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As children head back to school, parents and educators will work to prevent bullying and to promote healthy communication in and out of the classroom. We teach kids to follow the Golden Rule and treat each other with respect - even when they disagree. But if children go home and turn on the TV, they’ll hear name-calling and hateful words from a candidate who is running for President of the United States.

With each passing week, I’ve become increasingly dismayed by the deplorable things I’ve heard from Donald Trump and his campaign staff and surrogates, including right here in Loudoun County. It is unworthy of a man seeking to lead this great nation, and it falls woefully short of what Loudoun County expects from a leader.

Instead of having a civil discourse about the issues that matter to Virginia families, Trump’s campaign has relied on insults, division and bigotry. Trump repeatedly attacked a Virginia Gold Star family. He has insulted women, African Americans, Latinos, prisoners of war, and mocked persons with disabilities. 

His advisers and supporters are following his lead. This week, it was reported that a senior staffer in Trump’s Virginia operation posted some disgusting comments on social media about Muslims. It was also reported by the Times-Mirror that another Virginia Trump staffer implied Hillary Clinton will be dead within a year, a sickening statement based on ridiculous internet conspiracy theories. At Trump’s recent rally in Ashburn, Muslim students were kicked out for silently protesting, and the valedictorian of the school, herself a Muslim, said that “for the first time, I was scared to be at my school.”

This normalization of intolerance is apparent in Trump’s extreme policies as well. He has called for a ban on all Muslims entering our country. He has proposed a deportation force to round up and kick out more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., including the parents of U.S. citizens.  He said a judge of Hispanic heritage was unable to treat him fairly because the judge had an “inherent conflict of interest,” a claim so ridiculous that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan called it the “textbook definition” of racism.

Here in Loudoun, our diversity as a community is one of our strengths. We welcome everyone who wants to contribute to our success. When Trump hurls his insults at women, religious minorities, or communities of color, he’s talking about our friends and neighbors. The people Trump insults by proposing a religious ban are an integral part of our nation and of Loudoun, and they are every bit the Virginians and Americans that my wife, my children, and I are. As Trump’s running mate Mike Pence returns to Loudoun this weekend, I hope he will answer for the xenophobia and downright ugliness we’ve seen from his campaign.

We can’t let Trump continue to normalize hate. We have to say “enough is enough” and reject his intolerant rhetoric and the policies that go with it. Our children are watching.

Let’s show them that, in Loudoun, we treat everyone with the respect they deserve, even if they look, speak, or pray differently than we do.

Mark Herring

Attorney General of Virginia; Loudoun County resident

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