There is a disease process that afflicts many African Americans and other minorities in this Country. It is called Stockholm Syndrome. In the arena of politics, Stockholm Syndrome manifests itself when people willingly agree to become instruments in their destruction. For example, when blacks and other minorities knowingly submit to efforts by others to disenfranchise them, or when they willingly support those that promote evils such as coerced segregation, voter suppression, and the building of walls.
Stockholm Syndrome is a psychological condition observed when a victim of abuse identifies, attaches to and bonds positively with the agenda of people who abuse, and subjugate them. The syndrome was first identified in 1973 by the psychiatrist Nils Bejerot, after an attempted bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden. The attempted bank robbery resulted in a six-day hostage crisis during which, four bank employees were taken captive. The captors strapped explosives to their prisoners’ bodies and inflicted all manner of abuse and mistreatment upon them. The hostages were thrown into a bank vault, their lives were constantly threatened, and they were only intermittently fed and allowed to use toilet facilities. After the crisis, to the astonishment of many observers, the former hostages showed sympathy for their captors; refusing to cooperate with the police. Later, the former hostages refused to testify against their captors. Some even expressed feelings of admiration and deep sympathy towards them.
Stockholm syndrome was brought into full relief in the United States Just months after the Sweden bank robbery. In 1974, the Newspaper Heiress, Patty Hearst, was kidnapped by members of the Symbionese Liberation Army. Three months after her kidnapping, Hearst was seen on videotape holding a machine gun, while participating in a bank robbery with members of the terrorist organization. In a separate event, Hearst narrowly escaped capture in a shootout between police and members of the SLA. Later, Hearst disclosed that she had romantic liaisons with and attachments to her captors.
After her arrest, many of Hearst’s apologists, seeking to blur the line between victim and criminal, suggested that Hearst suffered from Stockholm syndrome. Hearst vehemently denied this and maintained that she acted on her own free will. Still, many of Her supporters, including her lawyer, F Lee Bailey, argued that Hearst was at the time of the Bank robbery suffering from a disease that made it impossible for her to act of her own volition . That she was acting under the control of those who sought to exploit her. The evidence strongly suggests that this same Stockholm Syndrome has a foothold in segments of the black community.
The current President’s relationship with the African American community can only fairly be characterized as abusive. Like the bank robbers in Sweden and the Hearst kidnappers, the President of the United States is in a position to abuse, and to exert control. He has power that can be used to advance good or evil. Trump has opted for the latter. His policies harm minorities, the middle class, and the poor in this country — his constant distortions of reality abuse the intellect of thinking people as we will see. The President resorts to these tactics to divide Americans and to ultimately see his agenda implemented. Putting women and children in cages is but one example of the President’s abuse tactics.
Patterns of abuse
Our President has embraced forms of White Nationalism, and other White supremacist ideas. These same white supremacist beliefs led to the destruction of most of Europe under Hitler during world war two. Not content with the destruction of life there, white nationalists now seek refuge for these perverted ideas and policies here in the United States. Unfortunately, they have found an ally in the President.
In addition to asserting that he is a nationalist, the President has endorsed and implemented policies that separate. True to the white nationalist agenda, The President’s constant narrative is imbued with the language of separation. Trump tells suburban America that he will separate them from low-income Housing. He tells the American people that he will build a wall to separate us from Mexicans. He gives tax cuts to the rich to separate the middle class and the poor from resources. In short, Trump’s agenda is aimed at controlling and maintaining white space in this country. Trump’s recent endorsement of a nationwide ‘Stop and Frisk’ provides him with additional methods to do so.
“White Space” advances the notion that America is a country for whites. That the property that makes up this United States is White owned. And that all intrusions unto this property violates a white privilege of exclusive ownership. These concepts are so ingrained in both the White and Non- White Psyche in this country that few challenge them.
“Stop and frisk” allows the police to stop and search African Americans and others without probable cause. It serves as a check against the unwanted intrusion into white space, which is the objective of those that call themselves White Nationalists. It also provides the President with additional means to control.
