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On January 6, 2021, US Capitol in Washington DC as well as American democracy—the most regal of all, was witness to an indelible disgrace. A blot that shall remain, like a speck in a ruby crown.

Mr. Donald John Trump, might appear eccentric to many, with his shifting personas from calling BLM protesters “Thugs,” to twittering a sweet “We love you,” to those leading and hailing the Capitol’s siege. The 45th President of the United States has been the subject of numerous jokes and frolic—from his peculiar Hindi, to having a bird which had the same, if not better, hairstyle as the President himself. However, is Mr. Trump just a conceited loudmouth pretending to be a buffoon or is he a genius who has mastered the art of reaching to a bleak yet concealed part of collective American conscience?

To answer this question, one has to revisit an even more dismal point in American history, that is, The Red Scare.

Credits: Britannica

In a capitalist United States, post Cold War era witnessed a rising, yet unarticulated fear of the communists lingering around. And it was amidst this fear, that a “loudmouth” named Joseph R. McCarthy rose to infamy. McCarthy was a senator with an uneventful political career. In precarious striving for creating controversy, in February 1950, he produced a speech in which he listed 205 communists that had infiltrated the U.S. State Department. This speech brought him much needed national fame and ushered an era of fright, terror and execution. McCarthy spearheaded “Communist hunts” that did not spare anyone, from bureaucrats, political stalwarts, poets, musicians to even Hollywood luminaries. In fact, following McCarthy’s “Red Scare” path, there was also a “Lavender Scare,” that particularly hunted down gay-lesbian government employees.

McCarthy was also one incoherent blabberer, bereft of courtesy, manner, and politeness. And yet, his language appealed to the common paranoia running deep in American hearts. It was during these years a communist China was coming up and half of Europe was under Stalin. McCarthy used this intense, rising fear to portray himself as a messiah. In fact, the opening line of Richard Rovere’s biography titled “Senator Joe McCarthy” puts things in perspective— “McCarthy was the most gifted demagogue ever bred on these shores. No bolder seditionist ever moved among is—nor any politician with a surer, swifter access to the the dark places of the American mind.”

Credits: Miller Center

McCarthy knew, that in a nation which was predominantly homogenous, the majority did not want themselves to be represented, instead they wanted their fears to be spoken about, no matter how irrelevant or insignificant they were. They wanted to hear them and witness them being validated. And that is exactly what this controversial Senator did.

Mr. Trump, knowingly or unknowingly, follows the same path. He, yet again, reduces politics to the ancient form of “Us vs Them” — that is, pitting people against people. Mr. Trump resonates with the most primitive of needs residing in the American mind and has learnt well how to toy with them. For he knows, like McCarthy knew, that the talent of instilling paranoia, urgency, alarm, fear and hatred coupled with an inelegant mouth is what makes a good rabble-rouser.What Mr. Donald John Trump is doing should not be reduced to mere ‘propagating prejudice’. It is, in fair words, parasitic behaviour, that involves nibbling on hatred—in a form that is eerily similar to McCarthy and his era.

Tasneem Khan is a student and an aspiring writer from Lucknow.

Edited by: Nuzhat Khan

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Jamia Review or its members.

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Written by Tasneem Khan

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