He was “just joking.”

trumpclown

Some of Trump’s aides and enablers have been excusing Trump’s threats by insisting he was only joking.

Here’s a tweet I saw from an anonymous source:

He’s “just joking” when he says he’ll pardon aides for illegal acts, just like he kids about staying past his term

Trump himself regularly insists he was only joking when he’s called out about some of his threats to do things that are illegal, immoral, or cruel.   His flying monkeys back him up on this and then blame our side of having “Trump Derangement Syndrome” when we don’t fall for these lies.   This is gaslighting.

But Trump is a malignant narcissist, and malignant narcissists have no sense of humor.  They do not joke, and therefore Trump does not joke.   The only kind of “jokes” sociopaths and malignant narcissists understand are mocking or making fun of the  weaker and more vulnerable.   Unless you’re a fellow narcissist or sociopath, you will not find these kinds of “jokes” funny, because punching down to hurt the weak and vulnerable is never funny.   That’s why people with a conscience were horrified when Trump openly mocked a disabled reporter during his presidential campaign.   That one action should have ended his campaign on the spot, but that did not happen.

Going back to the “I was only joking” excuse malignant narcissists use to gaslight and mislead their marks (and make no mistake, we are all marks to this president), this is a very common strategy abusers use to control you and get away with their abuse, because it works.   I can’t tell you how many times my own abusers used this on me, and how many times I have heard other victims of narcissistic abuse relate they have heard “I was only joking” from their abusers too.

Another thing abusers do, besides gaslight you by insisting they were joking when they really weren’t, is they turn the blame back on you (blameshifting).  In other words, after telling you they were only joking, they will accuse YOU of having no sense of humor, being too sensitive, or too stupid to get their jokes, accusing you of having “Trump Derangement Syndrome” and the like.    This is gaslighting because it makes you begin to doubt your own reality and your own experience of what really happened.  You begin to wonder if in fact, you are too sensitive, or too stupid to get a joke, or whatever character flaw the narcissist has accused you of.

The fact we have a president who gaslights us daily and throws out threatening trial balloons that basically announce what his future plans are, and then covers up his cruelty by saying (or having his flying monkeys say) he was “only joking” should concern all of us.  We are all victims of this abuser.

Advertisements

I can’t tell the difference.

 

migrantscolor

Above is a photo from AP News showing Central American migrant families rounded up and contained by US armed guards.   According to the accompanying news story, the federal government is making plans to separate children from their parents (yes, they plan to continue and even increase this horrendous and cruel practice) and house the children in former army barracks.   They are also planning to cut off or reduce all supportive services to these children, including English language lessons, recreational programs, legal services (young children as young as two have already been forced to represent themselves in court), and other services such as mental health counseling — at a time when the children are traumatized by family separation and need it most.

Not cruel enough for you?  Oh, it gets even worse:  border patrol agents are being instructed to confiscate migrant childrens’ medicine.

The cruelty, as it’s been said, is the point.   This is what happens when a narcissistic sociopath and his same spectrum sycophants and henchmen consolidate power and inevitably, as they always do, choose scapegoats (always vulnerable or marginalized populations) on which to unleash their hatred.

The photograph shocked me.   All the photographs from our southern border are  shocking, but this one stood out to me because I was immediately reminded of the old black and white photos from Nazi Germany of SS guards rounding up Jewish families like cattle (and of course separating parents from children, a common practice by the Nazis, which was harrowingly depicted in the movie Sophie’s Choice when the title character played by Meryl Streep was forced to choose between her young daughter being taken away or losing both of her children). 

This is fascism, in case there’s any doubt.  We are living in a fascist state with a fascist leader, and just as in Nazi Germany,  most people are either too afraid or too apathetic to mobilize against it.   Or they’re in denial and don’t think it’s that big a threat.  Or…they approve of it (usually justifying it with callous comments such as “they shouldn’t have come here” or “it’s a deterrent.”)

Okay, fine.  Let’s say you don’t care about the fact these are mostly poor families who walked thousands of miles to escape certain death in their home countries (not the “rapists, drug dealers, and gangs” who find other ways to get in).   Even if the parents are culpable (which they aren’t),  what about the children?  Did they have any choice in the matter?

The Germans were exactly like us.   As with Trump, only about a third of the German people actually supported Hitler, while the other two thirds either didn’t believe there was a real threat or saw the threat but didn’t think there was anything they could do.   Only a few people, such as Sophie Scholl and her resistance group The White Rose Society, dared to speak truth to power.   Hitler and the Nazis would never have been able to rise to power or killed six million Jews (and other marginalized groups such as Gypsies, homosexuals, and the mentally deficient) had the German people believed the threat was real and mobilized to fight back against it.  They learned the hard way, and now it looks as if we may have to learn the hard way too, unless we mobilize and fight this evil right now.   We are running out of time.

