An Ontario man is calling out a member of the Trump family for using an image of his young son as part of a political attack on those opposing the American president.
Jeremy Rupke says Donald Trump’s son Eric showed “disrespect” and lack of forethought when he included an image of four-year-old Mason Rupke in a recent social media broadside against Democrats.
Left-leaning politicians have stepped up criticism of the U.S. president in recent days after he told four congresswomen of colour to “go back where they came from,” prompting Eric Trump to liken his father’s rivals to peewee hockey players.
To illustrate a tweet on the subject, Eric Trump used a screenshot taken from a video of Mason playing hockey in his hometown of Barrie, Ont.
Jeremy Rupke fired back, criticizing the president’s son for using Mason’s image to push a political message.
He says that while he doesn’t believe he has the right to insist the image be removed, he found the use of it “distasteful” and needlessly invasive.
“Clearly that is somebody’s child,” Rupke said in a telephone interview. “Maybe he wanted to get more views on his tweet and added pictures so it stands out more, but he could find a stock picture from a distance so it’s not personally involving anybody … Clearly someone in his position could afford to go through the right channels to get content.”
Rupke, who coaches hockey, said he had no idea of his son’s newfound notoriety until Wednesday afternoon when a friend reached out to him on social media.
He said he had no history of discussing politics with this particular friend and was puzzled to see that he was being referred to a post by the president’s son. All became clear, however, when he saw Mason’s face peering back at him from below the tweet sent Wednesday morning.
“Watching the Democrats reminds me of pee-wee hockey — funny, makes zero sense & they can’t get out of their own way,” Eric Trump tweeted before narrowing his focus to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the congresswomen included in his father’s recent headline-grabbing remarks.
“AOC is the gift that keeps on giving — skating circles on the far left and unknowingly taking down her own teammates. Please keep it up. You are guaranteeing 2020.”
Rupke said that once he got over the shock of seeing his son’s image alongside the tweet, he felt obligated to call out what he felt was poor online etiquette.
“Hey @EricTrump maybe don’t use a picture of my kid for your political propaganda,” he tweeted back.
Rupke also pointed out that children playing hockey in Mason’s age bracket are not classified as peewee, a designation the Ontario Minor Hockey Association reserves for players aged 11 and 12.
Rupke said he has not received and is not expecting a response from the president’s son. Eric Trump did not respond to request for comment.
Mason briefly became a viral video sensation when his father recorded him skating at a hockey practice earlier this year.
The video posted online showed Mason working to master skating and providing off-the-cuff commentary to accompany his efforts. His remarks were rarely focused on hockey, but instead touched on a desire for a nap and craving for a meal at McDonald’s.
Rupke included the clip of his son amid the rest of his video content, which largely focuses on hockey-playing tips and techniques.
He said he’s developed a particular distaste for the U.S. president’s brand of politics and added that the younger Trump appeared to be playing from the same book.
“(As a hockey coach) I’m always teaching respect, care compassion, looking after other people and just being an over-all good person,” Rupke said. “I think that (Donald) Trump doesn’t really reflect a lot of the values I try to teach.”
Rupke drew plenty of support on Twitter, with many critiquing the use of Mason’s image.
“If you knew anything about hockey you would realize that this kid is way to (sic) young to be a Pee Wee,” one user tweeted at the president’s son. ‘So what you are reporting is Fake News!”
“He didn’t even pick a kid made in America,” quipped another.
Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press