Monday, October 26, 2020
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SHUT UP, MAN

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SOCIAL MEDIA COVERAGE DISTRACTS FROM OPEN RACISM IN PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

Tuesday’s presidential debate was painful to watch. America saw its president ignore facts, propriety, and even the debate moderator. Hardly five minutes in, social media had already blown up.

Jim Watson / Getty Images

Throughout the debate, Trump took false credit for reopening the NFL, suggested facemasks kill people, and questioned the credibility of the 2020 election. Trump’s niece said that he lies every time he speaks. However, Trump made two especially concerning statements that deserve more attention.

First, he jumbled some words together that essentially sent this message: anti bias training racist and unpatriotic. He was not only opposed to reform; he implied that racial justice is unamerican.

Secondly, when asked to renounce white supremacy, Trump would not do it. His message for Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” is now a popular t-shirt design for the designated hate group.

This does not show apathy. Trump encouraged white supremacy and discouraged antiracism. He commands a world superpower, and he confirmed himself an active, unapologetic racist.

Why then, are there so many Spiderman memes?

Much of the discussion about the 2020 debate has centered around its intensity. In social media and in the news, Trump and Biden were compared to children, Grandpa Simpson, and Real Housewives. The memes implied that there was no difference between the two.

It was an insane night, but these responses distract from what mattered most. It is inappropriate to equate or even compare Trump’s performance to Biden’s. This downplays the threat Trump poses to equality and democracy.

Four years into his presidency, Trump has drastically lowered America’s expectations from him. He has left the country desensitized and exhausted with the subject. Unfortunately, this means that if Biden calls Trump a liar, it will get more attention than Trump calling journalism fake news. It minimizes the vast difference between the person condemning Charlottesville protesters and the person condemning George Floyd Protestors.

It is crucial to remember this when posting. According to Forbes, social media is the “main source of news online.” It is how 64% of people who use the internet get their news. Therefore, each account can influence its followers’ daily news headlines.

Not everyone saw the debate, and they are entitled to an honest account of its events. If every post is about Trump and Biden’s equal incompetence, they would not learn about the dangerous claims Trump made on that stage. This reinforces a culture that prioritizes drama over antiracism. Furthermore, it gives potential voters false hopelessness a disinclination to vote.

Presidential debates are not reality TV, and Trump’s racism has not diminished over time. The Proud Boys see Trump for what he is, and they understand the significance of this election. Why can’t the rest of us?