Hypermasculinity and Trumpism.

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Credit: N/A

I’ve been noticing a huge and (to me) obvious difference between Trump supporters and those who oppose him.  Much has been said about the tendency of Trump supporters to have more authoritarian personalities than the norm, and that is true, but why is authoritarianism so attractive to them?  Why do they hate democracy?  Don’t they want to think for themselves?  Don’t they want to live in a free and inclusive society that values empathy for others and the Golden Rule (which we were all taught in kindergarten)?

The other day I was following a Twitter convo between some Trump supporters talking about Matt Whitaker, Trump’s new Acting Attorney General.  They were all talking about how Whitaker looked like a guy who wouldn’t take crap from anyone, and would rule with an iron fist. They admired Whitaker’s pumped up, hypermasculine physique, his cold, expressionless features, and were almost reverently comparing him to Mr. Clean (who would, of course, clean up “the swamp”).

The kind of people I observed conversing on Twitter, like all Trump admirers, don’t seem to care about the lack of checks and balances and the deep corruption in Trump’s administration.  In fact, they love the idea of Trump having as much power as he desires (which is unlimited as his need for power and adulation is insatiable), so he can push through his cruel and destructive agenda.  In Whitaker they see a tough, merciless enforcer. And yes, they actually used the word “enforcer.”

This same group was making fun of Rod Rosenstein, Jeff Sessions’ deputy Attorney General (who seems to have been demoted since Sessions was fired and Whitaker came on the scene) for his “girlish, wimpy” appearance.  One of the group even posted a meme of Rosenstein as a 90 lb weakling getting sand kicked in his face by (you guessed it) an exaggeratedly muscled Whitaker who looked like he was pumped up on massive doses of steroids.  This group was not all males.  In fact the person who posted the meme was a woman.

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Far right paramilitary groups like the Proud Boys embody Trumpist hypermasculinity.

Trump supporters see the exaggerated stereotype of the “macho man” as what a “real” man should be.  Someone like Rosenstein (or any man who believes in doing the right thing, has empathy or humility, or who opposes Trump for lacking those qualities), they see as weak and  feminine, an affront to patriarchy.   Trump supporters believe a real man shows no “soft” emotions, never apologizes, is never at fault (or at least never admits fault), can break the law or do cruel things to other people as long as they get away with it or it’s a means to an end they believe is “good,” and dominates everyone who they perceive as beneath them, which is just about everyone.

In a leader, Trump supporters regard “soft” traits such as empathy or mercy, as undesirable because they are stereotypically “womanly” traits, and women are believed to be inferior to men.  I suspect most Trumpers had authoritarian fathers who demanded girls act like girls and boys act like boys.  That would explain Trump/Whitaker’s appeal among right wing evangelicals, who celebrate authoritarianism and patriarchy.   This same mindset also explains the hard right’s obsession with guns, and the primacy of the Second Amendment over all other rights bestowed to Americans in the Bill of Rights and Constitution.

Trump supporters seem to find nothing wrong with Trump’s bullying, cruel insults and namecalling and in fact seem to think it’s a plus.   Yesterday, in one of his increasingly unhinged tweets, Trump deliberately mangled Adam Schiff’s (D-CA) last name into a profanity (no need to repeat the word since I think it’s pretty obvious).   Another Trump fan tweeted this in response:

Some might say this isn’t becoming of a President. That’s ok…I didn’t vote for him because of his impeccable decorum skills. Give me a Commander in Chief that cuts thru the bull, gets things done, has a backbone, is a Patriot thru and thru, & actually keeps his word anyday [sic].

You’re not imagining things.  Trump’s followers are actually praising Trump for his puerile butchering of Schiff’s last name. They find ways to spin his worst traits and most immature, childish, and cruel actions and statements into actual virtues and good deeds.  It’s really rather remarkable the way they can so glibly make excuses for his worst behaviors.

My conclusion is this:  the values of Trump supporters involve a deep admiration, even worship, of “strongmen” figures:  hypermasculine, even abusive, men; physically pumped up, emotionless, violent, without mercy, dictatorial, punishing, and bullying.  They don’t want a president of the people, a president who brings us together as Americans;  they want a president who “sticks it to the libs” and others they don’t like. Trump shares their hates and fears, and they love him for it, even if he destroys the country we all share in the process.

“Republican Jesus.”

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Related to the above, I’ve often seen Trump supporting evangelicals talk about “Christ as a warrior,” rather than a compassionate friend. The “Republican Jesus” memes are, unfortunately, not exaggerations.  Dominionist and far right evangelicals depict Jesus Christ not as a loving figure of grace and forgiveness, but as an angry warrior out to avenge sin using the most terrifying and violent methods imaginable.  He is especially enraged by sexual sins like abortion and homosexuality (strangely, rape and adultery don’t seem to be issues, given “chosen one” Trump’s immoral sexual behavior and failure to repent or humble himself before God).  Of course, the sins of greed, wrath, exploitation, cruelty and indifference to the “least of these,” destruction of the earth, and bearing false witness are all considered fine since they are just a means to an end (establishing God’s kingdom on earth, a heretical teaching which doesn’t even appear in the Bible they’re always thumping).

Their hyper-Calvinist God favors his “elect” who apparently can do no wrong, and as a reward, he showers them with wealth and power.   For the rest of us, God exists only to mete out punishment and condemn us to eternal hellfire.   Even Jesus is seen as a violent, warlike, avenging figure, and this explains extremist evangelicals’ infatuation with Old Testament legalism and punishment over the Gospels.   The caring, compassionate Jesus of the New Testament isn’t an appealing figure for them.  A few weeks ago, at a “Religious Liberty” meeting full of extremist evangelical Republicans, a Christian preacher was taken out in handcuffs for quoting New Testament scripture (specifically, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ most important and famous sermon).

Trump supporting evangelicals believe both Trump and Whitaker were sent by God to do his holy bidding (at least according to the group I observed on Twitter, who said they believed Whitaker, like Trump, was anointed by God).  The goal is to destroy all of “the liberal establishment” and by logical progression, all liberals (who I think are hated not so much because of what they believe, but because they are associated with softness and all traits they regard as “feminine” and also include a great many more women leaders and nonwhite people).

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5 Essentials for Defeating Trump.

Here’s an extremely sobering article about the Trump regime’s true diabolical agenda: an unholy merging of white male privilege and authoritarian religion disguised as evangelical Christianity (also known as Dominionism).   What this regime isn’t telling anyone is they are working in the shadows toward an intolerant, legally enforced, violent, misogynistic theocracy very similar to radical Islam in everything but the specific religion it’s using to disguise itself.  In fact, this movement isn’t a true religion at all; it’s a religious cover for a fascist political agenda, and is the opposite of anything Christ ever stood for.

Dominionist Christianity is an unholy mix of the prosperity gospel and forced sexual conformity (especially for women).  It tends to attract the selfish and the uncompassionate; the smug, self righteous, and sanctimonious; the greedy, the abusive, the sociopathic, and those who need, due to their own narcissism, to feel superior to others based on their white heritage, their false piety, or their personal wealth.

