Most presidents don’t do a lot after their tenure ends. Jimmy Carter has kept busy, mostly doing charity work. Barack Obama is a podcaster now who pals around with Bruce Springsteen. But most of the time they rest on their laurels, as if being the leader of the free world simply made them want to relax. Donald Trump is different. He clearly wants to run again. And he keeps making news that’s usually as random and surreal as it was during his presidency.
On Saturday he was busy. No, he wasn’t joining his fellow former presidents in honoring the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. He did color commentary for a boxing match with his son Don Jr. And a pre-recorded speech he made played during a conference for…the Moonies. Why not!
This is an incredible rewrite of history, in which he explains that Donald Trump, Glorious Leader, magically made the Korean Peninsula safer. 😂 pic.twitter.com/5NmaTtpluw
— Jim Stewartson, Antifascist, #RIPQ 🇺🇸🏴☠️ (@jimstewartson) September 12, 2021
Who are the Moonies? They’re a religious movement — some call them a cult — founded in the 1950s officially known as the Unification Church. Its founder, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, claimed to be a messiah. He died in 2012, and his widow, Hak Ja Han Moon, keeps the movement going. She threw a conference over the weekend, and she managed to convince the 45th president to record a message to her followers.
Trump called Moon’s widow a tremendous person,” praising her “for her incredible work on behalf of peace all over the world.”
He also talked about South Korea, where the movement was born. But of course he wound up praising himself. “Looking back today, it’s easy to forget how dangerous the situation was when I was elected,” Trump said. “Missiles were flying, nuclear weapons were being tested, and powerful threats were being issued every single day.” But Trump claimed to end that. “Under my leadership, the United States adopted a policy of unprecedented strength.”
It was random to see Trump praising a cult, but it was also disturbing. According to Insider, Jim Stewartson, of the anti-disinformation organization The Think Project, tweeted out his concern that a former president was lending credibility to the Moonies.
It’s hard to overstate how deeply harmful and deceptive this is. This is being pitched by a who’s who of establishment extremists as some sort of peace mission to unify Korea.
In reality it’s dangerous propaganda whitewashing a dangerous cult.
Dan Quayle, btw. Drink. 😑 pic.twitter.com/X5B6NSI0WO
— Jim Stewartson, Antifascist, #RIPQ 🇺🇸🏴☠️ (@jimstewartson) September 6, 2021
“This is being pitched by a who’s who of establishment extremists as some sort of peace mission to unify Korea,” Stewartson wrote. “In reality, it’s dangerous propaganda whitewashing a dangerous cult.”
Others elaborated on how dangerous the Moonies are, while pointing out that Trump is not the first Republican politician to speak at one of their gatherings: Mike Pence and Dick Cheney have, too.
When most people hear about the Moonies, they think, “what a crazy cult!” What these people might not realize though is how INTERTWINED this cult is with the modern GOP.
This past May, an offshoot of the Moonies held an event. Wanna know who spoke at this event? Scroll down…
— Steven Hassan, PhD (@CultExpert) August 10, 2021
Trump has a history with the Moonies. He claimed that in 1991 he tried to sell Mar-A-Lago to Reverend Moon. Meanwhile, Hyung Jin “Sean” Moon, the Moons’ son, campaigned for Trump and was even present at the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6.
When footage of Trump’s Moonies speech hit social media, people found it both weird and distressing. Some joked that it was a big day for the big guy.
The Trumpiest day possible: cash a check from the Moonies, cash a check from MMA, and drive five minutes to pretend to be presidential. And Rudy got plotzed, for good measure. https://t.co/MHwS6fu7rU
— Mike Rothschild (@rothschildmd) September 12, 2021
Some thought it bizarre even for Trump.
Donald Trump gave a speech tonight for the deity of the christofascist cult, The Moonies. Trump praised the authoritarian mind control cult for their “incredible story.” Totally normal stuff.
— MeidasTouch.com (@MeidasTouch) September 12, 2021
For anyone who's curious, no, so far not a single QAnon account I follow has said a word about Trump heaping praise on the Moonies tonight pic.twitter.com/ImGKgxHzWg
— Feminist Proper Gander (@dappergander) September 12, 2021
Oh nothing much…
It’s just Trump giving a glowing gushing speech praising the Moonies on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 because insane grifting violent extremist talibangelical cultists got to stick together.
— The USA Singers (@TheUSASingers) September 12, 2021
"Oh Trump's very popular Ed. The Moonies, the bikers, Russians, boaters, 3% percenters, proud boys, oath keepers, dickheads–they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude." pic.twitter.com/ks6cH9qNYW
— Mr. Newberger (@jeremynewberger) September 12, 2021
But maybe it all made sense.
Trump is the authoritarian leader of a religious cult, that prides itself on mind control, so his addressing the notorious Moonies is both shocking and logical. https://t.co/dBTReJwWMU
— Duty To Warn 🔉 (@duty2warn) September 12, 2021