Trump fiddles while America burns

The US ‘leader’ is going beyond Nero by escalating chaos, not just ignoring it or blaming others

Some compare Trump to Nixon and darker figures, such as a certain late dictator of Germany.

But Nero, the sadistic and decadent emperor during a dark period of imperial Rome, may be a better comparison. Trump’s lust for dictators and sadistic leanings in which he supports torture, “locking up” political opponents, and questionable killings are uncanny enough. Trump hasn’t had his wife killed yet, as Nero did. But niece Mary, author of a book Trump doesn’t like who keeps tweeting about how sick and dangerous her uncle is, better watch her back.

But most telling for how the U.S. imperial “leader” rivals the ancient Roman one is his responses — or lack thereof — in times of crisis. Nero is most known for virtually ignoring the great fire of Rome in 64 A.D. that destroyed more than half of the city. Some claim Nero’s surrogates started the fire so he could have room in the city to build a “Golden House” that included a 103-foot statue of himself.

Doesn’t that sound like something Trump would do? He sits on “Golden Commodes” in skyscrapers he names after himself.

Nero, of course, blamed early Christians for the fire and had many executed in barbaric ways.

Trump seems to be on a similar path as Nero. He admitted on tape to famed journalist Bob Woodward that he knew the coronavirus was much more deadly than the flu back in February, but he downplayed it for political advantage. He played golf — his form of fiddling — and continued to hold indoor rallies with supporters and tell them not to wear masks. He cares little about the more than 200,000 Americans who have died of COVID-19 since then, regularly saying that his response somehow saved more people from dying, which is another lie. Or he has claimed the Democrats caused him to divert attention from the virus.

While he has largely refrained from directly executing opponents and scapegoats as Nero did, Trump has supported others accused of killing BLM protesters. He reportedly approved of Chinese President Xi Jinping building a concentration camp for Uighur Muslims.

When the worst forest fires that the West has seen erupted recently, Trump claimed that state governors were to blame for not effectively managing forests. But that ignores how the federal government controls much more forestland in California, Washington and Oregon than states. Most of the rest is owned by private interests. States have little control over forest management so it’s the Trump administration that is mostly to blame for the bad fire control management.

Trump has cut funding for agencies that deal with forest management. He has ignored advice about curbing climate change and pulled the U.S. out of climate change agreements. Of course, few point that out.

State …….. Forests federal owned …… State owned …. Private & others
California ……….. 57% ………………………. 3% ……………. 40%
Oregon ………….. 60% ……………………….. 3% ……………. 37%
Washington …….. 43% ……………………….. 12% …………… 45%

Trump’s response to Black Lives Matter protests that have seen some violence is to, of course, escalate that violence by calling in unmarked agents, a sort of secret police. He applauds extrajudicial murders. While most at protests have refrained from violence, some on the left and right, along with a heavy-handed police response, have contributed.

The U.S. has careened from crisis to crisis under Trump, who feeds on the chaos. Some suspect he is playing into Russian dictator Putin’s hands. Others see that as Trump’s playbook to remain in office, to call for martial law, suspension of elections, and other dictatorial powers. It’s hard to argue against when you look at the broader picture.

A wilder theory suggests Trump is the reincarnation of Nero and Putin was another Roman emperor, Caesar. Their facial features and actions bear some similarities. Remember Trump retweeting a photo of himself fiddling during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic?

While reincarnation is outlandish to some, perhaps the theory makes about as much sense as anything happening in 2020. At least it would explain some things, including why Trump criticizes everyone, even his own party leaders, but never dictator Putin.

Trump not only fiddles as America burns. He throws lighter fluid on the fires. He escalates the chaos. There is a method to his madness that hopefully can be thwarted this November.

That’s the short-term solution. While I don’t blame Trump for everything going wrong, he is the one steering the ship in this country right now. We are on the Titanic with Trump as captain, and he claims there are no icebergs out there.

Looking father ahead, the outlook appears increasingly bleak, as noted in a recent ProPublica piece. By 2070, deserts, which now comprise less than 1 percent of the planet, could cover almost 20 percent of the earth, causing unprecedented migratory patterns. In an extreme scenario, more than 30 million migrants could try to enter the U.S. over the next three decades.

Efforts to build walls will intensify. People will have their morals and religious beliefs, the call to help those in need, tested. To say it sounds dire underestimates the crisis.

San Francisco in early September 2020 in the midst of the worst forest fires seen in the state. Photo by Patrick Perkins/Unsplash

Written for 45+ newspapers/mags. Written some books — see Visited 48 states, 30+ countries.

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