Most people agree, Aaron Schlossberg is a tool. The New York attorney’s unhinged, xenophobic rant in a Manhattan restaurant was shocking and offensive.

Social media wasted no time spreading his tirade on every outlet. The Internet laughed, sneered, jeered and cheered when video of Schlossberg actually sprinting from reporters who caught up with him on a crowded New York City street was posted.

“Racist Lawyer Runs Scared,” screamed a headline in the New York Post. The public even crowd-sourced a mariachi band to play at a party outside his apartment.

However, his melt down begged the question of whether he’s a shameless face of Trump’s America, or a new face of progressive America in action. His meltdown, it’s one supported by a divisive and controversial president — but it may not be the one you’d like to blame.

“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask! Act! Action will define you,” said the president once to the country.

This call to action, intentional or not, was intimately heeded by Schlossberg. In his own mind, people should be speaking English in Midtown Manhattan. So he acted on it. He went for the throat. It wasn’t his first time, either. Videos surfaced of Schlossberg angrily calling people names and yelling at previous protests for days after the catalyst video went viral.

And yet, there’s no denying he was living the president’s idea, that, “Action will define you.” Schlossberg was taking action, calling ICE, making a complete ass of himself for the sake of his deeply held ideals. No matter how you look at it, to become unglued so publically requires some measure of a presidential mandate for courage. Misplaced as it was, his courage — bolstered by a deep seated hatred and emboldened by a perverse sense of ethnic superiority — must have made the president very proud.

Is this Trump’s America? If you believe the president’s comments support Schlossberg’s reprehensible behavior, the answer is a resounding, NO!

The above quotes are Thomas Jefferson’s. “Your taste can’t be controlled by law,” he once said. Jefferson was clearly invoking the concept that it’s virtually impossible to legislate opinions — they’re just going to come out. More often than not, this includes hate. What we, as a society, have determined to be hateful is, by in large, agreed on, though.

Or is it?

Schlossberg is the embodiment of this uncontrollable opinion over law. His opinions are DNA-level, and they exploded all over the place in a disgusting display of hate. Admittedly, this is exactly what the president was hoping to get from America — and Schlossberg didn’t let him down.

Does this mean Schlossberg is a patriot? Debatable. Certainly Jefferson wasn’t asking Americans to join in a chorus of sensationalist hatred toward one another. But civil disobedience in support of something, which is a firmly held belief, was important to Jefferson. It can be argued that Schlossberg was, in a horrible but effective way, championing these ideals.

This isn’t an indictment of Schlossberg as much as it’s an indictment of America. The truth is, we’re all assholes, we all have asshole beliefs — Schlossberg just got caught expressing them. Today’s America isn’t a result of Donald Trump. Donald Trump is a result of today’s America.

The hard irony here and a lesson for America in relation to Schlossberg is that we aren’t allowed to express unpopular opinions — although we believe whatever the heck we want. Sometimes that the Earth is flat. Sometimes that we never landed on the moon. Is this a defense of what Schlossberg said or how he acted? Absolutely not, but it’s also a mirror on how the collective whole treats unpopular opinions. Even conservatives have reluctantly agreed that progress is going to happen, regardless. The question now is, what does that progress look like and who gets to decide?

For a few brief moments, Schlossberg thought he did. It’s likely that for a few brief moments, you’ve believed you should be the one to decide, too.

We’ve become so polarized that we yell like banshees in Manhattan restaurants because we’re offended. We also laugh and jeer at the helplessness of someone who’s being accosted by reporters in front of his home.

Was Schlossberg’s opinion socially acceptable? Probably not. Did he have a right to have it, and even express it? Well, if you’re a fan of Thomas Jefferson, the answer is, unequivocally, that he did. Is society wrong for relishing the deliciousness of seeing a bigot squirm, face a license review, and get evicted? We are.

In fact, it makes us just like him.

[cover photo law office of Aaron Schlossberg]