Almost eighty years ago, a seemingly innocuous radio show broadcast stirred panic in the hearts of listeners across the nation. When 23-year-old Orson Welles took his “War of the Worlds” to live radio, some listeners believed that Martians had invaded and destroyed New York City. This week, a more modern recitation of another American classic struck fear in the hearts of Twitter users.
On Tuesday, during the 241st celebration of our nation’s independence, NPR tweeted the Declaration of Independence in 140-character blocks. When rabid Trump supporters began reading portions of our country’s most hallowed document, they did just what anyone would expect from Trump’s base — they embarrassed themselves and exposed their true ignorance.
The outrage to the NPR tweets was nearly instantaneous and condemned NPR for everything from spreading violence to inciting a revolution. A revolution, you don’t say? The response from Trump’s core earned plenty of laughs, but spread fear into the hearts of every true American patriot. One has to wonder, if Trump had tweeted the same words, whether men, women, and children in Middle America would have been loading shotguns and marching with torches.
Here is a selection of the original bit of “propaganda” and “trash” that NPR offered in Tuesday’s Twitter feed:
In Congress, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
The fact that so many Trump supporters took to Twitter to condemn NPR raises serious questions about a larger and more dangerous flaw in America’s electoral process, and one that is rarely discussed. Beyond the continued focus on last November’s election amid Trump’s claims of fraudulent votes, and the states refusing to turn over data to Trump’s elections commission, there is the question of individual voter integrity.
An uninformed vote is as evil and invalid as a fraudulent vote.
That passages from America’s most revered document and the fundamental basis for our very existence can muster Trump’s base to frothy fingered tweets is troubling. In their responses, an easy parallel may be drawn to Colonial Tories — loyalists who remained dedicated to the Crown during the revolutionary war.
Like the royal supporters of the 1700s, Trump’s base seems less interested in forging new horizons for America and more focused on the man — the ruler — himself. It is difficult to comprehend whether they cast votes in November for country or a character on a reality show, and in that, the veracity of their votes must be questioned.
Every new citizen in America must pass a test before they are naturalized, yet any natural born citizen can vote without knowing the basic passages of the Declaration of Independence. (To try a test, click here https://my.uscis.gov/en/prep/test/civics/view). The consequences of uninformed and careless voting habits are more serious threats to our national security than immigration, hacking, or any other intrusion.
Six months into his term, Trump is still decrying the popular vote totals from last November. When his supporters lack the basic knowledge of our nation’s history and reason for existence, it seems the popular vote totals are moot. If the 60 million misguided and uninformed votes of those who call the Declaration of Independence “trash” were discarded, not even God could save the king’s imaginary win.