In a column for Newsweek, a former U.S. Marine harshly condemned President Donald Trump for his ugly rhetoric aimed at Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and his hometown of Baltimore saying the president doesn't represent the values the military stands for.
According to Mansoor Shams, a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, "As someone who served in the US Marine Corps, who protected and defended the Constitution with his life, I think I've earned my place to speak my truth."
"Tweet after tweet, rally after rally, he just doesn't seem to stop," he wrote of Trump. "It's as if every time he speaks he removes a part of what was generally accepted as part of our American ideals; liberty, equality, unity and diversity."
"Just in the last few weeks, we had the whole 'go back where you came from' comment in reference to four Congresswoman of color – three of whom were born in the United States," he continued. "But it didn't stop there. In the same week, the President attended a rally in North Carolina where he continued to double down on his mortifying rhetoric singling out Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. His supporters started chanting 'send her back' while the President quietly looked on."
Addressing his home town of Baltimore and the president's vile smears, he wrote, "This week, my own home city, Baltimore, became national news after the President tweeted, while having a go at Congressman Elijah Cummings: '...as proven last week during a congressional tour, the Border is clean, efficient and well run, just very crowded. Cummings district is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess. If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous and filthy place'"
"What the President may have forgotten is, that 'disgusting, rat and rodent infested...filthy place' is part of the same country he is supposed to be President of," he lectured. "And of the over 600,000 people living there, nearly 30 percent are under the age of 19. For a President claiming 'America First' but yet seemingly choosing to exclude an entire population segment, 30% of which are American children or youth, is not only unsettling but disingenuous."
After scorching Trump's conservative defenders who doubled down on the president's attacks, Shams called them all out.
"It's time to take a long hard look at free speech and at ourselves, with some personal self-reflection on how we've been using that right," he wrote. "No, Mr. President (and all others blindly in agreement,) free speech is not about you uttering every senseless, debilitating, dehumanizing, inciting thought or word out of your mouth. It was meant so you could be an individual, choose to offer a disciplined opinion and contribute towards the well being of a democracy without fear of retaliation."
"And when you're indulging yourself in the former, you're eroding the very foundations of the latter. If your vitriol becomes all that free speech is about, who knows if future generations will still see it as sacrosanct," he concluded.