Qualities like compassion and empathy are seen as weaknesses that need to be eliminated.   Financial wealth and the power that comes with that is seen as the only true measure of God’s approval.   Misfortune, illness, and poverty is inflicted only on those who God does not approve of.    Human beings are regarded as useful objects to achieve one’s aims or exploit for financial gain, rather than as individuals with needs (slavery is acceptable).   The desire for human rights and to be treated with dignity are considered to be the work of Satan.  The end always justifies the means, so evil acts and cruelty are all acceptable as long as they help to bring about the endgame, which is a theocracy based on Old Testament Law and unfettered (unregulated) capitalism where the wealthy and privileged can rule like feudal kings over the hordes of serfs and slaves under their rule.  Adherents believe God has given certain people (modern day prophets and apostles) license to force their will on others to achieve the movement’s agenda.   Dominionist Christianity is a sociopathic, violent, religiopolitical movement and is eating America like metastatic cancer.

I have already written a number of posts about dominionism, so I won’t list sources here, but a quick Google search will direct you to them. This isn’t a conspiracy theory. It’s absolutely real.

Trump is the key this Christofascist movement is using to open the Pandora’s box of horror and suffering they have kept under wraps for years and are just now beginning to unleash in all its ugliness and hypocrisy, the intention being to inflict it on anyone who can’t or won’t conform.   Many Trump supporters aren’t aware of the regime’s real agenda,  and can’t be convinced they have become part of a cult of personality that in many cases, will do them or their loved ones harm or even kill them.   But as in Hitler’s Germany, by the time they finally realize the danger they are in, it will be too late.

Trump, though apparently not religious himself (and definitely unrepentant of his past sins) is helping this diabolical movement realize their fascist agenda (which is why its adherents insist he is anointed by God) in return for their support of him. That’s why there are so many dominionists in his cabinet and why they seem to think of Trump as a kind of savior.

To save America and the world (because it’s their intention to eventually take over the planet), their dark agenda must be exposed and brought into the light.  Author Chris Kratzer outlines how this can be done in this terrifying (but also hopeful) article.

5 Essentials for Defeating Trump 

 

The bullies are winning and my heart is breaking.

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Today I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach and recovering from some terrible illness at the same time.  I have no energy.    I just want to pull the covers over my head and sleep.  But I can’t sleep because I’m so on edge.

It’s a beautiful, sunny day and I’ve spent the entire day lying in bed. I’m depressed and anxious and everything hurts.  I’m stress-eating, doing pretty much nothing but staring at the ceiling and dropping the crumbs from the loaf of lemon pound cake I bought this morning all over my clean sheets.  At least I haven’t watched the news today (I need a break from it, after this past week).   I’ve been trying to read a new book I just bought, but I can’t concentrate.  I must have read the same page about ten times and didn’t comprehend a word of what I read.

As a survivor of narcissistic and sexual abuse, this whole Kavanaugh drama that’s been on the news 24/7 for almost two weeks now has been extremely triggering and making my C-PTSD symptoms flare up.  It’s not much comfort to know I’m far from alone though.  What this government is doing is narcissistic abuse writ large, and it’s negatively affecting millions of women and children, people of color, immigrants, and even many men.  Brett Kavanaugh is an abuser.  Even if he wasn’t a sexual predator (and I think there’s enough evidence that he is), he is predator and an abuser of women.  You can tell by his smug demeanor and his fake tears, by his narcissistic rage, by his entitlement, and by his abuser non-apology (“I didn’t mean to lose control, but SHE made me do it”).  Trump loves Kavanaugh because he’s a mirror image of himself and he will do his bidding and make him immune to the law.

So now that this predator, serial liar, and all around awful person has been confirmed to the highest court in the land, I feel personally threatened.  Not by Kavanaugh personally, since I will never have to deal with him.   I feel threatened by this entire regime which seems to grow stronger and meaner every day.  The abuse they inflict seems to keep getting worse, and now it’s getting personal.   First there was the Muslim ban, then the horrible treatment of the people in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, there was Heather Heyer being killed in Charlottesville by a white supremacist, and then football players taking a knee and being condemned for that.   As terrible as those things were, they didn’t seem that personal.  They were just terrible news stories, distant from my own life.  I still had hope things would turn around, people would wake up to what was happening, and good would triumph over evil.

But real life isn’t a movie with a happy ending, and things continued to deteriorate.   There were reports of  migrant kids from Central America locked in cages and forcibly separated from their parents.  I remember waking up in cold sweats from nightmares about little Hispanic children crying and screaming behind bars in cold dark cages, reaching their little hands out through the bars toward me, tears streaming down their small brown faces, and not being able to do a thing to help them except pray for them.  My nightmare wasn’t far off from the reality of what was actually happening.  Kids in concentration camps.  No privacy, not enough food, forced to drink dirty water, denied medical care or comfort.  Provided only with an aluminum foil blanket for warmth.  Ripped from their mothers’ arms and then not even allowed to comfort each other.  Abused and mocked by cruel, sociopathic guards in some cases.  Children fortunate enough to be returned to their parents looked shell shocked, their faces devoid of emotion.  They’d obviously been traumatized and were forced to  bury their feelings because living like that, in cages, away from the family that loved them, not understanding what they did wrong to deserve such treatment, hurt too much.  These little kids will be damaged for life, because a fat orange faced dictator felt like it was necessary to “deter” immigrants from coming here, and these innocent little lives were used as a tool and a warning.

And this travesty is happening in America.  In the land of the free.  In the the shining city on a hill.  “It can’t happen here.”  Really?  Oh, yes, it can.  And it is.   Who will be targeted next?

Women.   Women are being targeted now.  Especially women who dare to come forward and tell the truth about their abusers.   This regime has no empathy for survivors of abuse, sexual or otherwise, especially if they’re female.   Trump mocked Dr. Christine Ford at one of his rallies, and his supporters cheered.   A sexual predator gets confirmed to the Supreme Court, after lying under oath, committing perjury, and after a sham FBI investigation was run that turned out to be nothing more than a way to get “the left” to shut up.

Now Democrats and liberals are being targeted.    I avoid reading Trump’s tweets, but I couldn’t ignore this one, because it made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck:

You don’t hand matches to an arsonist, and you don’t give power to an angry left wing mob.  Democrats have become too EXTREME and TOO DANGEROUS to govern.  Republicans believe in the rule of the law – not the rule of the mob.

Let’s unpack this tweet.  First of all, it is blatant gaslighting and projection, which this man does every day.   It’s the Party of Trump (formerly the Republican Party), that has become extreme and dangerous, they are the ones who are trying to install a fascist, authoritarian government, remove our rights and freedoms, and now they appear to want to squash the First Amendment rights of anyone who doesn’t fawn at Trump’s feet.

I have never heard any president in my lifetime ever refer to the opposite party as a “mob” or “dangerous.”   Such labels were reserved for outside enemies, like ISIS or Al-Qaeda.  Our protests have been peaceful, much more peaceful than the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally that ended in the death of a counterprotester, or all the hate-filled Trump rallies where his followers chant mindlessly, “Lock her up!  Lock her up!” two years after Hillary lost the election (even though she didn’t lose the popular vote) — and even though repeated investigations found she was innocent of any wrongdoing.   THEY are the mob, not us.  The Trump party does NOT believe in the rule of law because its leaders are corrupt to the core and break the law every day.  Its followers are fueled by hate and fear, and they are growing more aggressive, as Trump stokes their rage at his rallies and encourages bullying and violence against anyone who is different from them, or anyone who doesn’t worship Trump, which means most of us.  I fear there is going to be a crackdown against us very soon, a curtailment of our rights, even though we have done nothing wrong.

In America, the bullies are winning.  Evil is winning.  It’s so triggering.  I am reminded of being the bullied, sensitive kid at school who was chased home every day by a rowdy group of cruel boys and mocked by the popular girls because of my social awkwardness.   Our president is a sadistic bully and he is surrounded by and rewards other sadistic bullies, while gaslighting and blaming and cruelly mocking everyone who has ever been a victim — or even anyone who is just a decent human being — by him and his merry band of flying monkeys.

