Donald Trump held a brief rally at the Lancaster Airport in Lititz yesterday around 1:30 PM.
While that’s not ultra-noteworthy, it spawned a wildfire on the Internet that gained a lot of momentum and attention, particularly on Twitter.
The question on everyone’s mind was:
Who were the Amish guys behind Trump?
While the resolution of this photo isn’t that great, it’s easy to see why people were asking this — they’re Amish and they’re on TV.
Online, people argued about the legitimacy of the people behind Trump based on some sort-of-accurate information that they may have gleaned from any number of sources with any amount of credibility.
The semi-plain-clothes people behind Trump’s right shoulder look Amish — to the untrained eye.
Were they Amish? Mennonite? Something in-between?
But for those of us who have grown up around the Amish and have known some of the people within the cult itself, we know the real answer.
Who Were the Amish Guys at Trump’s Rally?
They’re not Amish. We can’t say who these people are with 100% certainty. But we can say with 100% certainty that they’re not Amish.
1. The Amish Don’t Intentionally Get Photographed
The members of the Amish cult intentionally avoid photographs and video recordings because they feel that it can lead to a sense of pride.
Pride is the kryptonite of the Amish — at least in theory — because it’s the deadly sin from which all others come.
(Again, in theory.)
So the Amish don’t do portraits. They don’t willingly take photographs that they themselves can keep (unless they can make money doing it, but that’s another issue for another blog).
They also typically avoid video recordings because it can also lead to vanity.
This is especially true in more conservative Amish sects like the white-toppers and yellow-toppers. They’re often more secluded from modern society anyway, so it makes sense that they’re also sheltered from modern inclinations to take pictures of everything.
So if a bunch of Amish guys lined up for the Trump rally, they probably wouldn’t be the ones who signed waivers to stand behind Trump and be seen by everyone watching.
It just doesn’t jive with the values they hold.
But don’t worry — there are more reasons to support the fact that these guys aren’t Amish.
2. The Amish Don’t Wear Polos
If you look closely at the Amish imitator standing immediately over Trump’s right shoulder, you can see that he’s wearing a white polo shirt.
From the standpoint of traditional Amish dress, this makes zero sense.
The Amish don’t wear polos. They also don’t wear T-shirts, short-sleeve button-downs, or jorts.
It’s just not in their wardrobe.
3. The Amish Marry Early & the Men Grow Beards as Wedding Rings
One of the best-known Amish traditions is that they don’t wear wedding rings.
Instead, the groom starts growing a beard on his wedding day, and he never cuts it.
As a result, older Amish men have Gandalf-level beards. Even 20- and 30-year-olds have significant growth under the chin.
The Amish also don’t color or style their beards because, again, it’s vain. So the beard grows as the beard grows — and there’s nothing to stop it from growing how it wants.
This is important because the Amish impersonators standing behind Trump are all sporting short beards or none at all, and they all appear to be in their 20s, 30s, or even 40s.
The man immediately over Trump’s right shoulder also has gray in his beard, but the beard itself is only a few inches from his chin.
In the Amish community, a man who has gray in his beard would have also been married long enough to have a substantial beard. It would at least be at or past his neck by the time his beard started to change color.
With those four reasons down pat, we can safely say that our guys in the background of the Lancaster Trump rally are not actually Amish.
If They’re Not Amish… Who Are They?
They could be people dressing the part to look Amish because, hey, why not play a half-assed game of exploitation dress-up when you’re in a county that’s pretty much only known for having the Amish?
(Our cultural identity is more than a minority population of religious semi-isolationists. This is like defining Waco, Texas by the Davidians.)
Aside from that idea being horrendously offensive to everyone who lives in Lancaster, including the Amish themselves, there’s a more likely reason.
They’re paid actors.
Outside of Lancaster County, a lot of people take what they hear about the Amish and run with it. I once spoke to someone at Penn State who thought that the Amish didn’t want to get photographed because they thought the camera stole their souls.
(That’s tribal Native Americans, by the way.)
Still, most people can put together a vision in their head of what they think an Amish person looks like.
In my experience, that list tends to look like this:
- White guy
- Thatch hat
- White shirt (optional)
- Thousand-yard stare
With this, just about anyone could put together an Amish costume, but anyone familiar with the Amish will see right through it.
So, yeah, these guys were probably paid, dressed by someone who ran to Goodwill in a hurry, and told to stand in the background.
But that opens a whole different question.
Why Would Someone Pay Actors to Dress Like the Amish?
The simplest answer to this is that the Amish’s work ethic is as legendary as the bizarre nuances of their cult.
Need a barn raised? Amish do it.
Need a house built? Amish do it.
Want it done in 24 hours by people who will feel guilty if they charge you more for it?
This represents the extreme of the modern American ideal that hard work yields prosperity. The Amish do the hardest possible physical labor, they grow old while doing it, and they have huge families to show for it.
They’re homesteaders who never stopped being homesteaders. They’re on the fringe of society and kept alive only by the merits of their work and the sweat of their brow. They’re self-sufficient.
They don’t waste time — they only work.
Despite the fact that this mentality was proven to be fatal for most people who had to live through the Gilded Age and the ensuing Great Depression, this is still a commonly-held belief today — especially by republicans.
Trump capitalized on the Amish stereotype of work ethic in his characteristic half-uttered, bumbling nonsense by bringing up some comment about how the Pennsylvania Dutch (which are not the same as Amish, by the way) can raise a barn in two days.
What better way to appeal to the Ayn-Rand level of dedication that republicans have to the idea of hard work? Who better to emphasize the determination and work ethic of a president than the Amish — a people who deliberately indoctrinate their own children to shun education, technology, women’s rights, non-white ethnicities, accessible medical care, personal growth, critical thinking, and a general sense of happiness?
Trump was blatantly making a play at this rally to make a half-assed relationship with the audience that shows he understands Lancaster County as a culture.
To do that, he exploited the beliefs of a sub-culture cult that’s known for its seclusion from civilized society in which most individuals are considered lucky to have anything greater than a sixth-grade education.
There are a lot of layers to that — the fact that the Amish are exploitable; the fact that people think it’s okay to exploit them; the fact that this particular act of exploitation itself was insultingly lazy; the list continues.
But I digress.
Let’s get back to the question at hand.
Who were the Amish guys behind Trump at his rally at Lancaster Airport?
Probably paid actors.