The Hebrew word for “city” is עִיר or “ear.” You pronounce it with a bit of the “r” rolling off the tongue.
Like the protective walls of medieval kingdoms, עִיר, as it pertains to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, symbolizes developing a barrier that isn’t life-giving to the world. Putting up a symbolic wall like this limits our humanity and care for others, especially marginalized people and the oppressed.
Now, in 2016, when Donald Trump first ran for president, many of us experienced those “Build a wall” chants. This chant dominated Trump’s supporter rallies and became a fixture in his campaign bid.
Though this sentiment solidified his immigration policy among supporters, many of whom were white evangelical Christians, the intention was never to build a physical wall. Rather, I’m arguing this “wall” or עִיר is metaphorical, signifying the inherent fear of Trump supporters — of a rapidly changing United States that is more diverse and inclusive, an erosion of white supremacy. The עִיר to which they seek is a white supremacist barrier against this changing reality, not a physical wall that deters migrants.
As a note, white supremacy isn’t just about Jim Crow and racial acts of violence against non-white Americans. It also encompasses the behavior of exclusion and superiority over others as witnessed among white people on social media, in conversations, and the like.
I’ve never understood the obsession with “border security” from Trump supporters and the drain on society known as Marjorie Taylor Greene. The United States is one of the most complicated countries for immigrants to attain citizenship.
We could blame it all on “The War on Terror” that erupted after the 9/11 attacks. However, this stance is too simplistic and uniquely applies to the intelligence community.
The paranoia isn't really about Democrats, either. President Barack Obama deported more illegal immigrants than any other president in history. Biden recently enacted a Trump administration-like asylum policy.
What, then, is their fixation on border security?
I think it all goes beyond pure law and order.
I recently began watching the documentary series How to Become a Tyrant. It delves into the tactics of authoritarian leaders in their attempt to accrue and maintain power.
One episode of How to Become a Tyrant delves into the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany after WWI and how his anti-Semitic platform articulated what Germans were already thinking about but were hesitant to disclose — that was until Hilter started saying it. In 2016, Trump offered this exact opportunity for disgruntled white Americans who wanted a place to funnel their anger about:
Hence their emotional need to chant “build a wall” and to maintain control with this metaphorical attitude, including standoffs with “wokeness.”
Stay with me here.
As I’ve discussed previously, what was once fringe is now the dominant stance of the Republican Party: an ideological belief system motivated by the fear that one’s place at the top of the racial hierarchy is eroding. Scholars and sociologists have termed this position White Christian Nationalism. It blends Christian symbolism with political and social power structures, and it has nothing to do with the sanctity of the original Christian texts — just a means to protect, single out, and control others as cults do and as Hilter’s “Jewish Conspiracy” strategy did.
This exhaustive current cultural policing of Republicans is an attempt to “control,” a common maladaptive coping strategy among people raised in dysfunctional family systems. These individuals develop this strategy in childhood, resulting in dysregulated and emotionally immature adults. You could even make the case that this behavior also generates narcissistic personality types or what psychologists diagnose as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) in extreme cases. (I emphasize this distinction between narcissistic personality types and NPD because “narcissism” exists on a spectrum or among clusters of symptoms, like grandiose or covert narcissism.)
You’ve most likely encountered someone with a narcissistic personality type. Here's an example: if you argue the sky is blue (and in reality, it is), the narcissist will belittle you down to their belief that it is either red or green, putting themselves first always. There is no compromise or discussion, and you’ll feel like garbage for even having the conversation in the first place. Narcissists, too, make great authoritarian leaders for their charm and charisma that masks manipulations and deceit. Followers and friends might even enable the narcissist's behavior, gaslighting the recipient to believe he, she, or they are crazy and wrong/bad for questioning it.
I share and contextualize this with you because, based on the journalistic research I’ve conducted over the past two months, I’m seeing a trend taking shape among the policies informed by White Christian Nationalism, the past words and actions of Trump, and the current lineup of 2024 presidential nominees (including AIDS Denialist Robert Kennedy Jr).
The trend I’m noticing comes from the narcissist’s playbook... To continue reading this article, visit my Substack publication here.