When I think back to two years ago, or even a year ago, I realize with a jolt how much worse things have become since then — and much worse than I ever thought they could get.  I certainly thought Trump would have been impeached or removed under the 25th Amendment by now, but nothing he does or says — locking kids in cages, committing treasonous acts with Putin and Kim Jong Un in plain sight, alienating our allies, mocking women and abuse survivors who are brave enough to come forward and tell their stories — nothing at all seems to force him to be accountable.   He is apparently already above the law.  His new SCOTUS pick, Kavanaugh, was chosen primarily because he will make sure Trump stays above the law and is never held accountable for his many criminal acts and brutal deeds.    Our system of checks and balances has been hacked away at and has failed us, and now all three branches of government are completely under Trump’s control.

Even the breaking news story the other day in the New York Times that provided proof that Trump is a tax cheat and fraud who lied about his inheritance and businesses,  made barely a blip in the news.  It got buried under all the Kavanaugh drama, and no one even seems to care.  No one is going to hold him accountable for his crimes.   Even if the Mueller investigation somehow isn’t shut down,  Trump will skate, no matter how bad the charges may be.

Things have gotten worse, so much worse.  I feel it in my very cells.  It’s different now than it was even a few weeks ago.  Trump is consolidating power, he’s become more blatant and open in his cruelty and his lackeys don’t even try to hide behind a pleasant facade anymore (Lindsey Graham is a good example —  it’s almost like he’s possessed or suddenly removed his “soft spoken southern gentleman” skin suit).

The GOP has declared open season on women who dare to call out a man for abuse or for rape, and on all Democrats.   This isn’t normal.   A president is supposed to bring people together, not divide them.   Democrats have been demonized and identified as the enemy, and Trump’s tweet is preparing his base for aggression and violence against us.  To Trump and his supporters, we are the enemy, every bit as bad if not worse than ISIS.  We are fair game for whatever Trump wants them to dish out.   Martial law and curtailment of our freedom of speech is probably next.   We may even be rounded up and put in reeducation or forced labor camps.  Private prisons can make a hefty profit off our free labor.

As a Democrat and a woman and abuse survivor, I don’t feel safe in this country anymore.  I’m hypervigilant and constantly stressed.   Things seem to get better for awhile, I see a ray of hope — and then something happens and it feels like I’m on the Titanic as it was sinking, knowing there’s no way to save myself.  Or like I’m in hell, trapped in a torturous game of two steps forward, three steps back, for all eternity.   It’s as if I’m back in my abusive marriage, only this is worse because there’s no escape, no way to go “no contact.”  Trump dominates everything, he’s an oppressive presence even when I’m not seeing or hearing him.   I feel like I can’t breathe.  I wish I could flee the country, but I lack the means to do that.    And I’m so jealous of those who will be able to.

If things have gotten this much worse in less than two years, I’m absolutely petrified of what is coming down the pike next year, or two years hence.   I lack the right kind of emotional makeup to be able to survive living in a fascist dictatorship and once it’s established (if we lose the midterms I am sure it will be), all I have to look forward to is the relief of death.   I worry about my children facing a future under such a cruel and heartless regime, where my daughter can be targeted because of her gender, and my son can be targeted because of his sexual orientation.   I don’t feel like they’re safe here either and I worry about them.

Besides being terrified, I’m also heartbroken.   I remember the way things used to be here in America, how bright the future seemed.  I remember the way we took our many freedoms and rights for granted and never dreamed anything like this could happen.  I’m filled with grief so profound and heavy I can barely move.    I often wonder if this is the way women felt in Afghanistan or Iran before Sharia Law took over or the way the people of Germany felt in 1934 before Hitler seized total power.

I never thought it would happen here.  But it has.  America is dying, and this is what is feels like.

Please pray for us.

*****

Here is a similar, but more hopeful, article from Chris Kratzer’s amazing blog.  Its central message is that if what is happening in America makes you feel sick, nauseous, angry, sad, fearful, or disgusted, there is nothing wrong with you.  In fact, if you feel those things, it’s an indication you have a working soul.

If Today, Your Heart Breaks and Your Hope Is Fading

Narcissistic abuse: who is the real victim?

I’ve noticed the way the Trump administration is constantly “blaming the victim,” and the way they never take responsibility for their own terrible and abusive actions that hurt real people.  Not just that, but they usually paint themselves as innocent victims and use rhetoric that makes it sound as if the real victim is the perpetrator.  They project their own evil onto the victim and often use flying monkeys (in a government, a flying monkey can include state run news, TV pundits, and other propaganda generators) to smear or destroy the victim’s reputation or credibility.   This is a form of emotional and mental abuse common in families run by sociopaths and narcissists and, as we are seeing, it also happens in sociopathic regimes like the one we’re currently living under.

There is an acronym called DARVO in the narcissistic abuse community (DARVO = Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender). Narcissistic abuse survivors are all too familiar with this method of mental abuse and emotional manipulation.  It surprises me that more of them don’t see it happening in the Trump administration, when it’s staring them right in the face, but there are abuse victims who actually unconsciously identify with their abusers and this could be an example of that.

There are many examples of DARVO in this administration (it would take a whole other article to name all of them), the most recent one being the GOP ganging up on and blaming a rape victim of trying to “ruin the life of” and making a victim of a “model citizen” (Brett Kavanaugh).   In general, women are held in very low regard in this regime (especially if they are not white), and are usually blamed by the patriarchy for anything that happens to them, including rape. These hateful, entitled men seem to think a man who sexually abuses a woman or even a child (Roy Moore) is just “doing what men do” and it’s the female’s job to somehow stop him, or that she somehow “led him on.”

In this authoritarian regime which emboldens and encourages toxic masculinity and misogyny, men are painted as poor innocents who simply cannot control their sexual urges.   Never mind that forcible sex, rape and molestation have nothing to do with sexual desire and is all about power and control.   If it cannot be denied the rape or sexual abuse was wrong, the woman is blamed for not reporting it in a timely enough manner.  But there are many reasons a woman or girl may not report sexual abuse or may wait many years to do so: shame and fear of retribution being the most common reasons.   According to the patriarchy, the man is never to blame.  It is always the woman’s fault.

Franklin Graham, the dominionist son of Billy Graham (what the heck happened to Graham’s kids anyway? Billy was not a lunatic) even went so far as to say Kavanaugh “respected” his victim by “not finishing.”   Wow.  A real man of God.   He probably thinks it’s okay to rape young girls because that’s what men did in Old Testament times.    Now the corrupt GOP are trying to silence Dr. Blasey Ford and ram Kavanaugh through for the SCOTUS seat in spite of abundant evidence he is not a man of good character.  They are trying to excuse what he did to Dr. Blasey Ford as normal behavior for a teenage boy, even though it is not at all normal.     When I was in high school, no boy with any moral compass would ever hold a girl down while forcing sex on her and cover her mouth to keep her from screaming (and have a friend turn the music up to drown her out), and if he did, it would become a police matter (if she ever reported it).

