Trump’s Paranoia Commands the Government | The Nation

Speaking on Tuesday in Kenosha, Wis., the site of riots sparked by a police shooting as well as vigilante reprisals against protesters, Attorney General William Barr offered a variation of Trump’s conspiracy theory. “We were picking up information that these violent instigators were coming to Kenosha,” Barr said. “They were coming from California, Washington State, a lot from Chicago, and they were coming up to Kenosha. So we expected matters to get worse.” (Barr, strange to say, didn’t regard the teen who came in from neighboring Illinois and shot three protesters as an outside instigator.)

Senator Rand Paul, while being interviewed by Fox News on Monday, used similar language to describe protesters who yelled at him outside the White House after Trump’s RNC speech the previous Friday. “My feeling is there is interstate criminal traffic being paid for across states lines,” Paul claimed without proof. “They flew here on a plane, they all got fresh new clothes, and they were paid to be here. It is a crime to do that, and it needs to be traced.”

Neither Trump, nor Barr, nor Paul offered any evidence of their allegations. In all cases, they were describing protesters using tropes that are common in right-wing mythology but have little or no bearing on reality. The idea of hidden paymasters is a traditional trope, dating back to the French Revolution, often used as a way of delegitimizing popular uprisings. When it is offered without proof, it should be automatically dismissed.

Trump’s Paranoia Commands the Government | The Nation