Ignoring Trump is my students’ only alternative to outrage and despair

Classroom

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In June 2015, when Donald J. Trump descended an escalator to a crowd of paid worshipers and made the bizarre assertion that Mexico sends people to the United States and that they are “rapists,” I faced a teaching dilemma. I have always tried to remain an impartial arbiter of politics and culture and push students to do the hard work of drawing their own conclusions based on logic and evidence. But this was different.

For nearly half my students, those words were a slandering of their parents and grandparents and themselves, and I found it necessary to let them know that as far as I was concerned, they were as welcome in this country as anyone else. We are a nation of laws and immigration laws are among them, but we also have a Declaration of Independence that says “all men are created equal.” 

This man’s discourse has forced me, during his presidency, to abandon a fundamental element of good teaching practice, at least temporarily. It is disappointing but not surprising. Intellectual and moral whiplash seems to be President Trump’s calling card.



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