June 17th, 2017

Trump, Julius Caesar, and killing tyrants

The current New York production of “Julius Caesar” in which Caesar is portrayed as a Trump-like figure is no ordinary propaganda.

Caesar is a particular figure with particular characteristics. Why was he assassinated? Because the assassins thought he had become a tyrant. They met a bad end themselves, as assassins often do, but along the way they felt they were doing Rome a service by ridding it of a dangerous leader. They considered it to be not an assassination, but tyrannicide:

Brutus began to conspire against Caesar with his friend and brother-in-law Gaius Cassius Longinus and other men, calling themselves the Liberatores (“Liberators”).

The assassination is portrayed in the play thusly:

The version best known in the English-speaking world is the Latin phrase “Et tu, Brute?” (“You too, Brutus?”); this derives from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (1599), where it actually forms the first half of a macaronic line: “Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar.” This has no basis in historical fact. Shakespeare was making use of a phrase already in common use at the time. According to Plutarch, after the assassination, Brutus stepped forward as if to say something to his fellow senators not involved in the plot; they, however, fled the building. Brutus and his companions then marched to the Capitol while crying out to their beloved city: “People of Rome, we are once again free!”.

In actuality, the Caesar’s death precipitated a chain of events that led to the Republic’s fall:

The Roman lower classes, with whom Caesar was popular, became enraged that a small group of aristocrats had sacrificed Caesar. Antony, who had been drifting apart from Caesar, capitalised on the grief of the Roman mob and threatened to unleash them on the Optimates, perhaps with the intent of taking control of Rome himself. But, to his surprise and chagrin, Caesar had named his grandnephew Gaius Octavius his sole heir, bequeathing him the immensely potent Caesar name as well as making him one of the wealthiest citizens in the Republic…

[A civil was ensued and the chain of events] resulted in the final ascendancy of Octavian, who became the first Roman emperor, under the name Caesar Augustus, a name that raised him to the status of a deity.

Speaking of assassins who come to a bad end, the most famous American example is John Wilkes Booth. Booth was an actor, of course, and murdered Lincoln in a theater (Caesar was murdered in a place called Pompey’s Theater, but it doesn’t seem to have been a theater in the conventional sense). Not only that, but Booth’s motive for the assassination was also tyrannicide, and he is reported to have made a reference understood to be to Julius Caesar (in Latin, no less) as he leapt to the stage:

[John Wilkes Booth’s] father, the eminent Junius Brutus Booth, had been given a name that identified him with both the legendary founder of the Roman Republic (Lucius Junius Brutus) and the descendant who fought to preserve that republic half a millennium later (Marcus Junius Brutus). The elder Booth in turn had bestowed the same appellation on the oldest of his American-born sons, three of whom were destined to follow him into the theater.

You’ll recall that in Julius Caesar the example of the original Brutus is invoked as a symbolic conscience for Shakespeare’s brooding protagonist. Partly through the persuasions of Cassius, but mostly through Brutus’s sense of his own honor, the spirit of the ancient Brutus urges the inheritor of hrs virtues to circumvent a would-be king and thereby safeguard the liberties that have defined Roman dignity since the abolition of monarchy some five centuries before…

Like the Marcus Junius Brutus of Shakespeare’s play, John Wilkes Booth was keenly receptive to the promptings of ancestral tradition. He aspired to what “an antique Roman” would do in his place, and it is very likely that he was alluding to both Brutuses when he spat out “Sic Semper Tyrannis” (“Thus Be it Ever to Tyrants”) and slew a President he had frequently scorned as a “King.”

The rest, as they say, is history. It’s a history of which the directors of the current NY play may or may not be aware, although they should be aware of it. They are playing with fire—and probably considering themselves brave Romantic and/or classical heroes, much as Booth did, although they obviously aren’t going as far.

