It’s tempting to ignore our president elect, Donald Trump, a social-media addict who is in love with the instant adulation the medium provides him.
But his latest salvo against a critic goes beyond settling a petty grievance. By attacking U.S. Rep. John Lewis – a Civil Rights icon, hero and a more decent man than Trump could ever hope to be – Trump maligned an entire community.
To quickly recap: The congressman believes the president elect is not a “legitimate” president due to ample evidence of Russian interference in our elections. He plans to boycott Trump’s inauguration. It’s a bold choice, one that could easily be seen as disrespectful to the office of the presidency.
It took Trump mere hours to show all of us why he is not worthy of the respect the office commands.
In early-morning tweets on Jan. 14, he called Congressman Lewis’ district – and our home – “crime infested.” He also described Mr. Lewis, who suffered a skull fracture during the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, as “All talk, talk, talk, no action or results.”
I’m sure it was not entirely lost on Trump that he chose to insult a Civil Rights hero and a city that was headquarters for the movement on Martin Luther King Jr. Day Weekend. Many of our residents will be engaging in numerous service projects throughout the weekend to improve their community. Trump apparently plans to spend his weekend congratulating himself and lashing out at his enemies on Twitter.
Congressman Lewis is entirely right to boycott this president. The whole Democratic Party would be right to do so, at this point. Total resistance to this president and his policies is the only correct strategy. Anything else normalizes and legitimizes his behavior.
The president elect wants to govern all of us, but he sees half the country as a crime-infested urban hellscape that’s only useful to him when he wants to raise money or hold a rally to stir up his voters.
Not only is his condemnation of Atlanta insulting, it’s not true. Reading is obviously not the president elect’s strong suit, but if he cared to look he’d discover that crime in Atlanta – and crime around the nation – is at historic lows.
All big cities have their share of crime of course, even New York City. One violent crime is one too many. But labeling our entire community as “crime infested” is a willful distortion of reality. And using what passes for Trump’s logic, if Lewis is entirely responsible for all crime in Atlanta isn’t he also responsible for its historic decline? Of course, only Trump is foolish enough to believe that one individual is the panacea for all that ails society.
Shortly after his stunning upset of Hillary Clinton, Trump pledged to be a president for all Americans. He forgot to add, “Unless you criticize or question me.”
I have a hard time imagining what the last eight years would’ve been like if President Obama had responded to every petty slight and pissant criticism. Being the president requires skin as thick as tree bark. Trump’s ego is so fragile he can barely endure the criticism of one congressman out of hundreds without shooting his thumbs off on social media. I don’t know if President Obama told Trump this, but if he doesn’t like criticism, he’s in for a long four years.
If Trump is indeed sincere about governing all of us – and he’s done nothing to indicate that he is – then at some point someone needs to tell him that collaborating with people requires a degree of mutual respect. Trump only has one mode: attack. He’s only got one tool in his toolbox: a hammer. Governing a complex and diverse nation requires more than insults and turnkey solutions. It requires patience, communication and – above all else – restraint.
It is not hard to imagine a scenario where Trump’s reckless use of social media causes an international incident. And God help us if some foreign agent ever manages to hack his account. Trump could make great strides towards healing this country if he would stop using Twitter immediately.
Until the president elect figures out what being the president actually means, people should feel no obligation to work with him. Since the president elect believes Atlanta is crime ridden, then he does not need to be here raising money or riling up his base. The police escorts we provide him are better needed elsewhere. The owners of our major venues, like the Fox Theatre, should decline to rent him or his surrogates space since he doesn’t feel safe in our home. Local companies shouldn’t do business with him, and since he’s not selling his companies and putting his assets in a blind trust, there will still be ample opportunities to do so.
Atlanta does not have to put up with this nonsense. If Trump wants to write off an entire city because a congressman hurt his feelings, the city should just write him off entirely.
Oh Hell no, Mr. President Elect. You can’t just insult a whole city but come back to us when you need money or applause. That’s not the basis of a functional relationship. It’s the basis of an abusive one.
Congressman Lewis is right to resist you. Atlanta should, too.