President Trump is taking flak over yet another impolitic tweet, this time about the UCLA basketball players who could have faced 10 years in prison in China for shoplifting, but who are now safely home because Trump intervened. The father of one of the players, LaVar Ball, rudely dismissed Trump’s efforts to ESPN, replying, “Who?,” then going on to say, “They try to make a big deal out of nothing sometimes…I'm from L.A., I've seen a lot worse things happen than a guy taking some glasses.” Trump tweeted back that Ball’s father was “unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!”
Naturally, the media are jumping all over Trump for saying he should’ve left them in jail. I happen to think that’s just a humorous expression of frustration, but it’s necessary for the media to take everything he tweets absolutely literally in order to put the worst possible spin on it. I agree that it wasn’t very diplomatic, but then, the father’s stunning lack of gratitude for what Trump did for his son and his clueless comment about the law wasn’t very diplomatic, either. What this really boils down to is that the media expect Trump to have the dignity to take every unfair attack that gets lobbed his way and never fire back. They haven’t figured out yet that he’s not the pre-2016 model Republican.
What’s really worth talking about here, and what everyone is overlooking, is the statement of the father, in dismissing shoplifting as “a big deal out of nothing,” and comparing doing it in foreign countries to doing it in L.A. It shows both a shocking disregard for the law and a stunning ignorance of what makes America such a great nation. Frankly, I think it also represents a too-widespread failure of many modern parents to instruct their kids in both of these areas.
Stealing is never “nothing” to the person you stole from, and you wouldn’t like someone doing it to you. Children should be taught the Golden Rule from an early age (“Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.”) And maybe young people wouldn’t be so enamored of socialist or communist countries if they’d been taught the difference between getting caught stealing in America and in someplace like China or North Korea: Americans have rights that too many people take for granted. If young Americans aren’t taught what an exceptional nation America is, they’ll assume they can get away with the same garbage they do here, no matter where they travel. News flash: they can’t.
President Trump doesn’t always communicate in the most measured, diplomatic way (okay, he seldom if ever does that.) But this time, he has a point. Young people need to be taught to obey the law, and that goes 100 times over when they leave the US. When you pull some spoiled brat move in a foreign country, you’d better hope the President will go to bat for you, because your helicopter parents won’t be able to chopper in and save you from your own bad behavior this time.
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