As a journalist who photographs and interviews people on the street, Brandon Stanton has spoken with hundreds of Muslims in America and abroad over the past two years.
Those experiences motivated the creator of the popular Humans of New York blog to write a powerful open letter to Republican front-runner Donald Trump on Monday opposing his candidacy. Stanton cited Trump's inflammatory statements about Muslims as "hateful" and wrote that Trump has "encouraged prejudice."
"Because along with millions of Americans, I’ve come to realize that opposing you is no longer a political decision,'' he wrote about his choice to release the letter. "It is a moral one." TODAY reached out to Stanton for comment, but didn't immediately hear back.
Stanton, an author who interviews and photographs a diverse group of New Yorkers for his HONY project, posted it to his more than 17 million followers on Facebook and Twitter.
"I’ve also interviewed hundreds of Syrian and Iraqi refugees across seven different countries,'' he wrote. "And I can confirm — the hateful one is you."
Stanton noted how he has also spoken with hundreds of people on the streets of Iran, Iraq and Pakistan over the past two years, and he castigated Trump for certain statements about Muslims.
"I’ve watched you advocate the use of torture and the murder of terrorists’ families,'' he wrote. "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 also hopes to make sure Trump's statements are remembered if he tries to tone down the rhetoric later in a presidential campaign.
"Those of us who have been paying attention will not allow you to rebrand yourself,'' Stanton wrote. "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."
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