No matter which side of the partisan divide you are on, which side of the Trump coin you prefer, I think the one thing we can all agree on is that the two years of the Trump presidency has been the most divisive of any in the history of this nation, perhaps with the exception of the Civil War era, but I’m not even certain of that. It has absolutely been the most divisive in my lifetime and that of anyone reading this post.
This post is not about Donald Trump … I have made my feelings about him clear in enough other posts … but rather it is about the hatred and divisiveness that people on both sides of the equation are engaging in and that is leading us down a path of destruction. What brought this about and why now, considering that I have written no less than six past posts with the word “Respect” in the title? A number of things, but it began with this headline …
High school basketball team pulls out of game after controversy over fans with Trump sign
It happened last week in Minnesota, where the Roosevelt High School basketball team visited Jordan High School for a game. Roosevelt players are predominantly black, while Jordan players are predominantly white, and Jordan fans decided to fly this flag …It’s high school, folks! High school sports, for Pete’s sake! Granted, some of these young people will be able to vote in the next election, and it’s a good thing for them to study civics, to learn about our government and the people in it, but it is not a good thing for them to bring political icons into high school sporting events. The upshot is that now, Jordan High School has canceled yesterday’s scheduled game against Patrick Henry High School for one of two stated reasons: a) they feared something might happen to their players in retaliation for the flag incident, or b) the team did not want its presence at the event “to detract from the athletes”. Whichever reason, it does not matter … what matters is that sports is supposed to teach young people sportsmanship, teamwork, cooperation … it is supposed to bring positive things into kids’ lives, not hate, not racism and bigotry.
What’s next … kindergarten kids wearing those red hats and beating up other kids because they look different?
Here are two examples I found on Education Week’s website:
- Three swastikas were scrawled on the note found in the girls’ restroom, along with a homophobic comment and a declaration: “I Love Trump.”
- Found inside the backpack of a Latina student, a note that said: Go back to Mexico.
These incidents took place at Council Rock High School in a predominately white suburb of Philadelphia.
Education Week and others have partnered with non-profit news organization ProPublica in a project called Documenting Hate, in an attempt to understand how hate, intolerance, and bias are affecting school climate and impacting students and their educators. Take a look at some of the incidents they have reported on … I think you will be appalled.
No matter whether you love him or hate him, nobody can deny that Trump’s rhetoric and policies have been laden with bigotry … xenophobic, racist, homophobic and misogynist. BUT … that does not give any of us the right to act upon his rhetoric. Freedom of Speech is one of the core principles guiding our society, our lives, but as with any and every right, it comes with responsibility. When we ignore the responsibility, then we risk losing the right … it’s that simple.
So, you have the right to march in peaceful protest, but you do not have the right to call the police on somebody swimming in the pool at your apartment complex just because their skin is darker than yours. You do not have the right to yell racial slurs at people in public. That is bigotry. You have the right to attend a Trump rally … or a Clinton rally … and wear whichever hat or shirt you deem appropriate, but if you wear that hat to a bar, a sporting event or the grocery store, you are doing it only to annoy those who don’t agree with you, and you do not have that right.
You have the right to raise your children in whatever faith you choose, but you do not have the right to teach them to hate those who don’t believe as you do. You have a right to support Donald Trump, but you do not have the right to make obscene gestures and utter hate speech in front of national television cameras. It all boils down to one simple word that apparently too many people in this nation have forgotten: R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Write me off as a friend if you wish, but do not threaten my life.
And most of all, folks of both parties, please do not teach your children to hate. Teach them to accept and tolerate everyone, regardless of skin colour, race, religion, gender, gender identification, ethnicity or party affiliation. If you cannot tolerate someone, then stay away, leave them alone … you do not have the right to hate and hurt others and you do not have the right to turn your children into hate-mongering little people.