Rule By Trump Tweets Put The US-UK 'Special Relationship' Under Strain

For a President intent on lecturing the world from Twitter, it is little surprise to see the social media platform is front and centre in a row between two countries. It is a little surprising to find that it is with the UK, the country with the so-called "special relationship" between The White House and 10 Downing Street.

President Trump rebuking UK Prime Minister Theresa May because she questioned his sharing of three posts originating from the vile, far-right, anti-muslim group Britain First is headline news here, even if it isn't yet in the U.S. 

There you go -- the vile group got its name-check for reference, now let's go forward without giving them another blast of the social media oxygen they need to thrive and make a rag bag group of right-wing thugs look more popular than just a collection of online shares from faceless cowards.

Many people who don't know the organisation may have inadvertently shared its content before it became clear who they truly are. The group are masters at using patriotic days to get people to share the flag on social media or agree that our service veterans deserve to be looked after. People leap to like and share, not always knowing who the vile group really is. Several documentaries in the UK and ongoing legal action against its female co-founder have ensured that the majority of Brits know all too well what the organisation stands for. 

That's why the whole of the UK thought Trump's twitter account had been hacked or he had inadvertently shared misleading tweets. We expected either an explanation about about a cyber attack or an apology. The country got neither. Instead, our Prime Minister was rebuked for questioning Trump's retweets. 

In case you haven't seen, the three videos purport to show a muslim smashing a statue of the Virgin Mary, a group of muslims throwing boys off a roof and a muslim attacking a Dutch boy on crutches. The latter has been dispelled by the Dutch authorities who say the young male behind the attack on the Dutch boy was born and raised in The Netherlands and has been dealt with. The video of men pushing boys off a roof is apparently old footage of the Egyptian uprising and is, by definition, muslim-on-muslim violence. Again, the criminals were caught, and in this case, executed. As for a single guy smashing a hand-sized statue of the Virgin Mary, I have no idea. I guess it happened, but I'm not too sure it proves anything more than one person being completely disrespectful to another religion's treasured icon.

The point is that none of the videos really show us what the group in question want us all to believe -- that we're under attack from Islam and need to arm ourselves to defend the British way of life. 

Channel 4 News, as ever, had the best take on this last night. First we saw the female cofounder of the vile group being interviewed during a break in her court case. Oh, the irony. She accuses muslims of stoking race hatred when, actually, it is she who is in the dock for the very same crime. The news channel asked the big question that we all want answered, "Does Trump know about you?" A wry smile with "no comment" made it clear, as far as she was concerned, that Trump knew exactly whose posts he was retweeting.

Then we had an interview with Ann Coulter, who is in the papers today claiming it is irrelevant that the videos are misleading. The conservative commentator is one of only 40 or so people Trump follows on Twitter, and it was her sharing of Britain First tweets that caught Trump's eye. On Channel 4 News last night, she repeatedly claimed she did not have to prove anything -- it was up to everyone else to prove the videos were fake or misleading. 

So I think Americans need to ask what they would think if our Prime Minister was sharing tweets from the Klu Klux Klan or some alt-right group that are clearly misleading and intent on stirring up racial and religious hatred. Imagine if Trump had told her that wasn't a great idea and she had retweeted that he needs to deal with some more pressing issue, perhaps the growing number of women who are accusing him of sexual misconduct? 

The UK has always felt it had a special relationship with the U.S., and I think, it is usually reciprocated. However, President Trump's outbursts and rule by Tweet have put that relationship under strain. No more so than with last night's tweet telling Theresa May to butt out. We're in new territory here, not only with an outspoken President but one who sees Twitter as a better means for announcing policies and conducting diplomacy than traditional channels.

In one single tweet, however, he did at least manage what has proven elusive after seven years of conservative rule -- unite an entire country in support of Theresa May. 

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