Here’s an example of someone calling for Trump’s death, this time by legal execution rather than assassination. And the author of the piece—originally published at HuffPo, although subsequently removed after the ballfield assassination attempt—doesn’t limit the call for execution to just Trump, he thinks his aides and VP should be executed, too:

Trump’s firing of James Comey to impede the investigation into an act of war against our nation, and his assistance to ISIS in the form of providing them with propaganda for recruitment, both provide “Aid and Comfort” to enemies of the United States. It would be difficult to find a more grave offense among those Trump and his team have already committed against this nation and its people. But all involved must face justice.

And that’s why the impeachment and removal of Donald Trump from the Oval Office are merely the first steps in what must be a long-term policy to redeem the United States in the eyes of the world. They are certainly important steps in restoring the credibility of our government, our standing in the eyes of the world, and our very democracy. But they must not be the only steps, lest we still be left with Mike Pence as the acting president after Trump’s removal. No, to quote our new fuhrer, we must “drain the swamp.”

Draining the swamp means not only ejecting Trump from the presidency, but also bringing himself and everyone assisting in his agenda up on charges of treason. They must be convicted (there is little room to doubt their guilt). And then — upon receiving guilty verdicts — they must all be executed under the law. Anything less than capital punishment — or at least life imprisonment without parole in a maximum security detention facility — would send yet another message to the world that America has lost its moral compass. In order for America’s morality and leadership to be restored, it must rebuke Donald Trump, his entire administration, and his legislative agenda in the strongest manner possible. And nothing would do more than to convict them of the highest offense defined by our Constitution, and then to deliver the ultimate punishment. Donald Trump deserves nothing less. Mitch McConnell, Steve Bannon, and Paul Ryan should also share Donald Trump’s fate, for they have done more than practically anyone to protect him and to throw our country under the proverbial bus. In order to survive, we as a nation must deliver the ultimate punishment under the law to all involved in its current destruction.

HuffPo is considered a relatively mainstream website, but the fact that this article passed muster there shows how acceptable it’s become to talk about and advocate Trump’s death.

People like the author of that HuffPo piece see themselves as heroes on a great stage. Their disagreements with Trump can’t be just the usual political dissension, because that would make them petty and ordinary too. No, the scale must be grand, and the remedy equally grand. There are a disturbing number of people around who feel this way, and some of them almost undoubtedly will try to act.

26 Responses to “Trump, Julius Caesar, and killing tyrants”

  1. DNW Says:

    I guess according to the demented logic of Jason Fuller, all the people who voted for Trump must be brought up on treason charges as accomplices before the fact, or as co-conspirators.

    As I have shrugged at the supposed Russian hacking of the Democrat election committee e-mails I suppose that Fuller would want me killed too; as while disbelieving the narrative, I have expressed my hypothetical appreciation to these imaginary Russians if they were indeed responsible for airing the Democrat activist dirty laundry. Therein, apparently making light of an “act of war” and giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

    The Democrat Party truly is largely nowadays just the morally and mentally dysfunctional of this polity gathered together and organized into a political action group.

  2. Snow on Pine Says:

    If anyone needed proof that Trump is a real “outsider,” and “disruptor,” it’s been displayed every day since his winning the Presidency, as the fury of each and every “insider” institution, cause, organization, and person has continued to mount, as they’ve hurled everything they can think of at him.

    Those individuals, causes, institutions, organizations, and groups who benefit and want to continue to benefit from the current system and how it works—their world-view, their positions, their income, their power, and prestige—find it all profoundly threatened by Trump and his Agenda, and they want to destroy him and his Administration, no matter what the cost or extent of the damage—long or short term—might be.

    In creating and orchestrating this symphony of resistance, division, violence, and destruction aimed at Trump, his Agenda, and his Administration (and sometimes his supporters), no charge is too wild or low, no innuendo too incredible, no accusation too flimsy, no information too nonsensical to be used, if it will do the trick, and violence has become an increasingly frequent tactic.

    This is the very illustration of “the ends justifying the means.”

    For those on the Left—already believing themselves unmatched in education and culture, uniquely insightful, and virtuous—convincing themselves that normal standards of common sense, tradition, legality, truth, and decency don’t apply in this “special” and dire situation, and that participating in this veritable symphony of violence and destruction is “doing the Lord’s work,”” is “noble,” is “saving the Republic,” and is ”redeeming the U.S. in the eyes of the world,” is, I’d imagine, a very easy task.

