Election 2016

'Humans of New York' Photographer Shares His Disgust with Donald Trump's Culture of Hate

The creator of the hugely popular HONY blog shares his rage against Trump, calling him "hateful" and unpresidential.

Author and photographer Brandon Stanton with his bestselling book "Humans of New York"
Photo Credit: Niyantha Shekar / Flickr

Brandon Stanton, creator of the Humans of New York photo-portrait-and-interview blog and bestelling photo books, spoke out on social media Monday in an open letter to Donald Trump, calling Trump out for his racism, Islamophobia and promotion of violence at his rallies among his supporters. 

Although Humans of New York grew to worldwide social media fame with NYC as its subject, Stanton has in the last couple of years expanded his coverage across the globe to share intimate portraits and compelling personal interviews to introduce new "humans" to his eight million followers. Stanton cites his experience interviewing "hundreds of Muslims, chosen at random, on the streets of Iran, Iraq and Pakistan," as well as "hundreds of Syrian and Iraqi refugees across seven different countries." He concludes that although Trump claims "Islam hates us," the true "hateful one" is Trump himself.

At the time of writing, the Facebook post had 1.5 million likes and the Instagram post had 306,000 likes.

The HONY photographer, admitting his platform is typically apolitical, explained that his decision to oppose Trump publicly is "a moral one."

Here is Stanton's post:

An Open Letter to Donald Trump:
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.


Brandon Stanton

The rightfully harsh letter comes from a man who is known for being a likable guy—after all, he is able to get tens of thousands of strangers to share candid photos and intimate personal details and opinions, let alone maintain a social media reign longer and stronger than almost any other. Earlier Monday, the Huffington Post deemed him "the Nicest Man in America" who is "Pissed Off Enough" to share his outrage.

It may be too much to hope for to think that this post will inspire others to speak out and vote against Trump, but Stanton has a history of uniting unlikely people to pull off miracles of real significance (such as raising $1.2 million for an in-need school in Brooklyn).

Jenny Pierson is AlterNet's assistant managing editor and assistant publisher.

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