Recently a bizarre scene played out at a basketball game between two rival Massachusetts high school teams. The students of Catholic Memorial responded to alleged screams of "Sausage Fest", misinterpreted as homophobic insults, by chanting back "You Killed Jesus" to an overwhelmingly Jewish student body of Newton North.
When I first heard this I was appalled. As a parent and an educator, I naturally viewed this conduct as shockingly irresponsible, shallow and unsportsmanlike. Where was this sickeningly prejudiced behavior stemming from? Were the kids even aware of the enormity of this deplorable name-calling? I had many questions that left me feeling, frankly immensely sad that perceptions such as these are even entertained by our kids getting ready to spread their wings into this modern, advanced century.
The punishment meted out to the students involved, seemed to be a necessary first step. They were barred from attending the playoff game, and soon to undergo tolerance training among other things.
The intense media coverage the incident received was also hopefully damaging enough to put these punks to shame for a long time to come. But as I started thinking about the ignorance and prejudice displayed by these teens, I came to the unnerving realization that something very similar and even more hateful is being played out publicly at this very moment, propagated not by ignorant teenagers, but by the very man who deeply desires to be Commander-in-Chief. The man who wants to "Make America Great Again" is striving to do so by targeting minorities and painting an entire faith (as well as anyone who opposes him) as vile and vicious.
He proudly flaunts the notion that he is not a rule-follower, says that he "listens to himself" when asked who he consults on critical issues like foreign-policy, engages in unpardonable name-calling of women, carelessly tosses ethnic slurs and physical insults, threatens riots if he does not secure his party's nomination, garners the support of Neo-Nazi groups and incites violence by resorting to hate-filled rhetoric. Personally, he lost face the day he successfully attempted to appeal to his ugly band of followers by mocking the physical disability of New York Times Investigative Reporter Serge Kovaleski when challenged his racist remarks- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biopyTgPDpc. What would happen to a student if she displayed the same contemptible, downright immoral and abhorrent behavior --- I wondered? After all there is a zero tolerance against bullying in our schools.
Yet the Presidential hopeful with the dark charisma of Adolf Hitler, who has the ability to bring out the worst in people, marches on undeterred with lofty hopes of becoming the leader of the Free World.
The Newton High incident rightly shows that we, as educators, administrators, parents and citizens, should never become complacent when it comes to the morality of our children.
Something ugly transpired at Newton High this past week and every effort was made to right the wrong; something revolting continues to happen as we speak, spear-headed by a bigoted, sexist, xenophobic man who sadly (and dangerously) has the potential to change the course of history yet there are no immediate, glaring consequences to his intolerant acts. Needless to say there is something grossly amiss here. We need to take a close look at history and owe it to our future generations to do what is morally and ethically right.