In light of these developments and the real peril women are in under the Trump regime (we may lose all our rights and freedoms should this nomination go through and if the GOP wins the midterms), I’m reblogging this article I wrote about distinguishing victims from their abusers (it can be hard to tell, if the abuser has convinced you they’re the victim)

Lucky Otters Haven

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Narcissistic abusers are great at charming people they want to impress, or those people they want to get on their side. When they have targeted an individual for abuse, they will stop at nothing to turn their friends, colleagues, even their families against them–and it’s not at all uncommon for them to claim that THEY are the ones being abused.   The process of using malicious gossip and lies to turn people against the victim is called triangulation and is well known in the narcissistic abuse community. Most of us who have been targeted by narcissistic abusers know all too well about triangulation and its close cousin, gaslighting. Both will be used in conjunction with each other to turn the victim’s potential allies against them, effectively isolating them and ripping away any support systems they could use later.

Those who have been turned against the victim by the narcissist are called

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Football and Christmas: how Trump is destroying two American traditions.

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Malignant narcissists love to ruin holidays and other events that bring people together. It’s common for a narcissist to ruin Christmas, anniversaries, or birthdays by picking a fight, gaslighting or insulting the guest of honor or the attendees, or finding ways to turn everyone’s attention on themselves and make it all about them. The truth is, the narcissist hates it when they aren’t constantly the center of attention, so ruining everyone else’s fun is often the easiest way for them to accomplish that. It’s also a way to keep others from having a good time. Malignant narcissists hate to see other people happy because, to them, life is a zero sum game and if others are happy, they see it as a threat to their own ability to be happy (the truth is, they are incapable of genuine happiness) and become envious of those who can. So if they are at a party or other gathering where people are celebrating, they will do anything they can to become the center of attention and ruin the fun of others in order to “right” things (by taking away the happiness of others).

On the national level, in America, we have two traditions that are shared by millions of people of disparate backgrounds and historically have had a way of uniting people who may not otherwise agree or have much else in common. These traditions are professional football and Christmas.

Christmas is celebrated not just by Christians, but also by many Jews, atheists and people of other belief systems. It’s become a secular and national holiday, and while I deplore the commercialization of Christmas, it certainly serves as a yearly reminder of the importance of family ties, close friendships, and generosity. Although many (understandably) become depressed during the holiday season (especially if they lack family, friends or money to buy gifts) and have every right to not celebrate it at all, I think most people see Christmas as a positive and enjoyable thing, and of course many also recognize the religious meaning of Christmas too.

Christmas brings together people not just of different religious beliefs, but also people of every race, ethnicity, creed, gender identity, age, and lifestyle. Everyone from the liberal childless high-powered urban career woman to the Latino factory worker supporting his wife and five children to the conservative Christian farmer’s wife get a day or two off of work, decorate a Christmas tree, and give gifts to the people they love on December 25th. For the most part, people feel a sense of togetherness and joyfulness during the holiday season, and are caught up in the excitement of decorating, cooking and shopping for those they love.

NFL football is much the same way. While it probably has fewer fans than Christmas (I’m one of them), football is a huge deal to many Americans of varied backgrounds, education levels, political ideologies, interests, and religious beliefs. It tends to bring all these people together in support of their favorite team (and against the opposing team). As long as the players are out there on the field, football fans can put aside their religious or political differences, and forget about race and social class and come together in solidarity to support their team.  Football, like Christmas, fosters unity and community.

How Trump is destroying Christmas and NFL football.

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Trump is a malignant narcissist and because he is, he hates anything that brings people together and causes them to celebrate together or find common ground or unity.   Because he is miserable and empty inside, he hates happiness and joy in others.   He has homed in on Christmas and football because these two traditions are associated with community and fellowship.  Perhaps even more importantly, they are traditions associated with America, and though Trump will never admit it, he hates America and the democracy and liberty for all it represents.   He is hell-bent on destroying those things that make us Americans and transforming us into a thuggish Russian-style dictatorship.

Christmas was his first target.   Even during his campaign, he (and his sycophants on Fox News) railed on about a nonexistent “war on Christmas” — a manufactured “crisis” focusing not on the spirit or meaning or even the holiday of Christmas itself — but on meaningless and shallow trappings  of Christmas like the proper method of greeting:  “Happy Holidays” was suddenly a Very Bad Thing, even though Happy Holidays has been said for many decades without anyone ever blinking an eyelash.   His unreasonable rages against red Starbucks coffee cups that lacked Christmas decorations on them was similarly petty and shallow  and had nothing to do with Christmas itself.

Last fall, Trump attacked football in a remarkably similar manner.  He became enraged when black football players exercised their First Amendment rights by “taking a knee” during the singing of the National Anthem instead of standing for it.   For those unfamiliar with what “taking a knee” represents, it’s an action of protest against police brutality against people of color — not a disrespect of America, the Anthem, or the flag.  In fact, it’s because these players who take a knee love the America we used to be and the one the Constitution stood for, that they are peacefully protesting against the return of racism and violence to law enforcement during the Trump era.  There is nothing wrong or disrespecful about exercising our freedom of speech, a right we are promised by the Constitition, but Trump acts as if it’s an unpardonable sin and a personal affront.  He doesn’t seem to understand that what makes a person a great patriot isn’t whether or not they stand for the Anthem or salute the flag, but whether or not they have the integrity and courage to hold up the truth, and seek justice, freedom, and the upholding of the Constitition.    Anyone can salute a piece of cloth or stand for a song.  But not everyone can stand up for the values America claims to uphold.   Trump certainly can’t — and he won’t.

I also don’t think it’s an accident that football is closely associated with Thanksgiving — a holiday that specifically celebrates inclusiveness of the “other” (white settlers sitting down to dine with native Americans) and family unity.

Note the similarities between what Trump is doing to Christmas and NFL football.   He is using a sport that normally unifies people and zeroing in on a trivial “optic”  in order to create discord and divisiveness.    In much the same manner he focuses on shallow details such as the design of a throwaway cup or the wording of a Christmas card instead of the secular (unity and community) or religious meaning of Christmas,  he is focusing on black football players’ failing to stand during the Anthem instead of on the enjoyment and sense of community the sport of football brings to so many Americans.    In zeroing in on the inconsequental and trivial and getting Americans to focus on those instead of the thing that brought them together in the first place, he is dividing people within two revered traditions that used to unify us.

The end result is that people are no longer able to enjoy Christmas as they once did because they now have to worry about whether or not they should say “Happy Holidays” (to be inclusive) or “Merry Christmas.” (to please Trump).   They have to worry about what kinds of decorations they use or what their throwaway coffee cup should look like.  The whole issue is ridiculous because people have always said “Merry Christmas.”  They have also said “Happy Holidays” as long as I can remember (and that’s a long time).   Football fans now have to worry about whether they should stand for the Anthem or sympathize with the black players who are protesting police brutality (not America itself).  They can’t just focus on the game and have a good time.

Both of these things are Machiavellian thought control tactics intended to divide us and create discord in an already deeply divided and tribal country.   The intended goal is control.   The more we are divided as a nation, the easier we are to control.   Such manipulation of public sentiment is standard practice in dictatorships and authoritarian regimes.

Malignant narcissists like Trump can’t understand genuine human emotions or ideals, so they substitute meaningless slogans and phony platitudes and symbols like a flag or an Anthem or MAGA hat or a greeting card message as a pale substitute.   People with heartfelt passion for the actual ideals these symbols are supposed to represent can see right through the facade of “patriotism” or “Christmas spirit” or whatever else the narcissist is trying to convince the world they are standing up for, when the sad reality is they stand for nothing because they are so empty inside.

Football and Christmas.  Two traditions as American as apple pie.   I wonder how he’ll use apple pie as a tool for division.

Let’s party like it’s 1399.

