Capture Bonding, What Else Could it Be?
We have long sought to understand the mindset of black Republican conservatives. We appreciate the fact that African-Americans are no more monolithic in thought or belief than any other group. As such, we should not place all of our eggs in one political basket, hew to only one political ideology or subscribe solely to a single political party. There should be black Republicans; there must be black conservatives. Diversity in all things is an asset.
Still, we struggle with the notion that we should support a party that engages in voter suppression. We are troubled by a political ideology that caters to white Supremacists and others who would return us to the good ole days of Jim Crow or worse, the hell of slavery? When this political strain speaks of taking back their country they mean taking it back from African-Americans, Hispanics, Muslims, Asians and other people of color.
To be clear not all conservatives and/or Republicans subscribe to intolerance, bigotry and hatred. But those who do are overwhelming conservative and/or Republican. Why then would any reasonable African-American align itself with a political ideology that is so hostile to our interest?
We are even more dumbfounded by those who support the current Republican front-runner, Donald Trump. Like Larry Wilmore the host of Comedy Centrals The Nightly Show, we just dont get it.
Recently, Mr. Wilmore interviewed six such individuals. The goal was to discern as the host so bluntly put it, what the f#@k are they thinking.
One black supporter, a child of Hip Hop, liked the Gangsta in Trump. Yet another identified himself as a registered Democrat who lost faith in his party. A self describe black Muslim was silent when asked what he would do if Trump decided to water board all Muslims while another black supporter indicated that he would have no problem with slavery as long as he was a well paid slave. http://rollingout.com/2016/03/23/larry-williams-exposes-mind-black-donald-trump-supporters/.
Not to be undone, erstwhile black Presidential candidate Ben Carson also weighed in on the topic. During an appearance on The View Mr. Carson confirmed his support of Trump even though Trump once likened him to a child molester. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/view-hosts-slam-ben-carson-endorsing-trump-article-1.2576462S. You simply cannot make this stuff up.
What then explains this march off the political cliff? Why would any reasonable African-American support anyone as odious and contrary to our interest as Donald Trump?
It may well be a question of perspective; a matter of relativity. Reality is subjective. One mans truth is another mans lie. And at times ideology supersedes self-preservation. There are therefore those who would sacrifice their lives for their religious or political beliefs. For other African-Americans, black conservatism is an expression of contrariness. If nine of us say yes at least one will say no just to be different.
But there may be a deeper explanation for this oddity. The key may lie in the psychological condition known as capture bonding.
Capture bonding is a hypothetical construct based in evolutionary psychology to explain the Stockholm syndrome as exemplified by the behavior of Elizabeth Smart in Salt Lake City in 2003 or Patty Hearst when she was abducted in 1974. In both cases the victims bonded to their captors and resisted leaving them.
The hypothesis is that ancient humans, usually female, were commonly and often violently captured from one tribe by another. Those who had the psychological traits that led them to socially reorient after a few days (i.e., bond) to their captors survived to pass on the trait. Those who continued to resist, because they didn’t have this trait, often may not have reproduced. http://psychology.wikia.com/wiki/Capture-bonding.
Akin to battered person syndrome and hazing, socio-economic capture bonding may be a false analogy. Nonetheless, it makes as much sense as any explanation offered to date.
To support a political candidate because he is a bully and a thug, to willingly submit to torture or consent to being a well paid slave speaks to our warped values, not Trumps. Even if he is a Gangsta Trump is in the wrong gang. These and other explanations in defense of the indefensible demonstrate that Trump and his ilk are the least of our problems.
But while socio-economic capture bonding is odd it is not unusual. Nor is it unique to African-Americans. During the Plains Indian Wars of the 1800s Native Americans served as scouts for the U. S. Calvary, knowing that their fellow Native Americans would be slaughtered. In Nazi Germany, some Jews served Hitler having full knowledge of the Nazi death camps.
Today, gay conservatives known as Log Cabin Republicans support a party that considers them abominations and works to deny them basic civil and human rights. And the GOP conservative female base supports a candidate who treats women like dirt. African-Americans however, must not follow suit.
Our various social and political frustrations do not compel us to bite off our nose to spite or face. Nor should we substitute an admittedly imperfect allay for an implacable foe which by word and deed constitutes a clear and present danger to our freedom, liberty and well-being.Trump and his supporters can call for making America great again all day long.
However, what they really want is to turn back the clock to a time when institutional racism ran rampant. For Blackacre, voter suppression standing alone is a deal breaker. The same applies to the disrespect and contempt shown the first black President.
In conclusion, we shall always respect the opinions of those with whom we disagree. But we continue to struggle with African-Americans who support the current state of Republican conservatism. This in spite of our socio-economic capture bonding.
Leo Barron Hicks, Founder and CEO
Blackacre Policy Forum