In the days immediately after Donald Trump was elected president, more than 100 black freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania received racist text messages; a black female student at Villanova was knocked to the ground by a group of white males yelling "Trump, Trump, Trump," and racist graffiti and swastikas with references to Trump were spray-painted on a storefront in South Philadelphia.
Trump isn't accepting responsibility, but those acts are just a sample of the garbage left behind by a campaign built around themes and messages that denigrated minorities, women, Muslims, and the handicapped. Rather than great, Trump so far has made America hate again.
The idea that the next president of the United States could even inadvertently make comments that would make racists think it's acceptable for them to come out of the shadows should be troubling to every American. The bigoted attacks are providing more fuel for the angry protests in numerous cities prompted by Trump's election.
Diversity has and always will be one of America's greatest strengths. Despite a history that includes struggles to overcome prejudice, this country is considered a beacon of freedom, tolerance, and opportunity for all. A Trump presidency must not change that by exacerbating animosities based on race, class, and religion.
During a CBS News interview Sunday, 60 Minutes reporter Lesley Stahl had to work to get Trump to acknowledge and ultimately denounce the many racial slurs, attacks, and threats by his supporters that have been reported by African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, and gays since last week's election.
Initially, Trump said he was "very surprised" to hear about the hatred being spewed by people celebrating his victory. He said those guilty represented "a very small amount."
When Stahl asked if he wanted to say anything to supporters who might be acting out, Trump seemed half-hearted when he replied, "Don't do it."
"They're harassing Latinos, Muslims," pressed Stahl. Trump said he was "saddened" to hear that. "And I say: Stop it. If it, if it helps, I will say this; and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it."
Words matter; and perhaps Trump's words will have the right impact. But actions speak volumes too, and his controversial appointment of Steve Bannon to be his chief White House strategist says a lot.
Bannon was the executive chairman of Breitbart News, a so-called alt-right fringe website that traffics in racially insensitive, misogynistic rhetoric and outright white nationalism. Two weeks after a white assassin committed mass murder last year at a black church in Charleston, S.C., Breitbart's website published a story under a headline that read: "Hoist it high and proud: the Confederate flag proclaims a glorious heritage."
In court documents filed in 2007, Bannon's ex-wife accused him of domestic violence and using anti-Semitic language. Ben Shapiro, a former Breitbart editor, called Bannon a "legitimately sinister figure."
The Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations have denounced Bannon. Meanwhile, a Ku Klux Klan-affiliated group is planning to hold a Dec. 3 parade to celebrate Trump's election.