Thuggees

According to CNN’s “Thug” Chris Cillizza, the main issue with Donald Trump’s THUG tweet “is that the President of the United States is, AGAIN, abandoning any sort of moral leadership in a moment of national crisis –choosing instead to inflame and incite rather than instill calm.”

By AGAIN, does Chris mean just like Barack Obama did after Baltimore in 2015? In discussing the riots Obama criticized the “criminals and THUGS who tore up the place,” and described them as a distraction from the real issues of police brutality.

Josh Earnest, the president’s spokesman at the time told USA Today that “when you’re looting up a convenience store or you’re throwing a cinder block at a police officer, you’re engaging in thuggish behavior and that’s why the President used that word.”

By AGAIN, is Cillizza perhaps referring to Woodrow Wilson after the Boston “riots” in 1919? According to historian David Pietrusza, as the “influenza” pandemic swept the globe and the United States experienced a recession while the economy transitioned from wartime to peacetime, the police force of Boston unionized and 1,117 of the force’s 1,544 went on strike for higher pay, standardized hours, and renovations to the dirty, vermin-infested station houses.

Boston was left unprotected and chaos erupted. Vandals smashed store windows and looted goods. Innocent bystanders were attacked in the melee. Democrat Mayor Andrew J. Peters called on 5,000 Boston-based National Guardsmen to restore order.

President Wilson, on a speaking tour to gain support for the Versailles Treaty received an update while in Helena, Montana. Wilson articulated the mood of a frightened, angry nation, denouncing “a crime against civilization” that had left Boston “at the mercy of an army of THUGS.”


“Thuggees goes back to the 14th Century,” says Megan Garber, who traced the word’s origin for a story in The Atlantic. “There was a gang of criminals known as the thuggee.” Garber says the “Thugs” were a huge criminal network that operated all around India’s main roads. “They would basically befriend travelers along the roads, gain the travelers’ trust.  And then they would murder them, usually by strangulation, and steal their valuables. It was all very violent.”


Mark Twain was one of the first Americans to report on the group. Observations about the “Thugs” appeared in his book, “Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World.” Published in 1897, the book started the steady rise of “thug” in popularity and usage in American English.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: