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Breaking Down Trump’s Pyramid of Hate (Allport’s Scale) From His Latest Rally Printer friendly page Print This
By Dallas Darling
Submitted by Author
Monday, May 13, 2019

For those who have attended a Donald Trump rally, they know that his favorite story is a rhyming poem about a woman who took in a snake. It describes a tender-hearted woman who, and on her way to work one morning, took in a frozen snake. After reviving and then feeding it, the snake gave her a vicious and poisonous bite. This, despite the woman saving it from near death. When the woman was surprised and asked “Why?”, the snake said, “You knew damn well I was snake before you took me in, and that’s what we’re doing with immigrants. We’re letting people in. And it is going to be a lot of trouble. It’s only getting worse.”

“Shoot them!” (Immigrants)

Not surprisingly then, at his latest rally in Florida, when he mentioned how disappointing it was that the government (military and border guards) couldn’t violently attack immigrants, someone -in the crowd stood up and said: “Shoot them!” The crowd, along with Trump, erupted in laughter and cheers. At this point, Trump said, “Only in the panhandle (Florida) can you get away with that statement.” Although this was the moment which attracted the most attention, there’ve been thousands of others-some even worse. He’s not only dehumanized immigrants but demonized Muslims, journalists, Democrats, and opponents like Hillary Clinton and Rep. Ilhan Omar. (1)

Sadly, the president’s convinced his followers that such out-groups and individuals deserve to be shot or “locked up.” Acceptance of such hatred and depravity is a central part of his political message, as is the open appreciation of violence. It’s becoming more normalized too. As hatred towards out-groups become mainstream, it makes it easier to get away with previously abnormal actions and violations. No wonder a former Office of Government Ethics Director warned with a tweet: “The president, who spent the day defying the other two branches of government, thinks it’s hilarious that a member of the crowd suggested murdering families fleeing violence.”

Reaching for the Top…

Although hate, which is usually caused by extreme narcissism and self-absorption, manifests itself in many ways, some may be more overt and deadly than others. Some may be normal, as in childhood, but not in adulthood. Or they may be purely based on self-defense, such as fighting an attacker or when a nation invades another country and causes death and destruction. Others, however, may be more distinctly pathological (even imagined.) Pathological to the extent that narcissistic hatred leads to the most extreme forms of behavior: extermination of the out-group. Preceded that is by negative images and feelings, avoidance, discrimination, and physical attacks.

Fortunately, America hasn’t reached the top of The Pyramid of Hate-extermination. But we may be closer than you think. Known as Allport’s Scale of Prejudice, which is a way to measure the manifestations of prejudice and hatred in a society, many have already succumbed to the first three, with others reaching the fourth-committing physical attacks. The first level, Antilocution, is seen in the many harmful and negative images which Trump and his movement imagines. As for avoidance and discrimination, the second and third, the symbolism of building a concrete wall to keep immigrants at bay, or denying them opportunities and services, speak loud and clear.

…at Home and Abroad

This goes for children, who are separated from their parents fleeing violence or war, or Americans who oppose him. Backed by his enablers, he tries to prevent them from achieving their goals by withholding federal funds, denying them the vote, tax, and slashing affordable health care or food programs and federal housing. In fact, some may be likened to Jim Crow laws and Apartheid. (If you’re familiar with the many underreported military interventions, or ways the U.S. has supported regimes which have exterminated out-groups, America has collectively reached the top of the pyramid. The same goes for discriminatory institutions and structures of violence.)

Whether one agrees with the way Trump behaved or handled “The hate-fueled mob of ‘fine people’ surrounding him explode into uproarious laughter and falsetto,” as the former ethics director continued to warn, some loyalists have reached the fourth step of the Pyramid of Hate. They’ve not only committed physical acts against out-groups, like vandalism and beatings, but have taken to bombings and shooting sprees. Others have drove autos into crowds who either oppose Trump or were thought to be Muslims. Although there’s been several, one has to only mention Charlottesville or Sunnyvale to attest to such vehicular attacks which have killed.

Missing Piece Can Quickly Be Found

For now, the only thing that’s missing in Trump’s Pyramid of Hate is outright extermination, in which the in-group seeks extermination or removal of the out-groups. Since this can be witnessed through the Cambodian Genocide, the Final Solution in Germany, the Rwandan Genocide, the Armenian Genocide, the American Indian Genocide, or the ethnic cleansing in the Bosnian war; it’s obvious that it hasn’t happened yet. What is obvious though is that the Pyramid of Hate’s foundation underneath extermination have already been laid and established in many ways. Again, what’s missing is the mass extermination of a large fraction or undesired group of people.

But as anyone who is a student of history can attest, events such as genocide can happen quickly. In some cases, all it took was a war, an environmental disaster such as drought and famine, or a major economic downturn followed by resource scarcity. Differing views of nationalism and history, including the feelings of shame, humiliation and revenge, can also ignite undercurrents of hate and hostility that leads to sudden feelings to exterminate others. There are natural demographic shifts too, such as the U.S. becoming less white. This has surely elicited a backlash from many Americans who see their privileged white status threatened.

Americans Not Immune
At the same time, think about the first time Trump mentioned “fake news,” or recommend that his election opponent be “locked up” and he wouldn’t honor the outcome if he lost. Think too about his statements regarding “Blowing the shit out of them!”, “Why can’t I use nukes if I’m the President?”, or when he first issued a travel ban to several Muslim countries-a little more than a year after calling to ban all Muslims from entering the country. The same goes for his child-separation policies. Although there were protests in the beginning, Americans have now accepted most of this, some of which have already become law.

In the process, all but one of the aspects in The Pyramid of Hate has either been accepted or acted upon by millions of Trump loyalists. It’s one of the most insidious features of demagogues like Trump and their virulent, scapegoating rhetoric. It beats people into submission, therefore making what might have seemed as abnormal or uncivil behavior routine. Meanwhile, as this normalization process takes place, and as people accept previously unacceptable behaviors and ideas, it’s only a matter of time before the last layer of The Pyramid of Hate is reached. And when it is reached, it’s too late-which was evident in the Nuremburg Laws and Final Solution.

Longest War in the History of the World
What may even be more chilling is just as Trump likes to use the story of the snake in relation to immigrants, the Nazis were fond of comparing Jews to rats. Dehumanization consequently knows no bounds. In fact, it may be the longest war in the history of the world. Neither does it ever go away, the result being an unjust order that not only engenders violence in the oppressors, but which in turn dehumanizes the oppressed.

Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John’s Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He is a correspondent for You can read more of Dallas’ writings at and

(1) “Trump Turns ‘Shooting Migrants’ Into a Punchline at Florida Rally,” by Aaron Rupar. May 9, 2019.

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