It may be hard to distinguish in the current political climate where the line of decency is—but one thing is clear, Donald Trump, Jr.’s recent attack on teachers crossed it. At the president’s February 11 border wall rally in El Paso, Trump, Jr. stirred up the crowd:
“I love seeing some young conservatives because I know it’s not easy. (Crowd applauds and shouts.) Keep up that fight. Bring it to your schools. You don’t have to be indoctrinated by these loser teachers that are trying to sell you on socialism from birth.”
The son of the president urging rally goers to bring their “fight” to schools is concern enough. The language does not seem like an empty threat when you reflect on escalating white nationalist violence, and the horrific incidences of violent attacks in schools.
The broader concern is that America’s public school teachers—who come from diverse backgrounds and have political attitudes that cover the spectrum—are increasingly being vilified for political purposes, rather than being appreciated for the vital role they play caring for and educating our children.
Our public education system is one of the most critical institutions supporting our democracy. The chants of “USA, USA” that filled the hall may purport to make Trump Jr.’s rallying cry seem like mainstream America—but it is anything but. As three teachers—one from the U.S. and two international colleagues said, “This is a message you would expect in an authoritarian regime, not at a rally for the U.S. president.”
Educators around the world are denouncing Trump Jr.’s statement. We must join them.