Letter: ‘Build the wall’ chants at Wilton High School

To the Editors:

(This letter to Wilton High School Principal Robert O’Donnell is printed here at the author’s request.)

I read with interest your email about the Wilton High School students chanting “Build the Wall” at last Friday night’s football game.
My issue is not about being restrictive regarding free speech. It is encouraging discourse that clearly, effectively and persuasively presents why chanting “Build the Wall” is hate speech. Shouting “Build the Wall” at any game would be offensive, but while playing a school from a town with a higher Hispanic and African American population it is obviously and simply racist.
Wilton is 92% white, while Danbury is 68% white. Do you really think the students chanting were encouraging the Wilton team to build a strong defensive football line? Are we, as a community, or you as the principal of Wilton High School, willing to believe that these students did not have offensive intent? If their intent was not racist or offensive I fail to see what it was. Perhaps some members of our community find this the new acceptable “locker room talk.” I certainly do not.
I ask you to pursue this issue with greater consequence to the students involved. Overt racism and its pernicious cousins have been let out of the box in America. Wilton is not being besieged by illegal immigrants stealing our jobs. But, our liberties are being viciously attacked by those that chant slogans designed to belittle others and make them feel smaller. These chanting students are ignorant or racist, or perhaps they are both. While this represents a failure of their own character and those of their families, quiet complicity without consequence represents a failure of our school system as well.
Kenneth R. Hoffman
Wilton, Nov. 14