Holly Richardson: Is Trump gaslighting the nation? Or is he just a racist with no filter?

After using Twitter to personally attack four duly elected congresswomen and suggest they “go back to where they came from,” Donald Trump then laid into them during a rally in North Carolina, especially targeting Rep. Ilhan Omar from Minnesota. The crowd — which by Trump’s account was a “record crowd” — started chanting “Send her back, send her back.”

Apparently under significant pressure, even from his own family, he tried to backtrack the next day and say a) he did not support it, b) jumped in “quickly” to stop it and c) it was the media’s fault anyway. Video of the rally shows him stepping back from the podium and not attempting to speak again for 13 seconds, or long enough for the crowd to repeat their hateful rhetoric at least 10 times. Even with solid evidence to the contrary, he wants people to believe what he said on Thursday and not what he did on Wednesday. In other words, he’s trying to gaslight an entire nation.

Gaslighting, according to Dr. Stephanie Sarkis, author of “Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People - and Break Free,” is “a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting,” she says, “and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders.”

Sarkis lists 11 “techniques” gaslighters typically use.

They tell blatant lies (with a straight face).

They deny they said or did something, even when you have proof otherwise.

They use things that matter most as ammunition (including freedom and love of country).

They wear you down over time.

Their actions do not match their words.

They occasionally throw in praise.

They know confusion weakens people and they love to keep people off-kilter. They project. They try to align people against you.

“Gaslighters are masters at manipulating and finding the people they know will stand by them no matter what — and then they use these people.”

They tell you or others that you are crazy. (Or, in this case, un-American.)

Finally, they convince you that everyone else is a liar, including the media, and only they hold the truth. Sound familiar?

It’s possible that Trump is not actually a narcissistic, racist gaslighter. It could all be a political ploy. David Axelrod thinks so. He tweeted “With his deliberate, racist outburst, @realDonaldTrump wants to raise the profile of his targets, drive Dems to defend them and make them emblematic of the entire party. It’s a cold, hard strategy.”


Or maybe he was hoping to divert attention from his close association with Jeffrey Epstein. With racism. Weird, I know.

Or maybe he’s just a racist with no filter.

The silence from most Republican leaders is deafening. One does not have to agree with any of “The Squad’s” policies to strongly disagree with the fomenting of hate through racist rhetoric.

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said in the October 2001 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: “If neighbors become testy or frustrated because of some disagreement with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or with some law we support for moral reasons, please don’t suggest to them — even in a humorous way — that they consider moving someplace else. I cannot comprehend how any member of our Church can even think such a thing! Our pioneer ancestors were driven from place to place by uninformed and intolerant neighbors. They experienced extraordinary hardship and persecution because they thought, acted, and believed differently from others. If our history teaches us nothing else, it should teach us to respect the rights of all people to peacefully coexist with one another.” (emphasis added)

Amen. And Happy Pioneer Day.

| Courtesy Holly Richardson, op-ed mug.

Holly Richardson is a regular contributor to The Salt Lake Tribune.