Originally posted on December 30, 2017 as The Unholy Alliance That is Ushering in a New Dark Age. 

Although I have made few editorial changes and no factual updates to this article, I’m reblogging it in light of Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ and Jeff Sessions’ quoting of the Bible to justify the inhumane separation of children and babies from their parents at our southern border (it’s not just illegal immigrants this is being done to, but to mothers and children legally seeking asylum) as well as the incarceration of children in what can only be called concentration camps. Using the word of God to justify these cruel atrocities and human rights abuses — inflicted even on innocent children — is the pinnacle of blasphemy as well as an egregious example of the Trumpian GOP’s constant gaslighting. In fact, the Bible takes a very dark view of those who would deny refuge to a stranger and inflict abuse on children. I won’t list all the quotes proving that here for lack of space, but anyone with a cursory knowledge of the Bible knows this. Jesus was himself a dark skinned immigrant whose parents were fleeing from persecution in their home country, and I have no doubt that in Trump’s America he would be separated from Mary and Joseph and thrown in a cage like an animal. Let’s not forget that the Bible was also once used to justify slavery and even by some Nazis to justify the extermination of six million Jews and other “undesirables.”

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When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross. –Sinclair Lewis, 1935.

This article is going to be dark.  I wasn’t looking forward to writing it, but I must do so. Dark as the subject matter is, it’s the light within most of us that makes us able to know when darkness is descending and take the necessary action to avoid being annihilated by it.

Education and science are under attack by an unholy alliance between right wing evangelical Christianity and far right politics.    This has been going on since the late 1970s (The Moral Majority was the first obvious sign this was beginning to happen), but only now has the situation in America become critical, so critical we are fast losing our democracy and becoming a fascist state.

Protecting democracy and liberty is the primary reason why the Founding Fathers made sure the Constitution protected the separation of church and state.   It’s not because these men regarded religion as a bad thing.   In fact, some of them were personally quite religious.   It’s because mixing the two always corrupts both.   Enter politics into religion, and religion becomes authoritarian and punishing; enter religion into politics and  government becomes the same way.   Religio-fascist, authoritarian states like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan became that way because religion (in their case, Islam) was allowed to infiltrate politics without regulations to keep its excesses at bay.   Islam itself became corrupted due to the influence of radical Islamists (ISIS and the Taliban) who wanted to make their religion about politics and use it as an excuse to control the people.    The same thing is happening in America with certain factions of evangelical Christians (dominionists) who believe their Godly duty is to force others to think and behave the way they do. And they have created a God — a cruel, narcissistic, sociopathic, constantly enraged God devoid of empathy or love — in their own monstrous image.

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I realize not all conservatives are like this — if I made this table, I would substitute the term “Trumpist GOP and Dominionism” for “Republicans and Conservatives.”  I’d also leave out the term “Muslim” since most do not support ISIS and Sharia Law.

Unfortunately — but not surprisingly, given their belief that they have been chosen by God to “take dominion” over other mortals and the planet itself —  the highest echelons of government are now populated by toxic dominionist Christians who believe tyranny and oppression is the God-ordained way to rule a nation and the only way to bring about God’s kingdom on earth.    I’ve come to believe the real reason so many right wing Christians hate Muslims is because they see radical Islam as competition for their own desired Christian Taliban — it’s the same damn thing with a different name!   Trump and his cronies don’t seem to hate Saudi Arabia or its richest, most powerful rulers at all (Trump seemed to be having the time of his life when the Saudis treated his arrival last spring like the arrival of a beloved king) — they only hate powerless Muslim refugees coming to America to escape from that oppressive regime.    Radical Christian extremists and malignant narcissists like Trump who crave and admire only power and wealth have far more in common with regimes like Saudi Arabia’s than they do with western democracies where the people have a say in how they are governed.

Authoritarian religion –whether Christian, Islam, or some other faith system — tends to attract people with narcissistic or sociopathic personalities, and research has shown that people with these personality types also score high in authoritarian traits.    Authoritarian religion provides a handy way for people without a conscience or with sadistic tendencies to justify their abuse and judgment of “the Other” — anyone who they believe is inferior to them — or anyone who threatens to shine the harsh light of the truth on them.    It’s easy to say, “Well, it’s what God wants” or “it says right here in the Bible” (which more often than not, is a faulty interpretation of Scripture anyway) than to say, “I’m a sadistic SOB who wants to control you and make your life a living hell.”   Malignant narcissists do not want to take responsibility for their inhumanity; they’d much rather blame it on someone else.  If they can “blame” it on God, that’s even better, because then they can tell you “it’s for your own good.”

A personal story.

A few years ago, I had a falling out with another blogger who wrote about narcissistic abuse.   We are still not on speaking terms, and probably never will be again, but recently I started to read her blog again, not just because she happens to be a good writer, but because during the past few months I’ve actually found her blog inspiring.   I won’t go into all the details of what led to the falling out, but one of the reasons was because of the woman’s religion.   She had made some critical — even cruel — comments about and to me, using what I felt to be her fundamentalist Christianity as a weapon of judgment and intolerance.   From what I could observe from her older writings, she appeared to be stuck in a victim mentality, unable to move forward in her recovery due to her tendency to judge others harshly because of her fundamentalist Christianity.   I saw no evidence of any real self awareness or willingness to self-criticize.   So, at the time, I dismissed her as a covert narcissist masquerading as someone with “only” C-PTSD.

But apparently I was wrong.  It seems like Trump’s election changed her in a positive way.     She wrote about what she saw happening with politics and the religious right, and became increasingly critical of both.   She began to realize that her fundamentalist church was infested with malignant narcissists who judged her negatively for her poverty and health problems, believing, as they did, that wealth and good health were proof of God’s approval.   It wasn’t long before she ditched her fundamentalist church and began to seek answers outside religion.    This actually didn’t surprise me, since I always got the impression her religion was a bad fit and she was miserable within its confines.  This woman was clearly intelligent and well educated, but it was almost as if she had been trying to force herself to adapt to a restricting mold that didn’t allow her to grow as a human being.   She was telling herself lies that she knew were lies, because of the fear of Hell and judgment.   Freed of that, suddenly she was exploring and seeking answers in secular fields like science and psychology, and her mind seemed to blossom.  At the same time this happened, she seemed to develop more tolerance and empathy toward others.  Most impressive of all, she began to develop an ability to self-reflect and as a result, began to make changes to herself.   Her writings indicated a new insight into herself I hadn’t seen while she was under the thrall of toxic religion.    She seems happier than she ever did, and a lot less angry in general.   She’s exploring old interests and talents that she had neglected while she was in that church, and more positive things seem to be happening to her now too.    I’m sure being happy and using one’s mind to question and explore the world aren’t sins, and God is not judging us harshly for doing so.   If God didn’t want us to ask questions or think critically about things, he would not have given us brains!

I won’t link to her blog here or even name it, due to the fact we stopped speaking several years ago, but her most recent article about the religious right’s war on science was one of her most enlightening and insightful.    It was also very dark and unfortunately all too true.   In it, she criticized the religious right’s scorched-earth mission of squelching all independent thought and critical thinking, which has led to an all out war on secular education itself and an accompanying celebration of ignorance and superstition.

The war on science and education.

