Republican front-runner Donald J. Trump can now add “traumatizing children” to his list of presidential qualifications. Last week in Wisconsin, a friendly high-school girl’s soccer game was rudely interrupted by some young racists as they chanted “Donald Trump! Build that wall!” at black and Latina members of the opposing squad, many of whom ended up walking off the field in protest.
The Elkhorn Area High School shouted “build a wall,” “No comprende” and “speak English,” among other racial slurs and epithets. Coach Brian Denu said of his players that “they came off the field and weren’t able to finish the game because they were too upset and distraught over what happened to them. One of the girls was cradled in the arms of one of our assistant coaches for a good 15 to 20 minutes. “I could just see the hurt and pain on their face and know that this was obviously something that they hadn’t seen before. Those are just words you’ll never be able to take back from those kids and an experience that you wish you could take back. It was really disturbing for them.”
Coach Denu didn’t blame the hecklers for their inappropriate comments, saying that “my guess is that they’re good kids that have some really bad ideas in their head. But those were hurtful — and words that you say can last with people for a very, very, very long time.” It’s just more evidence that the name “Trump” in itself has become a racial slur, when it once stood for crude excess. Just invoking it carries connotations of violence and hate and elicits a visceral response, which is of course why the incorrigible youths at Elkhorn decided to shout it.
The name Trump carries different connotations these days; it evokes images of rabid white men stomping minorities, of barbed wire and concrete, of special identification cards and the boots of an ICE agent as he batters down the door. We honestly shouldn’t be reading too deeply into the rudeness of highschoolers, but the incident does serve as a useful barometer for the racial tensions growing within our nation and showing just how exploitable those volatile sentiments truly are.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.