In the 1978 film “Superman,” screen legend Marlon Brando warned of an imminent danger. To stress his sincerity, Brando espoused rationality and declared his aversion for hearsay, saying, “My friends, you know me to be neither rash nor impulsive. I’m not given to wild, unsupported statements.”
It is from the same perspective that I express my misgivings about the actions of President Donald Trump.
Throughout his presidency, Trump has criticized mainstream media outlets and demonized journalists as purveyors of fake news. On Nov. 26, Trump upped the ante with an ominous statement published to his twitter account.
“While CNN doesn’t do great in the United States based on ratings, outside of the U.S. they have very little competition. Throughout the world, CNN has a powerful voice portraying the United States in an unfair....and false way. Something has to be done, including the possibility of the United States starting our own Worldwide Network to show the World the way we really are, GREAT!” Trump tweeted
The notion that an American president would suggest the implementation of a state-run news network is nothing short of dangerous. Until now, such networks exist as extensions of oppressive governments who seek to control public opinion by limiting the information that is disseminated. Moreover, these outlets provide biased reporting, which exclusively favors those in power while denigrating all who oppose them. But as disturbing as this is, there is more to the story.
On Nov. 29, The New York Times reported that federal workers have been formally warned by the government to refrain from criticizing Trump in the workplace. A document issued to employees stated that such actions could be considered a violation of the Hatch Act, which prevents federal employees from engaging in expressions of political partisanship.
The document stated, “We understand that the ‘resistance’ and ‘#resist’ originally gained prominence shortly after President Trump’s election in 2016 and generally related to efforts to oppose administration policies. However, ‘resistance,’ ‘#resist’ and similar terms have become inextricably linked with the electoral success (or failure) of the president.”
The message is clear. Those who make disparaging comments about the president will be silenced.
Sadly, none of this should come as a surprise. From the outset of his presidency, Trump has consistently demonstrated an affinity for authoritarian figures. And as time passes, he has become increasingly motivated to mimic their behavior.
By now, his intentions are obvious. Trump is determined to destroy the institutions of our government.
Think about it. He has accused the FBI of corruption and denounced the Mueller investigation as a deep state witch hunt designed to ruin him. Journalists have been categorized as enemies of the people and all who oppose Trump are vilified for having the temerity to question him.
As I process these troubling events, I appeal to my most rational senses. Much like Brando’s character, I am not prone to conspiracy theories. But, what Trump is doing is not speculative. It is factual and it is happening. And we should all be very concerned.