This week, I want you to think about the myth of the Trojan Horse and why it's still relevant to our politics today.
Over the centuries, the Trojan Horse come to symbolize a group or an individual who is hiding their true intentions. They look like one thing but are concealing another.
Like many myths, there's a bit of truth to the story. Troy was indeed burned once, but the wooden horse with the soldiers concealed inside is generally considered to be an ancient fable.
The story reminds us how easily we can all be taken in by something that looks convincing on the surface, but that is skillfully hiding its true purpose.
From Florida to Dublin to New Zealand, we are clearly living through a season of Trojan Horse politics now, where the true intent of a legal bill, a government order, or a protest movement often conceals something far more sinister lurking under the hood.
Let's start with Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis is the figurehead of what some have called the Republican Party's new era of grievance politics.
Rather than unite the voters of his own state behind policies they can all endorse, he has found it politically far more rewarding to elevate one side and cauterize the other with bills, orders, and statements that delight his base and stick it to his critics.
It's worth remembering how new this kind of overheated political hostility is here. There have always been winners and losers in our democratic dust-ups, but this deliberate exulting in the defeat of one's opponents really is a departure.
DeSantis has become the poster boy for the 'make liberals cry' approach, but Donald Trump is the blunt instrument that was first employed by them at the national level. He knew it too. He understood he represented the rage of the disenfranchised white working-class voters who wanted to punish all the wrong people for the ruination of their economic future.
Despite four years in which he did nothing to alleviate their plight, Trump believes they will be dumb enough to fall for his grift again. “I am your retribution,” he told them recently at one of his lackluster rallies. That's not exactly a dog whistle, is it?
He knows that he's the mythic golem that they have built out of mud and spite to attack everyone, everywhere, all at once. His only hope to succeed now is that he can enrage enough people to vote for him again, but rage can only carry you so far, as he learned to his cost on January 6, 2020.
I'm the new Trojan Horse that will bring your enemies low, he still assures his base, but is he? I believe his career really ended with the United States Capitol attack, but he's been slow to get the memo. The rage he inspired led to the near collapse of our government. I can't imagine he will be deputized again to finish that job.
A house divided against itself cannot stand, Abraham Lincoln once said. He was talking about slavery, and how the nation would have to choose either to free them or keep them enslaved, but it could not do both.
Ron DeSantis looks and acts like a man who believes the wrong side won the Civil War. Is that why he wants to stop American schoolkids from reading about the country's true history? Is that why he's trying to prevent LGBT kids from reading or even talking about their own lived realities?
History teaches that there's an important difference between the librarians who protect books and reading, and the politicians who want to censor them.
History shows us that all the book burners, book censors, and book banners always turn out to be Trojan Horses for a far more sinister movement that's coming down the road.
Last week, many in the “concerned citizen” groups attacking LGBT events nationwide (and worldwide) finally dropped their masks and raised their Hitler salutes.
Ordinary people who have been suckered by their Trojan Horse appeals to “common decency” now find themselves in the awkward company of Neo-Nazis who are suddenly waving Swastikas from bridges and promising to “eradicate” or in plainer language murder all LGBT people.
If you’re lining up behind literal Nazis then that should be your first clue. If you still don’t get it, I don’t know what to tell you.— Cahir O’Doherty (@randomirish) March 14, 2023
It's a dramatic worldwide reveal moment that LGBT people have been warning you about for years, but you still got taken in by an on-the-surface assurance that you were in some sense “protecting” your community.
Protecting your community by inviting Nazis to march through your neighborhood promising to kill people based on their identities? If that's who is coming to your rallies and protests now, maybe it's time to ask yourself whose side you're actually on?