Proving that even Halloween isn’t immune from the political division our country is currently embroiled in, an Idaho school district has issued an apology after it faced stiff backlash to pictures of staffers in pro-Trump, anti-Immigrant costumes for the holiday.
In one photo, several staffers are lined up forming a brick wall with Trump’s famous “Make America Great Again” phrase displayed, a reference to Trump’s long-promised border wall. Another photo featured several staffers dressed in sombreros, ponchos, and fake exaggerated mustaches, a racist stereotype of Mexicans.
The photos were originally posted to the school district’s Facebook page, according to the New York Times, and were later deleted. But not before they began making the rounds all across social media, sparking debate and outrage.
Middleton County, Idaho is roughly 90% white with a 10% Latino minority making up the overwhelming majority of its nonwhite population.
Let’s be clear: This isn’t like “A cowboy costume is offensive to Indigenous student – it’s like dressing as the sprite from Custer’s Revenge” https://t.co/Rj2ngqFI7O
— Bob Chipman #RehireJamesGunn (@the_moviebob) November 3, 2018
Another day, another racist costume. This is from Middletown School District in Idaho. Please call (208) 585-3027 to say
1) racism is unacceptable
2) they are creating and promoting a hostile learning environment to children
3) what is their plan to make it right? pic.twitter.com/DqUwvP3ROL
— unholy heidi (@heidiheilig) November 2, 2018
On Saturday, Middleton School District Superintendent Josh Middleton announced that the staff members identified in the photos have been placed on administrative leave. Supt. Middleton had also previously offered an apology on the district’s Facebook page, but that video is no longer available as the district’s entire page has been deleted.
The Idaho Statesman, though, grabbed a capture of the video.
In the video, Middleton says, “Do I think there was a malicious intent in this poor decision? No, I don’t,” he said. “Was there a poor judgment involved?”
He later adds, “We are better than this. We embrace all students. We have a responsibility to teach and reach all students — period.”
While the costumes would be troubling under any circumstances, the kerfuffle comes at a particularly incendiary time as, ahead of the midterm elections, President Trump has suggested trying to use an executive order to overrule protection of birthright citizenships as protected by the 14th Amendment and has ratcheted up anti-immigration fear-mongering over a caravan of migrants heading for the U.S. border.
The controversy also follows a blow-up around Megyn Kelly’s complete ineptness when it comes to the racist overtones of white people wearing blackface as part of a costume, proving that even as America creeps toward progress, some people seem hell-bent on staying rooted firmly in our country’s racist past.