By Clay Parlette
It’s official: Donald Trump’s dangerous rhetoric has catapulted to our campus. For a brief moment in time one would like to think that UF’s beautiful award-winning and friendly environment would be free of such grimy filth, but our quaint Findlay has begun to feel the unpleasant effects of glorified, talking garbage bags. Just before Christmas break a blind follower of Trump’s Nazi-esque ideology was spotted near campus, dutifully doing his part to save the world by holding up a sign that read “No more Arabs.” Well bravo, mister dedicated genius who thinks he has the perfect solution to the world’s woes—except you don’t.
I told some people that if they saw a guy holding a sign along North Main Street that read “No more ignorant bigots” that it was probably me staging a lonely counter protest against the charming dingbat with the other sign. Oftentimes I get a little bit “too passionate” about politics as may be evident in some of my columns, but this passion stems from personal stakes in the issue being discussed. In this case, some of my fellow students, who happen to be Muslim, have become anxious because of what a rat-headed billionaire has been spouting. The message, which screams of similarities to Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, to ban Muslims from these free United States, has already been misconstrued to be an actual action by the President. Let me say that again: students on this campus are fearing for their own safety because of the vile words of Trump. This is entirely and unequivocally wrong.
The reasoning of Trump and his supporters stems from a critical misunderstanding of the world’s religions and the very definition of terrorism. For a problem so serious, the simple solutions and scapegoats that Trump concocts are far too facile to be even close to true. What the rhetoric does do is give Trump power. History shows that by fueling anger by instigating fear and providing a simple solution and group of people to blame, quick and dangerous power can be seized and expanded upon. Fellow Republican presidential candidate John Kasich released a television ad that warned of this very thing, comparing Trump to Hitler’s Germany. While some brush off the warning as extreme and unlikely, I applaud Kasich for condemning anything that even remotely resembles the symptoms of a dangerous leader.
Part of the FBI’s definition of domestic terrorism includes acts that “appear intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population.” And the evidence is right here at home that indeed there are many people who have been effectively intimidated by the angry real estate developer. Especially for a nation of laws and justice, religion simply does not qualify as a valid reason for our government to mistreat somebody. As a nation of immigrants, we mustn’t lose sight of our values because of extremism and paranoia.
The students I’m writing about are brilliant people who share in all the memories and traditions that every other student has at UF. They sit at our study tables,
they’re in our classes, and they are a part of who we are as a community. The fact that even some of them feel targeted breaks my heart. But we can all do something to support our friends. Whether it be supporting them via public means like social media or by simply engaging them in a conversation with a smile, we can show that Trump is not who we are. Findlay, a great microcosm of America, is a community of acceptance and real American liberties. Today I ask you to join me as educated people in unifying our campus and shoving the angry ugliness of Trump’s mouth down the drain where it belongs. History will surely approve.