After a rough day for members of the left, which included news of a hardline conservative likely replacing relative centrist Justice Kennedy as a member of the Supreme Court, most Americans, liberal and conservative alike, turned in for the evening. But just before midnight, Donald Trump appeared to be wide awake and perusing twitter, poised to deliver another foreboding message to the opposition, before calling it a night.
Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies have been the subject of an ideological civil war across the United States. As immigrant children have been forcibly separated from their parents by ICE officials under Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy, protesters have taken to facilities along the Texas-Mexico border in opposition. Although Trump did sign an order to stop such separations, many have claimed not enough will be done to combat families already separated. Furthermore, many are making claims that these immigrants’ are unfairly being denied their hearings for asylum, as Trump expresses a desire to skip all legal court processes and deport. Protests are planned across the country, particularly for Saturday, June 30, according to The News & Observer.
Ahead of the planned protests, and nonplussed by previous ones, Donald Trump delivered a message late Wednesday night to notify protesters his zero tolerance isn’t restricted to undocumented foreign immigrants, but also to any more protests further preventing ICE immigration officials from detaining immigrants and their families. Ascribing protesters to anarchists, Trump took to Twitter, delivering a late-night warning that the Trump administration’s legislative agenda will not be disrupted.
…home addresses – putting these selfless public servants in harm’s way. These radical protesters want ANARCHY – but the only response they will find from our government is LAW AND ORDER!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2018
Trump’s tweet, however firm, seems to leave a lot of questions, rather than definitive answers.
It cites specific examples of behavior the president deems unacceptable, including attacks on law enforcement, Democrat proposals of complete elimination of ICE, and exposing the personal information of ICE officials, making clear what the president finds intolerable.
Trump then goes on to explicitly call out the actions of protesters he deems as “radical,” pointing to what he perceives as an underlying shared desire for “anarchy.” However, the president concludes his tweeted list of specifics in what appears to be relatively vague terminology.
Merriam-Webster defines “law-and-order” as a broad concept.
“relating to, characterized by, or advocating strict laws and their enforcement”
Donald Trump’s promise of a response to protests declines terminology such as “local law enforcement officials,” “police presence,” “riot procedures,” or even “The National Guard,” all of which have been used in response to civil unrest. Instead, the president opts for “law and order,” leaving protesters in the dark about the nature of whatever response they may face.
Although not in all caps, what Trump calls “our government” could also be the most ambiguous implication within the tweet. It was unclear as to Trump’s intended meaning, as the president may have been collectively referring to everyone in the United States, as citizens under the United States government.
However, given the partisan nature of the tweet, it’s also possible Trump may still have been using politics to mark lines in the sand. After pointing out “Democrat politicians” and “radical protesters” as putting “selfless public servants in harm’s way,” Trump could also have been expressing exclusivity, referencing the current Republican congressional majority and his own Republican presidency.
As of the time of this writing, it has not been clarified.