This editorial appeared in Thursday’s Washington Post:
The morning after Donald Trump’s election as president, a student at Baylor University had a nasty, hate-filled encounter on her way to class. A native of Zambia, she was called the n-word by another student, who shoved her off the sidewalk and said he was “just trying to make America great again,” the signature slogan of Trump’s campaign. What is perhaps most appalling about the incident is that it was not isolated.
Rather, it was part of a rising number of acts of intolerance against minorities, women and religious groups that have followed Trump’s election. In Michigan, middle school students chanted “build a wall” at Latino classmates; in West Virginia, a small-town mayor cheered the likening of the first lady to an ape (the mayor has since resigned); in New York, a “Make America White Again” sign with a swastika was graffitied on a softball dugout wall; in Georgia, a Muslim teacher reported receiving an anonymous note saying her “headscarf isn’t allowed anymore” and telling her to “hang yourself with it”; and in Silver Spring, Maryland, a church banner advertising a Spanish-language service was defaced with the words “Trump nationwhites only.”
Organizations that track hate crimes have reported a marked uptick in these unsettling incidents, so it would be easy to go on. But we think it more instructive to focus on how the Baylor community reacted to that dreadful assault on Natasha Nkhama. IWalkWithNatasha was the Twitter hashtag that rallied students, teachers and school administrators – some 300 in all – to accompany Nkhama on her walk to class. “Acts of violence and insensitivity have no place,” said the university’s vice president for student life.
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Trump should pay heed. These hateful acts are the work of a tiny minority of his supporters, but they have been emboldened by the ugly rhetoric of his presidential campaign. It is his responsibility – not, as his campaign manager has foolishly suggested, President Barack Obama’s or Hillary Clinton’s – to do as much as he can to discourage such actions. Granted, his appointment of media mogul Stephen Bannon to a top White House job makes that all the more difficult. So does his mild response when asked about the threats and slurs in Sunday’s “60 Minutes” interview. Only when he was pressed could he muster an “I am so saddened to hear that. ... Stop it.”
Trump promised in his victory speech to be a president for all Americans. His wife has said she wants to make fighting hate and bullying her main priority as first lady. They need not wait until Inauguration Day to start living up to those promises.