A License to Insult

By Mark Naison (April 20, 2018)

I just had a conversation about the Trump Presidency with a Fordham professor who commands great respect in the Bronx. An immigrant from East Africa, she sees the greatest damage inflicted by the President not in the area of policy, but in how he encourages people who support him to speak disrespectfully to people who came here from countries he has insulted or attacked.

My colleague gave several examples of people in her hometown in New Jersey who have taken liberties in addressing her they would not have taken before the last election. Some of these instances have taken place in Whole Foods where one woman randomly approached her and asked where she came from, and whether she had a day off from work.. When she answered “New Jersey,” to the first question, the woman asked what country she was from. My colleague replied “what country are YOU from. We are all immigrants from somewhere.”

The more people I speak to, the more I am convinced that Mr Trump has unleashed a species of psychological warfare against immigrants of color, not only in the sphere of policy, but by inspiring a climate where their suitability to become American is subject to question. People are taking resentments expressed in the privacy of their homes or with close friends into public encounters in ways which have left many people feeling victimized or put upon,

For those people, Donald Trump’s election has been ” A License to Insult”.


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