    The problem with all this is, of course, the tens of millions who voted for Trump, believing that only he could reverse the decades long trends and actions that have seen their concerns and them belittled and ignored, their livelihoods disappear, their traditional values mocked, and their and their children’s prospects grow ever more bleak.

    If Trump were to be removed from office, if his agenda were to be crushed—especially if any procedure or trial is obviously rigged, and the supposed evidence against him is very obviously insufficient and, to coin a phrase, “Trumped up”—what would all those millions of Trump supporters do, I wonder?

    I am reminded about what was said about the U.S. after the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor:

    “They have waked a sleeping giant, and filled it with a terrible resolve.”

  3. Ray Says:

    I’m starting to think that Bush Derangement Syndrome, that lots of democrats demonstrated, has finally developed into paranoid schizophrenia.

  4. charles Says:

    “HuffPo is considered a relatively mainstream website, but the fact that this article passed muster there shows how acceptable it’s become to talk about and advocate Trump’s death.”

    I’m not disagreeing with you, Neo; but, I do find it sad that so many consider the Huffington Post to be “mainstream.”

    They have published articles calling for the killing of cops for years now. (“when you kill a cop you aren’t killing an individual” is just one of the first that I remember)

    That they would publish an article calling for Trump and associates to be killed is no surprise.

    And, it is a sad commentary that this is what passes for “mainstream.”

  5. Cap'n Rusty Says:

    Ann Althouse has a good piece on this. One commenter noted that the audience wasn’t there to see Shakespeare, but only to make a political statement.

  6. AesopFan Says:

    When you’ve lost the Washington Post ….


    “…“Loughner had no clear political views. Instead, he was a troubled man who abused alcohol and drugs, and whose mental illness was apparent to his classmates and family even before he was diagnosed as schizophrenic during his court trial,” the fact-check continued.

    “We’re glad to see this fixed in the editorial, but it’s not a good sign that the debunked talking point was included as fact in the editorial of a major media outlet,” Lee concluded. “Any future references to this talking point by politicians or political groups will receive Four Pinocchios.” …”

    * * *
    Three cheers for the Four Pinocchios.
    BTW, you all do know that the NYT has divested its Ombudsman aka Public Editor position?

    “[T]oday, our followers on social media and our readers across the Internet have come together to collectively serve as a modern watchdog, more vigilant and forceful than one person could ever be. Our responsibility is to empower all of those watchdogs, and to listen to them, rather than to channel their voice through a single office,” Sulzberger said in the memo. “We are dramatically expanding our commenting platform. Currently, we open only 10 percent of our articles to reader comments. Soon, we will open up most of our articles to reader comments. This expansion, made possible by a collaboration with Google, marks a sea change in our ability to serve our readers, to hear from them, and to respond to them.”
    This is the paper that routinely suppresses commenters even on the posts that are open.
    Slate thinks it’s all her fault, for being, um, responsive to reader comments.
    “In her first nine months on the job, Spayd has largely delivered on her promise. Most of her column ideas appear to spring directly from the public editor’s email inbox, which she and her assistant monitor vigilantly. She quotes from readers’ missives prolifically, and she presents their sundry beefs and prescriptions with a level of respect that verges on reverence.

    But if we’ve learned one big lesson from Spayd’s work so far, it’s this: Readers are quite often wrong. Of course the public editor should listen to them and take them seriously. The real challenge, though, is to distinguish between their wishes and their true interests, to understand not only where those overlap but where they diverge, and to recognize which should influence the paper’s editorial decisions and which should not.

    At that difficult task, Spayd has repeatedly failed.”

    In their POV of course.

    Whatever happened to “the customer is always right”?
    It only applies if the customer is Left.

  7. Lucius Says:

    Watched the HBO production “Rome” on YouTube. Supurb in all of its aspects: sets, costumes, acting. It was cancelled, though, because of its high production costs. Well worth the time i spent in viewing the show. Recommend to all.

