Donald Trump: Witch Hunts, Lynchings and Co-Opting Victimhood
The United States President has become the master of self-victimization and he leverages that to enrage his base.
Donald Trump has been bellowing on Twitter for three years proclaiming himself the victim of a witch hunt. As the controversial and combative leader has been heavily scrutinized for an unending series of lies that has, thus far, revealed everything from his adultery, paying hush money to adult film stars, over 40 allegations of sexual assault, soliciting help from hostile foreign nations to help him with the forthcoming election and breaching the constitutional emoluments clause, he has perfected the art of victimhood.
In a desperate bid to appeal to his loyalists by portraying legitimate questions as malicious attacks, he has manipulated truth into an malleable, negotiable array of projections, deflections and word-spinning to make the distinction between fact so intertwined in his own fiction that it is can e difficult to illustrate a clear portrait of his questionable actions, leaving most to rest their criticism solely on his even more questionable character.
He has often signaled his distress to his anxious fans, most of whom wait on call to leap to his defense. Look what they’re doing to me, your favorite president! Look how unfair they are! They hurting me, don’t let them do this to us!
He has also leveraged divisive language, referring to his detractors who dare point out his criminal antics as “Them.” “They” are our enemy. He pulls his legions of red-hat wearers into a manufactured state of crisis along with his, so they feel equally threatened by anyone who is not a Trump flagellant. “We won’t let them win!” “They can’t do this to us.”
“We” and “Us” he uses as a form of psychological entrapment, directly referencing them as indelibly entwined with himself. If he is in danger, he needs his base to feel he same sense of fear and urgency to fight back as he does, typically in the pre-dawn hours when his anxiety seem to peak. He triggers them by implying they will suffer by proxy if he is caught. They must share his burden. He uses them like attack dog by playing upon their own investment in his success. The fall of Donald Trump means much more to his base than it has for any President in history, as they are fully entrenched in his world view. He represents more than leadership to them, but a validation of their bigotry, their white anxiety and rebuking of an establishment that poses a threat to their supremacy with equality- a dirty word.
The term Witch Hunt has been one that actual witches, a valid belief system, have taken issue with since he first used it to reference his constant need to maneuver from accountability. Many attempted to tell him that, historically, over 50,000 innocent women, accused of being witches, were brutally burned or publicly executed in a mass hysteria that swept the eastern seaboard of the USA and the European countryside. The vast majority of the victims of this delusion experienced by entire communities were not Witches. Some of them were women who husband used the accusation as a means to dispose of his wife so he could marry another. Other times, it was other women who, jealous of another, made the accusation to seek some vengeance. Children accused mothers when they didn’t like their punishment, lovers of men who wives proved to be an obstacle made the damning allegation. The accusation of being a Witch was socially weaponized for nefarious purposes as Christian ministers pursued power, Judges pursued fame and those engaged in a domestic disputes sought twisted justice.
The women that managed to escape ran from their villages, some living in forests or adopting new identities and assimilating into other communities while being relentlessly pursued by church leaders. Hence the term “Witch Hunt.”
Donald Trump has never experience the nightmarish reality of the women whose lives were savagely cut short.
More recently, Trump co-opted another word with a sinister historic echo; Lynching.
Although those who protested his reckless use of the term “Witch Hunt” found their pleas fall on deaf ears, it was impossible for the world not to shudder as he declared himself the victim of a public lynching. Unlike the Witch Trials, Lynchings were not long enough ago for us to me immune to the disturbing implication, the imagery we’ve all seen and the stories we’ve all heard. We have millions of Americans who are descendants of slaves whose families have passed down the horrific stories that make up the fabric of a dark, treacherous American history. Thousands of black Men and Woman were lynched between 1882 and 1968, many of them by lawless groups of vigilante white gangs in the South. It’s difficult to get an approximate count on the number of lives lost through the post civil war era as many lynchings were done in rural areas by mobs of white people doling out their own form of justice in the middle of the night, burning the bodies or burying them in unmarked graves. The men and women who met such a violent end were often innocent of any wrongdoing, but usually accused of something menial in order for their assailants to justify their eagerness to murder black people.
One of the most shocking and terrifying accounts of lynching is that of Mary Turner, a woman who had been 8 months pregnant when she was captured by an angry mob, hung upside down by her ankles, her womb crudely cut open and her baby delivered and then murdered as the mob leader jumped repeatedly on the infants head. Mary witnessed all of this as she bled to death. The murder of her child was the last thing she saw. Last year, we mourned the 100th anniversary of her murder.
We refer to lynchings as something that occurred in a bloody past, but as early as last year Danye Jones, 24 was found lynched from a tree on his family’s property in Missouri. His Mother believed his murder was in retaliation for his participation in the Ferguson protests following the killing of Michael Brown, another young black man, by a police officer.
For Donald Trump to appropriate these monstrous crimes against humanity in order to fetch sympathy and rally his troops to his defense is repugnant. It reeks of his inability to understand the sensitivity of such a painful history and the terrifying reality that it was for so many. Moreover, it demonstrates, once again, his disinterest in appealing to anyone but his majority white, christian fanbase.
By now it is clear that Donald Trump has refused to represent all Americans, but instead, only those who pledge their unwavering loyalty to him. Thus, his respect for the history and experiences of Americans who do not reflect his interests do not exist in his world. Those who do not fall in line with his hopeful reshaping of America are his declared enemies. He doesn’t care if he minimizes or cruelly mocks the history of our own Nation if it satisfies those who hold him on high.