George Floyd's death shook the world, marking yet another African American murder at the hands of systematic racially-motivated violence. Floyd’s name spread like wildfire across social and traditional media platforms and protests occurred worldwide, beginning in Minneapolis on May 26.
The presidency is an esteemed position with the power to rally Americans and utilize the bully pulpit to shape American views. In the time of crisis, it is the responsibility of the president to respond and unite the country as they think best. Nonetheless, President Trump’s response to the murder of George Floyd was far from unifying, as he instead demonized the Black Lives Matter movement rather than supporting calls for justice. Now, with the recent horrors of the U.S. Capitol attack, it has become apparent that Trump enforced a double standard by forcefully condemning the Black Lives Matter protests while, mere months later, inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.
At the outset of the social justice unrest during the summer, Trump made clear that he was not in favor of Black Lives Matter protests in Floyd’s name when he tweeted on May 29, “these THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd and I won’t allow it. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him the military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control, but when the looting starts the shooting starts.”
For decades, BIPOC individuals have been held down by systemic racism. With George Floyd’s death as the tipping point, Americans of all races protested and fought for the fundamental principles of equality that have been promised by law, yet hindered by underlying racial bias. In Trump’s view, BLM protestors are “thugs” — a word with deep racial connotations. Trump’s rhetoric in his tweet insensitively pulled on racial stereotypes and blatantly pushed for the militarization of United States forces against citizens mourning a life and fighting for change.
Trump’s further responses endorsed aggression on Black Lives Matter protesters, applauding the use of tear gas, rubber bullets, and other tactics. The deployment of the National Guard in Minneapolis following Floyd’s death was praised by Trump, calling it “a beautiful scene” and describing the National Guard as a “miracle.”
Meanwhile, Trump supporters who raided the capitol on his request are responsible for the death of Brian Sicknick, a USCP officer who was injured while engaging with protestors.
Nonetheless, Trump glorified the Capitol attack, denoting his supporters as “great patriots who have been badly and unfairly treated for so long.” It shows a glaring paradox when murderous MAGA protestors are praised, yet Black Lives Matter activists protesting an innocent lost life are castigated.
Proving an even more explicit representation of hypocrisy, on June 26 Trump signed an executive order condemning damage to federal and state property in response to growing BLM protests. In his order, Trump declared it was the policy of the United States to “prosecute to the fullest extent permitted under Federal law, and as appropriate, any person or any entity that destroys, damages, vandalizes, or desecrates a monument, memorial, or statue within the United States or otherwise vandalizes government property.” The executive order goes on to emphasize how “the Federal Government will not tolerate violations.”
In addressing Trump’s own following, the lines of right and wrong begin to blur. Taking the stage before the Jan. 6 insurrection, Trump called on his supporters to “go to the Capitol.” He continued, “we are going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness they need to take back our country. So let's all walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.”
An executive order was instituted in response to Black Lives Matter protesters. Inscribed as policy, Trump made clear that damage to federal property was unacceptable. Thereby, Trump’s push for such an uproar on Jan. 6 is a demonstration of his dichotomy, as Trump is blatantly praising seditionists yet vilifying protesters.
Trump’s irrational behavior is nothing new. The uprising at the Capitol did not occur in a vacuum, but rather in the context of a child-like president who has repeatedly taken to the media to spread false or disputed claims throughout his entire presidency.
In consequence, Facebook creator and CEO Mark Zuckerburg released a statement on Jan. 7 describing his decision to indefinitely ban Trump from Facebook. In acknowledgment of Trump’s prior use of Facebook, “the current context is now fundamentally different, involving use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government,” wrote Zuckerberg.
Twitter similarly took action by permanently banning Trump from their platform.
Trump’s prominence on social media granted him a megaphone, allowing him to ignite uproar with the click of a button. Trump’s disrespectful efforts to silence the voice of the BLM movement makes it fitting that his abuse on social media has deservingly silenced his own ability to use these platforms.
In executing a forceful punishment, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has aligned with the Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to attempt to remove Trump from office. In a public statement, Pelosi called to “remove this president by immediately invoking the 25th Amendment.” Pelosi continued, “if the Vice President and cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with the impeachment.”
In response to Pelosi’s ultimatum, Vice President Mike Pence (R-IN) refused to invoke the 25th Amendment, believing the course of action would only “further divide and inflame the passions of the movement.” The house and senate have since moved forward with the impeachment proceedings, with the house officially impeaching Trump for the second time as of Jan. 13.
In our polarized political climate, Trump set a double standard as he routinely looked less towards actual issues and more towards party alignment. The Jan. 6 Capitol attack will forever stain our country's history, and the resulting consequences have only emphasized the fundamental values of checks and balances. With the incoming Democratic majority in the Senate and Joe Biden as commander in chief, we can only hope that our federal leaders will be forced to look past ideological uniformity and more towards addressing our nation.
Em-J is a freshman studying Political Science and Journalism. Do you think Trump is enforcing a double standard in regard to Black Lives Matter and his supporters? Are his actions worthy of impeachment? Send all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Em-J is an Opinion Editor for The Daily Cardinal, and is also a member of the Editorial Board.