  8. J.J. Says:

    “Readers are quite often wrong. Of course the public editor should listen to them and take them seriously. The real challenge, though, is to distinguish between their wishes and their true interests, to understand not only where those overlap but where they diverge, and to recognize which should influence the paper’s editorial decisions and which should not.”

    Ah yes, they must teach these deplorables what is really in their best interest. The plebes are ill-informed, and really quite stupid. We are doing them quite the favor to show them the right way.
    Thus speaketh the NYTs. And they wonder why their circulation declines.

    That attitude pretty much sums up the belief system of the progressives. They believe themselves to be intellectually and morally superior to conservatives.

    All the hate toward Trump and his supporters flows from their beliefs about themselves and their smug sense of superiority.

  9. T Says:

    “People like the author of that HuffPo piece see themselves as heroes on a great stage. Their disagreements with Trump can’t be just the usual political dissension, because that would make them petty and ordinary too. No, the scale must be grand, and the remedy equally grand. There are a disturbing number of people around who feel this way, and some of them almost undoubtedly will try to act.” [Neo]

    Thus Hodgkinson, the 9/11 Islamic terrorists, the Evergreen and Middlebury students and even Kathy Griffin. Also, IMO, Harris and Klebold, Adam Lanza and others of their ilk. Although their disagreements may not have been directly with Trump, I submit that the great stage and large scale applies equally to their horrendous acts.

  10. AesopFan Says:

    A commenter on Powerline has a rather chilling thought.


    “Hodgkinson will soon be forgotten, because he was ineffective. Be worried about the one who gets remembered.”

    Bonus picture:

  11. AesopFan Says:

    A philosophical approach on whether or not one can equate words with actions.

    “As one notable 20th century conservative thinker once famously put it, ideas have consequences. And because ideas are expressed in and understood through words, words have consequences.

    It is for this reason that those who espouse ideas, and do so publicly and repeatedly, must assume some ownership of the actions performed by those who have taken those ideas and words to heart and acted upon them.

    In most contexts, no one has any difficulty understanding this.”

    Interestingly, today’s news also included quite a few articles on the pros and cons of the guilty verdict in the suicide-by-girlfriend case.

    (Michelle Carter is her name, and it is a depressingly sad and tragic story all the way around.)

  12. lynndh Says:

    I am 70 and remember JFK, RFK and MLK. Sad days, hopefully not to be repeated. But with the hatred on the Left being so prevalent it may well be. Sad days may come again.

  13. n.n Says:

    Bad optics in a series of unforced errors. Don’t interfere.

  14. Barry Meislin Says:

    Ray of hope?

    Let’s hope so….

  15. Bill Says:

    It’s sickening to think people are taking a great, classic play like Julius Caesar and staging it with a Trump figure. They did the same for Obama (just in case everyone’s feeling alone in the persecution)

    But it’s also sickening to see the continuing Alinsky takeover of the GOP. You can’t mock others as safe space snowflakes while you yourself are trying to shut down free speech. And, naturally, on the edges “conservatives” are Alex Jonesing themselves into oblivion with over the top reactions to a play that many of them don’t understand anyway. The point of the play is not that Caesar was evil and needed to be killed. The point is that political violence begets more and worse violence. And that’s a message we all need to be heeding these days. Things are getting out of hand.

  16. neo-neocon Says:


    Do you really honestly and truly think the portrayal of Trump as Julius Casear was taken by the audience as conveying the idea that “political violence begets more and worse violence”? My opinion is that, although a few may have taken that message, that a greater number were just happy to cheer the idea that Trump is an out-of-control dictator who could use a little killing, and were happy to watch an enactment of said killing.

    I cannot prove this. But I very much doubt that most people got the message you say they did—although it’s certainly the proper message of the play.

    Is it now being a snowflake to protest and criticize a play that gratuitously enacts the murder of a president’s stand-in? That’s not censorship; the director is free to do whatever he wants. And we are free to criticize it. I don’t think it’s akin to being way too sensitive. I dislike enactments of the murder of any president, by the way.

  17. Bill Says:


    Point well made. That’s one reason I said it’s sickening to stage such a play. Things like this were done against Bush and Obama as well.

