On Friday, Donald Trump posted the following on Twitter:
The video splices together footage from Sept. 11, 2001, and a clip of a March speech Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar gave to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)—a clip edited to suggest that Omar had flippantly described 9/11 as “something” perpetrated by “some people” rather than as an attack on the United States perpetrated by terrorists.
Trump’s tweet about Omar might be the worst tweet ever. Let’s review everything that’s wrong with it.
1. It’s dishonest. It takes almost no research to understand that Omar’s wording, in the context of a speech that was actually about upholding American ideals, was meant only to distinguish the small group of (non-American) Muslim extremists who perpetrated the attack from the much larger group of (American) Muslims whom she believes were subjected to unwarranted scrutiny and harassment in its wake. What Omar said, emphases mine, was that “[CAIR] recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”
2. It’s racist. Trump has a history of blaming every Muslim in America for the actions of any individual Muslim. His tweet fits in this tradition by suggesting that Omar is on Team Terror and that the rest of “us” aren’t going to forget it. It’s a method of assigning group responsibility that he’s never applied to white Americans after the many acts of mass violence carried out in the U.S. by white people. Racist!
3. It arguably incites violence. A week before Trump’s tweet, a Trump supporter in New York was arrested for threatening to murder Omar, who is one of the first female Muslim American members of Congress. A number of prominent Democrats have suggested that Trump’s propagandistic, revenge-themed video constitutes an incitement to target Omar; at best, the video and tweet are reckless and cavalier about her safety.
4. It’s hypocritical, opportunistic, etc. On 9/11, Trump crassly (and incorrectly) claimed in a radio interview that now that the World Trade Center towers were no longer standing, he owned the tallest building in lower Manhattan. He would later claim (incorrectly) that the state of New York sent him money to reimburse him for Ground Zero cleanup/recovery work that he claims (with no supporting evidence) his company helped with. His administration is now attempting to give secret nuclear power technology to Saudi Arabia, the country whose government—per a congressional investigation—may have helped provide “support and assistance” to a number of 9/11 hijackers. In sum, respecting 9/11 victims and holding their perpetrators accountable only seems to be important to Trump when it can be exploited to bully someone he doesn’t like. Not cool!
5. It’s in all caps. All caps makes everything 50 percent dumber.
It’s a crowded field, but I think you could make an argument that, given the reach of Trump’s account and the stakes involved—him being, you know, president—the Omar tweet was objectively the worst one ever sent. Or at least you could have made that case until Monday afternoon, when Trump used Twitter to send firefighting tips to the nation of France.
It turns out that this suggestion could have caused the total collapse of the entire structure. Truly, we may not live in the worst moment in history, but we certainly live in the one that most resembles being trapped inside a TV that an angry, racist crank is shouting at 24 hours a day.