On Facebook, last week, I said that the photo of Trump grimacing in front of the McDonald’s feast was the emblem of Trump’s presidency. This week, I’d say that this photo is the emblem for his followers. You probably know the story around this image. On Saturday, students from an anti-abortion march surrounded a demonstrator from the American Indian Movement, where they jeered, and chanted “Build that wall!” In this picture, one of our sterling youth wears a MAGA hat, while he taunts Vietnam Veteran, Nathan Phillips.
What new insight can I add to the conversation? Perhaps the best I can offer is the fact that there’s nothing new here at all. That’s why the photo is the very emblem of the Trumper. Long before now, Hatred wore a MAGA hat when it threatened violence at Trump’s rallies: “Knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously, ok? Just knock the hell… I promise you I will pay for the legal fees.” Hatred wore a MAGA hat when it marched in Charlottesville. And Hatred wore a MAGA hat when Parkland shooter, Nikolas Cruz, featured one on his Instagram avatar*.
Back at Trump’s rallies, Hatred has also chanted “build that wall,” at least as often. Hatred chanted it in Iowa City, in a middle-school lunchroom, the day after Trump won the presidency. And as we saw yesterday, Hatred will chant it even when the phrase doesn’t make sense, (such as when some bigot lodges the line against a Native American). As twitter so aptly suggests, the slogan is basically something that Hatred secretes when it wants to single out one of its targets. The phrase is shorthand for the same thing that MAGA itself signifies: Expel everyone except us.
And that leads me to the third non-newness that appears in this picture. Our good “Christian,” in his baseball cap, came to counter the Women’s March, I suppose. I mean, if nothing else, he came to speak for the babies he purports to save. Such a stance isn’t very far from the rationale that the United States adopted in the 1870s, when they forced Native-American babies into boarding schools, as they endeavored to “kill the Indian [and] save the man.” Hundreds of thousands of Native American children matriculated through these schools, which Native-Americans had no right to resist until the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act. The white “Christian’s” disdain for the Native American is very old; we know that. But it takes photos like this to show the non-Native how strong that Hatred still is. Hatred is what moved Dakota Access’s security firms to release dogs on the Standing Rock activists. Hatred is what moved those security forces to shout for the protestors to lay down their (non-existent) bows and arrows. Hatred is what allowed the ND governor to authorize those same forces to shoot water cannons at the protestors in sub-zero temperatures. This Hatred happened under Obama’s administration; the sickness indeed goes back centuries. But Trump has owned assets in Dakota Access, and after he came to power, the suppression of the protest increased to the point where North Dakota now prosecutes 800 cases against Standing Rock activists, while the fed also prosecute 6. When Trump came to power, in fact, James and I stopped our trips to Standing Rock. That’s shameful, perhaps, but the Hatred there had just lost any semblance of a federal backstop.
Standing Rock is the first place I saw the media suppression, the official deception, and the vengeful litigation that the Trump administration would later employ though ICE. It’s the same Hatred we see in Saturday’s picture: This expression of malice—this vile exuberance—is what Hatred looks like when it believes it’s winning.
*According to the Miami Herald, he also placed a MAGA hat in the casket with his liberal mother, when she died in 2017.
EDIT: As the story develops, a video suggests that the altercation was not so one-sided. That might be the case, and it might even bear reflection. But the smugness from the MAGA folks is the outgrowth of everything else I mention in this article.