Opinion: Trump’s name on tower damages children’s health

January 18, 2017

By Tim Oberlander and Current Warf, Vancouver Sun |

We are writing to our fellow citizens to address an urgent public-health matter in Vancouver. In a matter of days, the Trump Tower will open.

With the public display of the Trump name, we will be seen as condoning the ridicule of the disabled, and condoning sexism, xenophobia and bigotry.

In spite of a significant effort on the part of our mayor, Gregor Robertson, to have the name Trump removed, it hasn’t been possible.

We are now turning to the public to recognize that the presence of the name under current conditions is a matter of public health that will affect the youngest and most vulnerable in our community. We believe the name represents a socially contagious condition that endangers the health and well-being of our children and youth. At this point this is a matter of public health, not politics.

As physicians we work everyday to address children’s trauma and improve mental health in ways that fosters a healthy social and physical environment regardless of race, gender or developmental ability. This directly conflicts with the prominently displayed Trump name, which serves to promote a prominent and influential role model who openly mocks and humiliates individuals with disabilities, boasts of repeatedly subjecting women to sexual groping of breasts and genitals, refers to immigrant groups as “rapists and murderers” and characterizes religious minorities as “terrorists.”

Our work to promote appropriate behaviour is difficult enough, and now it has become much more challenging with this symbol of hatred prominently displayed in our community.

Just like bacteria or viruses, hatred is contagious.

We believe that the Trump name displayed on such a prominent building in central Vancouver communicates an acceptance of racism, hatred, sexism, climate-change denial and acceptance of use of nuclear weapons, all of which are critical determinants of the health and future of children and youth. Leaving the Trump name in prominent public view will give open permission and encouragement for others in our community to act similarly and foster similar anti-social beliefs. We have every reason to believe that this powerful symbol will foster hatred inimical to the values of Canada and of Vancouver. We fear that the Trump building will become a symbol of hatred and detract from our efforts to ensure healthy development for all our children.

Fear, bullying and racism are all well known to be detrimental to children’s physical and mental health and have long-term implications for health across the lifespan. In this context the Trump name has become a matter of urgent public health.

With this in mind we ask our fellow citizens to help us seek all legal ways, such as public-health laws or regulations, that can lead to the removal of this contagious symbol and protect our children’s developmental and mental well-being.

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