A recording from 2005 of Donald Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women was leaked two weeks ago. This tape recorded the most misogynistic and rape-culture supporting words he has ever been caught saying on camera. I was not alone in my disgust as the audio sparked outrage across the country from both men and women, Democrats and Republicans. Across social media, many prominent Republican politicians cited their wives, daughters, and sisters as reasons for criticizing Trump’s words. But these politicians never spoke up against Trump when he disparaged minority groups. This bias highlights how Trump’s many bigoted statements are significant only when their targets are important to those who are privileged in our society.
After the recording was leaked, many Republican senators, governors, and previous contenders in past Republican presidential primaries such as Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Mitt Romney condemned Trump for his crude statement. Even house speaker Paul Ryan stated Trump’s comments “sickened” him in a recent rally in Wisconsin. Some Republicans such as John McCain, Jason Chaffez, and Lisa Murowski pulled their endorsement of Trump. But why now? This incident is nowhere close to the first time Trump has made an extremely offensive comment. In a 2011 interview with “The New York Times,” Trump stated that he “[has] so many fabulous friends who happen to be gay, but I am a traditionalist.” When Trump announced his bid for president, he said that Mexican immigrants are “… bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” His comments about Ghazala Khan, a Muslim and member of a Gold Star Family who stood beside her husband while he spoke at the Democratic National Convention: “She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.”
This is not the first time Trump publicly denounced a group of people, but his offensive comments from the recording were the first ones to hit home for many of those in the Republican party who supported him. Because a large number of Republicans are not part of minority groups, they could easily brush off his bigoted statements as politically incorrect or brutally honest. Whenever Donald Trump degraded non-white, non-Christian, non-heterosexual, or disabled people, his supporters found every excuse to justify his comments. Only when Trump disparaged their daughters, sisters, and wives did these people decide it was appropriate to condemn him.
The selective condemnation of Trump’s bigotry implies that the lives and well-being of minority people, whom Trump has endangered countless times with his hateful rhetoric, are not as important as those of his relatively privileged supporters.
Although I am glad that this leaked recording has brought Trump some long deserved criticism from his own party, I am also reluctant to applaud those who have condoned his hate speech towards marginalized groups. If we recognize one action as derogatory and disgusting, we must treat each similar incident as such and respond with equal outrage, regardless of how these statements personally affect us.