Here’s the thing. I’m from a small town. And like a lot of people from small towns, I have heard miniscule Trump-isms coming from the people around me my entire life. Some things are as innocent as “I’ve heard it’s really dangerous to travel to (insert any unknown country)" to overtly racist comments from your neighbour’s Uncle Bill that I probably shouldn’t repeat. I blame it on ignorance. See, it’s easy to fear something that you don’t understand. When you have a leader who plays on those fears and promises to protect you from the unknown evil in the world, it’s easy to support him.
It all changed for me in the spring of 2013. I was heading down the road to becoming a Trump supporter when I decided to catch a flight south and meet a friend of mine in Mexico. We took off on an epic backpacking trip through Central America, and when we got back I travelled first to Spain and then later to Morocco. What I learned is something far different from the rhetoric you hear on Trump’s twitter feed.
Now I know people support President Trump (ugh, that sounds awful) for a variety of reasons. And I respect that, because it’s these differences that set us apart as individuals. However, here are a few of his statements that don’t add up in the real world that I have travelled in.
“When Mexico sends its people... they’re sending people with lots of problems. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Yes, Donald, some are good people. After inferring that Mexican immigrants are rapists and killers that small disclaimer at the end hardly feels genuine. I have worked with a lot of Mexicans who come to this country to do seasonal jobs that other people won’t do and for opportunities that they don’t have at home. I have met Mexicans that are here for school. I have travelled to Mexico and stayed with a family who showed me nothing but love and hospitality. Are these people the exception rather than the rule? I hardly think so. With an estimated 11.7 million Mexican immigrants in the US, there would be many more problems if they were in fact overwhelmingly “bringing crime” and “rapists.”
Trump “absolutely supports” a Muslim data base and a “complete and total shutdown” of Muslim immigration into the US.
Enough people have already made the Nazi connection, so I don’t have to. However, I will say this. In a time of unparalleled divisiveness in the US and worldwide, fear mongering comments like these only adds fuel to the fire. When I travelled solo to Morocco, a country with a 99% Muslim population, I saw only genuine people who want what we all want, enough food to eat and a safe place to sleep at night. You can check out some of my adventures in Morocco here. In short, they were an awesome people. In an effort to keep extremists out of the country, Trump is effectively breeding a new kind of extremist at home, the anti-immigrant, anti-Islam ‘Murican. This kind of divisiveness and unfounded fear is what breeds war.
So what does travel have to do with all of this? Without travel, I wouldn’t have been able to vet the news on mainstream media against personal experience. Without travel, I wouldn’t have experienced the world’s religions and cultures in a spot where I am the outsider. I was still treated with respect despite the fact that my culture and my language was the minority or nonexistent. I come home and hear radical rhetoric from a world leader like POTUS and it makes me think how close it sounds to the rhetoric coming from any other radicalized group leader. Except now, the whole world is listening. End of rant.
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Jonathan Beam is the author of Crimson Morning - The Philosophy of Travel, available on the member page by signing up above. He is a blogger who writes about travel, adventure and philosophy. He has also written a novel that is currently under consideration to be published!