Extract

First it was Donald Trump. Now Jacob Zuma says he is the victim of a “witch hunt”.

It makes sense that they’d both use the phrase, given how much they have in common. Both men have high-maintenance friends in Russia. Both collect wives, and both have been accused of treating women with violent disdain. Both are catastrophically bad with money. And both are, without question, the worst president their respective countries have had in a quarter of a century.

Mostly, however, they share an uncanny ability to turn the suffering of other people into claims that they themselves are being persecuted. Indeed, the attempt by two uber-patriarchs to try to stay out of jail by invoking a vast atrocity against innocent women says it all. Today we remember witch hunts as explosive bouts of violence carried out by frightened religious bigots. The word “witch” adds a pinch of supernatural mystery to the whole sordid tale. But in truth these “witch hunts” were simply an excuse for believers in violent patriarchy — both male and female — to murder women who did not bend the knee far enough. All of which is why, when people like Trump and Zuma claim to be the victims of witch hunts, one should gaze in wonder at the privilege and historical amnesia that comes with being a rich man in a patriarchal society. But this is where the similarity ends, because while Trump is probably using the term because Ivanka wrote it on a flashcard, I’m not sure we can assu...

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