“You’re fired!” was his trademark dialogue. In 2008, he was just a New York-based businessman looking for new apprentices.
Come 2016, he has become one of the most talked-about US presidential candidates. Many celebrities, politicians and political analysts, bash him for his ‘bigotry’, ‘overt racism’; some even compare his campaign to the ‘Nazis’; for others, he is a mere ‘buffoon’. Recently, singer John Legend and Brandon Stanton, of Humans of New York fame, were in the news for criticising Trump for his racist remarks.
In eight years, he has gone from one of the most difficult people to work for, to one of the most controversial presidency candidates. That is some journey, Donald Trump.
However, Trump disagrees with people who continue to criticise him. According to him, he is “the least racist person you have ever met.” Mr "You’re fired!" has also quoted poignant examples of how he is "not at all racist". In May 2011, he pointed out that he appointed an African-American man as his apprentice on the fourth season of his show (Do you need any more proof?).
Whether it is stereotyping Mexicans as "rapists" that are bringing drugs and crime to the country, or calling for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the US,” Trump has kept a no holds barred approach to denouncing other ethnicities, religions and races. And, as much as we beg to differ, his campaign is gaining momentum.
After Super Tuesday, he won Florida, Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina, but suffered a setback in Ohio. He also threatened that there will be riots if he is denied Republican nomination. Yet, he continues to be popular among the masses.
This doesn’t necessary imply that his supporters are racist’ but gives us an insight into the appeal of the rhetoric of hate and ostracism. More often than none, it attracts a cult following of sorts.
This narrative is not new to us Pakistanis. We have seen our politicians putting down certain ‘ethnic groups’ to gain votes for themselves. Advocating intolerance somehow manages to gain sympathisers.
However, the promulgation of hate speech and racial slur in public discourse is disheartening to say the least. As much as we may tap ourselves on the back for being progressive, educated and other glamourous adjectives of the development discourse, this is a constant reminder of how we have failed humanity. The fact that we need other people to point out how racist the statements made by potential leaders are, just shows the severity of our situation.
We don’t need to get rid of ethnic or religious groups, we need to get rid of racism and xenophobia.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2016.