The man who trespassed onto White House property has been identified. His name is Jonathan Tran, age 26, and he is a resident of Milpitas, California. He had no weapons aside from pepper spray and said his motivation was to meet the president.
Breaches of White House security are unsettling but happen to every president. In 2014, an Army veteran made it all the way into the East Room of the White House before the Secret Service detained him. In that case, his military training may have served him.
Friday’s breach was notable for a couple of reasons. First, it was taken very seriously because President Donald Trump was in the building. Although he often flies to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, and his business as a president could take him anywhere around the world, in this instance the president was at the White House. Such breaches are therefore taken very seriously by the Secret Service, because the person could potentially be an assassin on a mission to harm the president.
This is another reason why Jonathan Tran’s breach is notable. Tran had no weapons on him aside from a mace. He did not bring a gun or poison. Instead, Tran’s backpack actually contained a book Trump has written and a letter Tran wrote to the president. It seems Tran was being sincere when he told authorities, “No, I am a friend of the president.”
Tran also said, “I have an appointment,” which was obviously not true. However, it seems that his motivation to hop the White House fence was honestly to have a meeting with Donald Trump. Unfortunately, such a security breach comes with a possible jail sentence. Anyone wishing to meet the president is better off taking their chances on a White House tour.
Therefore, Tran’s security breach brings up another vitally important issue in America today — the state of its citizens’ mental health. Although Tran does not appear to be a violent or malicious individual, his actions could result in severe penalties to himself like prison time. It is possible that the situation could have escalated and Secret Service could have killed him. When people make decisions that put their own lives in jeopardy, it is usually a reflection of poor mental health.
President Trump seemed to recognize this. He called the situation with Tran “very sad.” Trump showed some compassion for Tran, although the security breach is very serious. He referred to Tran as a “troubled person.” “Troubled” people need to be made aware of their issues and inappropriate behavior so that they can function in society, which is of course difficult for a person struggling with mental health issues.
Tran’s friends and family say that Tran recently lost his job, which may have caused him to become mentally disturbed. Losing one’s job can have a profound effect on a person’s mental health. In the controversial men’s rights book The Myth of Male Power, sociologist Warren Farrell describes the feelings a man experiences after losing his job as analogous to those a woman feels after being raped. Feeling powerless, not knowing one’s place in the world, and difficulty coping with the new reality were feelings he cited as being analogous.
Trump campaigned on a platform of economic security. Many people, men and women, cite this as a reason for voting for him. Because of traditional gender roles, some men feel very strongly that their worth is tied to their job. The male suicide rate is also much higher; about four times as many men commit suicide as women do.
The presence of Jonathan Tran on the White House grounds calls attention to some serious issues. The mental health of the country’s citizens, particularly men, doesn’t get talked about often enough. Aside from financial troubles, people experience psychological difficulties after a job loss. Donald Trump’s message resonated with many people affected by these problems, like Jonathan Tran, but more work must be done to keep these people healthy, productive, and off the White House lawn.
[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]