Fear of Trump Feeds Violent Fantasies

Member Group : Reflections

With more spook-and-snoop accusations popping up nearly every day that allegedly show Russkie moles penetrating Trump’s inner circle, followed on TV at night by a string of Trump-phobic hosts on MSNBC breathlessly pointing to every potential pothole that might be big enough to undermine Trump on his way to trying to make America bang-up spectacular again, I’m starting to feel like I’m in a spy thriller or playing at one of those Wack-a-Mole booths on the boardwalk where you try to win by smashing down the mechanical moles as fast as you can with a large mallet as they jump out from their holes.

The cumulative effect of this daily dose of spy hysteria, heightened anxiety about Trump, and reports of supposed secretive meetings between crooked Russian oligarchs and tightlipped Trump associates is an explosion of fear, anger, and paranoia that has some people thinking for the first time of running for the border while others are afraid to talk. A friend of mine, educated, esthetic and generally unruffled, is looking for a condo with a balcony in Toronto’s Queen Street art district.

Another friend tells me it’s not safe to demonstrate against Trump in the streets or be heard speaking unfavorably about him on the phone. "They shot one dissenter four times in the back, they poisoned another one, twice, and one dissident fell out the window of his fourth-story apartment," she said. "They call it ‘Putin them out the window.’ "

All these frightening incidents she cited occurred in Russia and she lives in Pittsburgh in an untroubled cul-de-sac with no missing or poisoned neighbors. Call me too optimistic but I think she’ll be safe from Russians this summer sitting on her porch and publicly talking about Putin’s interference in the Ukrainian, French and American elections, or if she’s heard grumbling about how Trump and the Republican politicians, after years of bellyaching about Obamacare, weren’t ready with replacement legislation when it was their turn at bat, and unlikely that she’ll shot multiple times in the back or tossed from a high window even if she’s openly complaining about how American taxpayers are going to be stuck picking up a large share of the tab for Trump’s repetitive weekend jaunts to Mar-a-Lago.

At higher and more lettered levels, too, there’s strong disapproval of Trump and some resulting fear that’s turning into chilling conclusions.

In the March 2 issue of the London Review of Books, contributing editor Adam Shatz, based in New York, writes that he was "recently on the phone with a woman in her seventies who asked why someone couldn’t ‘put a contract on …’ I interrupted her; better not to say it."

Shatz goes on to describe the extended reach and depth of the anti-Trump fear and hostility: "Talk of violence, civil war, and secession is in the air in the blue states today. Many, perhaps most of us who live in coastal cities have found ourselves having criminal thoughts and violent fantasies since 9 November."

Some of the criminal thoughts and violent fantasies "involve Trump and Steve Bannon; others involve white supremacists like Richard Spencer and Milo Yiannopoulo; still others involve the fabled white working class that is supposed to have voted for Trump (the reality is more complicated than that, I know) which most of us have found it easier to hate than persuade. (I’m as guilty as the next person.) These feelings provide a measure of psychological release, but they are also difficult to manage. Living with bile and rage is not pleasant; it eats away at the soul when the adrenaline subsides."

What happened on the left to peace, love, Gandhian pacifism and the gentle people in San Francisco with flowers in their hair? 1

And remember "imagine no possessions, no need for greed and hunger, a brotherhood of man, all the people sharing all the world"? In fact, to add momentously to one’s possessions and share a front row view of Central Park from an apartment in the iconic Dakota on West 72nd Street, the three units currently for sale are priced at $6,995,000, $10,200,000, and $13,995,000.

From his New York City post as a contributing editor with the London Review of Books, Shatz writes of the troubling "impotence" being felt by the anti-Trumpsters, the "unprecedented horror we imagine ourselves to be experiencing" since his election.

"He can only be removed before the end of his term by impeachment or death, natural or otherwise," writes Shatz. "That many are fantasizing about the last of these is hardly surprising, since neither impeachment nor death by natural causes seems likely." Is Shatz saying that if doors one and two don’t seem like they’ll deliver the goods, it’s okay and "hardly surprising" to go for door three and carry out a murder?

"There is no inherent harm about fantasizing," he explains. "People living under tyranny often dream that their leader will come to a violent end."

Ralph Reiland is Associate Professor of Economics Emeritus at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.

R. R. Reiland

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