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Humans of New York to Donald Trump: “The Hateful One is You”

International Business Times (AU)International Business Times (AU) 15/03/2016 Nanda Lakhwani

American photojournalist and founder of Humans of New York (HONY) Brandon Stanton has called out Donald Trump in a Facebook letter that has gone viral, receiving more than a million shares as of this writing, merely seven hours after it was first posted on the HONY Facebook page.

In the letter, Stanton perfectly summarised his beef with the former real estate mogul turned Republican presidential candidate, pointing to Trump’s contentious comments about immigrants, refugees and Muslims -- all of which have made multiple headlines.

Stanton opens the letter by noting how hard he strives to be nonpartisan in his work, including rejecting interviews with several presidential candidates. But the photographer, known for little-to-no editing when it comes to his photographs and interviews and allowing his subjects to tell their own stories, said on Monday opposing Trump publicly was a moral decision, not a political one.

Stanton first rose to fame by taking pictures of ordinary New Yorkers and sharing their stories in the process. However in recent years he has swung his focus towards the struggles of refugees. In fact, his series of interviews and photographs of a Syrian refugee and civil engineer known as ‘The Scientist’ sparked an outpouring of compassion in 2015, and even an invitation to President Obama’s final State of The Union address.

'The hateful one is you': Humans of New York creator writes to Trump © AP Images/IB Times 'The hateful one is you': Humans of New York creator writes to Trump

“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,” writes Stanton, acknowledging the countless interviews he’s held with Muslims across the globe which have brought him to the grand conclusion: the hateful one is Trump.

“You are a man who has encouraged prejudice and violence in the pursuit of personal power.”

But Stanton is just one of many who are offended by the brash billionaire’s racially charged campaign rhetoric. Be it physical or virtual, anti-Trump sentiments are only getting stronger by the minute. Trumps’ rallies are morphing into an explosive mix of violence, protests and name-calling, as shown this weekend when protesters at a rally in Kansas City were pepper-sprayed by police. Another rally in Chicago was called off because a brawl broke out between protesters and supporters hours before the rally was scheduled to happen.

With nearly 18 million followers on the official Humans of New York Facebook page and five million on Instagram, Stanton’s emotional letter to Trump has had a massive ripple effect. Below is the letter in full:

Mr. Trump,

I try my hardest not to be political. I’ve refused to interview several of your fellow candidates. I didn’t want to risk any personal goodwill by appearing to take sides in a contentious election. I thought: ‘Maybe the timing is not right.’ But I realize now that there is no correct time to oppose violence and prejudice. The time is always now. Because along with millions of Americans, I’ve come to realize that opposing you 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.’

I am a journalist, Mr. Trump. And over the last two years I have conducted extensive interviews with hundreds of Muslims, chosen at random, on the streets of Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan. I’ve also interviewed hundreds of Syrian and Iraqi refugees across seven different countries. And I can confirm— the hateful one is you.

Those of us who have been paying attention will not allow you to rebrand yourself. 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. 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.

Sincerely,

Brandon Stanton

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