Think we’re in for a disastrous four years if Donald Trump is elected president?
You’re being optimistic. Given what some of our children are learning from him, it may take an entire generation to recover from the hateful rhetoric he’s aimed at immigrants, Muslims and Black Lives Matter protesters.
Trump’s vitriol is making it off the campaign trail and into the lingua franca of children at an alarming rate. Just watch coverage from Trump rallies to hear the next phrases kids will be slinging at school.
“Build the wall!” was the chant at a high school basketball game in Indiana last week, directed by kids from a majority white school who held up Trump signs and yelled at the opposing players and fans, who are from a predominantly Latino school.
“Get ’em out!” is what Trump screams at every rally when he sees Black Lives Matter and other protesters, even silent ones. This is not far off from what some third-graders allegedly said to two of the brown-skin classmates in their Northern Virginia classroom. The mother of one of the children posted an account on Facebook:
“I just got a call from my son’s teacher giving me a heads up that two of his classmates decided to point out the ‘immigrants’ in the class who would be sent ‘home’ when Trump becomes president. They singled him out and were pointing and laughing at him as one who would have to leave because of the color of his skin. In third grade . . . in Fairfax County . . . in 2016!”
Fairfax County school officials have not confirmed the account, but a spokesman said they are looking into it. The mom, whose name has become a hashtag on Twitter even though she removed the post from her Facebook page, called it the “Trump Effect.”
The televised Trump rallies are becoming like “Lord of the Flies” set pieces. Nightly, televised “Hunger Games.” With each new video, we have a new group of angry white people pointing, yelling and chanting at brown-skin people being escorted out of a crowd, with the booming Trump refrain of “Get ’em out.”
It’s like all of those horrible school integration photos of screaming crowds surrounding black students in the 1960s are being reenacted.
We see decorated war veterans shoving and screaming at young, black college students. We see peaceful protesters being pushed and pinballed through the yelling masses.
You think kids aren’t going to play this out on the schoolyard?
Even if they’re not taking their phrases directly from Trump’s playbook, his guided free-for-all has unleashed a growing atmosphere of hate.
After all, coded racism has now been rebranded as “telling it like it is” thanks to Trump and the people who think he will be the strong, decisive character they’ve watched on reality TV if they elect him.
In New Orleans last week, Trump was frustrated that guards didn’t remove the black protesters who were peacefully standing among the crowd at his rally quickly enough.
“It’s taking a long time, I can’t believe it,” he said. “See in the old days it wouldn’t take so long. We’re living in a different world.”
We were living in a different world.
We were in a world where it was moral, not political, to be inclusive.
We were in a world where everyone agreed to “Never forget.”
And somehow, we forgot. And this new world we’re in seems frighteningly and dangerously like the old one we were finally making progress leaving behind.