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COLUMN: Taking tweets with a grain of salt



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President-elect Donald Trump speaks on October 26, 2016, in Washington, D.C.  Olivier Douliery / Abaca Press Buy Photos

While much of social media is discussing Donald Trump’s deal with Carrier to keep 1,000 jobs in Indiana, I’m still brooding over some of the president-elect’s tweets.

Trump has become known for his tweeting, which started out as, er, entertaining. Now that he’s been elected, it’s important that we distinguish between generally harmless rants and truly worrisome ideas for a president. Here are a few I found particularly 
concerning.

First is anything with the phrase “the failing 
@nytimes,” and his claim that the newspaper covers him “inaccurately and with a nasty tone.” Anyone in the journalism world — and most in the normal world — knows the New York Times is an incredible news outlet in which many writers aspire to get published 
one day.

The Times employs talented, driven journalists who have worked extremely hard in their careers. Its investigative reporters perform watchdog journalism, which is perhaps why Trump is so determined to see it fail. His distaste for the media is present in real life as well — he has already ditched his press corps multiple times.

Without the press, we wouldn’t know anything going on in government, good or bad, so to see a president-elect attempt to invalidate journalists is worrying.

Second is Trump’s rant about the possibility of a recount. On Nov. 26, he tweeted: “The Green Party scam to fill up their coffers by asking for impossible recounts is now being joined by the defeated & demoralized (Democrats),” and then, “The Democrats, when they incorrectly thought they were going to win, asked that the election night tabulation be accepted. Not so anymore!”

It’s not the rage at the recount that is upsetting. It’s his use of the word “Democrats,” which I imagine him saying out loud in a taunting, singsong tone. Trump promised after the election that he would get to work on uniting America. Because he’s already been chosen, I don’t understand his decision to use divisive speech and intensifying the animosity between Democrats and Republicans.

Finally, there’s this tweet from Tuesday: “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag — if they do, there must be consequences — perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!” In fact, the Supreme Court ruled on this issue in 1989 and established flag burning as a form of free speech, making punishment via either of these methods 100 percent illegal.

While this bizarre attack on free expression may seem virtually harmless, it’s just part of the dangerous ideology Trump is attempting to spread — and, sadly, succeeding. Perhaps the worst part about this particular tweet is the response it received: 200,000 favorites and 71,000 retweets.

I would venture to say that most of those who adopt any stance taken by Trump did not have a fiery passion to imprison or deny citizenship to flag burners and may have even been perfectly content with our current laws on free speech.

Trump is not dangerous if we don’t allow him to be. But the ease with which some have internalized his ideas and, sometimes, smothered their own beliefs in the process is what makes a Trump presidency truly frightening.

The American people need to be skeptical of every single person seeking power, even the candidates they like and support. No one person is the end-all, be-all solution to the nation’s problems. Take Trump’s words — and his tweets — with a grain of salt.

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