Warren Blumenfeld's Blog

Social Justice, Intersections in Forms of Social Oppression, Bullying Prevention

“No Name-Calling Week” an Antidote to the Trumps of the Country

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This year, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) is holding its “No Name-Calling Week” from January 15-19, 2018. It is a week of awareness activities planned and facilitated annually by K-12 educators and students, and allied with a growing number of organizations to highlight and work toward preventing incidents of name calling and other forms of bullying in schools and communities.

GLSEN bases “No Name Calling Week” on an idea proposed in the best-selling young adult novel, The Misfits (2003) by James Howe, in which four seventh-grade friends suffer the daily effects of insults and taunts.

How ironic, though, as this event comes in the current abusive political climate in which we find so many negative role models with the most visible being the President of the United States who calls his political opponents names from “crooked Hillary” to “little rocket man,” “Dicky Durbin,” “lyin’ Ted,” “liddle Marco,” “low energy Jeb,” Biden’s “not a very bright guy,” Ryan’s a “weak leader,” McCain’s “not a war hero.” He called Mexicans drug dealers, criminals, and rapists, and nations with majority black populations as, well, I’m not going to include Trump’s racist epithets here.

Trump referred to Rosie O’Donnell as “a fat pig”; attacked Megan Kelly by saying that “blood was coming out of her eyes, blood was coming out of her…whatever”; branded former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, “Miss Piggy” and “The Housekeeper” because she was Latina; virtually admitted to sexually assaulting women because of his celebrity on an Access Hollywood tape. At a White House ceremony honoring World War II Native American Code Talkers, he again called Senator Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas.”

He mocked a disabled reporter; denounced a U.S.-born federal judge on the basis of his ancestry; threatened to reinstate the failed and unconstitutional “stop and frisk” tactics used against primarily people of color; told law enforcement officers to be rougher when arresting suspects; stiffed building contractors who worked for him; was sued and forced to pay damages for patterns of racial discrimination in the sale and rental of his apartment properties; and he threatens lawsuits on anyone who speaks against him.

He promised to monitor U.S. Muslim residents and impose bans on Muslims entering the U.S.; vows to reverse women’s reproductive freedoms and marriage equality of same-sex couples; retweets white supremacists’ racist and anti-Jewish propaganda; boils his rally audiences to a fever-pitch by demonizing and bashing the press.

Trump excused his staff for producing a blatantly antisemitic poster depicting Hillary Clinton surrounded by $100. bills and a Star of David; said f*ck in a press conference; argued that he could randomly shoot someone in New York City without losing a voter; told a rally audience that he would pay legal expenses for anyone who punched out a protester; advised Russia to hack Hillary’s emails; stated that transgender people are unsuited to serve their country in the military; and attacked Gold Star families.

The 2016 GOP Presidential Platform validated Trump’s bigotry by referring to undocumented people as “illegal aliens” as if they were invaders from a distant planet in deep space bent on annihilating the country.

The American Medical Association defines “bullying” as a specific type of aggression in which the behavior is meant to harm or disturb, it occurs repeatedly over time, and where there is an imbalance of power with a more powerful individual or group attacking a less powerful one. This can occur face-to-face, through gossip or innuendo, or over the media, including social media including information and communication technologies such as Internet web sites, Twitter, e-mail, chat rooms, mobile phone and text messaging, and instant messaging.

Donald Trump has conducted a campaign of attack, innuendo, name-calling, character assassination, blatant lying, and downright and incessant racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, cissexist, heterosexist, and misogynistic bullying. This is even more troubling since he is considered the “leader of the free world.” His abusive remarks, nonetheless, continue to resonate positively with a significant segment of the electorate.

We are increasingly seeing what has come to be known as “The Trump Effect” in which through Donald’s derisive and abusive words and actions, many young people mirror his behavior and react similarly against their peers.

We must not view bullying and harassment, however, as simply youth problems and behaviors, but rather, investigate the contexts in which bullying “trickles down” from the larger society and is reproduced within the schools. Young people, through the process of social learning, often acquire bullying and harassing attitudes and behaviors, and they also often learn the socially sanctioned targets for their aggression.

We all have a choice, however, in the role we play: we can join in the abuse, enable the abuse by defending abusers or by sitting passively on the sidelines (as are the majority of Republican “leaders”) as so-called “bystanders,” or we can function as active upstanders to intervene in stopping and preventing further abuse.

The compassionate and committed people at GLSEN, their co-sponsors, and the courageous educators and students are serving as antidotes to the Trumps by standing up to make our schools, our communities, our nation, and our world a better, safer, and more peaceful place.

Warren J. Blumenfeld is author of Warren’s Words: Smart Commentary on Social Justice (Purple Press); editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price (Beacon Press), and co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (Routledge) and Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States (Sense), and co-author of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life (Beacon Press).


Written by Warren Blumenfeld

January 17th, 2018 at 4:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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