Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Trump’s words and actions make bigotry seem acceptable to many

Our leaders’ choices set a negative example
Ron Sachs/CNP/Zuma Press/TNS

A strong portion of today’s news describes every word and move President Donald Trump makes. As the man in power in America, a loss of privacy is expected. President Trump eats steak for dinner, we report it. President Trump wears a blue tie instead of a red tie, we report it. President Trump nominates Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court justice, we definitely report it.

So, what happens when every speech and action made by the president is put on display for the entire country? Does it alter society?

It’s no lie that President Trump has said or done some controversial things. Whether they’re right or wrong in people’s opinions, much of his presidency has created conflict, as does any presidency in the United States. However, it’s not so much the controversy itself that affects the public, but the example Trump sets that created the controversy.

Throughout history, we can clearly see that the person in office has the power to heavily sway many citizens’ actions. Many historians argue that when John F. Kennedy was president, he revolutionized politics, changing how many people assessed candidates to come. It is often said that Kennedy swayed the majority of people to start paying attention to style, something that was foreign to voters before his election.

If Kennedy’s short time in office was able to sway the public so tremendously, how is Trump’s presidency affecting people right now?

Trump was a disputed candidate from the start; he had little political background compared to his competition, and was most well-known for his reality TV show and for being rich. Since being elected, he has flipped society upside down over and over again between public sexist and racist comments and a lack of support toward movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo. His presidency is often compared with those of Presidents George W. Bush and Richard Nixon, not because of political achievement, but because of the increase in protest they each caused.

If America’s president is running around fat-shaming women, trying to ban all Muslims from entering the country and claiming that it is a “a very scary time for young men” because of sexual assault accusations, what message is that giving United States citizens?

As the leader of this country, the president influences a lot of people. As a male president, one could rightfully argue that Trump influences men more than he does women. There may not be cold hard facts to prove these ideas, but there is a distinct correlation.

Here is a president who makes sexism and racism seem normal. Based on his actions, demeaning behavior toward women is typical for a man and discriminating against people of color is a regular thing for white people to do. This leaves everyday citizens exposed to his behavior at risk of following his actions without even realizing it.

On a smaller scale, the University of Massachusetts’ football coach Mark Whipple was recently in the news for a comment he made during a press conference. Whipple said, “We had a chance there with 16 down and they rape us,” when referencing how the opposing team treated his players during a recent game. Quickly after, students at UMass and many others criticized his remarks, and Whipple was suspended one week without pay.

I don’t believe that Mark Whipple meant any harm by what he said; I truly do not think he was making fun of, shaming or putting down rape survivors. However, I do believe that he only realized that what he said was wrong after the public’s reaction. Although he may not have meant to cause intentional harm, it’s concerning that a man leading a team of young men did not realize throwing around the word “rape” was a big deal from the beginning.

Here are two parallels that I see between President Trump and UMass’ football coach incident. Trump is a leader who is looked at by possibly every young man in this country. Mark Whipple is a leader who is looked at by an entire football team of young men. Trump has a lengthy list of offensive remarks towards sexual assault survivors, yet he remains the highest authority figure in the country. Whipple throws around the word “rape” as if it can be used casually. In both cases, a wide, impressionable audience is watching these two men, soaking in their actions.

Mark Whipple publicly apologized for his remarks and received consequences for his actions, showing the young men looking up to him that comments like his are never okay. The same hasn’t occurred for our president so far.

Every time Trump makes an offensive remark, it almost gives the green light for others to do so. After all, he is the president, and if he can do it, why can’t we all do it? He never receives any consequences, so why would I?

Did Mark Whipple not realize the strength of his remark because of President Trump’s history of sexist and racist remarks? Nobody can prove that as fact or fiction. But we can look at the world since Trump’s election.

More sexual assault victims have come forward, challenging some of the most powerful men in society. More and more protests supporting Black Lives Matter, the #MeToo movement and March For Our Lives happen all over the world. These things do not just grow from nothing. They arise from a cause, and Trump as one person is not the only reason people are demanding equality.

Trump creates an image for people to follow. If people start following in the footsteps of a president who shows little respect for minority groups, what will become of those followers? Will we begin to live in a world where prejudices cannot be fought against?

As the leader of the nation, America’s president shouldn’t be setting this example for all the impressionable young adults watching his every move. He should be encouraging equality and striving for a prejudice-free world that accepts all people. If he cannot provide that for our country, we must step up and fight for it.

Kacey Connolly is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

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  • N

    NITZAKHONOct 19, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    Your words ring hollow; it was the Democrats who broke away to form the Confederacy, it was a Democrat who founded the KKK, the Democrats who passed the Jim Crow laws, and who re-enslaved blacks onto the vote plantation by the Democrat-founded “Great Society”.

    Racists? Liberals, look in the mirror.

  • A

    AmyOct 18, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    1. Who cares about whipple?

    2. A key reason Trump won is because he is politically incorrect. Liberals are oppressive and want to censor what people say and they also abuse language and vocabulary to shut down debate to benefit them. People don’t like that, for one it’s immature and two it violates freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is violated in a very clever way by liberals either by A. using private companies like twitter and facebook which are used as public forums but being private companies don’t have to respect free speech B. by using social norms, by making people think certain words are ‘bad’, by if you say them, having a hysterical crazy reaction to them, by making the people who say certain words or make certain arguments seem evil or bad or wrong. In many way liberals tactics and perhaps as no accident considering these were communist countries, mirror what you saw in Mao’s China and the soviet union; totalitarian oppressive regimens.
    If trump started being ‘pc’ he would actually do worst and be less popular.

    3. The only perhaps bigoted comment Trump made was stating that some mexican immigrants are rapists and drug dealers. This was falsely equated by the media as saying he called all mexicans rapists and drug dealers and the fact is many immigrants are criminals and have caused a huge crime problem. I don’t think there is anything exceptional about his comments . I would be far more concerned about democrats who used to run the KKK. As people who used to practice bigotry opposed to making mean comments

    4. People can think for themselves/ Is this an op-ed for pre-school or for college??? “young adults’ including this author assuming she is not old; can think for themselves. If you want to be told how to think and what is acceptable and isn’t’ maybe you should’t be at college and be somewhere where your told what to think, what to do and how to live your life.