The latest abomination of the Trump (aka GOP) Cult, so appropriately named by Sen. Corker last week, the forced separation of young children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, should bring federal charges of child abuse against its architects. Like Puerto Rico’s hurricane hell and gross, undoubtedly deliberate Trump negligence (except for paper towels), the children fiasco at the border is something whose horror and extensiveness we’re not going to learn about until much later. Missing children, kidnapping, trafficking, death, the worst you can imagine.
Too often there’s no way to prevent a child from experiencing traumas whose debilitating effects can stay with them for most of their lives. But any humane society strives wholeheartedly to avert such tragedies. It is only the cruelest, most self-absorbed tyrannies that ignore such an obvious moral mandate, and only the cruelest among them that actively encourage the introduction of such traumas.
So this is the Trump Cult, a sociopathic, angry, authoritarian bootlicking mob that has hijacked the Republican Party. More and more, these cruel sycophants are falling in line behind their Fuehrer, conforming their lost identities to his lies, his deceits and his anti-morality. Downright stupid Republican lawmakers think they need to do this to stay in power, but they’re really just cowards who’ve made so many compromises with their lives for so long they can’t even access the more core emotional state – a paralyzing fear – that defines their very existence.
Rendered so totally impotent, they seize upon things that compensate for them, that represent power and authority. Angry flags, racist chants, guns, vandalism, rape, child abuse, tools and behaviors of compensation for impotence, engulf them, comfort them, make them forget how miserable they really feel.
Whether pasty congressmen, so-called evangelical leaders or younger strident tools, it’s the same.
They cover themselves with religious authority, like Attorney General Sessions quoting the one line in the Bible that’s been taken out of context and used for eons to justify injustice and state force against the people (Romans 13). Better Biblical scholars, in this latest case, can easily cite passages more attuned with the basic morality of the book which depict Jesus taking a child into his arms, saying “Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me,” adding, “Whosoever shall offend one of these little ones, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea” (Mark 9).
In a column this week in the Washington Post, Dana Milbank cited Corker’s cult reference, and said he looked up the definition of a cult as a result. He found that “a cult, by definition, is not about mainstream theology…it presents a distinct alternative to dominant patterns within the society…it possesses strong authoritarian and charismatic leadership…it is oriented toward inducing powerful subjective experiences…it requires a high degree of conformity…and has a tendency to see itself as legitimated by a long tradition of wisdom or practice.”
But what cults have in common are more basic than all that. They center on authoritarianism, what the leader says goes and is, and the demand for absolute loyalty, 24/7.
Cults therefore reject any version of reality that contradicts them, which means that truth itself and the free press, are principal enemies. Cults do crazy things like challenge the size of the crowd at the inauguration not to assuage their leaders’ egos, but as part of their recruitment process among potential recruits who become willing to buy into the lie. They become the loyal ones.
The Trump Cult is a reality, designed by people far smarter than he. Naziism was a cult, and Stalinism, and the thousands of little experimental cults that began springing up in the U.S. in the 1970s.
Cults are best understood by those who’ve been in them and escaped. It is like a prison, both internally and externally, few can grasp who haven’t been there. I know. I was sucked into one myself (more on this to come). I learned from personal experience how they operate, and can see today how the dangerous new Trump Cult really is.
Nicholas Benton may be emailed at [email protected].