That Which We Call a Tyrant

Many are choosing to use euphemisms or abbreviations in place of Trump’s name. Some are recommending ’45’ as a code word for the 45th president, citing revulsion at the mere mention of his name. People were correcting themselves who used his name in public at a recent activist meeting.

But, to quote from one of my favorite fictional characters, Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series, referring to a much-feared character:
“Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.”

I believe it’s a mistake to avoid Trump’s name. That actually gives him more power. And a tyrant by any other name smells as foul.

Consider the history of that which cannot be named. Who else gets this special treatment? The true name of the Judeo-Christian God is not to be spoken by anyone but a holy man in the Holy of Holies. The ancient Egyptians scrubbed the name off the burial place of anyone who was disgraced in life, which is why the female emperor Hatshepsut was so long unknown to history.

Myths and legends abound of the power of knowing and using someone’s true name. Rumpelstiltskin is one. When the goddess Isis learned the true name of the sun god Ra, she was able to take over. In Germanic and Scandanavian lore, calling out an opponent’s name imbues the speaker with the power to defeat even the most magical and powerful of enemies.

Someone has to be either extremely sacred or extremely profane to warrant this level of fear and awe. Either way, it’s a place of power with all sorts of connotations of invincibility and other god-like aspects. Donald Trump only has these abilities in his mind. I don’t want to buy into his delusion.

The other, more practical reason to use Trump’s name is to always associate it with the bad things he does. He values his brand, his name, above all else, and helping to de-value it is one way to protest his presidency. Whenever his name is in the same sentence or the same headline with negative words and phrases, search engines register that fact and link them together deep in the DNA of the internet.

Highlights from some recent headlines:
“While Trump scandal mounts…”
“How to Oppose Trump…”
“the Anti-Trump resistance…”
“In Another Blow to Trump…”
“SNL Trolls Trump hard…”
“Trump’s ties to Russia…”

Trump shares headlines with words like ‘the Third Reich’, misled, disarray, chaos, nightmare, disaster, divide. And of course, when the New York Times broke with tradition and started calling Trump’s lies lies, in headlines no less, Trump’s name became paired with the word in one of the most widely-circulated, quoted and Google-searched sources of information in the country.

Russian Putin critic Garry Kasparov recommends making Trump look like a loser as a resistance tactic. Coupling the word loser with his name is a good way to do that. “Loser of the popular vote Donald Trump…” “Minority president Trump, who lost the popular vote by a huge margin…” “Trump loses to the judiciary again…” When a euphemism is used in place of his name, all that association is lost.

In the Harry Potter books, Tom Riddle changed his name to Lord Voldemort in order to increase the grandeur and awe with which he was regarded, and it worked. He was regularly referred to as You-Know-Who and He Who Must Not Be Named by everyone but Dumbledore, who sometimes called him ‘Tom.’ Imagine if everyone had gone around calling the most feared dark lord ‘Tom’ in the wizarding world. It would have decreased his terrible mystique considerably.

Trump. Tie yourself in knots trying not to say these five little letters and you make him much more powerful than he is. Trump is not a wizard or a dark lord. He has no supernatural powers. He’s just a man, a sad, bitter, mentally unstable man who conned his way into a role he’s not qualified to play. A man who can be defeated and you don’t need magical powers to do it. Just keep speaking about what’s right and what’s wrong and his name will fall into its place along the spectrum.

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