By Robert A. Vella
Remember the legend of the Pied Piper?
The Pied Piper of Hamelin (German: Rattenfänger von Hameln, also known as the Pan Piper or the Rat-Catcher of Hamelin) is the titular character of a legend from the town of Hamelin (Hameln), Lower Saxony, Germany. The legend dates back to the Middle Ages, the earliest references describing a piper, dressed in multicolored (“pied“) clothing, who was a rat-catcher hired by the town to lure rats away with his magic pipe. When the citizens refuse to pay for this service, he retaliates by using his instrument’s magical power on their children, leading them away as he had the rats. This version of the story spread as folklore and has appeared in the writings of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the Brothers Grimm, and Robert Browning, among others.
There are many contradictory theories about the Pied Piper. Some suggest he was a symbol of hope to the people of Hamelin, which had been attacked by plague; he drove the rats from Hamelin, saving the people from the epidemic.
Or, the character personifies a vindictive individual who exploits the malleable for his own purpose. Does this sound familiar? It should, because that’s exactly how President Trump captivates his minion. He appeals to people’s anxieties, fears, and animosities by providing a symbolic figurehead to rally around who spins all their negative emotions in a positive light. Subconsciously, Trump is telling such people what the larger society cannot – that they are neither “bad” nor “sick,” and that it is okay to act out on their grievances. Trump’s subliminal message is so effective that he has internalized it for himself.
But, Americans are a sick people as mental health statistics clearly indicate. From the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH):
Mental illnesses are common in the United States. Nearly one in five U.S. adults lives with a mental illness (44.7 million in 2016). Mental illnesses include many different conditions that vary in degree of severity, ranging from mild to moderate to severe. Two broad categories can be used to describe these conditions: Any Mental Illness (AMI) and Serious Mental Illness (SMI). AMI encompasses all recognized mental illnesses. SMI is a smaller and more severe subset of AMI. Additional information on mental illnesses can be found on the NIMH Health Topics Pages.
That’s a lot of Americans suffering from mental illness, and other sources cite even higher numbers. Still, Trump continues to blame others for his own culpability – most recently over a wave of mail bombs sent to his political critics, and over today’s deadly mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue. See:
The case of the suspect arrested in Florida for the mail bombs illustrates the basic psychology of Trump’s pied piper targets. From: Lawyer for mail bomb suspect’s family: ‘He found a father in Trump’
A lawyer for the family of Cesar Sayoc Jr., the man charged with mailing explosive devices to several prominent Democratic figures this week, said Friday that Sayoc “found a father” in President Trump.
Miami lawyer Ronald Lowy made the comments on CNN while discussing the arrest of Sayoc, someone he said he had represented in past cases and whom he described as a “sick individual” who seemed “lost” and needed help.
“He was looking for anything, and he found a father in Trump,” Lowy said, noting that the man’s father “abandoned him as a child” and “he was trying to create an identity.”
Lowy said that he believes Sayoc was attracted to Trump’s messaging, which included reaching out to “outsiders” and “people who are angry at America.”
He plastered stickers across his white van — supportive of Trump — alongside images of the president’s critics with red targets over their faces and a large decal that read “CNN sucks.” On Twitter, the 56-year-old trafficked conspiracy theories and ranted about liberal billionaire George Soros, former president Barack Obama, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and others whose politics were out of line with his.
“He was crazed, that’s the best word for him,” said Debra Gureghian, the general manager of New River Pizza and Fresh Kitchen in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where Sayoc worked for several months. “There was something really off with him.”
Although officials declined to say what they believe motivated him, court records, his social media and those who know him make clear that Sayoc was troubled and, at least in recent years, deeply partisan. Ronald Lowy, an attorney representing Sayoc’s family members, said he believed Sayoc was mentally ill and lived out of his vehicle for over a decade.
Sarah Jane Baumgartel, an attorney appointed Friday to represent Sayoc, declined to comment.
“I think this is a post-Trump sort of enticing somebody who maybe had some deep-seated issues, and this recent political climate seems to be bringing it to the surface with some people,” said Daniel Lurvey, a lawyer who represented Sayoc in the past.