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WaPo Editor Asks: How Do We Deprogram Trump Supporters from the Cult?

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Posted: Jan 12, 2021 1:30 PM
WaPo Editor Asks: How Do We Deprogram Trump Supporters from the Cult?

Source: AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

Washington Post associate editor and columnist Eugene Robinson asked New York Times Magazine writer Nikole Hannah-Jones how the media can "deprogram" Trump supporters in the aftermath of the Capitol building riot.

Trump is under intense scrutiny after Democrats and even some Republicans say he is responsible for the riot at the Capitol building while Congress was in the middle of certifying the Electoral College results. He now faces another impeachment effort from the House with than less than two weeks until the end of his term.

"Nikole, that story you just told is a familiar one, it’s absolutely true, the difference between the white citizens' councils and the Klan back in the days of Jim Crow. You know, Klan was lower-income, white citizens' councils were the Josh Hawleys and Ted Cruzes of their day. Here’s the situation, though. We have — there are millions of Americans, almost all white, almost all Republicans, who somehow need to be deprogrammed. It’s as if they are members of a cult, the Trumpist cult, and they have to be deprogrammed. Do you have any idea how we start that process, much less complete it?" Robinson asked.

"Yeah, I don’t. I’m a journalist, I certainly don’t know how we can stop people. I know we can look to history, though. What ultimately breaks that power structure in the south is enforcement. Right? There has to be consequences. And then once you get those consequences, I think then people have to take a second look at their actions and they have to be much more afraid to do the types of violence that we saw last week, the violence that we have seen building with what happened in Michigan, the violence that’s being threatened now," Jones replied.

"What has long been the case in this country is that we have wanted to quickly move on to reconciliation when it comes to this sort of divide. We have always been afraid that if you actually punish those white nationalist elements in our society, it will only make things worse," she continued. "But in fact, what history shows is not reacting, not forcing accountability only emboldens those people in those movements."

The Capitol building riot left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer and an Air Force veteran. Questions are swirling as to why law enforcement was caught off-guard and response times were slow.