Why use racist slurs when you can just hold up a photo of Donald Trump?
Students at a private Catholic high school in Merrillville, Indiana, last week displayed a large photo of Trump's face as a way to insult and intimidate a rival team from a majority-Latino school.
Andrean High School fans also chanted, "Build a wall," referring to the Republican presidential candidate's vow to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, the Chicago Tribune reports. Footage from the game shows that several students dressed up in American flag garb for the game against Bishop Noll Institute.
Andrean High's principal and the local bishop have since released statements deploring what happened. But if this all seems disconcertingly familiar, it's because a nearly identical scene played out just days earlier in Iowa.
On Feb. 22, a basketball team from Perry High, a school unusually diverse for the region, was met with chants of "Trump, Trump, Trump" and direct quotes about Trump's plan to deport immigrants. A student wrote the local newspaper, The Perry Chief, that these kinds of experiences were becoming a regular occurrence for the team.
That's not to suggest that Trump's comments are making people racist, any more than his numerous sexist remarks are magically turning people into misogynists. But his position as the Republican Party's front-runner is giving racial insults a terrifying legitimacy.
If the kids had held up a big photo of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke (who enthusiastically endorses Trump and whom Trump took a disturbingly long time to disavow), they would have been identifying with a man whom most Americans consider to be a fringe extremist. But Trump is now a serious contender for U.S. president. If we end up with a leader whose very face is synonymous with racism and hate, it's not a great sign for the country.