Will the Death Cult Prevail Again?

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

Donald Trump cavalierly accused someone of having swallowed the “Kool-Aid,” referring to Jonestown where hundreds of people were lured into suicide by Jim Jones, a cult leader like the president. The difference between Trump’s followers, who, including the elderly among them, risk their lives to attend his death rallies, is that the Jonestown casualties didn’t threaten the lives of those who weren’t members of the cult. They didn’t present “an existential threat” to the human species by voting for a medieval thinker who denies the climate crisis. They didn’t condemn thousands of children to asthma and other pulmonary diseases by voting for a man whose attitudes toward the fossil fuels industry is pollution friendly.

Jim Jones became paranoid because he was under investigation by government agencies, while the president is using government agencies to investigate his opponents. In fitting with his graveyard politics, thousands more will die as a result of more quackery. A superstitious idea, called ”herd immunity,” is 2020’s witchcraft.

What is the meaning of the Trump phenomenon? Millions of whites will support white supremacy even if it kills them. Or us. Finally, If Trump wins and you feel deep despair, suppose you were living in another time.

In 1857, after James Buchanan was elected, Black abolitionist Charles Lenox Remond wrote that the election of Buchanan showed that, “The American people, by an overwhelming majority, are on the side of slavery, with all its infernalism.” Remond and his generation didn’t give up and eventually, the “infernalism” that was slavery was overcome.

Actor Adam Lazarre-White reads Reed’s “The Fool Who Thought Too Much,” out on November 5th from Audible


Ishmael Reed’s latest play is “The Conductor.”