How to start a war in 140 characters or less

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 09: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (2nd L) talks with journalists during a rally against the Iran nuclear deal on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol September 9, 2015 in Washington, DC. Thousands of people gathered for the rally, organized by the Tea Party Patriots, which featured conservative pundits and politicians. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

By Ollie Gratzinger | Features Editor


Did Donald Trump just start a war via Twitter?

According to Ri Yong-ho, North Korea’s foreign minister, the answer is yes. And, of course, calling the leader of a so-called “rogue nation” with nuclear capabilities “Rocket Man” in a formal speech before the UN probably didn’t do much to help the United States’ international image, but this isn’t the first time Trump’s tweets have stirred controversy. Unfortunately, I doubt it will be the last.

Social media is as fundamental to our generation as avocado toast and crippling debt, but the nation’s Commander-in-Chief has been using Twitter as a platform to promote the questionable principles upon which he’s built his ideological empire. From his recent post calling for the prompt firing of anyone who takes a knee during the national anthem, to publicly announcing – and taking pride in – his pardoning of anti-immigration bad-cop Joe Arpaio, Trump’s tweets read like those of a middle-school cyberbully with nothing better to do with his time. It’s not like he has a country to run or anything, right?

Granted, social media can be an irreplaceable and vital tool in the networking process, and it’s an excellent way to spread information to an innumerable amount of people all at once. The issue here has nothing to do with the fact that Trump tweets (Barack Obama tweeted, too), but the concern instead resides within how he utilizes social media.

It’s irresponsible.

It’s sloppy.

It’s even contradictory: In 2013, he tweeted on the topic of the Washington Redskins regarding Obama’s proposition to change their name to be less-culturally-insensitive, writing, “President should not be telling the Washington Redskins to change their name-our country has far bigger problems! FOCUS on them,not [sic] nonsense.”

Conveniently, Trump has changed his tone now that he’s the president that does, in theory, have bigger issues to worry about than football. For example, the looming threat of nuclear war. Or the fact that his supporters are rallying with torches and armbands, painting a picture eerily reminiscent of one of the darkest chapters in modern history.

To add to his inconsistency, he tweeted a message of thanks to the LGBT community in June of 2016, promising to “continue to fight” for them while Hillary Clinton “brings in more people that will threaten [their] freedoms and beliefs.” In light of his not-controversial-enough ban on transgender folks serving in the military, which he tweeted about instead of holding an official press conference like a rational adult, this feels like another prime example of his fault-ridden inconsistency and awkward indiscretion.

His Twitter rhetoric promotes the specific breed of American divisiveness that’s been spreading like the Black Death Plague. Trump and his cronies preach a narrative that calls out the opposition as easily-offended “snowflakes,” while they, in the very next breath, burn their $100 sports jerseys and rush into name-calling on social media the very moment someone dares to exercise their First-Amendment right to peaceful protest.

We should demand more out of our president. We should demand a level of professionalism from the man tasked with leading our nation, and we should refuse the petty-for-petty’s-sake mentality that’s making America the laughingstock of the United Nations.

Instead of turning to Twitter to call terrorists “losers,” Trump should pay attention to the very real, dangerous people and ideologies that are making America – and the world – that much less great. It took him two days to rebuke the heinous showing of white nationalism in Charlottesville weeks ago, and when he finally made a post about the hurricane that left Puerto Rico in a state of utter devastation, he couldn’t help but bring up banks and debts and other things that you’d think he’d prioritize below the loss of actual human life.

Social media serves to connect the world by a series of invisible strings. We have limitless access to foreign language, world news, cultural education and political happenings in a way that’s never before been possible. We hold in our hands a tool that could answer almost every question one could think to ask, and yet our president uses it to call Rosie O’Donnell fat.

The role of Commander-in-Chief demands a certain level of responsibility that Trump has proved himself incapable of demonstrating time and time again. His duty is to the American people – all of them, whether they stand or kneel or protest or comply. For a country that prides itself on its freedom, Trump seems to do all in his power to ensure that America is only the land of the free for those who agree, all while cyber-bullying his opposition and tactlessly tweeting from his golf course while the world falls apart.

We know that Donald Trump can start a war in 140 characters or less. But how many characters will it take for him to assume responsibility and be the kind of leader the United States needs and deserves?