America is at war with multiple enemies, including itself. The nation is at war with a pandemic virus. Protesters are at war with a system that fails to deal with racial discrimination and police brutality. Trump is at war with Twitter. The US is at war with China, which even saw justification to chime in yesterday to criticize Trump for suppressing free speech and public gathering. In less than a week, animosity between Trump and tech companies has escalated to levels not even the worst cynics thought it could reach.
After allowing Trump’s tweets to go untouched for years, early last week Twitter decided to include fact-checking warnings in Trump’s posts, which prompted the President to sign an executive order that will attempt to limit the legal protections afforded to social media giants.
Trump didn’t give the public much time to react to the executive order, launching a series of new Tweets that were roundly condemned by tech giants, activists, and even his own advisors.
The tweets in question were directed at protesters who took the streets in dozens of US cities sparked by the death of George Floyd, an African American man killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis.
In several cities, shops were looted and police vehicles burned. Law enforcement officials and the National Guard have been ordered to help quell demonstrations.
Trump used rather violent rhetoric, calling the demonstrators thugs and warned: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” It’s a phrase that carries negative historical baggage in the US, even though the president claims to have never before heard 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 tweeted.
Trump also revived some violent imagery by evoking dogs and weaponry at the ready inside the White House gates. “If they had [breached the fence],” he said, “they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen. That’s when people would have been really badly hurt, at least.
After that, Trump was briefly taken to the White House underground bunker.
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Twitter responded by putting the warning label on both Trump’s private and the White House's official Twitter accounts, saying it is in violation of its rule against glorifying violence. Twitter did not remove the tweet, saying it had determined it might be in the public interest to have it remain accessible.
In support of the protestors, Twitter also changed its profile to honor the Black Lives Matter movement. It was joined by many other US tech companies.
For its part, Youtube said that “to demonstrate solidarity against racism and violence” it will donate $1 million to the Center for Policing Equity. Uber also announced the donation of $1 million dollar to two criminal justice reform groups. Executives of many other companies have likewise expressed support for demonstrators.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Sunday that his company was making an additional $10 million in donations to various organizations working on racial justice issues.
That brings us back to China, where support for protesters--tongue in cheek--has also come.
Even though Twitter has been blocked for citizens of China since 2009, word has still gotten out.
In comparing the protests in the US to the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong last year, which the US-supported, the Chinese government is accusing the US of hypocrisy.
By Michael Kern for Safehaven.com
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