Racism is considered as the belief of the superiority of one’s race, ethnicity or religion over another by its existence rather than any truly discernible quality that connotes any form of actual superiority (Groody 17). It is a means by which prejudice and bigotry are promulgated across racial lines and is often the source of numerous hate crimes, biased policies and unsubstantiated insinuations (Finn 136).
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The Catholic Church stated that racism should not be a part of our social consciousness since it promotes ideas and concepts that are against the teachings of brotherhood and solidarity that church leaders actively promote. Any act that promotes racism within the country does not contribute towards its development; instead, it hastens the development of divisiveness and prejudice which can serve as a form of cancer in our society which will slowly destroy it from within. It is based on these views that this paper will examine the position of the current presidential candidates on racism and how it has impacted their campaign platforms.
Stand of the Candidates on this Issue
Republican Candidate: Donald Trump
The campaign of Donald Trump is rife with numerous instances of blatant racism that is aimed at Mexicans, Latin Americans and people from the Middle East that identify themselves as Muslim. Evidence of this can be seen in his numerous campaign speeches where he stated that many of the illegal immigrants that come into the country are potential thieves, rapists, and murderers (Durst 40). If this rather shocking statement was not proof enough of this apparent prejudicial behavior, he also stated that if he were to be elected president that he would put up a wall between Mexico and United States to discourage illegal immigrants from coming into the country.
When it came to Muslims, he stated that he would temporarily ban all Muslims from the Middle East from entering the country. This is until such a point in time that proper safeguards have been put in place to prevent potential terrorists from entering the U.S. Trump’s comments have been considered as inflammatory, prejudiced, and blatantly racist and he has even been accused of potentially damaging the relationship of the U.S. with other countries due to his provocative statements. Trump states that he is not a racist; rather, he is insisting that he is merely saying what many people in the U.S. already think when it comes to these issues.
Illegal immigration and terrorism from radical Islam have become embedded in the social consciousness of many Americans and are considered as some of the current problems plaguing the nation. However, while these are real issues to contend with, Trump’s comments have, in effect, popularized the condemnation of a particular race and religion resulting in the development of mistrust and hate instead of understanding and the creation of a more peaceful solution. The result has been a more aggressive outlook against Mexicans, Latin Americans, and Muslims, which will undoubtedly be the source of many hate crimes in the future.
Democratic Candidate: Hilary Clinton
On the other end of the spectrum, Hilary Clinton has publicly denounced the comments of Trump by stating that they are intentionally inflammatory and are geared towards inciting fear mongering and panic among the general populace. Clinton’s stance on racism is that it should not be allowed under any context and that people should be appreciated for their differences and their diverse points of view. She emphasized the contributions of numerous ethnicities towards making the U.S. the nation that it is today and stressed that her presidency would focus on creating more opportunities for people of all ethnicities (Lizza 39). Clinton is viewed as a more appropriate choice by many politicians since she espouses ideals and concepts that have been spearheaded by the government for many years.
Contrasting the Candidates with Each Other
Trump and Clinton are from two ends of the spectrum when it comes to their stance on racism. Trump utilizes racism as a tool to enhance his appeal to the masses since they are looking for someone to blame for their current circumstances. He emphasizes his successful business history as a means of showing that he is not like a regular politician and then utilizes racism as one of the foundations of his campaign to “make America great again.” Throughout his campaign, he emphasized that the problems the country is facing are present because of individuals entering the country illegally who are a drain on the country’s resources (Page 19).
He also stated that since Muslims are at the heart of the current problems surrounding terrorism, then stricter measures should be put in place to prevent Muslims from entering the country. His political platform is founded on ideals that cause people to distrust particular ethnicities and religions due to the actions of a few minor elements that they possess. Radical Islamists and criminals from Mexico do not represent the whole of the Muslim or Mexican population.
A vast majority of them are simply people that have lived normal lives and are trying to do their best to maximize their opportunities as best as they can. Trump’s rhetoric is creating a prejudicial effect that damns the entire population of these communities for the actions of a few individuals. Clinton, on the other hand, has repeatedly emphasized the need for the tolerance and acceptance for minority populations within the country.
Her campaign has repeatedly stated that the promulgation of racist propaganda can only hamper instead of developing America’s social and economic state. The Clinton campaign acknowledges that there are many illegal immigrants in the U.S., but they can be utilized to help improve the country instead of merely labeling them all as a drain on resources. Some potential methods that Clinton suggested would be to create working visas, cross-border working permits and assortment of other policies that enable people from Mexico to legally live and work in the U.S.
Aside from this, Clinton has also stated that Muslim Americans are an integral part of American society and have contributed immensely towards the development of America’s economy. This is why she said that discriminating against Muslims only invites more hatred and bigotry which can only damage America’s future opportunities rather than enhance them.
Contrasting the Candidates Views with Church Teachings
From the point of view of the Catholic Church, racist and discriminatory thoughts and attitudes is a sin since they contribute towards the development of divisiveness and hate among communities. Evidence of this point of view can be seen in the 1989 Papal Encyclical by the late Pope John Paul II, who explained that all of us are brother and sisters under God (Valadez and Mirci 160).
He stated that we are all equal in rights and responsibilities and, as such, to discriminate against someone due to the color of their skin or their religion is to discriminate against ourselves. It is based on this that when comparing the views and actions of Trump and Clinton on racism and comparing them to the teachings of the church, Trump’s point of view is obviously against the church’s teachings while Clinton’s is in line with them. While the Church does not interfere in the politics of countries, what can be stated is that Christian voters should vote for a candidate who is more in line with what they believe to be right.
Compassion and brotherhood cannot originate from racism and, as such, we should avoid such a path to prevent the country from descending into a society of discrimination, prejudice, and hatred. The U.S. already has enough of these problems that adding more to them could result in societal anarchy.
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What this paper has shown is that Trump and Clinton are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the issue of racism. Trump is using it as a means of inciting fear in the populace to increase his popularity while Clinton emphasizes the need for tolerance and acceptance. What is disheartening is that despite the obviously racist undertones of Trump’s platform, many voters have expressed their support for Trump. This says a lot about the continued presence of fear in the populace for the unknown (i.e. illegal immigrants and Muslims) and how this fear could potentially turn to hatred with the advent of a Trump presidency.
Durst, Will. “New Yorkie Values.” Progressive 80.3 (2016): 40. Print.
Finn, Daniel K. “What Is A Sinful Social Structure?.” Theological Studies 77.1 (2016): 136. Print.
Groody, Daniel G. “A God Of Life, A Civilization Of Love: Justice, Mission, And Catholic Social Teaching.” International Review Of Mission 102.1 (2013): 17. Print.
Lizza, Ryan. “The Great Divide.” New Yorker 92.6 (2016): 38-44. Print.
Page, Clarence. “Trump Taps The Rich Vein Of White ‘Victimhood’.” Caribbean Business 2.8 (2016): 19. Print.
Valadez, James R., and Philip S. Mirci. “Educating For Social Justice: Drawing From Catholic Social Teaching.” Journal Of Catholic Education 19.1 (2015): 154-177. Print.