As a new report from The Post demonstrates, across the country schools are reporting increased incidents of bullying and harassment directed at minority children in the time since Trump began running for office:
Since Trump’s rise to the nation’s highest office, his inflammatory language — often condemned as racist and xenophobic — has seeped into schools across America. Many bullies now target other children differently than they used to, with kids as young as 6 mimicking the president’s insults and the cruel way he delivers them.
It’s not all kids bullying kids — some of the cases involve teachers telling minority students that Trump will deport them or saying things such as “You’re getting kicked out of my country” (and there are also cases, though much smaller in number, of pro-Trump children being bullied).
Amazing what happens when you take the most repugnant human being in America and put him in the White House.
I exaggerate — but only a bit. I’m sure there are some Americans who are more morally despicable than Trump. Serial killers, for instance. But whether you like his administration’s policies, the president of the United States is a con man, a tax cheat, an accused sexual predator and the most prolific liar in the political history of Planet Earth, among other things.
But he might have been all that and not produced this kind of bullying. In fact, it was utterly predictable, because bullying is at the core of Trump’s being — and his political persona.
When he started running for president in 2015, Trump made clear that not only was he selling an agenda of xenophobia and racism, but he also wanted people to proclaim their hatreds loudly. “I’m so tired of this politically correct crap,” he said, and he wasn’t just talking about campus speech codes. He was angry at the foundational idea behind “political correctness,” that in our daily lives we should try to treat each other with respect.
The hell with that, Trump said. Every day he offered an instruction in the liberating power of being offensive. Not only shouldn’t you let a bunch of scolds tell you what kind of language to use, you should revel in the transgressive thrill of telling other people just what you think of them.
Trump plainly believes that if they see it to their advantage, people with more power should attack, victimize and humiliate those with less power. It’s something he’s known all his life, from when he was a young man being sued with his father for housing discrimination for refusing to rent apartments to black people, to when he was cheating struggling people out of their life savings, to when he refused to pay hundreds of small businesspeople what he owed them because they didn’t have the power to fight him.
In every case the logic was the same: He had more power than them, so he did what he wanted.
A different person might ascend to the most powerful position in the world and decide not to concern themselves anymore with petty squabbles. But if anything, Trump has accelerated his feuds, increasing the frequency with which he lashes out at those who are less powerful than him. Some are public figures who may be used to that sort of thing, but others are not.
One victim after another describes the disorienting feeling of being an ordinary person and realizing that the president of the United States is going after you. Just this week, Trump decided to attack the foreperson of the jury in the trial of his friend Roger Stone.
Imagine what it’s like to be her right now. You got the notice in the mail, went to do your civic duty, and now the president is insulting you on Twitter — with the inevitable threats and harassment from his supporters to follow.
And this is critical: Trump’s amen chorus celebrates him for his own bullying and the way he encourages others to be bullies. Recall the 2017 incident in which now-Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) body-slammed a journalist to the floor. On Fox News they cheered the assault as “Montana justice,” and host Laura Ingraham tweeted, “Did anyone get his lunch money stolen today and then run to tell the recess monitor?” Trump later appeared at a rally with Gianforte and said, “Any guy that can do a body slam, he is my type!”
That’s the ethos of the Trump era: There are no more standards of morality or appropriate behavior or even simple politeness. There is only his power, and how you have to submit to it.
When Republicans impeached Bill Clinton for lying about an affair, they responded to the argument that it had nothing to do with his official duties by saying the president is a role model, so his behavior matters. They were wrong about a lot, but they were right about that.
The difference is that back then, nobody in Clinton’s party defended him for having an affair, let alone praised him for it. Today, Trump sends the message over and over that power and status should be used to punch down, mock, degrade and humiliate those you don’t like. And his legions of lickspittles laugh and cheer.
So it’s no wonder that Trump, who has the world’s biggest megaphone, has managed to spread his particular poison throughout the country, even to children. It would have a been a surprise if it didn’t happen.