In this brilliant column, Harold Meyerson of The American Prospect compares Trump to Nosferatu, the terrifying central figure in a silent German film of that name.

Death—meaning Trump—stalks Tulsa, bringing with him terror, disease, racism, and chaos. Hallmarks of this man.

Meyerson writes:

Tonight, the presidency of Donald Trump reaches its apotheosis with the president’s first 2020 campaign rally, a toxic mix of deadly germs and racist rage that he is inflicting on Tulsa. Even members of the coronavirus task force advised against this gathering. They were outvoted.

You might think Tulsa has suffered enough. It will soon commemorate the centenary of the white riot of 1921, when marauding bigots massacred hundreds of African Americans and all but destroyed their hitherto thriving community. It is currently enduring a spike in Covid-19 cases, which have risen by 140 percent in the past couple of weeks. Oklahoma now ranks second among the 50 states in the per capita rate of growth of coronavirus cases. Packing Tulsa’s BOK Center with 19,000 shouting Trump supporters, under no requirement to wear masks, will surely spread the virus to attendees, to the arena’s hapless employees, and to the surrounding community.

At the same time, Tulsa’s black community will be both celebrating Juneteenth and memorializing the massacre victims by protesting Trump and all his works, which could invite violence from the lumpen loonies of militias and white supremacy groups who Trump has summoned from the politically dead.

Has any notable visitor from afar ever dropped in on a city so manifestly spreading death in his wake?

Well, yes, at least in legend, and the tales spun from legend. One year after Tulsa’s white riot, in 1922, the brilliant German filmmaker F. W. Murnau made Nosferatu, the first great horror picture—for my money, still the greatest. It was the movies’ first treatment of the Dracula story, though in it, the Dracula character, embodied with terrifying aspect by Max Schreck, is named Nosferatu (derived loosely from the Romanian word Nesuferit, meaning “offensive” or “troublesome”). And, as in not the case in the subsequent Dracula films, Nosferatu neither stays in Transylvania nor confines his deadly compulsions to fatal neck-bites.

In Nosferatu, he travels on a ghostly ship to a placid 19th-century German town, bringing with him caskets full of diseased rats who spread the plague among the town’s panicked citizens. The film contains scenes that look almost predictive of what we’ve all gone through in recent weeks, as the burghers scatter to their homes when news of the plague is revealed, and as the streets grow quiet as the townspeople cower behind their doors.

Trump has reached the stage where comparisons to actual human beings no longer seem adequate. As the demagogue campaigner summons his unmasked hordes, he evokes no one so much as Murnau’s carrier of plague-bearing rats.

I’d be surprised if anyone has ever written that about a president of the United States.