“Stop it!” Those are the words our president-elect, Donald Trump, used during an interview on the CBS TV program “60 Minutes.”
His comment was in reaction to reports of multiple acts of harassment directed at minorities, in particular school-age children, following his election victory to become the 45th president of the United States of America.
Unfortunately, Mr. President-Elect, that “stop it” train left the station months ago.
As Abraham Herschel wrote: “Speech has power. Words do not fade. What starts out as a sound ends in deeds.” Or to put it in a more direct form, Jean-Paul Sarte said it best, “Words are loaded pistols.”
Immediately after Trump’s victory, there were multiple news reports of harassment and bullying of minorities in our schools. In Utah, Gov. Gary Herbert and the state’s superintendent of public instruction joined other such officials across the United States in condemning such actions.
One news item from a Wisconsin school reported white students formed a wall to keep Hispanic students out. Another news report from a school in Pennsylvania told of students chanting, “Cotton picker, you’re a ni**er” and “Heil Hitler.”
Journalists who have been interviewing classroom teachers report hearing terms such as “terrified,” “scared” and “heartbroken” in describing the reactions of their students to the bullying of fellow minority students.
One classroom teacher reported that several of her students were simply repeating the hate speech they heard on television from candidate Trump.
At high school football events in Iowa and Indiana, fans taunted Latino players with “Trump, Trump, Trump” and “Build the wall.”
When fellow students tell an innocent third-grader that because his parents are lesbians, he will not be able to see one of his mothers now that Trump has won election, one knows that words have power.
How can a nation now pretend this is all just campaign rhetoric and does not matter? “Lock her up.” “Trump that B***h.” “Hillary for Prison.” When a presidential candidate refers to Mexican immigrants as “rapists” or his opponent as “crooked Hillary” and declares that the election is “rigged” and Muslims are dangerous and must be banned from entering the United States, Mr. Sarte has a viable point when he says, “Words are loaded pistols.”
What is not being said is that much of this hate, racism and bullying does not start from political rhetoric and Donald Trump. Trump has only exposed that which has been just under the skin of the fathers and mothers of these children. I would assert these children are simply little sponges absorbing what they hear at home. Trump is just the “tip of the iceberg.”
The writer lives in Princeton. Reach him at Nedward425@nc.rr.com.