By Andrew Malekoff
Back in the day my boys loved playing with action figures. Memorable among them were a pair of two-inch soldiers of fortune that delivered one-liners when you pressed a button on their backs. One of them cautioned, “No escape for the guilty!” The other avowed, “Vengeance is mine!”
Given my intractable state of arrested development, the soldiers issuing their warnings made me laugh. Over time their one-liners became an enduring in-joke between my boys and me. I have always tried to include my wife in the merriment, but she isn’t having any of it. She just rolls her eyes.
When I first heard the soldiers issue their ultimatums, I had no idea that the Bible was their source; more precisely, Romans 12: 19-21 King James Version, which reads: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
Recently, a friend gave me a Trump action figure as a gag gift. As my boys’ soldiers did, the Trump toy delivers fabulous one-liners. When you press the lever on his back, he says things like: “My IQ is huge” and “Good people don’t go into government.”
If they upgrade the Trump toy, I hope the manufacturer adds a few of the classic lines he debuted at the Conservative Political Action Conference Feb. 7 when he made this pledge to his adoring fans: “In 2016 I declared: I am your voice. Today, I add: I am your warrior. I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed: I am your retribution.” I was surprised he didn’t end with “saith the Lord.”
The ex-president’s messianic missive is the most recent point in a straight line that extends back to his September 2020 “stand back and stand by” command to the far-right, neo-fascist Proud Boys. Trump is a “wink and a nod” kind of boss, a master at finding untraceable pathways for plausible deniability of criminal activity, contributing to upending the rule of law in our democratic system. Sadly, it’s working.
“For the first time since 1860, a major American political party does not believe we live in a democracy. The line is between those who believe in democracy and those who believe in democracy only when their side wins,” writes Stuart Stevens, author of “It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump.”
“I am your justice. I am your retribution” comes from the same deep well of personal grievance that brought the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Despite the Fox propaganda channel’s ongoing falsehoods about election fraud and its efforts to whitewash the attempt to overturn the election on Jan. 6, the storming of the Capitol Building could have been a dress rehearsal for the mayhem that Trump has been foreshadowing if indicted for crimes he has been implicated in.
In fact, on March 18 in anticipation of being indicted in the hush money arrangement involving adult film actress Stormy Daniels, he has called on his supporters to take action. He said, “Protest, take our nation back.” He conveniently left out the word “peacefully.” It was not an oversight. Political violence is part and parcel of the authoritarian’s playbook. And it appears from past performance, the ex-president has acquired a taste for blood (and soil).
The ex-president said the quiet part out loud at CPAC. He confirmed that he is cornered, desperate and dangerous and, clearly intent on prolonging the “Big Lie” through any means necessary.
In the final analysis, the only one-liner delivered by my boys’ action figures that applies is the little soldier’s unqualified call for equal justice under the law:
“No escape for the guilty!”