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It's no surprise when racists claim the name Trump

Ruben Navarrette Jr. on

In March, at a basketball game at suburban Canton High School in Connecticut, white fans in the bleachers shouted the chant as players from Hartford's Classical Magnet School, which is largely Latino, took foul shots during a basketball game.

This sort of thing has been going on for the last two and a half years, ever since Trump announced his candidacy for president by accusing Mexico of sending its worst to the United States and calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals.

Sometimes, there are variations to the taunt.

Last year, the girls' soccer team from Beloit Memorial High School in Wisconsin, which is made up largely of Latinas, left the field traumatized after fans of the team from Elkhorn Area High School chanted: "Donald Trump, build that wall!"

After the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center published a report called "The Trump Effect: The Impact of the 2016 Election on Our Nation's Schools." After surveying more than 10,000 teachers, it found an increase in incidents involving such racist symbols as swastikas and Confederate flags. There were also multiple references to immigrants.

Calling this a "Trump Effect" goes a bit too far. It implies that Trump made Americans racist, while there is ample evidence that Americans were already racist long before Trump descended that escalator at Trump Tower and entered politics.

You want to talk racism? Take a good look at the ugly campaign that Bill and Hillary Clinton -- and their surrogates -- waged in 2008 against a brash young African-American senator from Illinois who didn't want to wait his turn.

Trump didn't really divide Americans, but he did an awfully good job of pushing buttons and exploiting divisions that were already there.

 

Sometimes, at high school sporting events, the reference to Trump is followed by an even more troubling chant: "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!"

That's the line, folks. Don't cross it. You don't go up to a group of people -- who, when it came to paying the ultimate price for freedom, died on foreign soil, from Normandy to Pork Chop Hill to Khe Sanh to Fallujah -- and question our patriotism.

You want to claim the name "Trump" as your own, be our guests. You're welcome to it.

But hands off the phrase "U.S.A." That belongs to us as much as it does you. And, just as we have countless times before, we'll fight to defend our claim.

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Ruben Navarrette's email address is ruben@rubennavarrette.com. His daily podcast, "Navarrette Nation," is available through every podcast app.

(c) 2017, The Washington Post Writers Group

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