In the wake of Donald Trump’s election, the news is flooded with reports of abuse, assault, and harassment, largely of minorities, by jubilant Trump supporters celebrating the ascent of their candidate, a candidate who campaigned by appealing to white heterosexual Christian supremacy.
Over the past 48 hours, women have been assaulted for wearing the hijab, property has been defaced with swastikas, LGBT Americans have been threatened, and African Americans have experienced election result-specific harassment by fellow Americans touting the election of Donald Trump as the dawn of a new America, apparently one where they consider that the ugliest of racial and social animus to have the seal of presidential approval.
While Americans continue to take to the streets in waves to protest what the election of Donald Trump represents, in terms of, among other things, the suppression of the free press due to his well-documented antipathy towards the press, the oppression of racial minorities, mass deportations, the rollback of LGBT rights, the end of America as a climate change player at a time when America’s input is absolutely crucial, President Elect Donald Trump is…tweeting.
Last night, apparently once again in charge of his own Twitter account, President Elect Trump chose to address the pain and terror of the people whose president he will soon be, by tweeting
Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now, professional protestors, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!
This is a sharp departure from his reaction in 2012, when on November 6th at 8:29 p.m. he tweeted
We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!
What is truly chilling isn’t Trump’s childish reaction to the protest marches, but rather the fact that his awesome responsibilities have either not yet dawned on him, or else he doesn’t actually care about them. There is no statesmanship, no responsibility for the climate of terror and violence he created and for which he is responsible. He squandered an opportunity to reassure Americans at a time they need it most, an opportunity to call for peace, and an opportunity to denounce, in no uncertain terms, the racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic violence currently being perpetrated in his name.
Instead, he used the opportunity to slyly goad the violence with a wink and a nod, indicating that he doesn’t see it, and signaling to his followers that he doesn’t acknowledge the protesters as anything but “paid” agitators whipped up by his sworn enemy, America’s free press.
There is, however, cultural precedent for this type of reaction, or rather non-reaction, on the part of President Elect Trump. And it comes, as so much American wisdom does, from the mind of Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone.
Episode 73 of The Twilight Zone, “It’s A Good Life,” which first aired on November 3rd 1961, showcases a terrifying dystopian vision of an all-American nowhere town called Peaksville, where the adults live in terror of a six-year old boy named Anthony, who looks like a little boy, but who has the powers of a god. Anthony can read their minds and emotions like a book, and his abilities are literally limitless. It’s a view of a world where adults live subject to the whims of a psychopathic six-year old mutant’s view of justice, a six-year old with the power to do literally anything. The only way they can stay alive is by agreeing with him, kowtowing to him, and adjusting their lives to accommodate the logic of an insane child.
While the overarching concern remains that America has unleashed a dangerous, destructive, neo-fascist demagogue, not only on each other, but on the world, the immediate concern is that the office of the president elect is currently held by a vindictive, petulant child with a Twitter account, one who still values what he thinks of as a good Twitter burn far more than he does the responsibilities of leadership attendant to being President of the United States.
Indeed, a President Elect who has already failed his first test of leadership less than three days after his election.