Donald Trump's Long And Troubling History Of Casually Using Mental Health Slurs To Criticize His Opponents
His vocabulary gets surprisingly broad when he’s trying to call someone “crazy”
After being subjected to tweets, extemporaneous comments, and even prepared remarks, the American public is aware that President Trump has no problem with using a distinctly simple and direct way of voicing his displeasure toward any individual he views as being unfairly critical of him.
To undermine that person’s credibility, the president has shown a predilection to dismiss his detractors as mentally unstable, using a myriad of slurs to drive the point home.
The Washington Post breakdown of the pejorative language used by Trump on Twitter shows that “crazy” is in rare air, having appeared 65 times—versus the 72 instances of “loser” and the 95 times he’s described something as “dumb.” Surprisingly, one of his more frequent takedowns, “nut job,” was used only once on Twitter in reference to Glenn Beck, but it appears with alarming frequency in his offhand comments, having previously targeted Bernie Sanders, Kim Jong-un, and Lindsey Graham with the slur on several occasions.
Wacky @glennbeck who always seems to be crying (worse than Boehner) speaks badly of me only because I refuse to do his show--a real nut job!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1444319044.0
However, his most prominent use of the phrase surfaced recently, when The New York Times reported that he used that very characterization of James Comey to explain his firing to Russian officials during a White House visit. The White House has not denied that Trump said to the visiting officials: “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
His fondness for characterization also manifests itself in more sedate, but equally unproven accusations, such as when he labeled Rosie O’Donnell a “mentally sick woman” during a Twitter feud between the two parties years ago.
Sorry, @Rosie is a mentally sick woman, a bully, a dummy and, above all, a loser. Other than that she is just wonderful!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1418090039.0
Often, however, these types of tweet attacks tend to come from more of an emotional place, like the time he labeled Ted Cruz a “wacko” in this tweet:
Wow, Lyin' Ted Cruz really went wacko today. Made all sorts of crazy charges. Can't function under pressure - not very presidential. Sad!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1462316575.0
It’s unclear as to whether Trump is aware these comments further cement stigmas surrounding mental illness, but by continuing to use this type of language, he’s turning legitimate illnesses into insults at his own pleasure.
While Trump’s own mental composure has been a recurring question during his campaign and presidency, many feel that conflating his personality with his mental state is a cheap attack that further devolves the conversation and stigmas surrounding mental illness.
Bob Carolla, on behalf of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, says, “Stigmatizing words, stereotypes, and portrayals end up helping to shape society’s attitudes. You can’t say it’s harmless because it isn’t.”
While there is certainly no way that we know of to dissuade Trump from saying whatever he wants, that doesn’t mean we can’t try and turn some of these types of instances into an opportunity to engage in larger conversations about some of these important issues.