Donald Trump is known for doing unusual things. Upon becoming the president of the United States, he scrapped policies for LGBT rights and family planning, called German Chancellor Angela Merkel an “excellent salesman” and spent more than 100 consecutive days playing golf.
Having proclaimed that he would build a Mexico-funded wall along the US-Mexico border, he also shut down the government for more than a month when he wasn’t granted $6bn of US tax money to fund it. However, there is more weirdness to come.
In a so-far unusual move, the president has invited a sixth-grader to the State of the Union address. “He appreciates science, art, and history,” the White House statement explains. “He also loves animals and hopes to pursue a related career in the future.”
“His hero and best friend is his Uncle Cody, who serves in the United States Air Force,” the statement continues. “Unfortunately, Joshua has been bullied in school due to his last name. He is thankful to the First Lady and the Trump family for their support.” The key detail, however, is in the following line: “Joshua Trump is a 6th grade student in Wilmington, Delaware.”
The irony was not lost on Twitter users, who pointed out that Trump himself has been accused of bullying on a number of occasions. Furthermore, proponents of Democrat-backed causes have also fallen prey not only to the man himself but also his followers.
One such example is David Hogg. A survivor of the Parkland Shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in February last year, 18-year-old Hogg has campaigned for gun control using a combination of advocacy and boycotting. A student journalist, he documented the attack as it happened and, along with fellow classmates, has since helped shape student campaign group Never Again MSD.
However, Hogg drew criticism from pro-gun conspiracy theorists who believed he was a “crisis actor” - a human prop paid to pretend to be related to a major incident. Having made his first foray into politics by touting the conspiracy theory that then-US president Barack Obama wasn’t actually an American citizen, Donald Trump has helped normalise puzzling agendas including climate change denial and the insistence that various events are actually false flag operations.
According to his mother, Hogg and his family received death threats. Then, on 5 June last year, Broward County Sheriff's Office received a report that there was an unfolding hostage situation at Hogg’s family home. A false report intended to cause upset to the victim, the tactic is known as “swatting”. The wild conspiracy theories surrounding Hogg and other Parkland survivors were named PolitiFact's 2018 “Lie of the Year”.
Nonetheless, Trump appears keen to impress upon the public that anyone bullying his namesake should think twice. After all, being invited to the State of the Union Address is a coveted honour. Listed below are the official White House biographies of a few other special guests who will be there this evening.Debra Bissell, Heather Armstrong, and Madison Armstrong
“Gerald and Sharon David of Reno, Nevada, were tragically murdered in their home in Nevada by an illegal immigrant in January 2019. The terrible loss has devastated both their community and three generations of their family who will be represented at the State of the Union: the Davids’ daughter Debra, granddaughter Heather, and great-granddaughter Madison.”Matthew Charles
“Matthew Charles’s life is a story of redemption. In 1996, he was sentenced to 35 years in prison for selling crack cocaine and other related offenses. While in prison, Matthew found God, completed more than 30 bible studies, became a law clerk, taught GED classes, and mentored fellow inmates. On January 3, 2019, Matthew was the first prisoner released as a result of the First Step Act.”Grace Eline
“Everyone who knows Grace would tell you that she has always been special. Wherever she goes, she brightens the room with her kind heart and infectious smile. At an early age, she decided that she wanted to forgo gifts at her birthday parties, and instead ask for charity donations. At 9 years old, Grace was diagnosed with Germinoma, a germ-cell brain tumor, and in May 2018, Grace started cancer treatment. Throughout the rest of the year, Grace stayed positive and strong, making the rounds in the hospital, cheering up other patients, and always having a smile for the many caring medical professionals who treated her. Grace recently finished chemotherapy and today shows no evidence of the disease. She is determined to help other children who are fighting cancer.”Ashley Evans
“Ashley Evans has struggled with opioid and substance abuse for much of her life. In 2017, she was pregnant and suffered a relapse. Her recovery began with the birth of her daughter along with the help of Brigid’s Path, a medical care facility in Kettering, Ohio. Ashley has persevered and overcome many obstacles to maintain her sobriety. She is passionate about sharing her story of hope. On February 9, 2019, Ashley will celebrate 1 year and 1 month in recovery and on February 15, 2019, she will be reunited with her daughter full-time.”
The special guests are thought to give some insight into which issues the president will address. America’s opioid problem makes for a hot topic, Trump having promised that he would spend the money required to ensure the issue was quelled. He assigned an extra $3 billion to the issue but his detractors claim that the results are yet to be seen.
Bullying is also, of course, a key issue for the Trumps. Melania Trump has spent a lot of time working with anti-bullying charities, especially after their son Hunter was the target of online bullying. However, while Joshua Trump will likely enjoy the privilege, one can't help but think that there would be plenty of other guests who could fill his seat and show solidarity with those who Trump’s agenda is often accused of forsaking.