The Apocalyptic World of Donald Trump
Dark days for Latinos
Enrique M. Buelna
Well, it turns out that the apocalypse is upon us once again. But this time, the prophet of gloom and doom is none other than Donald Trump.
Published on LatinoLA: October 20, 2016
Trump and his campaign continue to dish out conspiracy theories at a dizzying pace. His most powerful weapon remains the tale of the Trojan Horse; the idea of internal enemies and the threat they pose to our nation and way of life. Top on his list, of course, have been Mexicans and Muslims. But in terms of the largest ethnic minority group in the country, his approach to Latinos defies logic.
The second presidential debates illustrates this point. At best, Latinos were treated like afterthoughts--after African Americans, more specifically. When speaking of "minorities," Trump clearly refers to African Americans. Latinos, on the other hand, are simply immigrants (foreigners). In fact, when Trump uttered the word "Latinos" at the debate, the effort seemed strained and forced. So unnatural, indeed, that he quickly followed up with the word "Hispanics," as if to clarify what he meant. But for Latinos watching, it was clear that Trump is not only uncomfortable with the term Latinos, he is also uncomfortable with us.
And to add fuel to an already raging fire, he searches for an enemy in the very nation where most Latinos in the United States trace their cultural roots--Mexico.
According to Trump, it turns out that Carlos Slim, a Mexican billionaire and a New York Times shareholder, has been secretly spinning a nasty web of deceit by orchestrating much of the hullabaloo regarding his female accusers. Indeed, this is how Mexico is getting back at him for the wall thing. Seriously, Mexico is the gift that keeps on giving.
And the New York Times is not the only media outlet under assault by Trump. Since the revelation of the "Grab them by the pussy" tape, by the The Washington Post, Trump has been on the attack against an imaginary national media conspiracy. As Trump explained on Thursday, at a rally in West Palm Beach, Florida, "These people are horrible people. They're horrible, horrible liars." And any accusation claiming that he is a sexist, racist, xenophobe, and moral degenerate is "absolutely false," and part of a grand collaborative scheme between the evil media and the Clinton campaign.
As we watch Trump self-immolate before our very eyes, it is fascinating to see how blind he has been to his own falsehoods. And rather than speak the truth, he has decided to create a fantasy narrative in the hopes of winning this political contest at all costs--even if that narrative is cast in apocalyptic terms. "This is a conspiracy against you, the American people," Trump told his beaming supporters in Florida, "and we cannot let this happen or continue." And then, he went even darker and more spectacular: "This is our moment of reckoning as a society and as a civilization itself."
And his loyal supporters are responding. Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, for example, urged his fellow Americans on Friday to take up "pitchforks and torches." If the system be damned, then tear down the system! A movie script could not have been better written for our unsung hero.
But maybe there is one film that fits the Trump narrative nicely --"Apocalypto." In 2006, Mel Gibson produced this racist film depicting a pre-Columbian world filled with violent, bloodthirsty, and sadistic pagan Mayans as a backdrop to his cryptic messianic and conservative beliefs. Indeed, in Gibson's view, the new world was dark until the coming of the Christian Europeans. Alas, the Mayans were then saved from themselves.
In this sense, and if we follow the film's storyline, Trump fancies himself in the role of savior -- our great orange father and the last, best hope for national salvation. But he also see's himself as the sacrificial lamb: "I take all of these slings and arrows gladly for you, " Trump told the crowd, "I take them for our movement so that we can have our country back." Trump pursues a narrative that sees our nation on the edge of a precipice. "Our great civilization," he continued, "has come upon a moment of reckoning." And he then cited, as an example, the Brexit vote, calling it a triumphant move on the part of the British to "liberate themselves." Ergo, we need to do the same here.
But just as Gibson painted a self-serving picture of the Americas before Christianity, Trump, too, has created a storyline that delineates how he alone can take us to a new beginning -- to America first.
And like all delusional leaders since time immemorial, they are usually the last to realize when their world is crumbling. As his castle burns out of control, Trump has become even more defiant; determined as ever to assert his vision upon a world which is increasingly leaving him behind.
Our country can ill afford a paranoid and dangerous manipulator in power. We've had those types before (think of Joseph McCarthy and the witch hunts for internal enemies) and the outcomes have not been good. But with the current level of anti-immigrant rhetoric, the election to the White House of such a person will most likely mean dark days for Latinos.
Enrique M. Buelna:
Enrique M. Buelna, PhD, is a professor in the History Department at Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz, California. Enrique earned his doctorate from UC Irvine in history and master's degree in Public Administration from the University of Washington.
Email the author