Watching interviews with black Trump supporters reminds me of one of the most tragic events in modern history. I’m talking about the Jonestown Massacres.
On November 18, 1978, 918 people, many African American, were brainwashed into committing suicide because of false prophet Jim Jones. Being very religious and believing Jones was the closest thing to the Messiah on Earth, the group followed him to a compound in Guyana, South America, which he built up as paradise.
Paradise, however, was not cheap. The fiery preacher convinced the vulnerable bunch to support his ministry by giving him their hard earned savings and other valuable assets. It was reported that Jones took in as much as $65,000 a month in welfare checks. He persuaded his followers by preaching what they longed to hear: He would take care of them and offer a life free of restrictions and government interference. All they had to do was adopt the Socialist way of life.
Before long, followers had wiped out their savings, left their homes and families. They gave up all they had to follow a sick, crazy tyrant who would ultimately lead them to their deaths. The cult leader made them drink Kool-Aid that contained cyanide. It was the largest loss of American life until 9/11.
It has been 38 years since the Jonestown Massacres, but some of the same dynamics exist between Jones’ followers and black supporters of Donald Trump. Like sheep going to slaughter, I’ve noticed that a few otherwise intelligent African Americans are so blinded by Trump’s rhetoric they are willing to vote against their own best interests.
They are willing to completely dismiss all of the horrible things he has said and done regarding people of color, women, veterans and the disabled. They ignore his past record of racial discrimination in housing, trying to keep Muslims and Mexicans out of the country, and calling for the death penalty against black and Latino men, despite DNA evidence that proved their innocence. They don’t seem to mind his lies, hateful bigoted speech and basic unpreparedness to be commander-in-chief.
They defend his stance on immigration and support deporting millions of undocumented immigrants, even when it means separating families. They don’t care that he has offered no specific plans on how to fix the economy, crime, terrorism, education, or international relations. They criticize Hillary Clinton’s careless handling of emails, but downplay Trump’s irrational behavior, bullying, blatant lying, racism, and proclivity toward sexual assault.
Now in all fairness, Trump is not advocating rounding up all the black folks and taking them somewhere to be killed. But what would the net effect be for blacks if he became president?
He has painted Black America as hopeless, and said that he alone is the one to fix everything. He’s so confident of his popularity with the Republican base that he even remarked that he could stand on Fifth Avenue in New York and shoot somebody and get away with it. This is the same mindset that Jones used to get innocent but naïve black folks to follow him.
MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell did a segment recently about what America will look like the day after the election. He predicts there will be no revolution in the streets when Trump loses. Folks may cry for awhile, but will soon go back to work because they have jobs to do and families to feed. They will wake up and see the emptiness behind Trump’s promises. Besides, how much sense would it make to keep supporting a billionaire who has already lost?
Donald Trump may not be Jim Jones, but his insatiable desire for power could become a death knell for vulnerable Americans if he wins.
So let’s not allow this to happen, and hope Lawrence O’Donnell is right.