The President is a Bully, and It’s Not OK
It’s time to return professionalism and compassion to the White House
Yesterday, climate change activist and wunderkind Greta Thunberg addressed world leaders at the 2019 UN climate action summit in New York. Her speech was emotional, impassioned, and clearly showed a young woman who is a force to be reckoned with. She knows what she believes, and she can communicate it succinctly.
People are often quick to dismiss young adults as not knowing what they’re talking about, but if you actually listen, they may surprise you. Last year when I attended a film festival entirely produced by the 7th graders in my son’s class, I was blown away by the depth of their art.
Finding Hope for Tomorrow
How a 7th grade film festival shined a light through the darkness
It gave me so much hope to hear these young voices, to see the world through their eyes, and to know that our future might be brighter than imagined. Greta Thunberg takes my breath away. She has given other young people a point to turn towards, and after she addressed the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference, student strikes took place every week somewhere in the world.
Our response to someone like Thunberg should be consideration, admiration for her tenacity and conviction, and respect. Whether you completely agree with what she is saying, she is clearly worth listening to.
Last night, after surprising pretty much everybody by even showing up at the UN Climate Summit, our illustrious Commander in Chief took to his favorite pastime: Twitter.
Having a bully for a President is a gift that keeps on giving.
In response to a Wired article quoting part of Thunberg’s speech, Trump mocked: “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!” Let that sink in, and in case you need to hear it again, last night the President of the United States sarcastically mocked a 16-year-old.
Despite the fact that it should come as a surprise to no one that he was rude, unkind, and kind of an asshole in that tweet, I am still surprised. I guess having a bully for a President is a gift that keeps on giving.
In an article for Vox, Aaron Rupar explained why this may be his lowest blow to date.
Trump’s tweet is notable in at least three respects. First, the contrast Trump drew between “a very happy young girl” and Thunberg’s demeanor during her speech. In it, she noted world leaders have “stolen my dreams, my childhood, with your empty word” noted that “we are in the beginning of a mass extinction;” and asked, “How dare you pretend that this can be solved with just business as usual and some technical solutions?” Trump’s comment is meant to undermine the very thing that makes Thunberg an effective activist: the impassioned moral clarity with which she speaks about climate change.
…Trump seemed to be trying to undercut that very persuasive tool, on the same day Thunberg addressed scores of world leaders at the UN.
Trump’s tweet also says something about how he thinks girls should be. They should not be angry about the climate crisis and trying to do something about it. The UN is not the place for them. Perhaps beauty pageants are.
Finally, Trump’s tweet reflects how profoundly unserious he is about the climate crisis.
Is there a point at which we, as a country, are going to collectively say “enough!”? How have we sunk so low that our White House is home to such an epically unkind, judgmental, and dismissive person?
He has shown us that he is no more sophisticated than a high-school bully, teasing children, referring to a journalist as a “dummy dope,” and calling an active Senator “truly weird,” saying that he “reminds me of a spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain.” His Twitter account is peppered with phrases like “low class slob,” “perving sleazebag,” “loser,” “very stupid,” and “sleepy eyes.”
There are so many insults, in fact, that the New York Times compiled a library of insults hurled by the President since he was elected.
Would you put up with this language in your life if it came from someone you knew? As a parent, would you let your child speak this way? If you heard someone was saying these things to your child at school, would you shrug it off? Would you let your boss, your teacher, your co-worker speak this way to you? The answer should be a resounding no.
One issue with finding the energy to keep saying no, as Chris Cillizza points out on CNN, is that we are generally met with Trump supporters telling us that we are either taking things the wrong way or misunderstanding.
…justification of everything Trump does as totally fine as long as it makes liberals and the media (and the political establishment more broadly) uncomfortable is a very slippery slope. And one that Trump’s supporters seem entirely comfortable sliding down all the way to oblivion.
Here’s the thing: Even pieces like this one condemning Trump for his comments on a 16-year-old girl — and I can’t emphasize that fact strongly enough — will be lumped into the broad category of “Trump Derangement Syndrome” by the President’s supporters. Trump is messing with the media so bad! They don’t know what to do! He must be doing something right!
He’s not. Take the politics out of it. Think of your own teenager or a friend who has a teenager. Would you want the President of the United States mocking him or her solely because what they believe is different than what he believes, and they have the audacity to speak out about it?
You shouldn’t. Because there are some things that are beyond politics. Things that are right and things that are wrong. This is one of them. Period. CNN
It’s frustrating because it’s very obvious that this isn’t right. Yet we feel caught in a situation where our words are constantly turned around on us.
Perhaps another reason for the lack of response or demand for accountability is a feeling of helplessness. When someone who breaks the law, shows a flagrant disregard for human rights and human diversity, and treats people in much the same way a dictator would is in charge, it can be easy to feel like nothing we do is helping.
I have spent a great deal of time since the 2016 election feeling hopeless, helpless, and dismayed about the state of things. It’s hard not to feel ashamed and shocked when the person in your country’s highest office most often behaves like a petulant child.
The biggest thing we can do now is register to vote. In 2020, we need to show Donald Trump that we aren’t willing to tolerate his cruelty, ignorance, and unkindess in the White House for one second longer.
Now is the time for young people to come out of the woodwork, to use our ballots to make our voices heard. It’s time to remind Trump and all other politicians what our expectations are for the people who represent us. That professionalism and compassion are not optional traits, but requirements if you’re going to be in charge here. That the United States of America is powerful, and we will be respectful of using that power in a way that doesn’t harm other human beings.
In the meantime, we must keep using our voices and our time to remind him and those who support him that their time is up. We won’t give up. We won’t stop shouting. We won’t stop demanding better.
The President should be ashamed of himself. He has continually stepped on other people’s backs to get where he is, and uses his power only to push others down, to persecute, harass, and discriminate. This is not the America I feel lucky to live in, and it’s time to stand up and say “no more!”
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