During a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Ashburn, Virginia on Tuesday, a school-aged boy shouted “take the bitch down” in an apparent reference to Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton.
Responding to a group of reporters sitting nearby, the child’s mother, who identified herself as Pam Kohler, defended her child’s “right to speak what he wants to,” noting that “he’s a minor so he can’t be interviewed.” When asked about his behavior, Kohler blamed “Democratic schools” for her child’s lewd language, the Los Angeles Times reported.
A little kid is yelling "Take the bitch down!" when Trump mentions Hillary Clinton. A little kid. No more than 10, I would say.
— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) August 2, 2016
"Children are children" mother says of her young son who yelled "take that bitch down" about Clinton at Trump's rally.
— Katy Tur (@KatyTurNBC) August 2, 2016
It may appear shocking that a young boy and his mother are unapologetic about his potty mouth and indecorous behavior against Clinton, who is not just a presidential candidate, but a former senator, Secretary of State, and First Lady as well. But because children are influenced by their environment, it almost seems inevitable that he would use the same kind of inflammatory language Trump and his campaign advisers use. In fact, a Clinton campaign video from mid-July titled “Role Models” lobbed similar criticisms about Trump’s language, showing children watching television set to some of Trump’s more controversial statements.
Notably, Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric has been connected to an increase of Islamophobia and recruitment for white nationalist groups throughout the United States. And for the duration of his presidential campaign, Trump has aired major grievances against immigrants, Latinos, Muslims, blacks, and women. His rhetoric also bled into the Republican National Convention where delegates eagerly purchased items that called Clinton a “bitch” and a “tramp.” Last August, he condoned violence against Black Lives Matter protesters, vowing to beat up protesters who tried to interrupt his event.
Recent research by Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and Teaching Tolerance suggest that Trump’s rhetoric has made children mean. In a survey soliciting 5,000 comments from educators about Trump’s effect in the classroom, more than half of the teachers surveyed said that they saw a rise in “uncivil political discourse” during this election cycle. Teachers also reported that students were “emboldened” to use slurs, engage in name-calling, and make inflammatory remarks against each other. Students defended themselves claiming that “they are ‘just saying what everyone is thinking,’” the survey reported. Another teacher reported that his students “think we should kill any and all people we do not agree with.”
“Students seem emboldened to make bigoted and inflammatory statements about minorities, immigrants, the poor, etc,” another teacher from Michigan reported.