    So I don’t think we disagree that staging the play with the intent to celebrate the assassination of a President is despicable.

    I have multiple concerns here, though. It seems to me that there are groups of people, both right and left, who are making money off of getting us at each other’s throats with civil war fantasies and revenge propaganda.

    Its both sides. Both sides. Both. I hear as much violent talk from the right these days as I do from the left. The left is currently “ahead” with the recent shooting. But anyone who thinks that all this will end well is fantasizing. Unless things change.

  18. Bill Says:

    Continuing, people need to learn that there’s a reason most people didnt know about this a few days ago, and now they do. Because some Alynskite “conservatives” decided to do the cr@p they mock the left for doing (“But this is DIFFERENT!!!!). No sense of irony.

    Ignore the play, just as you would any other awful, cr@ppy piece of “art”. Do that and goes away. But who can profit off indifference? This stunt probably made the company that put the play on a lot of money. As it will all the outraged ratings whores on talk radio.

  19. Bilwick Says:

    I’d like to have seen a production of JULIUS CAESAR during the Obama Administration, with Tim Allen as Brutus and Vince Vaughn as Cassius, and THIS guy as Julius Caesar: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/feb/18/obama-son-of-god-satan-cut

  20. Big Maq Says:

    “there are groups of people, both right and left, who are making money off of getting us at each other’s throats with civil war fantasies and revenge propaganda.” – Bill

    Agree with your points.

    To add… nobody makes any money off of anything UNLESS there is an audience.

    There is an audience for this pathetic and disgusting sh…tuff, as there is for alex jones, and, lately, sean hannity (and his peddling of conspiracies) – not to mention, many, many others, particularly nowadays.

    Hyperbole, and entertainment. Everyone is trying to out do each other.

    And, thus, it escalates, to garner attention.

    Merely disagreeing and debating policy is boring. But, getting angry and demonstrating hate, loathing, or contempt for the “other side”…

    Now that’s worth tuning in to!

    It feels good to have so many “on our side”…

    Maybe those profiting off of all this really don’t have our interests at heart, as we’d like believe?

    Perhaps, we ought to be skeptical even of our “sources” we like?

  21. Breadcrumbs Blowing Through the Labyrinth - American Digest Says:

    […] The Roman lower classes, with whom Caesar was popular, became enraged that a small group of aristocr… […]

  22. Red in a Blue State Says:

    Funny how the link to HuffPost article has been taken down. Violence is now mainstream for the Progressive Left. We cannot let the Conservative movement become like them or we risk “hate speech” legislation which will enshrine their speech as being the only non-offensive kind of speech.

  23. gracepc Says:

    In another America it would be a good suggestion that the FBI investigate HuffPo writer and organization.

    This FBI just concluded that there was no target for the Baseball Shooter. A piece of paper with recognizable names on it and pictures of the baseball field notwithstanding.

    So in the post Obama transformed America there is no downside to writing articles calling for killing of a sitting US President.

    And if someone is crazy and evil enough to act on the writer’s suggestion there will probably be no downside to that either.

    What is important is that the Democrats lost an election. And apparently that is no longer acceptable in today’s America.

  24. Wry Mouth Says:

    404’d on the link? Dang!


  25. neo-neocon Says:

    Wry Mouth:

    Just now I did a search for some of the article’s quotes, and I discovered several pieces explaining the article had been scrubbed by HuffPo. No surprise, that.

    Apparently this is a copy of the original.

  26. Beverly Says:

    The woman who interrupted the play in the park (briefly) with a protest had more to say about how it was staged: it was an over the top leftwing Hatefest, with shout-outs to Black Lives Matter, etc.

    They degraded the Trump/Caesar character in every way possible; stripping the actor stark naked in one scene, showing all; the assassination scene wasn’t Shakespeare’s version but pure murder porn: the character was stabbed about a hundred times by [only] black men, making a racist point; and he crawled and begged for his life. . . .

    While the audience of Manhattan leftists cheered and cheered.

    To hear her account, see this link. Note also that she was arrested for her brief protest, but the all-licensed Leftists never are.


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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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