A high-profile and powerful man takes to social media -- where he has tens of millions of followers -- to allege a prominent woman was "bleeding badly" after a plastic surgery operation.
If that high-profile man was the CEO of a major company, he would, at minimum, be forced to apologize, and, at most, be fired. If that high-profile man was an actor, he'd likely be blackballed by Hollywood for future roles.
Then why, when that person is the President of the United States, should we treat that sort of behavior any differently? Donald Trump, from almost the moment he became a candidate for President two years ago, has set about making the outrageous ordinary. Attack John McCain for being captured and held for six years as a prisoner of war? Check! Reference the size of his genitals in a debate? Check! Make lewd comments -- on tape -- about how a prominent man can expect to be treated by women? Check!
There's a natural human tendency when faced with a series of behaviors considered outrageous or unacceptable to begin to slough them off. To normalize them. That's just Trump being Trump! He says stuff!
But, this is the President of the United States we are talking about. Someone who, whether he likes it or not, is a role model. Someone who has a profound influence on how not only we adults treat each other but how our children view the acceptable bounds of how to act toward one another.
It is hard to imagine the harm that is happening to the children of America who are watching this play out.
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 has aimed at immigrants, Muslims and Blacks 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!” That 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 were from a predominantly Latino school.
Get ’em out!” is what Trump screams at rallies 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 brown-skinned classmates in their Northern Virginia classroom.
You think kids aren’t going to play this out in the schoolyard?
Even if they’re not taking their phrases directly from Trump’s playbook, his orchestrated free-for-all has unleashed a growing atmosphere of hate.
I don’t know whether Trump was the inspiration for the kids on an all-white Annapolis-area hockey team who singled out the black players on my son’s team, calling them the N-word and harassing them throughout the game. But they heard those words somewhere. They learned that cruelty somewhere. And I don’t think it’s a stretch to blame their behavior on the nation’s growing tolerance of open displays of bigotry.
And I don’t know that the kids at the University of Southern California who threw eggs and hurled racial epithets at a student from Hong Kong over the weekend were acting directly on Trump’s orders. But there’s an anything-goes recklessness in the air that is certainly emboldening them.
Two very good phrases! BUILD THAT WALL & GET EM OUT!