Student Bullied on School Bus for Wearing Make America Great Again Hat
Jay Dawson February 17th 2017 Entertainment
President Trump really has a way of dividing the nation. And it's not just limited to Washington - all over the country, tempers are flaring, protesters are protesting, and everyone is convinced that they're on the right side. It looks like even the kids are getting political now, with one boy in St. Louis recently targeted for wearing one of Trump's infamous "Make America Great Again" hats.
The Shocking Bus Brawl
District school buses have been a pop culture icon for decades, long known as a hotbed for, well, pretty much everything. The Springfield Elementary bus and its stoner driver, Otis, may seem like a satirical joke, but the feelings and incidents on these mini-environments are all too real. The incident that occurred on this Parkway District school bus is just one of many occurring all across the country.
That doesn't make it any less shocking, though. The brawl that erupted on this bus was as swift and terrible as it was unexpected. And you'd never expect it from a group of sixth-grade kids, but the fight began all because of one thing: politics. When this kid was bullied for wearing Trump merchandise, he responded in the only way he knew how. As you'll see in the following video, it all turned very ugly, very quickly.
How It All Started
At first, it was just words. The bullying began on a Parkway District school bus, driving students to an after-school activity. The boy at the center of it all, a sixth-grader called Gavin Cortina, had got on board with a red "Make America Great Again" cap, and two other students took that as a sign to get political. As can be viewed on the video, they begin by taunting Gavin, mocking him and his political views based on his Trump hat.
From there, it escalates, but not before Gavin tries to fight back with some rhetoric all his own. Nobody knows exactly what Gavin's school life was like before the bullying on the bus, but this is probably not an isolated incident. Despite the deep political lines that seem to separate many American families, this kind of behavior usually is restricted to the parents. It seems that his wearing that exact merchandise on this particular day was just the spark needed to set off a long history of bullying.
The Politics Of Missouri
To go deeper into the politics of this particular incident, it's well worth looking at the politics of Missouri. Like many states, the voting for the 2016 presidential election in Missouri turned out in favor of Donald Trump. In Missouri's case, it was a margin of 65% for Trump to 38% for Clinton for the statewide ballot. However, these seemingly overwhelming figures hide a far greater divide.
It's one that we saw all over America. In the major urban centers - St. Louis and Kansas City - the political pendulum went far the other way. In fact, Hilary Clinton was the overwhelming favorite in those counties, getting up to 80% of the vote. However, it wasn't enough for Clinton to win the state. It was just enough to entrench the difficult, and at times acrimonious, battle between urban and rural voters, and neighbors against neighbors.
Sticks And Stones
Maybe they see it on TV, and maybe it's just engendered in the atmosphere of the USA. Either way, the scene that was captured by a student on his cell phone was typical of the kind of problem-solving we frequently see these days. First there is a war of words, with neither party ceding ground. Then, when all else fails, they try to solve the problems with their fists.
Which is exactly what happened on the school bus. After the initial barrage of bullying, Gavin and another student begin with a heated (and no doubt well-informed) debate on the US-Mexico border wall, currently in the works by Trump. As it does, this soon devolved into shouting, then pushing, then pretty soon some punches were being thrown. Yep, that kind of childishness would never happen in DC. Or the world stage.
More About The Wall
So what is it about this border wall that gets people so fired up? Well, the answer to that would require another 5,000 words, but it is useful to go into the history - and current state - of Trump's proposal. Especially since it was used - maybe because Gavin is of Hispanic origin - in their vicious attack on him. Children will always go for the jugular, the Achilles heel, and this was no different.
Barriers on the border of the US and Mexico have been around for almost a quarter of a century, but usually as an ad hoc network in various locations. Trumps proposal, made during his election campaign last year, was for a higher and stronger barrier erected along the length of the border. Paid by Mexico. The problem with this being, of course, that his proposed wall would be just as ineffectual - no more than a xenophobic propaganda tool. And, of course, others would dispute even that.
The Man Behind It All
Trump just seems to have that kind of effect on people. His policies are rarely, if ever, neutral affairs - you either love them with a passion or hate them with the fires of a thousand hells. And that, in a way, is how he took the White House - not with pleasing everyone, but by not caring what people thought at all. Not with a whimper, but with a bang.
Since reaching the White House, his polarity has continued. From thousands of protesters flocking the streets during the days surrounding his inauguration, from dismissals to Supreme Court challenges to scandals, it's been a rollercoaster ride for both Democrats and Republicans. No-one can really tell what's going to come out of his mouth next, or what he's going to do, and it's tearing the nation apart.
He Was Suspended For It
Back to the insane bus fight. This whole incident might have never made it past the ears of a few parents, if one of the students who had filmed it didn't post it online. Really, it's the 12-year-old way of getting famous these days - putting something outrageous on Youtube. Unfortunately for them, it also showed their astonishing lack of foresight.
Once the boys had finished with their own style of confrontational politics, the video was immediately posted and reposted. And once the school administrators found out, they were all in for a fairly unsurprising round of punishment. All three of the main players in the fight - Gavin, his first attacker, and the kid filming the video - were immediately suspended from school and subjected to a week of forced mediation counselling. Clearly smart enough to discuss politics, but not smart enough to keep their fight to themselves.
With the rise of the internet, and every kid in class being able to post anonymously, schoolyard bullying has become a problem like never before. In days gone by, any person getting picked on would only have to face their tormenters at school. Now, with social media, instant messaging, and photo sharing, it's impossible to escape - even at home.
The statistics are alarming. As of 2016, as many as 33% of US students reported that they had been bullied within the last month of the survey. Cyberbullying makes up a large proportion of this crime, since - like we said before - it affords the tormentors a degree of anonymity, and is almost impossible to police. There's no quick fix to this, especially since bullying is not illegal, but swift and sure action is always a good start.
One Unhappy Mother
Gavin's mother, Christina Cortina, was outraged both by the bullying of her son and his suspension. She's a Trump supporter, clearly, and believes that this kind of strange political bullying of children is simply not on. She's claiming that he was innocent all the way. "I feel like my son was made an example of, it was a tricky situation, it was politically charged," she told KMOV St. Louis.
And as the disturbing footage shows, it's not going to stop there. There is one other question to consider, though: why did she let her kid wear a Trump hat to school in the first place? Of course, it's unhelpful to blame the victim, and Gavin isn't really to blame for being harassed on the bus. But this kind of passing on of political views, from a mother to her 12-year-old son, is definitely disturbing.
The Video That's Divided Everybody
Where do you stand on this issue? Do you think Gavin is a poor victim of bullying, or a naïve kid with seriously misguided political views? It's a complex issue, and as we've shown, it doesn't just boil down to Republicans vs Democrats. It's also the story of bullying, of violence as a solution, and of inherited political bias. There's no real solution here, but it's shocking and fascinating nonetheless.
This outrageous video is one that really is dividing the nation. And to find out where you stand, there's no better way than to watch the video yourself. But whatever you think, it's impossible to argue that these kids are the future of America. How we treat them - and how they treat each other - can fundamentally change the course of the world. We can't let anger and fear take control.