Let me tell you a little something about myself so you can understand why this is difficult for me to even write. I have spent the last few months trying to find ways to tell the world to stop looking at and treating Africa like a stereotype. So believe me when I say I did not want to write this, but I felt it was necessary because things are getting out of hand.
I am from Kenya, which many of you know as the place where Obama’s father comes from, and less will know as the place that had an extreme case of post-election violence after the December 2007 elections. Which is why it saddens me to watch America taking similar steps as those that almost led us to civil war (Kenya has never had a civil war since its’ independence in 1964).
Mr. Trump is going around America telling people that Mexicans and Muslims have been taking advantage of the kind hearts and homes of “Americans”. He says that Mexicans have taken what rightfully belongs to Americans (jobs and other entitlements), that Muslims are a threat to Americans, and they should be stopped from entering the country. Politicians in my country used to talk about how certain communities have been taking advantage of other communities, that they have taken what rightfully belongs to these communities (for us, this means land and jobs). The idea that certain communities were a threat to others was stoked, to the point that there were active militias created to “expel” those communities from what rightfully belonged to the communities doing the expelling, and criminal gangs brought in to revenge against the communities doing the expulsion.
Let’s even pretend that when Trump says Mexicans, he only means illegal immigrants. Or that when he says Muslims, he only means terrorists. The same could be said in our country. When they said “Community X” has stolen from you, they were technically referring to the people who actually possessed the power to have/take those things. But I promise you those technical distinctions do not matter when it comes to hatred, and they certainly didn’t stop people who had no fault from being killed or displaced just because they were a member of that community. When you say Community X/Muslims/Mexicans have done this and that, it doesn’t matter what qualification you make after that, people will hate Community X/Muslims/Mexicans. It’s just how the human mind works, just like how the human mind is essentially tribal and looks out for its’ own people. The only difference between Kenya and America in this sense, is that the tribes that Americans have created are called “Americans”, “Mexicans” and “Muslims”. But the point of civilization is supposed to be the rise of humanity; that we learn to go beyond what is in our primitive nature. How can we call ourselves civilized if we can’t even look past the primitive, tribal mind? If we can’t even see that a subset of one tribe who do bad things does not make the entire tribe “bad” or “the enemy”?
And unfortunately for us, this kind of problem tends to only end in one of two ways: either the hatred eventually dies through mutual cooperation and integration, or it blows up into violence between the tribes.
For Kenya, the folly that was the 2007 election gave the ultimate excuse for the hatred to blow up, and it did in the form of widespread violence, death, destruction and displacement of people. People on both “sides” suffered, but not the politicians who had been promoting the hatred in the first place. If violence started in America today that was against Muslims or Mexicans, there would definitely be retaliation from both Muslims and Mexicans who feel they are being targeted. We cannot know who would get hurt in this kind of situation, but it will definitely not be Donald Trump.
Listen to me, America, I understand many of you are angry because your country seems messed up. It’s okay to be angry, but not to let that anger cloud your judgement. Anger should make you demand for better leaders, not worse ones. When a person openly flouts concepts such as truth, human rights, and just basic human dignity, that person is NOT trying to help you. People cheered when Trump advocated for torture of suspected terrorists, along with their families. Ignoring the fact that these are wives and children, let’s look at the one thing they don’t consider: it is entirely possible that one day, that person being tortured could be YOU. Or even your family. Whether a person would make a great president or not, openly advocating for the hatred of certain groups of people, even with a qualifier of “but not all of them”, leads to the hatred of that group. It is not okay. It is called hate speech, and it almost led to our downfall.
The issue here is not competence.
I’m not questioning his business sense and the fact that he may or may not be “like, just, the best ever at everything”.
I won’t even get into his obvious sexism.
The issue is what he is doing to you.
He is cultivating hatred, and that hatred will not just go away after the elections. That hatred will continue to simmer, perhaps waiting for another person to come and awaken it, perhaps eventually blowing up in the form of violence, unless America actively tries to resolve it. I would urge American politicians, after the elections, work on promoting peace and reconciliation.
Donald Trump scares me because he is making open hatred and tribalism acceptable. He scares me because many people are actually buying this. He scares me because he is making complex issues seem easily solvable by getting rid of the people who have been chosen to be the scapegoats.
But most of all, Trump scares me because for the first time in my life, I genuinely feel sorry for Americans.