President Trump's penchant for nicknaming may have met its match in North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un. After calling the 33-year-old Kim "Rocket Man" on Twitter and in his U.N. speech, Kim had his own brand label for Trump: dotard. Defined by Merriam-Webster, dotard denotes a person in a "state of dotage," which means a "period of senile decay marked by decline of mental poise and alertness." Plenty of Trump critics jumped on the term, praising it for what they deem its accuracy. However, Trump supporters are angry that "dotard" has been picked up, given the nickname's source.
Kim is a brutal dictator. That fact is undisputed. Kim came to power in North Korea in 2011, and has since established himself as uniquely uninhibited in ordering executions and political purges. In December 2016, a South Korean think tank issued a report claiming Kim had executed 340 people during his first five years as leader. About 140 of those killed were former senior government and military officials. For one execution, Kim made sure the man's family was present in the audience to witness his public death. Kim also executed a top education official for the "crime" of having "a bad attitude."
So for many Trump supporters, giving validity or praise of any kind to Kim Jong Un is a damnable offense.
Trump supporters are by no means alone in their view of Kim Jong Un. North Korea has long been an adversary of the United States. In 1948, Kim Il-Sung, grandfather of Kim Jong Un, became the first Communist leader of the nation following Japan's withdrawal after being defeated in WWII. Kim Il-Sung ruled until his death in 1994, after which his son, Kim Jong Il, took over. With his subsequent death in 2011, the family dynasty passed to Kim Jong Un. During its entire history, North Korea has been allied with countries either hostile or unfriendly toward the United States — first with the U.S.S.R., and later with China and Russia.
That's to say nothing of the 200,000 North Korean citizens imprisoned and tortured in a prisons and concentration camps throughout the country. Kim Kwang-Il, a defector who testified before the United Nations, was held for three years in such a camp for the crime of smuggling pine nuts.
Additionally, Kim Jong Un has made it clear he is pursuing a nuclear weapon. That makes the rogue state a dangerous actor on the world stage. But North Korea's proximity to Guam and the revelation that they had previously issued threats against the U.S. island territory make North Korea an even more urgent problem for the United States.
It also calls into question the justification for using Kim Jong Un's term. And Trump supporters are not the only ones who noticed.
The #DotardTrump opposers fall into two categories, though their arguments overlap on one crucial point. For Trump supporters, there has been a tendency among some to damn any criticism of him, since Trump is "your president." That theme is definitely present on Twitter, with many tweets equating #DotardTrump with a near-treason level of offense:
Certainly, most of those who embraced #DotardTrump were by no means signaling their support for Kim Jong Un by using his chosen nickname. However, bolstering a hostile and oppressive regime by granting legitimacy to its leader's rip on Trump is an arguable choice. That seems to be the point made by a second set of "DotardTrump" critics, those who recognize the questionable territory of laughing along with a man who murders with impunity and threatens millions of lives:
Like it or not, Trump supporters will have to accept that Kim Jong Un introduced an old word back into the contemporary lexicon. "Dotard" being used as a burn for Trump — and probably others — is likely an inevitable fact of America's near future.