Brandon Stanton, the journalist and creator of the mega-popular photo blog Humans of New York, has done the impossible—win over the Internet with positivity. His photos, which celebrate the diverse, resilient, and unique people of New York City, are the antidote to all the flame wars and hate speech on Facebook. His posts have inspired millions around the world. On the back of that widespread success, he's taken his blog worldwide, profiling Syrian refugees and traveling to the Middle East to give some much-needed attention to the wonderful ordinary people living there.
Perhaps it was his travels to the Arab world that convinced Stanton to break his policy of remaining nonpolitical and write a scathing open letter to would-be Muslim-banner Donald Trump. Without even including a photo (gasp), Stanton posted his letter to the Humans of New York Facebook page on March 14. And for such a sweet man, he really didn't pull any punches. (Full text below.)
Here's the full text of Stanton's letter:
An Open Letter to Donald 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.
The fact that Stanton took a stand is really significant when you realize how thirsty politicians are to get a piece of his "ordinary folks" action. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have both commented on his posts before, and so has NASA. But this is the first time Stanton engaged with any political figure directly.
It's a testament to Trump's power as a uniter. He's able to motivate people who've never gotten involved in politics to speak up. He's also bringing together diverse groups of people who never usually agree to stand united against a common enemy: him.