Freedom of Speech

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

There are many firsts in the Trump presidency, because there has never been a more dishonest, incompetent and vulgar occupant of the Oval Office, but, as per Maureen Dowd’s observation, a remarkable novelty is that the president has become the leader of the opposition against policies his own clownish administration has implemented.  Every day Trump encourages bands of his deplorables, often armed with assault weapons and flying the confederate flag, to break rules that have been imposed by governors who are following White House directives.  In a desperate gamble that reopening the country will bring back a flourishing economy just in time for him to be re-elected the president is sending his dumbest minions to their potential deaths at a pace that makes D-Day and the Wilderness pale by comparison.  And Trump’s attack on public health doesn’t stop there.  Contrary to official guidelines and the opinion of experts that universal wearing of masks in public settings reduces the spread of the virus by 80% he mocked Joe Biden for wearing a mask and demanded that a reporter take his mask off, subsequently sarcastically calling the man’s refusal ‘politically correct.’

Next to politicizing public health the president also found time to attack democracy itself.  In a series of tweets he claimed that widespread voting by mail, a logical solution for problems that will occur if the pandemic persists or there is a second wave in the fall, would inevitably lead to massive voter fraud.  Since vote-by-mail is already an established practice in many states and there are absolutely no data supporting Trump’s prediction, for the first time executives at Twitter felt compelled to fact-check and contextualize two of his tweets.  Furious because his ‘freedom of speech,’ which in his opinion apparently allows the US President to lie about and obstruct the electoral process, had been ‘violated,’ Trump threatened with executive action against the social media platforms, for instance by taking away some of their protections.  Since projection is always the president’s porcupine reaction when criticism is leveled at him it’s not surprising that in defense of his ‘right’ to produce blatant falsehoods that serve both his interests and the GOP, for which voter suppression is an art form, he is willing to attack instruments of freedom of speech.

Trump should be grateful that Twitter didn’t close his account altogether for his outrageous insinuation that MSNBC host and former Congressman Joe Scarborough murdered a female intern – who had a seizure and a deadly fall in his Florida office while Scarborough was in DC – according to the president because the two had an affair.  The husband of the woman asked Twitter to take down Trump’s tweets, writing ‘the president of the United States has taken something that doesn’t belong to him: the memory of my wife,’ but so far Twitter has allowed the lies to stand.

Pretending that everything is becoming normal again Trump played golf twice last weekend and demanded that there be a jam-packed arena for the GOP convention in Charlotte, NC, threatening to otherwise move the event.  In spite of his busy schedule the president found time to feud with Jeff Sessions on Twitter, called Hillary Clinton a ‘skank,’ fatshamed Stacey Abrams and asked reporters if he should start taking insulin, ‘because he has heard that a lot of seniors take it.’

On the day the US death toll passed 100,000 and confronted with his own prediction that the number would remain much lower Trump still bragged about his decision to shut down entries from China, which as is now obvious didn’t have any effect whatsoever, and said that the death toll could have easily been one or two million, effectivey claiming the current number as a huge victory.

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