Religio-fascist societies always attack education and science as the enemy, because the ability to think and ask questions challenges their belief system.   This always leads to the decimation of civilized society and overpowering oppression, premature death, human suffering, and covert or overt genocide to “purge” the society of undesirable populations (I believe the current GOP’s tax bill and attempts to destroy the social safety net is a covert attempt to dispatch the elderly, poor, disabled, and sick).    Such rigid and cruel regimes held power during the European Middle Ages, when the Catholic Church doubled as government and forbade the questioning of religion and condemned scientific thought, even sentencing scientific thinkers to be burned at the stake (the Catholic Church has since renounced and repented for this dark period in its history, and today embraces science, and since Vatican II, this includes the acceptance of evolution).  It happened more recently in countries of the Middle East, with radical Islam taking over government and leading to the oppression of women, expansion of the death penalty to include personal or sexual “immorality” like homosexuality, abortion, contraception, adultery, and even a child’s disobedience to their parents; and other human rights atrocities.

“We made God in our own image.”

Any religion whose dogma regards the fight for human rights as a sin (as dominionist Christianity and radical Islam both do), is one where God isn’t benevolent or good, but is a false entity made in the rulers’ own image:  their God has become a malignant narcissist who does not care about the well-being of his creation, demands adulation and worship, and only approves of and rewards narcissistic or sociopathic behavior.    Leaders of such religions shift the blame for their society’s ills to their most vulnerable or powerless members (the poor, women, immigrants, or others),  gaslight their followers and those under their rule by saying that we, as humans, are unable to determine what God deems good because we are so “depraved,” and hence the means, no matter how cruel, always justify the ends.   Dominionists believe that only certain “elect” (God’s “golden children”) have been given dominion over creation — with wealth and power being proof of God’s favor — and must do whatever it takes to destroy the old ways  (which includes jettisoning empathy for the vulnerable) in order to usher in God’s kingdom.   Apparently, they forgot about God’s grace and mercy and the earlier fundamentalist belief in free will.

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The 7 “mountains” of the New Apostolic Reformation (dominionism)

There are two glaring problems with dominionist doctrine.  First of all, if humans are so depraved, why is the cruelty of certain powerful religious people okay to God but not the benevolence of others?  Second, their doctrine flies in the face of everything Jesus taught in the New Testament.   It’s interesting the dominionists rarely quote from the New Testament, unless it’s from the missives of Paul, who lived after Jesus and seemed to have harsher views toward women and sexual behavior than Jesus himself did.     They justify cruelty by misinterpreting Scripture to fit their harsh  narrative.   As one example, they often use the verse, “Those who do not work do not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10) as proof that Jesus was a Republican who didn’t believe in helping the poor.    What Jesus actually meant was that if you are an able bodied person who can work, you shouldn’t sit on your ass expecting handouts.   This is common sense!   But Jesus never said we shouldn’t help people who truly are in need — in fact, the New Testament (and even parts of the Old Testament) are full of verses instructing us to care for the “least among us.”  Dominionist evangelicals cherry pick from the Bible and conveniently ignore the many passages telling us to be inclusive and loving toward the most vulnerable members of society, while glorifying the the most punishing parts of the Old Testament as God’s true nature.

America today is extremely narcissistic, and celebrates narcissistic, even sociopathic, values.   It’s become an orgy of malignant narcissism, and its associated traits and values (lack of empathy, arrogance, coldness, racism, sexism, sadism, bullying, dishonesty, cheating, unchecked power, greed, revenge, war, division, destructiveness, and hatred) have become synonymous with both the Trumpian Republican Party and far right Christian extremism.  These two groups, thanks to Trump and his far right evangelical supporters and donors, have become increasingly merged to the point it is sometimes hard to separate one from the other.    This, of course, is part of their plan — destruction of the separation between church and state would allow these sociopaths to carry out their plans to destroy or punish anyone they dislike, all in the name of God.   It’s heresy of the highest order, but there are people who really believe a white, conservative, Christian society is the only kind of society acceptable to God.   To them, science is a creation of Satan and critical thinking or questioning of any kind is flirting with the devil.   That’s why they hate education and science so much: because only the gullible and uneducated will unquestioningly believe — and obey — such a toxic and destructive doctrine.    They want obedient sheep without working brains.   That’s the most effective weapon they have, and the one that will catapult us into the new Dark Age.

The Prosperity Gospel and positive-thinking movement’s connection to authoritarian Christianity.

The “prosperity gospel” used to be a seemingly harmless, feel-good vaguely Christian doctrine that gave people permission to not feel guilty or ashamed of achieving great success or wealth, or about their desire to have those things.   It held that God wanted his people to be successful in life and in fact it was their duty to strive for that.   While I can’t argue that there’s anything wrong with ambition or wanting to be successful (who wants to be a poor failure?), the real problem started when the prosperity gospel (and other “positive thinking” belief systems) began to regard the emotions of guilt, remorse, and shame as something shameful in themselves.  Anything went, even if to get what you wanted, you had to exploit or hurt others (which is why Ayn Rand became so popular in recent years).   It wasn’t okay to feel guilty — unless you felt guilty about feeling guilty!   But guilt, though unpleasant (and unhealthy when excessive) is necessary for civilized society.   The ability to feel guilt (and the related ability to feel empathy) is what separates sociopaths and narcissists from people who care about other people.

At the same time the more new-agey positive thinking movement (which also eschewed guilt and shame) was gaining steam, the prosperity gospel (basically a Christian version of the positive thinking doctrine) and Christian evangelism/fundamentalism were beginning to merge.  It wasn’t long before having great power or wealth, rather than being a sign of a Pharisee or false prophet, became a sign of God’s favor.   Christianity as taught by Jesus in the Gospels was turned on  its head into its polar opposite!   Given that sociopaths and malignant narcissists tend to be attracted to any religion that tells them their power or wealth is holy,  soon the prosperity gospel took on a dark cast by demonizing those without such power or wealth as somehow sinful or even evil.  The Christian Dominionist/Reconstructionist movement (which had been considered  “loony fringe” ever since Rousas Rushdoony published his Institutes of Biblical Law in the 1960s), now known within evangelical circles as the New Apostolic Reformation (don’t read late at night if you don’t want nightmares), exploded into the upper echelons of the Republican Party.  Suddenly, it was perfectly okay for a narcissistic sociopath like Roy Moore to run for Senate, regardless how immoral his personal behavior (in his case, alleged pedophilia and stalking teenage girls) because he also promoted the extremist Christian doctrine that fit in so well with far right Republican politics.

What they really want.

Both dominionist Christianity and Trumpian Republicanism are fascist movements that believe anything they do is alright, as long as it achieves their desired ends:  unlimited accumulation of wealth and power (which includes unbridled corporate power), ending the right to vote for anyone who isn’t a white male property owner (this is actually part of their overall plan and explains why they don’t seem to care anymore what the public thinks), repealing the First Amendment, putting women back in the kitchen without access to contraception, removing laws that protect women and children against abusers, decimating the social safety net (getting rid of Medicare and Social Security is a big part of their agenda), denying facts and science, rolling back all protective regulations, including those that protect our planet; building walls to separate us from our allies, revising history so it supports their fascist agenda (the insistence that the Founding Fathers intended to create a Christian nation is one example of revisionist history used to justify the legislation of Sharia biblical law), denying access to education unless it’s fundamentalist religious education, privatizing all public goods and infrastructure so nothing is free (anyone like toll roads or for-profit prisons and fire departments?), and oppressing, punishing, deporting, and killing anyone who isn’t rich, Republican, Christian, or white.    How very Christ-like of them.

