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New York Times columnist blames Trump for racist incidents at Forest Grove High School, other schools

PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JONATHAN HOUSE - Students from Portland schools left class and rallied Monday, May 23, at City Hall to protest a 'build-a-wall' banner hung last week at Forest Grove High School.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof repeatedly cited racist incidents at Forest Grove High School in a column Sunday criticizing Republican Presidential Donald Trump.

Kristof's Aug. 14 column, “Donald Trump Is Making America Meaner,” recounts how Latino and other students walked in protest after a white hung a banner that read “Build a Wall” at the school. That incident, which led to similar protests at other schools and a rally in downtown Portland, was well covered by the Forest Grove News Times, the Portland Tribune and other local media outlets.

The column also mentions previous incidents at the school, including white student chanting “Build a wall! Build a wall!” at Latino students in a class. Earlier, the same students chanted “Trump! Trump! Trump!,” the columns says.

“They openly express their dislike of my race,” Kristof quotes Briana Larios, a 15-year-old Mexican-American honor roll student who hopes to go to Harvard. “People now feel that it is OK to say things that they might not have said a year ago. Trump played a big role.”

In the column, which describes similar incidents at other schools, Kristof writes, “We need not be apocalyptic about it. This is not Kristallnacht. But Trump’s harsh rhetoric tears away the veneer of civility and betrays our national motto of ‘e pluribus unum.’ He has unleashed a beast and fed its hunger, and long after this campaign is over we will be struggling to corral it again.”

Student apologized

Forest Grove is near where Kristof grew up, and he says he still has friends there who support Trump. "Many of my old Oregon farm-town friends are strong Trump supporters, and they will completely disagree with this column. Their headline would be, ‘Big Media Suffocates Real Americans With Political Correctness,’ ” writes Kristof.

“So far, Trump has arguably benefited from his fondness for over-the-top rhetoric. He gets attention and television time and is always at the center of his own hurricane. But in November, after the ballots have been counted and the crowds have gone home, we will still have a country to share, and I fear it may be a harsher and more fragile society because of Trump’s campaigning today.”

Although Kristof didn’t mention it, the student who hung the banner subsequently apologized and said he was trying to provoke a discussion about political correctness.

You can read the column at www.nytimes.com/2016/08/14/opinion/sunday/donald-trump-is-making-america-meaner.html?_r=1

For a previous Portland Tribune story in the incident and protests, see portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/308213-186312-portland-students-rally-to-protest-message-behind-build-a-wall-banner