By Kaydee Donohoo
A few weeks ago I wrote about the uproar caused in my hometown of Monument, Colorado, when my high school newspaper endorsed Hillary Clinton. Palmer Ridge’s “The Bear Truth” had every legal right to endorse her on the opinions page, yet some students were throwing their papers on the ground in protest. Some parents were even clamoring to have the student writers suspended.
This began to answer a question I’ve had for months—What would it have been like to have gone to my high school during this election season?—Another development has brought me even closer to that answer.
On Monday a current student at Palmer Ridge posted a photo to Instagram of vandalism performed recently to the side of the school’s building. The vandalism was in two columns of red, white, and blue spray-paint. “WE SUPPORT TRUMP,” and “TRUMP FOR PRESiDET.” Supposedly this was in response the newspaper’s endorsement.
The student who posted the photo is a known Trump supporter, and he added the description, “For the record the small community of Trump supporters at our school does not agree with this unnecessary and irresponsible action. Although the perpetrator is not yet known I do not expect it to be someone that actually supports Trump, I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out to be some fruitcake trying to make us look bad.”
Trust me, no one who doesn’t support Trump is going to spray paint “TRUMP” onto the side of their own school. You do not need us to look bad; you already look bad.
I caught sight of the vandalism when a liberal Facebook friend, and previous high school classmate reposted the graffiti saying humorously that her old high school was “#thewoOooOoOOorst” and it was “#SoMonument.” Comments in our circle pointed out the humorous error in the spelling of president.
I told her about my idea for this piece, and she wrote that she would tell me to go and “expose Monument…but the worst part is they’re already exposed. This isn’t a horrible surprise.” These people are terrible “and are okay with it.”
It’s true that the Trump candidacy has led some terrible people with terrible viewpoints to step out from the shadows. This isn’t surprising when the KKK has endorsed Trump, and with his large base other racists feel less of a need to hide. While I don’t think my high school is full of future KKK leaders, I think it is full of student completely unaware of their privilege. I think it has students who don’t realize what they post now might follow them, and a loud advocacy for Trump as a teen may haunt them later.
The student who wrote about the vandalism on Instagram had a post before it depicting 15 students, all but two appearing to be white males, in Trump/Pence t-shirts and smiles standing near the entrance of our school. This “small community of Trump supporters” is not hiding.
The next picture on this Instagram account? You guessed it! A blurry picture of the Hillary endorsement piece from the newspaper with a description reading, “This is in the school paper. Honestly disappointed with the decisions of our superiors at [P]almer [R]idge.”
You’re disappointed with the superiors who allowed free press? This isn’t a legal issue; it was the opinions page, clearly labelled that the views expressed there were not claiming to be representative of the school. Your candidate brags so much about wanting Supreme Court justices that uphold the constitution? Try the First Amendment.
If a Trump supporter (or even a non-Trump supporter out to make Trump supporters “look bad”) who might not even be of voting age is vandalizing the school building, I am growing more and more nervous about what supporters with more power are going to be doing post-election night. I, writing this on Monday night, am far from what you readers and my future self might be endearing, but I can only guess.
Let’s take a moment then to at least revel in the eye-roll worthy attempt by the “PRESiDET” vandals to advocate for Trump on the side of my high school. This is the same school that, when I attended, brought us the vandalism of “catolic pride.” Let’s also revel in the moment that, much like the spelling error, the argument these people are fighting for is often defeated by how it is presented and the ridiculousness of its own message.
This semester is dragging everyone down. The least I can say is that while the politically intensive atmosphere isn’t necessarily going away anytime soon, this semester is going to end. We will have part of December and January to reset. It’s not always going to be like this. This too shall pass.