If Harpo, Chico and Groucho Marx were involved in comedic sarcasm they would have something meaningful to say about today’s world. But for today’s events it is Karl Marx who would have said “Trumpism, like Nazism, is the opium of the people”.

Road safety is not just about well-designed and maintained roads, and vehicles with advanced technology. The third component is the “Human”. Thus researchers have coined the term “HVE” or Human, Vehicle and Environment. With respect to humans we generally expect them to avoid collisions, but that is not always the case. Regrettably, on rare occasions, some deranged persons use the road environment to do purposeful harm. One example is the purposeful killing that took place on June 6, 2021 in London, Ontario.

After almost three years, the sentencing of Nathaniel Veltman has finally taken place. Some will remember that he was the driver of the pick-up truck that purposely drove on the sidewalk of Hyde Park Road in London, Ontario and killed an innocent Muslim family of four while seriously injuring a fifth member who was a boy. Large portions of his trial delved into his preoccupation with white nationalist websites and how he became indoctrinated, ultimately leading to his decision to harm Muslims. While his development was radical, it was not necessarily rare in the current climate of bazaar discourse on the internet.

At 30,000 feet, if you jump out of a plane without a parachute you will die. But there is never a survivor to confirm that this is true. So someone with a loud mouth, and a persuasive manner, raises the idea that this result is arguable. The same lie is repeated, over and over and over again, until many impressionable people become convinced: jumping out of a plane without a parachute is survivable. Meanwhile scientific experts who work in reality are less convincing. They are not in the business of persuasion and their technical discussions about gravity, impact force and aerodynamic drag are complex. Many indoctrinated persons want simple explanations and so experts’ warnings are ignored. This is the reality of this new age of disinformation that we coin Trumpism.

Trumpism is aptly named because it is akin to the word trumpet. Trumpets are those instruments that we can use to blow loudly. Whether just one trumpet, or many, they can be used to drown out any meaningful discussion. And those blowing the trumpets also cannot hear anything either. So it describes the relationship to Trumpism quite well.

Waving numerous flags and blowing loud horns the attention-grabbing displays of Trumpism involves little time for listening to opposing viewpoints.

In this new age of Trumpism we have also lost the meaning of words such as “bias” and “lynching”.

Bias has been historically understood as a position held or developed from a prejudiced viewpoint. In this age of Trumpism we no longer care if what we believe or say is incorrect, or simply supporting some big lie. It is more important that what we say supports what we said previously, and what others in our isolated groups have also said previously, regardless of whether anything being said is truthful.

Lynching is defined in the Webster dictionary as “Said to be from a Virginian farmer of the same name of Lynch, noted for taking the law into his own hand”. Lynch Law is also defined as “The practice of punishing men by unauthorized persons without a legal trial”. Lynching in this Trumpism sense can take the form of social media communication on the internet where groups attack others with words to destroy them, not much different that the actual hanging of an individual using a rope around the neck. Nathaniel Veltman most certainly communicated with persons who had no concern about bias or lynching.

We need not be neophytes to the issues at hand as history repeats itself. We only need to look back to 1933 when Adolf Hitler took control of Germany and how this led to enormous destruction across our planet. The Nazis had a very powerful propaganda machine that fooled many germans to believe in white supremacy and other policies focused on hatred. Nazi cults were formed much like what is happening on the internet today.

So we now have Veltman in prison for a very long time and, in a few days, the discussion about him will evaporate from the headlines. It remains questionable however, whether throwing him into prison solves our society’s broader problems. Is Veltman just a very rare bird, unlike any other, or is he part of a larger group of persons who hold similar viewpoints? You may have silenced Veltman but do you ignore the possibility that there are many undetected Veltmans out there perhaps willing to do similar evil?

Protest must be an important way for free persons to express their concerns in a free world. An autocratic society where protest and freedom of expression make persons disappear is not what we should wish for. However when protest turns to violence it is not always an indicator that persons have fallen off the deep end. Violence can be a sign of desperation from not being heard. So it is important to listen carefully to those persons who appear angry and could become violent. We need to know whether the anger is being expressed because of the existence of something unreasonable in our society and whether some form of change or compromise can be accomplished. Alternatively we also need to know whether those angry expressions are requesting something unreasonable where no compromise is ethically possible. We desperately need a Socrates to teach us this wisdom.