The means to achieve their nefarious ends simply don’t matter, no matter how immoral or how many people they hurt.   It’s okay to lie, cheat, steal, break the law, deride the FBI and the Justice Department, collude or conspire with hostile foreign powers, even to the point of treason;  accumulate obscene amounts of wealth on the backs of the working and middle class, emotionally harass and abuse, gaslight, blame-shift, project onto, mislead, arrest without due process, and inflict draconian punishments on others who don’t fit their ideal or who dare to speak out against such harsh treatment.   They talk about “small government” but that only means small government for them — they are above the law,  you see.    They want to inflict a Big Brother government on all the rest of us lowly ingrates.

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Ignorance and moral bankruptcy.

Of course this is all incredibly sad and scary, but what’s even more tragic is that one third of the country is seemingly so ignorant they support Trump and his billionaire, white supremacist, and evangelical cronies’ vision for America and the world.   I don’t really think they are as ignorant as they seem.   I think they are perfectly well aware of the fascist hell on earth that Trump and his minions are aiming for.    It’s even beginning to dawn on a few of them that maybe Russia was involved in the 2016 election, and maybe Trump did collude with them.   But that doesn’t faze them one bit:  now they say that maybe Russia is better than America, and that Trump was in his right to collude with them.   Far right extremists and trolls are still promising civil war against the rest of us if he is removed or impeached.

No, Trumpists are not all ignorant.  After reading many comments on right wing websites and studying the right wing mindset in depth over this past year,  I have come to believe that people who like Trump and the new Republicanism are attracted to it precisely because it is so sociopathic.    They love it for the same reasons the rest of us hate it.   They don’t care if they lose their healthcare or their rights — as long as they get to see the people they hate suffer.   Trumpists are people who are either narcissistic or sociopathic themselves (how else does one explain the preponderance of Internet trolls and neo-Nazis among them?), or who have severe codependency issues and look up to narcissists and sociopaths as viable leaders.   They want a strongman leader and admire dictators, either because they don’t want to have to think for themselves and gain a perverse sense of security from being told exactly what they have to believe and do, or because they are narcissists and sociopaths who regard higher human values such as empathy, kindness, fairness, compassion, civility, generosity, and love as “feminine” or weak.   On the contrary, it’s the strongest and most spiritually evolved people who are able to embrace these higher values and act on them.    If Jesus, the embodiment of these virtues, were to walk on Earth today, he would be despised by the religious right.  I’m pretty sure they would persecute him all over again.

Going forward.

It is not too late to nip this cancer in the bud and return to America as the land of freedom and democracy, even improving on what we had before — preferably with some new checks and balances put in place to prevent anything like this from ever happening again.   But the hour is getting late and the cancer is metastasizing.   One positive effect of Trumpism and the carnage it’s creating is that finally, higher human values like I mentioned in the last paragraph are being given the respect due them again.  There is a general recognition by two thirds of Americans — even by traditional Republicans (both Bushes are among them) — that these values have been devalued for so long that they are now are nearly nonexistent in American politics, and demonized where they appear (compassion and kindness are now “socialism”).  Narcissism has run amok, ignorance is admired, and greed has been glorified.   Sociopathy is now becoming acceptable.  Over time, these vices have been turned into virtues instead of the destructive forces they really are.  But there’s a painful awareness now, a passion for truth, and a desire to repair or reclaim what has been lost or damaged that I see now among most people.  Two thirds of us strive to be rid of the invasive cancer of societal malignant narcissism, a desire that wasn’t evident before 2017.    In addition, like the narcissism blogger I discussed in the beginning of this article, some of us have been transformed spiritually in the face of this existential darkness, and in spite of the ominous threat of being silenced held over us, we are finally finding our voices.

I have to believe that good will always “trump” evil (pun intended).

It always does, in the end.

Trump is deliberately isolating us from our foreign allies.

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Trump refuses to shake Angela Merkel’s hand at a meeting in the White House last year.  Notice how she is trying to engage him but he refuses.  This is deliberate on his part.

Trump  is busy imposing sanctions on countries we have always been friendly with, creating trade wars with these countries, so now they are imposing tariffs.   This, of course, will drive up the prices of everything even higher (while our wages remain as stagnant as they’ve always been).   Notice how the price of gas has skyrocketed since we pulled out of the Iran deal?

But it’s about a lot more than trade wars.  It’s not just Middle Eastern countries Trump is reneging on deals with or putting sanctions on.  No, Trump is deliberately alienating our former allies in Canada and advanced Western European democracies (not to mention Mexico, our formerly friendly neighbor to the south),  in favor of aligning us with other authoritarian regimes, regardless of their ideology — Russia, NK, China, and Saudi Arabia are the most obvious examples.  Because none of these regimes are democracies and are in fact brutal dictatorships, they could not be of help to us.  They serve as Trump’s allies and even as his flying monkeys, even if he is only using them for his own selfish ends and to enrich himself, his family, and his benefactor cronies.

It’s entirely predictable Trump would do this. Like all narcissistic abusers, he is separating us from outside parties who could or would help us if we needed it (and we might).  Abusers do the same thing: they isolate their partners from friends & family so the victim is totally isolated & alone and has no where to turn when things get really ugly or their lives are in danger.   Isolating is a very effective technique used by sociopathic narcissists to weaken and cripple their victims from ever leaving or getting help from outside parties.  Isolationism and alienating former allies has the same effect on the populace of a country cursed with an authoritarian, sociopathic leader.

Not only will there be no help coming to rescue us after Trump has turned all our allies into our enemies, we will also be left behind technologically, scientifically, educationally, socially and in every other way, as the rest of the developed world moves far ahead of us, while we regress back into the Dark Ages.   It’s just so sad, so incredibly sad.

 

Advice from eastern Europe.

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Political ideology and the Overton Window.

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I’ve realized over the past year that political ideology is not a straight line, but more of a circle.

If you move too far to either extreme, whether it’s the far left or the far right, you wind up in pretty much the same place:  an oppressive, centralized government, removal of individual freedoms and rights, and suppression of the free press and free speech.   Authoritarianism and totalitarianism is not limited to the far right (fascism).  It also occurs on the far left (communism, which is found in places like China and North Korea, and in the old Soviet Union).

The only difference between fascism and communism is that in fascism, the corporation, a religious organization, or a group of oligarchs become the government and set all the rules.  Dissent is not allowed.  There are signs of this happening in the United States today, and it has already happened in Russia (after a brief experiment with democracy once the Soviet Union fell).  Authoritarian Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran are also examples of fascist regimes, as was Hitler’s Germany.    Eventually, free enterprise is undermined or suppressed.  In communism, the government itself rules over everyone’s lives, all production is centralized, and free enterprise is not allowed.

Trump’s “food boxes” program reeks of communism to me.    It’s the kind of thing you used to find in the old Soviet Union.   Rather than encouraging personal responsibility by allowing the recipient the dignity and empowerment of making their own food choices (at the same time, boosting the economy and business because food manufacturers and stores make money through SNAP purchases), it gives the recipient no choice and puts that choice instead in the hands of government bureaucrats.

There’s an interesting concept called the Overton Window. This means that as a society moves farther to the right (or the left), what seems to be the “middle ground” also moves farther to that extreme.   The Overton window slides along the scale as public attitudes change.  This is why extremist policies at either end begin to seem normal over time.   A policy that once seemed “radical” or even “unthinkable” begins to seem more acceptable to more people. At the same time, attitudes at the other end of the scale that were once deemed “popular” or “sensible” to most begin to seem unthinkable.  But no matter what extreme a society winds up adopting, tyranny and authoritarianism ensues, and even this can become normalized.

