In November of 2016, Donald Trump took to Twitter to address what is, in his opinion, one of the greatest threats to his administration: actors and the media.
This happened after then-Vice President Elect Mike Pence had secured seats to the critically acclaimed broadway show Hamilton, and his presence was met with boos and negative jeering from the crowd. Hamilton cast lead Brandon Dixon took a moment to address Pence to inform him of how his legislative policies affected and frightened the LGBT community. Instead of seeing the incident as a successful exercise of our first amendment rights of freedom of speech, then President-elect Trump saw the public address as an attack.
This is one of hundreds of tweets that demonstrate the fragility of Trump’s ego. From fiery marks aimed at everyone from SNL, to Arnold Scwarzenagger to Meryl Streep, his easily baited personality is even more confounding given his reputation as a social media bully who makes bigoted legislative decisions. Before Trump was president, these character attacks were personal in nature, but now his words have repercussions that echo throughout the world.
For minorities (people of color, LGBT peoples and women), being constantly criticized and hated isn’t just a reality we live in words, it’s a reality we live legislatively–whether it’s through a travel ban, the defunding of Planned Parenthood, threats to override gay marriage rights, harmful rhetoric to bring back stop & frisk, or laws that directly affect our communities. Consequently, as far as White men in power are concerned, the most we can do is bruise their egos—and bruised egos are incomparable to bruised lives.
When ‘mean’ becomes policy, we are all in trouble.
Banning citizens with passports from seven countries because of their religion isn’t ‘terrible’ in Trump’s America, it’s a national security decision. But Nordstrom refusing to sell Ivanka Trump’s latest high heels is seen as ‘unfair treatment’ in Trump’s moral compass. We didn’t see any of that sympathetic language used to defend the Muslim immigrants who were detained in airports in the wake of his travel ban back in March.
This trickle down weakness is also reflected in his picks for members of his cabinet.
The White House press secretary, Sean Spicer literally held a press conference to address memes and media reports that claimed the size of Obama’s inauguration trumped (pun intended) the size of Donald’s. Seemingly appalled by the comparison, Spicer condemned media outlets as ‘intentionally framing’ images incorrectly in his tirade against the press. Discrediting long-seeded and vetted journalists isn’t ‘wrong’ in the age of Trump, but an SNL parody that criticizes Spicer’s press conference tantrum is considered ‘mean.’
And in February, Senator Elizabeth Warren, who was offensively nicknamed “Pocahontas” by Donald Trump via Twitter when her Native-American heritage was questioned by Republicans, was banned from speaking on the Senate floor after reading a letter from Coretta Scott King to oppose the confirmation of Jeff sessions.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell ruled her speech to be a violation of Rule 19, which condemns senators from “impugn[ing] another senator or senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a senator.”
By taking this unprecedented action to silence a senator on the floor, it demonstrates that Senate republicans were more offended by the reading of the letter than they were offended by Sessions’ political history of obstructing Black voters.
The chorus of hypocrisy rings heavy in this administration. And yet, we the people, who are women, people of color, LGBT, and of varying socio-economic classes, have to be continually bombarded with messages from the White House that threaten our way of life. Yet when the public pushes back against legislative tyranny, we’ve gone too far.
To be clear, the Obama family endured the fires of hate thrown at them verbally, politically and in press daily—with Trump leading the way in a racist birther campaign against the president. On top of that ridiculous charade, there were peers in politics calling Michelle an ‘ape in heels,’ and wishing death upon Barack Obama without flinching.
Despite those hurtful blows, the Obamas have lived by the motto ‘When they go low, we go high,’ that Michelle coined during a speech on the Clinton campaign trail.
The way the Trump administration has reacted to rightful criticism of their decisions is proof that political, financial and business power does not equate to internal power.
We see that reflected in their shaking egos, and we see our own strength reflected in our ability to endure regardless of what they subject us to.
When Mitch McConnell explained why Warren was banned from speaking from the Senate floor, his words regarding her invincibility later became a rallying cry for feminists “Nevertheless, she persisted.”
Since the election, hundreds of thousands in the nation have marched and protested and banned together in unprecedented numbers against injustice and hate.
If the meek shall inherit the earth, every weak Trump tweet brings those considered ‘powerless’ closer to obtaining the rights bestowed on us as Americans and as human beings.