Similarly, Our President has embraced a distorted interpretation of “States Rights.” On its face, the idea of states rights is seemingly neutral. It is a legal principle found in our constitution, which holds that all authority not reserved by the Federal Government resides with the State. It meant that the States were free to do whatever they wanted as long as what the State wanted was not explicitly prohibited or reserved to the Federal Government. Unfortunately, the idea was perverted and employed to justify slavery, and later, all manner of control of former slaves.
The Ugly invocation of States Rights
On November 4, 1980, Ronald Reagan Launched his Presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Kicking off his campaign, the former President vehemently defended, “States Rights.” The symbolism of Reagan’s invocation of States Rights and the location he chose to launch his Presidential campaign was not lost on observers. Philadelphia, Mississippi, was where the bodies of three civil rights workers, who had been murdered, by Members of the KKK, were found. By starting his Presidential campaign there, Reagan was sending a signal that he was in alignment with the segregationist ideas of southern whites.https://theintercept.com/2015/09/16/seven-things.
Like Reagan, Trump’s invocation of States Rights has a similar symbolic meaning that resonates with proponents of White’ supremacy. Despite this, some in the African American community cling to Trump like the dog who is kicked by his owner — showing only more love and adoration for him. The more Trump insults and abuses, the greater the worship and praise they shower upon him. When confronted with the illogical nature of this devotion, the consistent response is Denial. “Trump is not a racist, that’s just the way he is,” responded Trump’s Hud Secretary, Ben Carson, who is a constant recipient of Trump’s abuse.
After suffering various public whippings from Trump, in May of 2017, Ben Carson began to show symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome. It was at that time that Carson described black slaves, as “immigrants coming to America with hopes and dreams.” The danger of this kind of distortion of American history is that it serves to alter the past to recast and justify the institution of slavery. It thereby relieves the American people of the obligation to enter into the kind of dialogue necessary to end the lingering vestiges of white supremacy that stain our country, and limit its forward progress.
As we will see, Other prominent members of the African American community have developed similar maladaptive schema in response to this abuse. A schema is a filter through which an individual sees the world. Maladaptive is a characteristic behavior that does not serve the best interest of the individual. Like Carson, this group of African Americans respond to abuse in a fashion that can only be described as maladaptive in a manner consistent with those who suffer the effects of Stockholm Syndrome.
Symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome
Four primary symptoms form the foundation of Stockholm syndrome; they include :
- The existence of a physical or psychological threat and the belief that the abuser can carry out the threat;
- The abuser shows a small token of kindness. Token kindness creates the impression that the abuser is not all bad;
3. The victim develops negative feelings toward police, authority figures, or anyone trying to help them get away from their captor;
4. The victim begins to perceive their captor’s humanity and believes they have the same goals and values.
Returning to Carson, first, we saw a series of very public attacks by Trump directed toward Carson. These took place on the campaign trail.
Trump called Carson “a Pathological Liar. Then Trump likened Carson’s temper to a pathological disease as incurable as that of a Child molester” https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/. In another insult, Trump described Carson’s story of religious conversion as a lie.
Next, we saw the typical token gesture of kindness that is characteristic in Stockholm cases. Trump-appointed Carson secretary of the Department of Housing and urban development, a position which Carson, a Physician, was wholly unqualified for. After the gesture, we witnessed Carson offering excuses for Trump’s vicious attacks against him. In responding to questions from a reporter about the brutal attacks, Carson attributed them to the politics of campaigning.
Carson’s symptomatic behavior then shifted into high gear. He began to see the world through the eyes of Trump. After the killing of George Floyd, Ben Carson first expressed horror. Days later, however, when Trump posted a tweet viciously attacking the Character of Floyd, Carson immediately jumped to the President’s defense by urging Americans to reserve judgment on the President .https://www.rawstory.com/2020/06/ben-Carson.
Carson became instrumental in Trump’s efforts to gut longstanding fair housing Regulations. These regulations were a part of the 1960’s civil rights statutes. These laws helped blacks penetrate into housing markets that had historically excluded them. Under the Obama administration, the practice of not placing low-income Housing in high-income areas was curtailed. Carson directed that those rules be lifted. This opens the door for wholesale discrimination again in these housing markets.
