Joshua Trump, a sixth-grader from Wilmington, Del., has been dealing with abuse from classmates since Donald Trump launched his campaign for the White House. He is not related to the president.
“They curse at him, they call him an idiot, they call him stupid,” Joshua’s mother Megan Trump Berto told the local ABC affiliate. The invective has had a tragic if predictable effect on Joshua’s self-image.
“He said he hates himself, and he hates his last name, and he feels sad all the time, and he doesn’t want to live feeling like that anymore, and as a parent that’s scary,” Trump Berto added.
The abuse got so bad that Joshua’s parents homeschooled him for his final year of elementary school before deciding to re-enroll him in public school at the start of sixth grade when, they hoped, things would improve at a new school.
Unfortunately, despite warning the middle school, the bullying resumed. Drastic steps like switching Joshua’s bus, disciplining some of the perpetrators, and even changing Joshua’s last name in the school database weren’t enough to stop the taunting.
The invitation dovetails well with Melania Trump’s Be Best initiative, which encourages kindness and respect among young people. It departs wildly, however, from her husband’s well-documented history of bullying political opponents, media figures, and federal judges, among others.
Inviting Joshua Trump is nice — the kid didn’t deserve to be bullied, and he’s clearly suffered as a result. But if his invitation is to be seen as anything more than a hollow, narcissistic gesture President Trump should at the very least set a better example for Joshua’s classmates.
He also might want to ask himself, halfway through a chaotic first term, why the name “Trump” attracts scorn instead of praise.