For the last two-plus years, anyone who has dared to speak ill of Donald Trump on social media has risked being viciously harassed and trolled by trolls acting in Trump’s name. In their twisted minds, they think that they’re defending the man who is making America great again against those who supposedly hate this country. Oftentimes, when concerns are raised about this disturbing trend, they’re dismissed as “just the Internet.”
But that line is no longer valid. On Monday, Trump himself hinted that those who didn’t applaud during the the State of the Union address might have committed treason.
While speaking at a manufacturing plant in Blue Ash, Ohio–a suburb of Cincinnati–Trump proved beyond all doubt that his call for bipartisanship just a week earlier was nothing more than hot air. Apparently the thought that the Democrats could have dared to let themselves be seen scowling while he spoke really got to him. But it was only on Monday that we learned just how much it got to him. Watch here.
Trump started riffing about House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, suggesting that the Democrats ought to keep her on because she’s the GOP’s “secret weapon”–a reference to Republican attack ads of the past decade that have warned against giving the gavel to a “San Francisco liberal.”
Apparently Trump believes one big reason the Democrats keep Pelosi in the spotlight is the footage of Pelosi and other Democrats sitting stone-faced last Tuesday night–even when Trump touted the supposed record lows for Latino and black unemployment. He believed it was a sign that Democrats “would rather see Trump do badly than our country do well.” At one point, Trump claimed he was getting so much “bad energy” from the Democratic side of the aisle that he couldn’t even look over there.
But then Trump crossed the line from garden-variety partisanship to something far more sinister.
“Even on positive news, really positive news like that, they were like death. And un-American. Un-American. Somebody said, ‘treasonous.’ I mean–yeah, I guess. Why not? Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean, they certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much.”
It’s no secret that Trump really can’t take criticism very well. That may come from the fact that he has never worked for anyone not related to him before; he was either the heir apparent or the CEO. But even if you allow for that, it is beyond comprehension that a president can say with a straight face that not applauding for him is an act of treason.
In case you slept through your history classes in high school and at Penn, Mr. Trump, we’re not being “un-American” or “treasonous” when we don’t applaud you. A lot of people died for the right not to applaud our leaders at every turn. We actually broke away from a king who threw people in jail for speaking out against him, and fought the bloodiest war in history against a cabal of tyrants who had people executed for not saluting them.
You suggest that the Democrats suggested that they didn’t love this country if they didn’t applaud you last Tuesday. Has it occurred to you, Mr. Trump, that they sat on their hands because they love this country, yet oppose what you’re trying to do to it? Your diehards say that those of us who oppose you don’t understand America. Well, if you think that we don’t love our country if we don’t applaud you, sir, then you’ll have to pardon us if we question whether you understand this country.
A lot of people on Twitter–from both sides of the aisle–are asking the same thing.
You know what's un-American?
Calling other Americans "un-American."
— John Avlon (@JohnAvlon) February 5, 2018
I just noticed that the word TREASON includes REASON. No wonder Trump hasn’t a clue what it is — or that he’s come closer to committing it than any of his critics. https://t.co/N8CkSrqi1f
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) February 5, 2018
.@realDonaldTrump doesn't know what "treason" means. He should study Article III of the United States Constitution, which he clearly hasn't read.
The Founders were concerned that a despot might abuse their powers of office to attack political enemies. Smart people, the Founders. https://t.co/dipn2faX8K
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) February 5, 2018
First treason was not standing for the national anthem, now it’s not applauding Trump. What’s next, do we have to kneel when his motorcade drives by?
— Hugo Kijne (@HugoKijne) February 5, 2018
This is extraordinarily irresponsible and peak authoritarian.
To assert not applauding Trump is treason is an alarmingly dictatorial statement.
This should be a headline. https://t.co/P6PAvEw22P
— Victoria Brownworth (@VABVOX) February 5, 2018
-accused Democrats of treason for not giving him a standing ovation
-called reporters “enemies of the people”
– questioned the authority of federal judges, &
-declared war on law enforcement officials investigating him
Trump is acting like an autocrat.
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) February 5, 2018
Does potus really not know what “treason” means? https://t.co/lDbP4IETt6
— Christopher C. Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) February 5, 2018
The largest online dictionaries used this moment to throw some shade at Trump.
Treason: The offense of acting to overthrow one's government or to harm or kill its sovereign.
— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) February 5, 2018
📈'Treason' refers to the crime of trying to overthrow your country's government or help its enemies during war. https://t.co/5Z9Xkxa1NY
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) February 5, 2018
That being said, this is no laughing matter. It cannot be stated enough–the president of the United States has suggested that if you didn’t applaud him during the State of the Union, you not only don’t love your country, but may be engaging in treason.
Two years ago, a number of newspapers–such as The Washington Post, the Houston Chronicle, and the Cincinnati Enquirer–denounced the prospect of a Trump presidency as a clear and present danger to this country. After this screed from Trump, those editorials can no longer be dismissed as hyperbole. There can no longer be any doubt–we have a president who represents a very real danger to our democracy.
(featured image courtesy White House Facebook)