Over the past four or five decades, America has moved farther and farther to the right, and this includes Democrats, who have moved to the right as well.  In fact, today’s Democrats are much more like Republicans of decades ago.    FDR-type Democrats (common during WWII and the early post-war years) are rare today, and are often accused of being socialists.

OvertonWindow (2)

 

A healthy society is always a balance between the right and the left, though it may tend to lean slightly one way or the other.  Extremes on either side only lead to tyranny and misery for most people who have to live under such extremist regimes.   Democracy requires bipartisanship and cooperation between parties.   In my own opinion, a European or Canadian style of democracy works best, but you can be a little farther to the right and still have a healthy, prosperous, and vibrant society, the way America used to be not that long ago.

Extremes of any ideology never lead to prosperity and happiness.  They always cause a nation to eventually fall into tyranny and finally, ruin.

We need a lot more awareness about narcissism and psychopathy.

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Elizabeth Mika is one of the 27 mental health professionals who contributed to the  bestselling book,  The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.   She is a psychologist who writes about narcissism, psychopathy and authoritarianism (specifically Donald Trump’s authoritarianism) on her Medium blog.  I follow her on Twitter (she’s under @yourauntemma if you want to follow her too) because I never want to miss one of her articles.    The other day, she tweeted this in reference to the many pleas to “remember the Holocaust”:

Unless we teach about the conscience-impairing character defects, like psychopathy & narcissism, shared by genocidal leaders & their followers, these calls for remembrance will remain hollow.

She’s absolutely right.   Even though the Cluster B personality disorders, specifically those in the Dark Triad — Narcissistic Personality Disorder, psychopathy (Antisocial Personality Disorder), and malignant narcissism (a combination of both disorders with paranoid traits)  — are getting a lot more attention than they used to, they still don’t get nearly enough.   There are a few terms formerly confined to the narcissistic abuse community such as  “gaslighting” and “blame shifting” that have recently become household words since Trump took office, but if you try to talk about narcissistic or antisocial personality disorder or malignant narcissism with most people you will still usually get a blank stare, especially if you try to talk about it in regard to the dangers these disorders pose to us all when a world leader is most likely afflicted with one or more of them.

Until — and if — the general public receives education in how these personality disorders work and how to recognize them, people will still fall prey to the phony charm and false promises of a narcissist in their personal lives, staying with friends and family members who are psychologically destroying them.  But even worse than that, people will still believe the lies and promises of con-men like Donald Trump or Adolf Hitler.  They will keep trying to find the goodness that must exist under all the flash and bluster, even though in all likelihood, there is nothing hiding under the mask but a black void of hate and fear.

Hitler rose to power because he promised to “make Germany great again.”  He promised jobs, a thriving economy, and a better life for all Germans, and people believed him, at least at first.  Later, when the deportations and roundups began, and militarized police began knocking on doors late at night, people may have begun to suspect Hitler was dangerous, but they still wanted to believe he was what Germany needed, so they told themselves what he was doing wasn’t really that bad or even was necessary (but well-meaning).   This is called “normalization” and it happens both in countries and in families headed by a malignant narcissist.    When there are too many outrages, people can’t process them normally, and things that were once seen as outrageous or shocking begin to seem normal.   As the dividing line between what is “normal” and what is “not normal” continues to shift, more and more “not normal” behavior is tolerated.   This is how a psychopathic or narcissistic leader conditions average, non-sociopathic people to accept the unthinkable.   It takes time, but eventually even genocide begins to be seen as acceptable or at least doesn’t raise any eyebrows.

hitler

Leaders with malignant narcissism and/or psychopathy tend to be very charismatic and forceful.   They seem extremely confident and this makes people trust them.   They say things like, “I alone can fix it” (this is always a red flag) or “I am all you need.”  They make lofty and unrealistic promises.  They brag about past accomplishments and  exaggerate what they have accomplished (which often wasn’t much).  They take credit for things others have done.  Whenever they are found to be lacking, or when they are called out for their lies and hypocrisy, they will never accept that blame and will either deny their wrongdoing, or blame it on someone else.   They never apologize.

They may seem to care about you, but they don’t, for they have no empathy.   They see everything in black and white.   They are blind to nuance in others.   You are not a person to a narcissistic or psychopathic leader: if you are not useful to them in some way (if you are useful they will shower you with praise — in relationships this is called “love-bombing”),  then you are the enemy.    And when you become an enemy, you are fair game for vengeance.   These people believe in revenge and “getting back at” their perceived enemies.

They speak in superlatives.  What they have done is always the best, the biggest, the most, the greatest.  They had the biggest crowd at their inauguration, they have created the most jobs, and they are the most beloved or respected leader in the entire world or even in all of history.   If their lies or misdeeds are pointed out to them, they become enraged.  Sometimes this rage manifests as self pity, and their self pity is as grandiose as their self-aggrandizement.  When they think they’ve been wronged, no one else has ever been so wronged or so mistreated as they have been!  They turn self pity into another contest of superlatives:  Trump whining to a group of Boy Scouts about how he was the most misunderstood and poorly treated politician in American history!

If they have deemed you an enemy (which doesn’t take a lot — you need only disagree with them to be devalued), you are the worst person on the face of the planet and have no redeeming qualities.  You will be devalued and called hurtful names, and that’s just for starters.    Leaders with malignant narcissism are very paranoid and always suspect others — often their political rivals or people who merely disagree with them, but have no ill intentions — of plotting against them, talking badly about them, or trying to destroy them or take away their power.    They pre-emptively fight back by attempting to discredit, dehumanize, or destroy their rivals or perceived enemies.

These kinds of leaders (who are almost always male) are fixated on toxic masculinity.  They admire and emulate those who they see as “strong.”  Thus, they glorify war, forceful oppression, abuse of power,  police brutality, and total control.   They value authoritarianism much more highly than democracy, which requires cooperation and some semblance of empathy.   They look down on higher values like compassion, humility, forgiveness, or love as “weak” or “feminine.”   They also like to “punch down” — which means enacting draconian policies or shifting blame onto the most  vulnerable or the weakest.   It’s schoolyard bully behavior writ large.  They hate anything they see as soft or vulnerable or “weak” because they are so afraid of their own vulnerabilities.   Deep inside, they have little to no self esteem and hate themselves, though they will not ever admit it and may not even be aware of it.   They puff themselves up to mask their own feelings of worthlessness.

Because these kinds of leaders can initially convince people they are strong and powerful and can fix every problem themselves, and because they seem so confident in their ability to do so, people continue to be duped by them and believe the lies they tell.    They ignore the red flags (which includes making lofty promises and saying “they alone” can fix things), because they have not been educated in what to look for.

malignantnpd

If awareness and education about NPD, malignant narcissism, and psychopathy were more widespread (perhaps it should even be a required part of school curriculums), people would learn how to recognize the red flags and avoid such people in their personal lives — and avoid voting for leaders who have these traits.   As long as people remain ignorant about the red flags of these personality disorders, we will still be vulnerable to electing sociopathic, dangerous leaders and being taken in by dangerous people in our personal lives.   We will still find ourselves under the thrall of people and leaders who see us as nothing but marks.

All that being said, there has been more awareness about this problem since at least the 1990s.   I wrote about the history of narcissism/narcissistic abuse awareness over the decades in this two part post — please give it a read!

How Did Narcissism Get So “Popular”? (part 1) 

How Did Narcissism Get So “Popular”? (part 2)  

So things are better than they’ve ever been, but we still have a long way to go.   If there was enough awareness, we would not be in danger of repeating what happened during the Holocaust.