As a member of a Facebook group for educators, I see an increasing number of messages from teachers, professors, and other educational professionals asking for suggestions regarding ways to assist students understand and deal with the stress they experience in the context of the current election season, and, in particular, the demeaning rhetoric and actions of Donald Trump. The latest message I received serves as an urgent and poignant example.
“As we get closer to the election, I’m seeing more and more of my students of marginalized identities struggle — seriously, deeply struggle — with their mental and emotional health, to the point of discussing suicide. Many of my students, for various reasons, don’t feel that the counseling services we offer are helpful.
“Does anyone here have thoughts, ideas, suggestions for what can be done to better serve students who are feeling the full oppressive weight of current events and hostile overall national climate? I’m concerned for my students’ safety as election day approaches. I suspect that I’m not alone in what I’m seeing, and that it’s happening on other campuses as well.”
I find Donald Trump’s entire candidacy disconcerting for many reasons, the most important being that his popularity seems founded not on the substance of this policy initiatives – of which he has generated very few – but, rather, on the style and tone of his arguments.
Trump has conducted a campaign of attack, innuendo, name-calling, character assassination, and downright and incessant racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, and misogynistic bullying. I would not find this as troubling if he had not positively resonated with a significant segment of the electorate.
Donald Trump, arguably the more prominent of the so-called “birthers,” continually accused President Obama of illegitimacy as Commander in Chief by arguing that he was born outside the United States, even well after the President released his official birth certificate. This along with his supposed investigations into Mr. Obama’s time spent in Indonesia as a child, and inquiries into his African roots on his father’s side coexist as not-so-veiled xenophobic and racist threats.
Trump called Rosie O’Donnell “a fat pig”; attacked Megan Kelly by saying that “blood was coming out of her eyes, blood was coming out of her…whatever”; called undocumented Mexican immigrants drug dealers, criminals, and rapists; renounced a U.S.-born federal judge on the basis of his ancestry; exposed his predatory attitudes and actions on women in the Access Hollywood tape; said he would impose bans on Muslims entering the U.S.
The 2016 GOP Presidential Platform validates Trump’s bigotry by referring to undocumented people as “illegal aliens” as if they were invaders from a distant planet in deep space bent on torching the country.
He excused his staff for producing a blatantly anti-Semitic poster by depicting Hillary Clinton surrounded by $100. bills and a Star of David; mocked a disabled journalist; used the f*ck word in a press conference; argued that he could randomly shoot someone in New York City without losing a voter; told a rally audience that he would pay the legal expenses of anyone who punched out a protester, advised Russia to hack Hillary’s emails.
In addition, he refers to anyone who disagrees or opposes him in demeaning terms: “lyin’ Ted,” “little Marco,” “low energy Jeb,” “crooked Hillary,” Biden’s “not a very bright guy,” Ryan’s a “weak leader,” McCain’s “not a war hero,” and the bullying goes on.
Throughout elementary school, other students continually called me derisive names: “Woron the moron,” eagle beak” (referring to my nose), “little girl,” “fag,” “cry baby,” and so many others. The ways Donald Trump treats people that he does not like directly equates to how my peers treated me in my early schooling.