President Trump has no qualms about expressing his feelings about media, or more specifically, media that is adverse to him. Media is a tool of democracy and freedom. The pen is mightier than the sword, after all. President Trump first received backlash for disrespectfully mimicking a disabled reporter in 2016. Since then, he has continued to push forth an idea of “bad media,” or media that does not fit his agenda. Such a definition is counter-intuitive. Media must address all facets, even those undesirable. But I digress.
On April 22nd, 2018, President Trump posted the following tweet to his favorite avenue of speech: Twitter.
In the tweet, he addressed Chuck Todd of NBC as “Sleepy Eyes.” Chuck Todd was raised Jewish. The tweet is in response to Todd’s comments on NBC’s Meet the Press. In the past week, North Korea agreed to further diplomatic efforts with longtime enemy South Korea, and agreed to direct communication between North Korea and America.
Chuck Todd commented, “What has the United States gotten yet? We don’t have a release of any of those Americans that they held captive, we don’t have a pledge of denuclearization as the ultimate goal. There’s a lot of things they are not promising that is raising some red flags.”
This interaction doesn’t seem very different from Trump’s usual attacks to reporters. But what exactly is so apprehensive about his response? The issue lies in Trump’s usage of the phrase “Sleepy Eyes.”
The Nazi Party and all of its current affiliates have always had a “comprehensive” way to “identify” Jewish people, for harmful purposes obviously. This list spawned the current racist archetype of the “Jew,” including, but not limited to, curly hair, beaked noses, big ears, etc. This stereotype has also created a list of anti-Semitic monikers, which includes the name “Sleepy Eyes.” In fact, the supremacist website Stormfront still uses the phrase today.
I have to admit, the sheer audacity of this tweet is startling. Surely you’d expect someone as esteemed as the President of the United States to be more subtle in his prejudices. You’d expect him to be smart enough to not publicly tweet an anti-semitic slur. It seems as though President Trump’s most visible legacy thus far is to simply push the boundaries of what is acceptable to say.
However, we as America, must push against the tide of old prejudices. It is not acceptable, under any circumstance, to employ old racist monikers. Even if one argued that the President simply did not know that the phrase was anti-semitic or that the reporter in question was Jewish, that rhetoric only reinforces the idea that our President is uneducated, and does not quite think before he speaks. I hope that this story does not cycle out of the news circuit or miss it entirely. This is blatant and obvious anti-semitism at its finest.
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