The legitimization of xenophobia and its effects on our children.
Parents, you now have a new reason to worry about your children, when they are out with other kids. A couple of months ago, my son played a light, loose ruled football game with a bunch of guys from the neighborhood. Some of the kids he knew fairly well, others were just joiners from around the area. My son ended up in an argument with another child about Donald Trump. My son made it known that he thought Donald Trump was horrible and the other kid countered that he was awesome. One of the child’s reasons for admiring the real estate mogul turned politician was that he believes Muslims need to leave the country.
When a child believes racist and exclusionary things in elementary school it’s almost a forgone conclusion where the views came from: the child’s parents. We are entering a new age where these kinds of views are becoming more normalized, thanks to this political season. Unfortunately, this is not just speculation, it’s a fact backed by some pretty significant data.
We had reached a point where holding such views was not considered socially acceptable. It would be naive to believe that people didn’t have them, but (most) people certainly didn’t feel as cavalier about openly expressing them. The change that this political season has wrought, regardless of the eventual outcome of the elections in November, is a dangerous and vile shift in the tone that is passing as permissible.
When I hear my son tell me that a child at school is who is named Mohammad is being told by another child to “go join ISIS,” I fear for the marginalization of a group of people that had been fairly well integrated into American society. It concerns me not only for those who are among the marginalized, but for those who cannot, in good conscience, participate in that process. I worry that those who are taught that others are to be treated fairly, regardless of their religion or skin color, can and will again become a minority. The expressions of a new xenophobia and longing for a fading societal hierarchy are setting us back decades.