Beyond The Witch Trials: Seeing Through Trump's Scapegoating Tactics

This manipulation tactic fails to bring lasting improvements.

The media attention surrounding the Clinton email controversy appears disproportionate to its relevance to the current election. As the State Department noted in their response to the latest public disclosure of Clinton’s interview with the FBI, selected bits of information taken out of their context can easily lead to misleading conclusions. Career FBI agents spent over a year combing through every imaginable nook and cranny of Clinton’s emails as Sec. of State and announced the conclusions of their findings. While opponents of Ms. Clinton would have preferred that she were culpable for more serious offenses (and thus disqualified from running and possibly winning this election), that was not what happened. 

Recently much more alarming developments in the Trump campaign have taken place that have more serious national security consequences that appear to be largely overlooked (in comparison to the email “scandal” coverage). For example, by leaving President Pena Nieto of Mexico and many of its citizens enraged by Mr. Trump’s recent visit a relationship with a key ally and neighboring country has been potentially injured. Furthermore, the pronouncement by Mr. Trump that he intends to systematically dismantle communities comprising of millions of Mexican immigrants living in the U.S. is stunning and ought to arouse tremendous concern. Can we for a moment consider this “solution” in the context of the occupation and seizure of Mexican lands now a part of U.S. territory, and the notorious broken treaties, occupation and seizure of Native American tribal lands, now also annexed into U.S. territory?

The wholesale devaluing of the lives, circumstances, and prevailing wisdom that has driven most immigrants to this land, including Mexicans is both disturbing and terribly narrow minded. Arguably current U.S. citizens are not able to stand on a higher moral ground than any relatively newer immigrants, especially since the entire operation called the U.S. has been largely based on occupation and seizure of property. The classic practice of finding a vulnerable minority and projecting all of the crimes and misdemeanors of the masses onto these wretched few has been exercised over and over again historically around the globe. And over and over again this social control and manipulation tactic fails to bring lasting improvements or greater harmony to the land. Scapegoating may provide a temporary relief for a community desperate to rid itself of its sins. However, targeting oppressed groups, whether they are of Mexican, Jewish, Islamic, African descent, whether they identify as gay, lesbian, trans, bisexual, whether they are disabled or ill, only tends to increase the quotient of suffering for everyone. What goes around comes around. We of all nations ought to be more concerned with how in the world we can begin to repair the legacy of exploitation and scapegoating of others―most notoriously―African, Native, Mexican, Asian, and Islamic Americans, and quite significantly, women, especially women of demonstrated intelligence, power, vision, and leadership capacity. One need not look too hard to find parallels between the feverish endeavor to have Ms. Clinton confess to some hideous crime to justify her public hanging and the auto de fe of the Spanish Inquisition or the witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts. Are we capable, as a nation, of evolving into an era of greater responsibility for our limitations, violence, missteps, and power? Can we envision the possibility of robust cooperation, respect, and dare I say it, compassion for each other and our neighbors? Toward this end Hillary Clinton represents a tremendously more promising, sane, and stable capacity for leadership than her opponent.