So, the President of the United States tweeted something obnoxious, even by his disgraceful standards:
So now that Matt Lauer is gone when will the Fake News practitioners at NBC be terminating the contract of Phil Griffin? And will they terminate low ratings Joe Scarborough based on the “unsolved mystery” that took place in Florida years ago? Investigate!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2017
This is a correct take on that tweet:
This is the president attempting to exploit the tragic death of a young woman — one who had heart problems and hit her head when she fell — to score a cheap spurious political point. Indecent. Inhumane.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) November 29, 2017
The young woman in question was an intern for Scarborough when he was a Congressman. The medical examiner said she collapsed because of an abnormal heart rhythm, and hit her head in the fall, causing her death. But today, the President of the United States is suggesting that Scarborough had something to do with killing her.
Our president was a busy beaver on Twitter today. He retweeted three clips of Muslims doing bad things (ISIS members throwing a teenager off a building, a Muslim destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary, and what is purported to be a Muslim migrant teenager in the Netherlands beating up a young white man on crutches). Jayda Fransen is a leader of the far-right British First movement, and was thrilled by Trump retweeting her material:
THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, DONALD TRUMP, HAS RETWEETED THREE OF DEPUTY LEADER JAYDA FRANSEN’S TWITTER VIDEOS! DONALD TRUMP HIMSELF HAS RETWEETED THESE VIDEOS AND HAS AROUND 44 MILLION FOLLOWERS! GOD BLESS YOU TRUMP! GOD BLESS AMERICA! OCS @JaydaBF @realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/BiQfQkTra9
— Jayda Fransen (@JaydaBF) November 29, 2017
Fransen has a lot of these kinds of videos on her Twitter feed, it turns out. Already plenty of Trump critics have been calling these videos “white supremacist” and “Islamophobic.” Sorry, but the events they depict really happened, and pointing this out does not therefore make you white supremacist or Islamophobic. As we saw in the Rotherham case, there is a certain sort of liberal who would rather turn a blind eye to rape and other atrocities than stand accused of Islamophobia.
That said, it is beyond reckless bordering on insane for the President of the United States to retweet these things. If the president of Egypt tweeted out video of that Florida pastor burning the Koran, the blowback on Christian churches and monasteries in Egypt could be severe. Similarly, ordinary, peaceful Muslims in this country who would have nothing to do with the hateful acts caught on video now have to worry that some Muslim-hating hothead will have been inflamed by the President’s tweets, and may commit an atrocity against them or their mosques.
And for what? Why did Trump do this? What does he gain by it? For that matter, what does he gain by encouraging people to believe that a TV news host he doesn’t like might have killed a girl?
If [Trump did send out those tweets], this is beyond stupid, reckless and reprehensible. Trump has given an enormous boost to a group that should be treated as totally beyond the pale.
Britain First, which campaigns against the Islamisation of the UK, was founded in 2011 by former members of the neo-fascist British National Party. Earlier this month, Fransen was charged with using “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour” during speeches she made in Belfast. She will appear at Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Thursday 14 December.
Behind Trump’s tweets lie two essential points that many Americans fail to grasp. First, while Islamist extremism is a legitimate cause for concern many Muslims have nothing to do with it and it is simply wrong to tar all Muslims with the same brush.
Second, although campaigning against Islamic extremism, intolerance and religious fascism is not just acceptable but necessary some groups which do so are totally unacceptable because they themselves promote extremism, intolerance or fascism. Britain First is squarely in that category.
What a shameful president. What a shameful time we live in. It’s possible too that Trump might be mentally ill:
Shortly after his victory last year, Donald J. Trump began revisiting one of his deepest public humiliations: the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape of him making vulgar comments about women.
Despite his public acknowledgment of the recording’s authenticity in the final days of the presidential campaign — and his hasty videotaped apology under pressure from his advisers — Mr. Trump as president-elect began raising the prospect with allies that it may not have been him on the tape after all.
Most of Mr. Trump’s aides ignored his changing story. But in January, shortly before his inauguration, Mr. Trump told a Republican senator that he wanted to investigate the recording that had him boasting about grabbing women’s genitals.
“We don’t think that was my voice,” Mr. Trump told the senator, according to a person familiar with the conversation. Since then, Mr. Trump has continued to suggest that the tape that nearly upended his campaign was not actually him, according to three people close to the president.
There are other things he’s claiming too. What drives me nuts is those in the Republican Party who know better, but who still carry water for him, refusing to speak out when Trump flat-out lies. Here’s GOP Sen. David Purdue of Georgia:
“He’s nobody’s choir boy, but neither were people like Winston Churchill, for example,” said the senator. “This guy, I think, is a historic person of destiny at a time and place in America when we’ve got to make a right-hand turn here.” Asked if the truth still matters, Mr. Perdue said: “Oh, absolutely. Facts are what you base decisions on.”
Donald Trump, a Winston Churchill of our time, according to a Georgia Republican senator. Disgraceful. The Republican Party is going to reap the whirlwind, you watch.
Last night, I began reading The World Of Yesterday, a memoir by the exiled Austrian Jewish writer Stefan Zweig. He published it in English in 1943, the year he and his wife killed themselves, unable to face the loss of everything they held dear. In the opening pages, Zweig, born in 1881 to a prosperous Viennese family, writes about how solid and secure everything seemed in the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of the 19th century. He calls fin-de-siècle Europe “the World of Security,” because people were growing more prosperous and healthy, science and technology were improving the lives of the masses, democracy and liberalism was spreading within European societies, and everybody was sure that a Golden Age was at hand. Zweig writes:
One began to believe more in this “progress” than in the Bible… . There was as little belief in the possibility of such barbaric declines as wars between the peoples of Europe as there was in witches and ghosts.
And then, in 1914, it all came crashing down.
It can happen here. We have a president who cannot govern himself and his impulses. He is no respecter of norms or persons; he cares only about himself. And he is incapable of understanding his own best interests! There is a lot of good news he could be tweeting about this morning, news that would serve him well politically, and advance the causes he claims to care about. Instead, though, he’s going to retweet British fascists and puff a crackpot conspiracy theory about how a journalist he hates might have killed somebody.
This is dangerously crazy. When are we going to wake up one morning and find that Trump’s Twitter insanity has caused a genuine diplomatic crisis, possibly leading to war? What if some thugs tonight burn down a mosque in the US, goaded on by the president’s tweets? What then, Republican Party? What then of your American Churchill, Sen. Perdue?
With great power comes great responsibility. The most powerful man in the world is a petulant child who has no sense of grounding, of wisdom, of prudence. We are headed toward a national emergency. And Trump has more than three years left in office.
UPDATE: Not everybody is discouraged by Trump’s tweets:
This is why WE LOVE TRUMP and WHY the FAKE NEWS MEDIA HATES TRUMP. He brings to light what the lying, Fake News Media Won't. The truth is the media covers up horrific numbers of racist hate crimes against White people! https://t.co/G9pP9qCUNM
— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) November 29, 2017
Like the Republican Senator from Georgia said, a Churchill of our times.