Twitter Flags Trump for ‘Glorifying Violence’
The President is sending a terrible message.
Yesterday morning, we discussed reports that President Trump was about to issue an executive order allowing greater regulation of social media platforms that had angered him. The EO was issued and I’ll have more to say about it later. But first, an escalation in the fight from Twitter, both Trump’s chief platform for agitation and his main nemesis.
WSJ (“Twitter Flags Trump Tweet About Minneapolis Protests for ‘Glorifying Violence’“):
Twitter Inc. placed a notice on a tweet from President Trump, shielding it from view for breaking what the company said are its rules about glorifying violence.
Mr. Trump’s tweet was a comment on the violent protests in Minnesota. The post can now only be seen after users click a box with a notice saying it violated Twitter’s rules against encouraging violence, but it otherwise remains visible.
“We’ve taken action in the interest of preventing others from being inspired to commit violent acts, but have kept the Tweet on Twitter because it is important that the public still be able to see the Tweet given its relevance to ongoing matters of public importance,” Twitter said on its official communications account.
This is the first time such a step has been taken against a head of state for breaking Twitter’s rules about glorifying violence, a company spokesman said.
The company said users’ ability to interact with the tweet will be limited, and that users can retweet it with comment, but not like, reply to, or otherwise retweet it.
“…These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!,” Mr. Trump’s tweet said.
This is typical Trump—an immature tweet unbefitting the President of the United States, pandering to his base rather than working to unite the country in the face of violence. And I hate, hate, hate, politicians wrapping themselves in the military, claiming they somehow speak for the troops.
It is not, however, “glorifying violence.”
While I deplore the President referring to African-Americans rightly outraged that yet another one of them has been needlessly killed at the hands of police as “THUGS,” the ones in question were in fact committing criminal violence. Despite the officers in question being promptly fired and the announcement by the Justice Department of a “robust and meticulous investigation” into the matter, rioting has moved into a third day. Police officers were forced to evacuate the precinct in fear of their lives and an angry mob set the building on fire.
While their outrage is justified, their actions are not. This is not peaceful protest.
Given that the police of the Third Precinct have been burned out of their building, the local cops manifestly can not handle the situation. And reinforcing them with other Minneapolis Police Department officers in riot gear would likely only escalate the violence, given the roots of the anger.
So, it’s natural that the National Guard has already been ordered to step in by Governor Tim Walz (a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party).
It would be highly unusual to federalize the state Guard troops is this situation and even more unusual to augment them with Active Duty personnel, other than in perhaps very limited support roles. So, Trump’s tweet was, as is often the case, mere bluster.
Could the President inspire violence from his base against the protestors by calling them “THUGS”? That seems a stretch. But, if Twitter really thinks that, then spotlighting the tweet by putting it behind a wrapper would seemingly only intensify that likelihood.
UPDATE: Seeing the reaction to the tweet on Twitter, I see that the issue is the phrase, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” I read that as a prediction that looting by the protestors would naturally lead to violence by them that must be prevented. The historical connotation of that phrase, however, is that state officials should gun down looters. It apparently has its origins with “the controversial Miami Police chief Walter Headley who became infamous in the 1960s for his aggressive tactics in putting down black youths he claimed were taking advantage of civil rights legislation.”
I therefore withdraw my assessment that this is not a glorification of violence.