This article isn't about the candidate Donald Trump. It's not about his platform or policies. In fact, this article isn't about politics at all. It's about Donald Trump the bully, and the effect his bullying is having on me.
I'm suffering from "The Trump Effect," a phenomenon coined by the nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that tracks hate groups.
In their new report "The Trump Effect: The Impact of the Presidential Campaign on our Nation's Schools," the SPLC shows the election is inflaming racial and ethnic tensions, and producing alarming levels of fear and anxiety among children of color.
Whether it's schoolchildren taunting "Build that wall!" or "Go back to Mexico!" Trump's xenophobic rhetoric on the campaign trail is being played out in ugly playground spats and classroom exchanges all across America.
I'm not a kid, but I feel their pain.
I've been the victim of bullying too -- not in a schoolyard when I was a kid -- but as an adult, just a few years ago.
Two former close friends of mine -- both grown women with children -- bullied me after we had a falling out. They tormented me by text, email, and on social media. I spoke about this at length in my post "When Your BFF Becomes A POS." It was a horrible time of my life, and it feels like I'm reliving it all over again thanks to Donald Trump.
Just a few weeks ago, an irate Trump supporter on Facebook wished me some horrific things -- including rape -- in a comment thread. Now, anyone who knows me, knows I'm not opposed to some online political jousting, but wishing me physical harm because we disagree is taking it to a whole other disturbing level.
Trump's habit of demonizing people because of their race, religion, gender, profession, and appearance, is hitting a very sensitive spot for me. Whenever he humiliates and shames, it's like he's doing it to me personally. Whenever he hurls an insult or demeans someone, my heart hurts a little.
Muslims, Mexicans, immigrants, women, minorities, POWs, the disabled, the media, I feel their pain too. I even feel sorry for members of Trump's own party who get bullied on a daily basis.
Trump's mean-spirited tweets and inflammatory language are triggering a trauma in me I thought was healed, but as I've discovered, the wound is still open and the pain is very real.
I feel like I have bully-induced PTSD, if there is such a thing.
Worst of all, Trump is inciting a mindset in his supporters that feels like a collective threat to my soul. They remind me of an angry mob with pitchforks and torches, but instead of marauding through towns, they hide behind computers trying to destroy you with their words.
Actually, the angry mobs are no longer just hiding behind their computers. They're now threatening polling places, newspapers, politicians, and our democratic way of life with armed resistance and violence--the ultimate bullying.
The Trump Effect is everywhere. There are scores of people -- young and old -- who are being threatened and harassed by haters, internet trolls, and online bullies. Here are just a few:
When Donald Trump suggested that Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly might have been on her period because she was tough on him during a Republican primary debate, his supporters jumped all over her with an avalanche of online hatred. They called her every name in the book including "bitch, slut, whore," amongst other things.
Olivia Nuzzi, a reporter with the Daily Beast, also knows a thing or two about online bullying. After she posted a story on Marla Maples on Facebook, Mike Krawitz, a Trump supporter and Republican candidate for the West Deptford New Jersey, township committee, wrote this on her page: "Fuck. You. Olivia, I. Hope. Somebody. Rapes. You. Today."
When Observer writer Dana Schwartz complained about Donald Trump's tweeted image of Hillary Clinton in front of raining money with a six-sided star, declaring she's the "Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!" she had no idea the shit storm of anti-Semitic abuse she would get. His supporters attacked her with hundreds of tweets that ranged from mocking her nose, to applauding the Holocaust.
Jewish political reporters who cover Trump, say they are regularly subjected to anti-Semitic harassment by Trump fans online.
People of Color
When Fox News online reported that President Obama's daughter Malia had elected to attend Harvard University after taking a year off, their readers didn't hold back. The comments on their website were so racist, Fox News had to shut down the comments section. Here's an example of one of the "nicer" comments:
"Probably staying out for a year so she can help her parents carry out the furniture and dinnerware when they leave the White House."
After Donald Trump won the Nevada Republican primary, Huffington Post civil rights reporter Julia Craven tweeted her concerns about the possibility of a Trump presidency:
In my case, because the harassment was so extreme, I had to hire a lawyer to make it go away. My situation was eventually resolved, and the truth became clear: bullies are really just insecure cowards who feed off the hope you'll never stand up to them. Don't be afraid to take a stand.
As for the Facebook bully from a few weeks ago, he ended up apologizing to me after being reported to Facebook by friends and others who were also offended by his comments.
The bullying may be over for me, but I worry about rest of our country. I worry about the long-term damage of Trump's words and actions. I want to believe the "Trump Effect" is just a passing fad; I want to believe that civility and kindness aren't things of the past, and that bad behavior is not the new normal.
Regardless of what happens on Nov. 8, we must make sure that bullying never wins.
To find out more about how you can fight bullying, please visit: