Do Students and Teachers Have a Right to Support Our President?

President Trump

by Christopher Paslay

Of course they do. But doing so publicly is a different matter altogether.

Regardless of how you feel about President Trump, the fact that members of the education community cannot openly voice their support for the POTUS without facing hostile blowback is a cause for concern. It’s bad enough Trump supporters are ostracized in public, but the existence of such behavior in a learning environment should not be tolerated.

A case in point is what happened to Addison Barnes, a senior at Liberty High School in Portland, Oregon. In January he wore a pro-Trump shirt to school, and was told by a Liberty High School official that the shirt was offensive and that Barnes must cover it or go home. Barnes went home, and his absence was listed as a suspension.  According to Education Week:

An Oregon high school student disciplined for wearing a T-shirt promoting a border wall reached a settlement of his lawsuit against the school district, his lawyers said Tuesday.

The case highlights the struggle among schools to balance free-speech rights with keeping students safe, as acrimony intensifies over America’s immigration policies and enforcement.

Under the settlement announced Tuesday, the Hillsboro School District in Portland’s western suburbs must pay $25,000 for attorney fees and the principal had to write an apology.

It’s not surprising a student would face such hostility over voicing his support for boarder security. Besides the fact that the establishment media recently published photos of “caged” immigrant children from 2014 and pawned them off as a product of Trump’s administration, Trump’s stance on immigration and calls for a secure border have been completely maligned. Likewise, his statements on the danger of Mexican gangs and the need to keep Mexican criminals out of America have been taken out of context and neatly repackaged into the following false statements: Trump hates all Mexicans. And: Trump thinks all Mexicans are criminals.

The reality of the situation, of course, is that most Americans agree with Trump on immigration. According to a Harvard University poll, a majority of Americans actually support Trump’s immigration proposals, including securing the boarder.

The gatekeepers of our culture—academia, the entertainment industry, and the establishment media—are hell bent on smearing Trump 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and on silencing and/or humiliating anybody who dares to publicly support him. Amazingly, over 90 percent of the broadcast coverage of President Trump has been negative, and it just keeps getting worse.

According to the Washington Times:

Coverage of the White House on the “Big Three” broadcast networks — ABC, CBSand NBC — remains 91 percent negative, according to a new study by the Media Research Center, which has been tracking the phenomenon since Mr. Trumphit the campaign trail in 2016.

It was over 90 percent hostile then — and remains so now. The trend is unprecedented, according to the analysis.

Granted, Trump’s abrasive style makes him an easy target for negative coverage, but the mainstream media’s obsession with smearing him has gotten totally out of control.

Here’s another example of the over-the-top hostility for Trump. Last spring, before my English class started, two students of mine placed a three-inch paper cutout of Donald Trump on my desk with the quote Build the wall! on the bottom of it. Although I didn’t see who did it, it was obvious from the giggling and snickering coming from the second row that it was two boys, Henry and David (names have been changed for the article).

IMG_2171Instead of crumpling the miniature Trump into a ball and tossing it in the trashcan (like a number of my colleagues would have done), I stopped and took a good long look at it. That’s when my adrenaline kicked in and the voice in my head said, You better get rid of that before anybody sees it. You don’t want any trouble. But then I thought, No, I’m not going to do that. He’s the POTUS and I support him.

“Cool,” I said. “A mini Donald Trump.” I put it on the edge of the desk next to my nameplate. The two boys were clearly tickled by this, and I began to sense they came from pro-Trump families and perhaps had heard I was pro-Trump, too.

“Do you support Trump?” Henry asked me.

“On some things, yes,” I said, feeling the need to qualify my response because of our pop culture’s penchant for purposely misrepresenting his ideas.

“So do I,” Henry whispered. He glanced around and smiled. “Did you vote for him?”

“Yes, I voted for Trump,” I answered. But I’d said it a bit too loud, and a number of students overhead it. Within moments there was a rumbling through the classroom, and soon students were asking if it were true. Did you actually vote for Trump, Mr. Paslay? No way, you’re just playing around. Seriously? How could you do that? One student even said, Man, that’s messed up. I can’t believe you voted for a rapist. They shook their heads resentfully, looking at me in a hostile new light, like I was some closet racist who’d suddenly sold them out.

It took a few minutes before I got everyone focused on the lesson and back on task, but the damage had been done: I’d been temporarily branded the enemy, a label which hurt me and made me wish I’d just kept my mouth shut about voting for Trump. I wasn’t a sellout, was I? Of course I wasn’t.

I didn’t throw the paper cutout away, however. I put it on my bookshelf way in the back, where no one could see it. But a few weeks later someone did see it—a female student who was looking for computer paper. She spotted the mini-Trump and said to me in a very disapproving, accusatory tone, “What are you doing with this?”

My adrenaline started to pump, as it always did when I was forced to defend my support of the POTUS. And that’s exactly how I felt, like I had to defend myself, like I’d done something wrong and had to explain my actions. And this was to a student, mind you.

“That was a gift from a student,” I told her.

“Well that student must be a delinquent,” she said ignorantly.

I shrugged. “He supports the President. What’s wrong with that?”

“Do you support the President?”

“Yes, I do.”

She rolled her eyes and left in a huff, mumbling something derogatory under her breath I couldn’t hear. All at once I thought of the same situation playing out under President Obama. Imagine if a student was labeled a delinquent for supporting him? That would be national news indeed, and would probably end with some kind of protest or the blocking of a road.

Not with Trump, however. It’s universally accepted to slander him and his family, encouraged even. And if you dare support him or any of his policies, well, you’d better keep it to yourself, or face the harassment and intimidation that comes with it.


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