We can’t ignore the sexism & racism shown in the 2016 Presidential Election
Let me make this clear: I respect the democratic processes and systems in the United States. I hope that President-elect Donald Trump will make a good President. I hope that he’ll renounce many of the divisive things he has said, and work hard to bring unity, prosperity, and wellbeing to the United States and its citizens. He has an opportunity now to lead, and lead well.
But, we cannot ignore the sexist and racist remarks he made before and during the election.
Ignoring or minimizing sexism and racism IS sexism and racism.
Ignoring or minimizing sexism and racism among high profile leaders only gives license for sexism and racism to spread throughout society.
The role of the United States President is one of the most important offices in the world.
It’s an office that must be held to account, firstly (and primarily) by the American people, and then by the people of the rest of the world.
For those of us who are Christians, we don’t have the option of minimizing or ignoring racism and sexism. So, for American Christians, whether you voted for Donald Trump or not, I believe that you have a responsibility to question and condemn his sexist or racist attitudes and remarks.
Donald Trump is naming a problem in Western societies. We see this problem in Australia, the United States, Britain, and Europe. Many feel disillusioned and left behind and impoverished by globalization and social changes. Many from the political establishment have refused to listen to the concerns and fears and experiences of many of the people who feel forgotten, ignored, and left behind. The 2016 Presidential Election was marked by class and cultural warfare.
But, even if you voted for Donald Trump’s economic policies, and against entrenched political and economic and cultural systems (and that’s your democratic right), you still have a responsibility to challenge racism and sexism in all its forms.
And even if you voted for Donald Trump to get a conservative Supreme Court judge in office (again, this is your democratic right), you can’t choose to disregard the pain his language and actions have caused many of the most vulnerable people in society.
And we can’t privilege the pain of some voters (e.g. the pain of rural white voters) over the pain of women and minorities and POC and undocumented immigrants.
And for Christians all over the globe, we have a responsibility to challenge, confront, and condemn sexism and racism expressed by world leaders, in every form.
It’s appalling how quick church and society have been to excuse Donald Trump’s sexist and racist remarks.
I think that’s because sexism and racism lurks everywhere in Western (and other) societies (and, far too often, in the church). I know I’m guilty of too often ignoring the presence and damage of these views.
I think Donald Trump’s sexism and racism didn’t shock the way it should have, because he’s saying what many people believe, but haven’t been game to say. He put a voice to views that are everywhere in our societies:
- Women are objects to be sexualized and exploited.
- Only attractive women have any value.
- Men can exploit their power for their sexual gratification and the sake of their ego needs.
- Women are manipulative and can’t be trusted.
- Other races (especially “non-Whites”) are inferior.
- It’s normal to fear and distrust the strange and untrustworthy racial or sexual “other.”
- The pain of white people is more important than the pain of minorities, undocumented immigrants, and people of color.
- Other races are corrupting our society, taking our jobs, and ruining our faith and identity.
- Everything will be ok, if people like us (especially white men) get back in power again.
So, we can’t ignore these views. If we let the President (or President-elect) get away with such views, they’ll continue to spread in society, and become even more blatant.
And we can’t just gloss over these views, by telling people to talk or not talk in certain ways, without getting to the heart of the diseased social imagination that feeds sexism and racism.
Ignoring or minimizing sexism and racism IS sexism and racism.
We can’t just ignore or disregard these statements and views. They damage women, divide society, and hurt the vulnerable.
When Donald Trump says this of women, and we disregard it, we’re being complicit. “I just start kissing them… I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything… Grab them by the p–sy. You can do anything.”
When he says this of Mexicans, and we minimize it, we’re being his accomplices. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bring crime. They’re rapists… And some, I assume, are good people.”
I started to list these kinds of comments, and there are many, many of them. These aren’t just one-off comments. The list is frighteningly long. What’s worse, the President-elect may follow up these views with harsh and discriminatory policies once he is in office. The deportation of undocumented immigrants is just one example. The suffering of these vulnerable people and their families is unthinkable. And the appointment of Stephen Bannon as chief White House strategist is another troubling development.
So, what can we do?
We can be outraged. And we can examine the ways we have harbored sexism and racism in our own lives and families and churches. And we can repent and change and rip these things out by the roots.
We can refuse to ignore or minimize or disregard sexist or racist views and remarks.
We can demand an apology from Donald Trump, and others who express such opinions. We can demand a commitment to relinquish these views, and never make such remarks again.
We can speak up whenever public figures make derogatory statements about women and minorities and immigrants.
We can question and condemn all sexist or racist attitudes and remarks (no matter who they come from—colleague, classmate, teacher, friend, family member, President, or President-elect).
We can challenge, confront, and condemn sexism and racism in all its forms.
We can show another way: respecting and valuing women, and treating other ethnicities and cultures with the dignity and respect they deserve.
We can live blameless lives (both individually and in Christian community), that glorify and witness to Jesus Christ, and that stand in contrast the destructive, demeaning, derogatory, and divisive spirits of this age.After the 2016 Presidential Election, we must confront sexism & racism in all its forms. Click To Tweet
Dr Graham Hill is the Founding Director of The GlobalChurch Project – www.theglobalchurchproject.com. He’s the author of “GlobalChurch: Reshaping Our Conversations, Renewing Our Mission, Revitalizing Our Churches” (IVP, 2016), and 3 other books.
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