In an open letter to the real estate mogul posted on his Facebook page, photojournalist Brandon Stanton writes that while he takes great pains to be nonpartisan, he now believes that opposing Trump “is no longer a political decision. It is a moral one.”
“I’ve watched you retweet racist images. I’ve watched you retweet racist lies. I’ve watched you take 48 hours to disavow white supremacy. I’ve watched you joyfully encourage violence, and promise to ‘pay the legal fees’ of those who commit violence on your behalf. I’ve watched you advocate the use of torture and the murder of terrorists’ families. I’ve watched you gleefully tell stories of executing Muslims with bullets dipped in pig blood. I’ve watched you compare refugees to ‘snakes,’ and claim that ‘Islam hates us,’” he wrote.
Stanton, who has profiled hundreds of Muslims around the globe, most recently refugees from Syria and Iraq, tells Trump he has reached the conclusion that “the hateful one is you.” MSNBC reached out to the Trump campaign for comment on Stanton’s letter, but has not heard back at this time.
The Humans of New York Facebook page has more than 17 million followers and almost 5 million followers on Instagram. Prior to the blog’s social media success, it was a best-selling book, featuring Stanton’s profiles of residents of the Big Apple.
In recent years, Stanton’s focus has shifted to the plight of refugees. His recent profile of a Syrian refugee named “The Scientist,” who lost his wife and daughter in a bombing and is fighting stomach cancer, inspired a massive fundraising campaign led by actor Edward Norton last December. It raised nearly half a million dollars for the man and his surviving family members.
“It’s wonderful to see people acting out of their sense of empathy and shared humanity and making that small gesture towards someone they don’t even know — it’s very powerful,” Norton told MSNBC at the time. “It gives you a good feeling about people.”
Trump has infamously been inconsistent on the issue of Syrian refugees. After saying the U.S. should accept more Syrians last September, he has since told his supporters that they should be “on notice” because if he is elected president “they’re going back!” The GOP front-runner has gone on to suggest that refugees could be a “Trojan Horse” for terrorist activity in the U.S. and more recently that they ”could be ISIS … and by the way, it is turning out that they probably are ISIS.”
Last month, according to The Hill, Trump told a supporter he would have no problem looking the child of a refugee in the face and saying: “You can’t come here.”
Stanton’s letter arrives amid a span of several days where Trump’s rhetoric regarding Muslims has grown even more polarizing. He has declared that “Islam hates us” and that 27 percent are “really very militant about going after things.” These positions, in addition to advocating for a temporary ban on all emigration to the United States by people who practice the Muslim faith, have been widely criticized by Trump’s opponents on the left and some of his fellow Republicans.
As violence has erupted at some of his recent political rallies, the real estate mogul has refused to take responsibility, placing the blame instead on what he’s called “disruptors” at his events. In his open letter, Stanton directly challenges Trump’s claims that he is not the aggressor in clashes with protesters.
“You are not a ‘unifier.’ You are not ‘presidential.” You are not a ‘victim’ of the very anger that you’ve joyfully enflamed for months,” wrote Stanton. “You are a man who has encouraged prejudice and violence in the pursuit of personal power. And though your words will no doubt change over the next few months, you will always remain who you are.”