- After the policy changes, on July 29, 2020, President Donald Trump tweeted, noting that significant provisions in the federal government’s fair housing rules had been eliminated. He stated, “suburbanites won’t have to “be bothered” about low-income Housing in their neighborhoods.
- “I am happy to inform all of the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low-income housing built in your neighborhood,” Trump tweeted.
- The Tweet was immediately, and widely condemned by individuals across the spectrum. Elizabeth Warren, a United States Senator and Vice Presidential hopeful responded,
- ‘Let’s be clear: The President uses racist fear-mongering to say he’s happy to dismantle civil rights in search of a political advantage. He’s happy demeaning the humanity of so many low-income people who his administration continues to disrespect and harm financially.”
Trump has disparaged Mexicans as rapists and murderers. Recently, the President called Black Lives Matter a “symbol of hate,” while defending the Confederate flag. Still, Carson publicly denies Trump’s racism.
“If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up.” — Hunter S. Thompson
Less than 120 days before the Presidential election, and with a zero percent chance of winning, we saw the admittedly traumatized rapper, Kanye West, announce that he is a candidate for the United States Presidency. Kanye is a friend of the President’s. Interestingly, he is receiving significant support from Trump’s Republican party to obtain the petitions necessary to be placed on ballots in crucial swing States. This will only help Trump. https://www.denverpost.com/2020/08/06/kanye-west-president-2020-election-colorado/#
During a recent public appearance, Kanye surprised a cadre of onlookers by announcing that Harriet Tubman didn’t free slaves, but that she sold the slaves to white people.https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/Kanye-west.
In yet another illustration of Stockholm Syndrome, Candace Owens, of YouTube sensation, expressed her strong support for Trump when in March of 2019, she spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference. In her June 4, 2020, interview, Owens denounced the world community for its support of George Floyd, Citing his previous brushes with the law. Characteristically, Miss Owens has a history that includes complaints of having been abused by white racists. Facts reveal that Miss Owens sought the NAACP’s assistance when as a senior in high school, she was on the receiving end of various violent death threats. Miss Owens complained to the police and to the local chapter of the NAACP, That “White Boys had threatened to Kill me because I am Black.” An investigation revealed that the person making the death threats was the son of the Mayor of Samford, Connecticut. Owens filed a civil lawsuit alleging that she had been traumatized by the experience. News reports reveal that she recovered approximately $37,000.00. In damages for her trauma.
A couple of years after the experience, Owens, who had never voted in an election, suddenly embraced the republican party and began denouncing African Americans and their causes.
In an article written for the Courier-Journal, Dr. Steven Kniffley concluded that abuse-related stress kills people in Black communities. Dr. Kniffley noted that people who experience race-based stress and trauma frequently have similar experiences to those who have Post-traumatic Stress disorder. PTSD Dr. Kniffely concluded that:
“Events that can cause racial trauma include threats of harm and injury, humiliating and shaming events, and witnessing racial discrimination and microaggressions toward yourself or others. For example, seeing repeated videos of police killing people who look like you causes racial trauma. Hearing people in the community more concerned about Property than black lives causes racial trauma.” https://www.courier-journal.com/opinion/
Earlier, I mentioned that Trump abuses the minds of thinking people. In a Podcast that first aired on August 5, 2020, the former first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama noted that she has been suffering from “low-grade depression,” prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, racism in the US and what she describes as the “hypocrisy” of the Trump administration. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/aug/06/
Trauma in the Black community is real. The question is, how will we respond.
It is important to note that this article was not written to support or oppose any political party. It should not be interpreted to suggest that all African American’s should congregate in any one political party.
Trump’s Presidency can be summarized as an attempt to return the country to the glory days of the 1920s and thirties. To make America great again. The message for his followers is that the country was great when Whites had their space, and minorities knew their place. This is not a vision for the future; its a dangerous celebration of “Othering” and Exclusion. As Americans we can not return to the ’20s and the ’30s, nor do we want to.
Patrick B Cage