A president is accountable for all his words

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To the Editor:

Last night, amid the protests in cities across the country, the president-elect tweeted the following: “Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!” That tweet has been taken down and replaced with something far more presidential, but the words cannot be unsaid. Like many, the election results left me shocked, stunned, hurt, and afraid, but still, for all our sakes, I hoped for the best. Those words dashed much of that hope. They also brought me back to the night when I became a Democrat, many years ago.

I was watching a movie in the student center at Ohio State when the doors of the auditorium were thrown open with a bang. I rose and turned toward the noise to see police in riot gear entering the auditorium behind us. Time seemed to slow as I watched tear-gas canisters arc through the air. Then everything became a blur with choking and coughing, stumbling and crawling. When we finally emerged into the night air, we saw a line of police officers in riot gear with batons and weapons. Over the bullhorn, we were being told that we were trespassing and must return to our homes immediately. I worked my way toward one of the officers to tell him that my home, my dorm, was behind their line. “Shut up and leave immediately.” Those were the words, as I remember them. I tried to explain myself again, but to no avail.

I returned to my friends, and while we were trying to figure out how to get to our dorm, the first knee knocker bullets were fired. The one closest to me hit a young man in the face. All I could see was blood dripping through his hands as he clutched them to his injuries. At that time, in that moment, the “good girl” stepped aside to let the fighter emerge.

I had previously been a fairly apolitical Republican. My parents were Republicans. On that night, however, I was transformed from a disinterested student to a very angry and engaged young adult. My blind trust in those institutions designed to protect and serve us was gone in a flash.

As I read the president-elect’s first tweet, that night, so long ago, came back to me with stark clarity, and I began to wonder just how many young, apolitical individuals standing on the sidelines yesterday decided to get into the game after reading that tweet. The replacement tweet evidenced more wisdom, “Love the fact that the small groups of protestors last night have passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud!” Unfortunately, a president is not judged by some of his words, he is held accountable for all of his words. Going forward, the Trump administration would do well to remember that.

Deborah Wells

West Tisbury