President Donald Trump is being mocked on Twitter for praising Frederick Douglass in a way that made it sound like he thinks the famed abolitionist and American icon is alive.
You can watch Trump’s remarks above. He made the oddly phrased remarks flanked by former Apprentice contestant Omarosa Manigault and HUD Secretary nominee Ben Carson.
In case you don’t already know, Douglass died in 1895, and he’s not an obscure historical figure. He’s a revered one. He is one of the country’s most revered anti-slavery figures and a towering intellectual whose eloquent autobiography is a seminal work on the horrors of slavery. Many people believe he’s one of the most inspirational Americans of all time. In fairness to Trump, he thinks Douglass “has done” an amazing job!
Here’s what’s Trump said:
Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who has done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice. Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and millions more black Americans who made America what it is today. A big impact.
The jokes flew, especially when Press Secretary Sean Spicer then spoke about Douglass in a way that made people think he doesn’t know who Douglass is, either.
Some people wished Frederick Douglass was actually still alive. The country needs him, they said.
Others had big ideas.
The comment came in the midst of a series of other remarks praising African-American leaders. The Washington Post also mocked Trump, though, for seeming to say that the term “African-American” applies to people who also live outside the United States. Trump said:
During this month, we honor the tremendous history of the African Americans throughout our country — throughout the world, if you really think about it, right?
According to Biography.com, Douglass was a “famed 19th-century author and orator” and “an eminent human rights leader in the anti-slavery movement and the first African-American citizen to hold a high U.S. government rank.” Born into slavery, he was an eloquent author, whose most famous work was the autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.
Trump made his comments about Douglass in remarks honoring Black History Month, in which he segued from fake news to himself to Carson to Civil Rights icons Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. to Omarosa.
According to The Washington Post, Trump was speaking to a “small group of African American aides and supporters to kick off Black History Month.” Some thought people should chill out and give Trump a break; after all, he was praising Douglass.
However, Trump’s comments had Twitter thinking that Trump doesn’t realize Douglass is dead or why he’s so celebrated. You can read the full transcript of Trump’s remarks here. The jokes quickly flew.
Some people thought that follow up remarks by Spicer made it sound like Spicer is clueless about Douglass’ much vaunted contributions to American history.
However, it’s possible, of course, that both men just worded things poorly.
Here are some of the jokes and comments reacting to Trump’s remark on Frederick Douglass: