: The worry isn't that the 59 million fellow-Americans who voted for Trump are all racists with violent intentions. The worry is that a very small fraction of people in this country now feel their hate has been vindicated, and then the rest will just do what people have historically done turn their backs as the national devastation unfolds.
While the expressions of hate played out across the country, a more promising development unfolded in Washington, D.C. President Obama, President-elect Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton all encouraged unifying as a nation. After months of divisive name-calling, simple statements like Trump calling Obama "a very good man" and Obama saying he was "rooting for" Trump's success were remarkable breaths of fresh air.
There is one, very simple thing any Trump voter can do to contribute to this goal of national unification speak out publicly and forcefully against any expression of hate made in the name of this post-election America. If you see it in person, record it, report it and support the victim. If you hear about it on social media, share it and your disgust for it. Better yet, don't wait for it to happen. Tell co-workers, neighbors, friends, strangers who might fear being a target that you will not let them be marginalized. I guarantee you they'll appreciate the sentiment.
There will be a great deal to debate over the next four years. For those Americans who lost the election last week, it will be reassuring to hear from the winners that indifference to hate is not open for consideration.
James Tabery is an associate professor in the department of Philosophy and a member of the Division of Medical Ethics and Humanities at the University of Utah.