Let’s be clear. You’re witnessing a homicidal president conveying, purposefully, a homicidal assembly to help him get reelected as President of the United States instead of protecting the health and welfare of the United States including supporters whose lives he’s willing to sacrifice.
~Carl Bernstein/CNN/September 14, 2020
Bernstein’s comment was in reference to the revelation in Bob Woodward’s book Rage that Donald Trump was quite aware he was lying to the American people when he downplayed the severity of the coronavirus pandemic in the winter and spring of 2020. But Bernstein is only half right. Certainly, Trump’s own words affirmed he knew such events were a high-level health risk to those who attended attended his rallies or rejected CDC guidelines. His error is describing Trump’s behavior as homicidal. Homicides usually do not involve willing victims.
To understand the mindset of those who still attended the rallies after hearing Trump describe how the virus is “deadly stuff” and is “passed by breathing air,” one can draw on past examples where individuals have blindly followed a leader at their own risk. Remember, rally attendees are even warned of the danger, having to sign a waiver releasing Trump, the campaign and the host facility of liability in case of illness or death resulting from their presence at the event.
Finding an appropriate analogy was the easiest part of this post, when the projecter-in-chief triggered the obvious comparison during a taped conversation with Woodward about white privilege. Woodward suggested both he and Trump might not fully understand the pain and anger of Black Americans, being somewhat blinded by their own privileged upbringing. To which Trump responded, “You really drank the Kool-Aid, didn’t you? Just listen to you. Wow.”
No, I am not comparing a Trump rally to November 18, 1978, when 918 members of Jim Jone’s Peoples Temple Agricultural Project, better know as Jonestown, Guyana, died in what Jones called a “revolutionary suicide.” But a Trump rally sounds a lot like two earlier Jonestown ceremonies labeled “White Night Rehearsals.” These rites of passage were described in a sworn affidavit by Deborah Layton, a Jonestown defector.
Everyone, including the children, was told to line up. As we passed through the line, we were given a small glass of red liquid to drink. We were told that the liquid contained poison and that we would die within 45 minutes. We all did as we were told. When the time came when we should have dropped dead, Rev. Jones explained that the poison was not real and that we had just been through a loyalty test. He warned us that the time was not far off when it would become necessary for us to die by our own hands.
I would have thought twice about making such a damning charge until Trump’s appearance last night at an ABC-sponsored Town Hall. Once again, Trump stated the virus would eventually go away “with or without a vaccine.” Moderator George Stephanopoulos pushed back on this assertion, to which Trump inexplicably pivoted in a direction that had been dismissed by U.S. experts and had proved ineffective in countries in which it had already been attempted.
And you’ll develop, you’ll develop herd — like a herd mentality. It’s going to be — it’s going to be herd developed – and that’s going to happen. That will all happen.
[NOTE: Trump probably meant to say “herd immunity” rather than “herd mentality,” a slip of the tongue of Freudian proportions.]
The theory and practice of herd immunity is based on science (yes, science) that suggests when a certain percentage of a population becomes infected, the virus eventually runs out of people to taint and dissipates. There is only one problem, a certain percentage of the target population especially the elderly and those with underlying conditions, will succumb to the disease in the process. Dr. Anthony Fauci has stated between 60 to 80 percent of the U.S. population would need to be infected to reach what is called “the herd immunity threshold.” Using the lower 60 percent figure and the current mortality rate for infected individuals (approximately one percent), the total number of COVID-19 deaths would total 1.92 million Americans.
Which brings me back to Deborah Layton’s testimony about “White Night Rehearsals.” Tulsa, Henderson and Phoenix are exactly that. Instead of a small cup of powered liquid with a dose of cyanide, each attendee was asked to breathe potentially lethal air. And, urging attendees to not wear masks and sit in close quarters is no different from the “trust me” loyalty test Jim Jones required of his followers. Therefore, last night’s quasi-endorsement of herd mentality should be a warning.
…the time was not far off when it would become necessary for us to die by our own hands.
Welcome to TrumpTown!
For what it’s worth.