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Trump’s Rhetoric Encourages Bullying in School
David Hammer
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Bullying doesn’t happen in a bubble. Like a lot of our behavior, both good and bad, I think the world we live in can influence or even encourage people to be bullies.

Today, we live in a time that is punctuated by fear. I think one person who contributes to this is Donald Trump. Among many discriminatory remarks, he has said Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers, Muslims shouldn’t be allowed in this country, and he has made fun of a journalist who is handicapped. He also sees women as objects. He wrote in one of his books: “Beauty and elegance, whether in a woman, a building, or a work of art, is not just superficial or something pretty to see.”

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The Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines a bully as, “a blustering, browbeating person; especially: one habitually cruel to others who are weaker.” This definition sounds like the Republican nominee. He is a powerful and influential man, and he is trying to stay powerful by belittling minority groups and anyone who criticizes him, just like a bully.

During the campaign, the businessman who declared bankrupcy four times has suggested deporting millions of Latino immigrants, constructing a wall between the United States and Mexico, and killing the families of Muslim terrorists.

The negative tone of this campaign has been studied by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that monitors hate groups.

Trump’s Negative Influence on Kids

They released a report in April called “The Trump Effect: The Impact of the Presidential Campaign on Our Nation’s Schools” that found teachers have noted an increase in bullying and harassment during this election campaign. They’ve also noticed “an alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of color,” students whose ethnicities have been verbally targeted by Trump.

As a result, 40% of teachers are uncomfortable discussing the election. Isn’t this ironic when school is usually a place where students learn about important people in America?

The report is based on a survey of about 2,000 teachers from kindergarten through 12th grade. More than 67% of the teachers said their students, especially immigrants, children of immigrants, and Muslims, shared worries and fears about what might happen to them or their families when the election ends.

image by YC-Art Dept

These statistics are astonishing. I was surprised to learn that 1st graders and kindergarteners would be influenced by the Republican nominee’s attitude toward immigrants.

Yet the survey also reported students are concerned about deportation, having their families broken apart, imprisonment or being attacked by police, losing their homes, seeing their respective religious institutions shut down, going into hiding, and being sent to detention camps. Some Muslim students think that if Trump wins the election, they will have microchips placed under their skin.

Recalling Hitler

Trump reminds me of another political figure—Hitler. During the Third Reich’s rule in Europe, this bully instituted the Nuremberg Laws. One of the rules the Nuremberg Laws established was the ethnic identification of Jewish men and women. Jews were forced to wear a yellow Star of David patch on their sleeves at all times.

Hitler wanted to promote German nationalism, and he did so partly through the persecution of Jewish people, whom he referred to as untermenschen, which translates roughly to “the subhumans.” He commonly referred to them as filth.

Today, Trump is also relying on a distorted sense of nationalism to gain popularity. He is doing so by belittling minority groups, like Hitler did with the Jews, and convincing people that immigrants are the cause of all our country’s problems. He divides the world into winners and losers. And that’s what bullies do: Make themselves appear stronger by intimidating those who appear weaker.

When They Go Low, We Go High

When Michelle Obama spoke at the Democratic National Convention, she spoke about our bully culture, alluding to Donald Trump. She said people should not join a bully when they are faced with one.

“When someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. Our motto is when they go low we go high.”

The Democratic convention’s slogan was “Stronger Together.” To me, that’s a better alternative to Trump’s “Us vs Them.”

(NYC-2016-09-17)