Trump's following looks like a cult - Keith Roulston editorial
Recently, a poll in the U.S. showed that 31 per cent of those asked believe Donald Trump on the COVID-19 pandemic, despite hundreds of doctors and scientists who have contradicted him. The man seems to have moved beyond being President to have become a cult leader.
The evidence is everywhere of people who follow Trump’s advice over scientific evidence that it’s against their own best interests. It would be funny if it weren’t so scary. In Brandon, South Dakota, thousands of car racing fans packed a 9,000-seat speedway two weekends ago. Many didn’t wear masks or keep a safe distance from others.
“We’re kind of over this whole COVID thing. I won’t wear a mask unless I absolutely have to,” said 21-year-old Veronica Fritz, despite the fact 1,000 Americans are dying each day. She added: “I am a very strong Christian and I know where I’m going, and I believe God will take me when I’m supposed to go. So if I get COVID and I die from COVID, it’s not my decision.”
Also in South Dakota, Republican Gov. Kristi Noem supported going ahead with the 80th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
last weekend in the town of 7,000 which was expected to attract 250,000-500,000 people. Noem declined to impose a mask mandate. Elsewhere, Josie Machovec, a mother of three who is suing over a mask ordinance in Palm Beach County, Florida, said that she doesn’t believe the government has the right to require people to wear medical devices, and that she hasn’t seen clear evidence that masks stop transmission of the virus.
“I’m someone who has looked into this extensively and don’t feel that it’s the right thing for me and my kids. If we are healthy, we don’t need to be wearing them,” she said, “and if we’re not healthy, if we’re sick, then we stay home.”
Herman Cain, 74, a millionaire businessman, who once ran for president, died from COVID-19 last month. He was a vocal advocate for President Donald Trump who attended Trump’s Tulsa rally without a mask.
When Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert caught the virus, he claimed he got the disease because he wore a mask, even though he regularly refused to wear one.
Meanwhile wedding planner Lynne Goldberg has a December wedding scheduled for 200 guests at the home of the bride’s parents in upstate New York. “They have emphatically shared that this pandemic is not going to get in the way of their wedding plans and that there will be no masks handed out and no signs promoting social distancing at their wedding,” she said. “The bride has said that when she shows her children her wedding video, she doesn’t want it to be a documentary of the 2020 pandemic.”
One is tempted to suggest Trump supporters have “drunk the Kool-Aid”. Beyond the glib phrase there’s a disturbing background that only those over a certain age will recall. Back in the late 1970s, the charismatic preacher Jimmy Jones built a commune called Jonestown in the Guyana jungle. When media reports surfaced of human rights abuses in the Peoples Temple in Jonestown in 1978, U.S. Representative Leo Ryan led a delegation to the commune to investigate. While boarding a return flight with some former cult members who had wished to leave, Ryan was assassinated and four others were murdered by gunfire. Jones then ordered a mass suicide and murder of 918 commune members, 304 of them children, almost all drank cyanide-poisoned Flavor
The willingness of Trump supporters to choose to endanger their own lives, and the lives of others they might infect, is frightening. This is a man who has, according to a Washington Post running tally, told 20,000 lies since he came to office – yet his followers
want to believe him when he says, as he has multiple times, that the virus will just go away. They refuse to wear masks because
he did, and it seemed disloyal to go against him.
Some may have followed his dangerous advice that ingesting disinfectants might keep them free of the virus. A number of people have died and others are permanently injured because they drank hand sanitizer.
And how far will these fanatical followers go beyond the damage they can do to themselves and others? If, as seems increasingly likely as the pandemic rages on, their fearless leader loses the election and, as he has hinted many times, refuses to accept the results, what will his followers do? Will they accept democracy or will they take to the streets and risk their lives on his behalf?
It would be nice to laugh at the absurdity of the Trump followers if they weren’t so frightening.