My crew first encountered Cesar Sayoc, the mail bomber/terrorist, 20 months ago when we went down to Melbourne, Florida, to film Trump’s first “Trump 2020 Re-election Rally” — just one month after his inauguration. My direction to my producer Basel Hamdan and our longtime collaborator Eric Weinrib was to NOT film Trump, but rather only film the people who came out to see him. My feeling was, after one month in office, we didn’t need to hear anything more from Trump’s mouth — we already knew everything we needed to know about him.
Who we needed to understand were our fellow Americans, lost souls full of anger and possible violence, easily fed a pile of lies so large and toxic that we wondered if there would ever be a chance that we could bring them back from the Dark Side.
Our footage of Mr. Sayoc would never make it into the final cut of what would be the film that is now in its last week in cinemas across America. But I’d like to share it with you, if only to give you a momentary glimpse of him in action (all are free to use this video and share it).
You’ve seen the photos of him on the news over the past couple days– a slight, normal, everyday American. But those are from before. Here with our footage I can show you what he had actually become — overdosed on steroids in what looks like some desperate attempt to hang on to what was left of his manhood. Men, people like Cesar have been led to believe, were and are under attack by the likes of Hillary and Michelle and all those “feminazis” who’ve had but one mission: political castration. The theft of power from the patriarchy that had been in place for 10,000 years. The end of men.
Here in this outtake from “Fahrenheit 11/9” is 3 minutes and 38 seconds of raw, unedited footage — and you can see what Sayoc had become by early 2017, his body grossly deformed into what he thought a man should be, muscles the size of basketballs, he’s wearing a sleeveless white T-shirt, holding a big anti-CNN sign and, along with his fellow Trumpsters, is yelling at the journalists who had gathered in the media pen. You’ll see him two or three times, each for a few seconds, but if you pause on him you will also see something profound. Underneath his threatening Hulk-like exterior, there is fear in his eyes and, for a quick moment, you can see he is already gone, a lost dog with no direction home.
What do we do with the thousands of other Cesar Sayocs? They have been told by Trump that they are at war — WAR! — against the rest of us, the vast, vast majority who believe climate change is real, who state without equivocation that women are equal citizens with an absolute right to control their own reproductive organs, who have seen how the free enterprise system is a hoax designed to destroy the middle class, and who demand that all people have a right to easily cast their votes without any interference. Cesar and his bros ARE at war, against all these things, against us, the majority, and they are at war inside of and against themselves. This is why they will lose, but not before they take a few of us with them.
Needless to say I was a bit shaken to see that Sayoc had placed a photo of me with a crosshairs target over my face on the side of his van. Over the past 15 years I have encountered men like him many times. I stopped counting the death threats long ago. I’ve been assaulted more than a half-dozen times (men with knives, clubs, hot scalding coffee thrown at my face) — and then there was the man who was making a fertilizer bomb (a la Oklahoma City) to blow up my house, only to be thwarted by his AK-47 which went off accidentally. A neighbor heard it, called the cops, and off to prison he went.
So none of this week’s abhorrence surprises me in the least—except for the fact that it is the President himself who is the “what-me?” instigator of it.
Maybe someday I’ll get a chance to sit down with Mr. Sayoc and break bread and ask him “why me?” on his van? Because of this target he put on me, the police and security people were looking on Friday to see if a package had been sent to me and, if so, is it still somewhere in the postal delivery system. So far, so good!
Today we grieve over the latest loss of life this weekend in Pittsburgh. As it was when fascism started to spread in the last century, it begins with just a few thugs committing random acts of violence against the people whom their leader has told them to hate. Yet no matter what awful events await us in the coming days or weeks, we will not be deterred from our singular mission: The electoral tsunami of voters we are bringing to the polls on November 6th to end this madness.