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Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan's daughter, just called out Donald Trump for violent rhetoric.

Families who've been affected by political assassination attempts are stepping forward.

Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan's daughter, just called out Donald Trump for violent rhetoric.

During an August 9 rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, Donald Trump did what he's been doing all campaign long — he said something controversial and inflammatory.

That, in itself, isn't surprising to anyone who's been following the 2016 campaign. Whether he's calling Mexicans "rapists," slamming the parents of a fallen soldier, or calling a sitting U.S. Senator "Pochahontas," we've all come to expect the offensive and unexpected when watching the man entertain a crowd.

Finally, after months of dogwhistle statements about how Hillary Clinton supposedly wants to "abolish the Second Amendment" (she doesn't, by the way), Trump's Aug. 9, 2016, comment may have taken the rhetoric a step too far when he seemed to suggest that if he were to lose the election, it'd be up to "Second Amendment people" to stop Clinton from appointing judges to fill spots on the Supreme Court.


Just another day in the campaign of Donald J. Trump. GIF from CSPAN/YouTube.

And it's pretty clear that at least some of the folks in his audience picked up on what was being not-so-subtly implied.

"He said whatttttt?" GIF from CSPAN/YouTube.

Understandably, people were pretty shocked by this, and it was reported that the Secret Service even had a chat with the Trump campaign about the whole, "Please don't put out ambiguous calls that could be interpreted as a request that someone assassinate your political opponent" thing (or maybe not; we'll never know — it's just been that kind of election, I guess).

Anyway, the whole thing devolved into a question of what Trump meant by his statement, with his campaign insisting that the words were taken out of context or misconstrued. The larger point might be, though, that it doesn't really matter what he meant so much as what people think he meant.

Over at Mic, Cooper Fleishman explored dark corners of the internet known to house some of Trump's white supremacist fanbase. Did they take his statement to mean he was encouraging them to "do something" by voting, as the campaign has since said?

No, they heard it as a call to assassinate Hillary Clinton.

On Facebook, a post by Patti Davis, daughter of Ronald Reagan, cited the assassination attempt on her father's life to chide the Trump campaign for its reckless use of language that could inspire someone to commit an act of violence.

In 1981, John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate Ronald Regan because he believed it would impress actress Jodie Foster.

Addressing Trump directly, Davis warns: "[Your message] was heard by the person sitting alone in a room, locked in his own dark fantasies, who sees unbridled violence as a way to make his mark in the world, and is just looking for ideas."

To Donald Trump: I am the daughter of a man who was shot by someone who got his inspiration from a movie, someone who...

Posted by Patti Davis on Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Even if Trump really, truly meant "Second Amendment people" should go out and vote, there might be someone somewhere who interpreted that statement as an earnest call for violence. After all, there are plenty of people who will make the argument that the Second Amendment exists in part to protect the people from a tyrannical government. If someone holds that belief and also believes Hillary Clinton is a tyrant, it's easy to see how quickly that situation could escalate out of the rhetorical and into something truly horrifying.

Families of others lost to political violence — including Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Robert F. Kennedy — have also spoken out about Trump's careless words.

In an editorial for the Washington Post, Jean Kennedy Smith and William Kennedy Smith and — sister of and nephew to President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, respectively — warn of the dangerous impact such a statement can have:

"Today, almost 50 years [after the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy], words still matter. They shape who we are as a people and who we wish to be as a nation. In the white-hot cauldron of a presidential campaign, it is still the words delivered extemporaneously, off the cuff, in the raw pressure of the moment that matter most. They say most directly what is in a candidate’s heart. So it was with a real sense of sadness and revulsion that we listened to Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, as he referred to the options available to 'Second Amendment people,' a remark widely, and we believe correctly, interpreted as a thinly veiled reference or 'joke' about the possibility of political assassination."

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963, left) at his home in Georgetown, Massachusetts, with his brother Robert (1925-1968) in 1955. Photo by Three Lions/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Later, the two conclude, "The truth remains that words do matter, especially when it comes to presidential candidates. On that basis alone, Donald Trump is not qualified to be president of the United States."

Bernice King, daughter of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., took to Twitter to express her own opinion on Trump's comments.

While it's impossible to control exactly how a message is interpreted by individuals among a crowd, there's a responsibility for presidential candidates to avoid remarks that can be interpreted in a way that would suggest an openness to violence.

There are many ways Donald Trump could have framed his speech to achieve the point his campaign claims he intended. Suggesting that after the election, "Second Amendment people" "do something" isn't one of them. Whether or not you agree with Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, Evan McMullin, or somebody else, we have a responsibility to ensure that all of them — including our political rivals — are free from physical harm.

The responsible thing would be for Mr. Trump to clarify his comments publicly and be more conscientious with his words moving forward. Lives may literally depend on it.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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It's one thing to see a little kid skateboarding. It's another to see a stereotype-defying little girl skateboarding. And it's entirely another to see Paige Tobin.

Paige is a 6-year-old skateboarding wonder from Australia. A recent video of her dropping into a 12-foot bowl on her has gone viral, both for the feat itself and for the style with which she does it. Decked out in a pink party dress, a leopard-print helmet, and rainbow socks, she looks nothing like you'd expect a skater dropping into a 12-foot bowl to look. And yet, here she is, blowing people's minds all over the place.

For those who may not fully appreciate the impressiveness of this feat, here's some perspective. My adrenaline junkie brother, who has been skateboarding since childhood and who races down rugged mountain faces on a bike for fun, shared this video and commented, "If I dropped in to a bowl twice as deep as my age it would be my first and last time doing so...this fearless kid has a bright future!"

It's scarier than it looks, and it looks pretty darn scary.

Paige doesn't always dress like a princess when she skates, not that it matters. Her talent and skill with the board are what gets people's attention. (The rainbow socks are kind of her signature, however.)

Her Instagram feed is filled with photos and videos of her skateboarding and surfing, and the body coordination she's gained at such a young age is truly something.

Here she was at three years old:

And here she is at age four:


So, if she dropped into a 6-foot bowl at age three and a 12-foot bowl at age six—is there such a thing as an 18-foot bowl for her to tackle when she's nine?

Paige clearly enjoys skating and has high ambitions in the skating world. "I want to go to the Olympics, and I want to be a pro skater," she told Power of Positivity when she was five. She already seems to be well on her way toward that goal.

How did she get so good? Well, Paige's mom gave her a skateboard when she wasn't even preschool age yet, and she loved it. Her mom got her lessons, and she's spent the past three years skating almost daily. She practices at local skate parks and competes in local competitions.

She also naturally has her fair share of spills, some of which you can see on her Instagram channel. Falling is part of the sport—you can't learn if you don't fall. Conquering the fear of falling is the key, and the thing that's hardest for most people to get over.

Perhaps Paige started too young to let fear override her desire to skate. Perhaps she's been taught to manage her fears, or maybe she's just naturally less afraid than other people. Or maybe there's something magical about the rainbow socks. Whatever it is, it's clear that this girl doesn't let fear get in the way of her doing what she wants to do. An admirable quality in anyone, but particularly striking to see in someone so young.

Way to go, Paige. Your perseverance and courage are inspiring, as is your unique fashion sense. Can't wait to see what you do next.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less