I’m astonished and dismayed by how little mobilization against encroaching fascism there has been in this country.  How few protests and marches.  People just shrug their shoulders, turn off the news, and go on with their lives as if nothing has changed in the past two and a half years.   Even the British turned out by the millions to protest Trump last week during his visit to the UK, and he’s not even their president!   We should be ashamed of ourselves.  Why are we letting another country do our work for us?    Are we really just a bunch of sheep?  Are we really going to idly stand by and look the other way while children and their families are being tortured and allowed to languish and die in the American version of Nazi concentration camps?

Below are two groups of photographs, each group containing the above photograph rendered in black and white and placed next to similar photographs from Nazi Germany to emphasize the fact there is literally no difference in the plight of the captives.   I can honestly say I had trouble telling which photograph was the recent one.

If these photographs bother you, good. They should.

Can you tell the difference?

migrantsb&w2

Montage credit: Jackie Starke

Credit: Jackie Starke

migrantsb&w1

Montage credit: Jackie Starke

If you’re suffering in these dark times.

ladyliberty

“Ever since he was elected, I can’t sleep, I can’t function, I cry all the time.  I can barely work. I want to ignore the news, but it’s always there, HE’s always there, always sucking me in like a black hole, and it’s destroying me.”

“Trump is destroying and dismantling everything near and dear to me.  I don’t know how much longer I can go on.  I’m back to smoking and drinking heavily because I don’t know what else I can do.  It just seems hopeless.  He has destroyed the future.” 

“Whenever I hear the stories and see the pictures of those poor migrant kids and their heartbroken families, I just want to scream.  What kind of society separates families?  What kind of society imprisons children who have done nothing wrong?   What kind of society makes it a FELONY to leave food and water for hungry, exhausted, and thirsty women and children who have walked thousands of miles to escape from certain death in their home countries?  A cruel, heartless, psychopathic society, that’s what.  I wish I could leave.” 

“I feel like I’m living in a nightmare that I can’t wake up from.”

“This isn’t my country anymore.  Women are being treated as second class citizens, or chattel.  I feel like my daughters have no future here.  We are seriously considering leaving for a country that respects women and girls instead of treating them like the Taliban treats their women.”

“I’m scared every day.  The anxiety and grief is relentless.” 

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m ashamed to be an American. 

*****

These are actual quotes from people reacting to what’s happening in America under Dictator Trump.   What struck me about these comments is how eerily reminiscent they are of the sort of comments people who grew up with narcissistic parents or are in abusive relationships make.  The dynamics are identical;  what America is experiencing is simply narcissistic abuse on a very large scale.  The main difference is, it’s a lot easier to go “No Contact” with an abusive family.  Unless we are pretty well off financially or have family or close friends in other countries to help us get resettled, most of us can’t just up and leave.

In normal, civilized, democratic societies, politics doesn’t dominate people’s everyday lives.  Before Trump, I could ignore the news.  It usually bored me.  I had other, happier, interests.  People in functioning democracies have that luxury, and can focus on their families, friends, jobs, hobbies, educations, and other interests.

In failing states, and in dictatorships, politics dominates peoples’ lives because their very survival hangs on the day to day whims of their often cruel rulers, rulers who rarely make policies that benefit them and are very likely to make policies that outright hurt them.

There are four main ways people normally react to a formerly benign government being taken over by cruel dictatorship or other malevolent regime.  I have taken the liberty of borrowing Pete Walker’s “Four F’s” of C-PTSD, because what is happening to Americans is very much akin to C-PTSD and PTSD.   Even people who support Trump and his inhumane policies are analogous to the flying monkeys in a narcissistic family.  They cope by identifying with the abuser.  Some may be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.  Trump’s confidantes and high level enablers, of course, are also flying monkeys (and Trump’s “golden children”) and are probably on the narcissistic or psychopathic spectrum themselves.   The rest of us are the scapegoats or “forgotten children.”

So, without further ado, here are the four primary ways people in failing states and impending dictatorships (and abusive families) react to the trauma (and make no mistake, it is trauma):

1.  Sell out to the political system (abusive family) and meekly succumb to whatever new laws and restrictions, no matter how draconian and cruel, are forced on them (the Fawn or Fear reaction);  

2.  Flee to another country (No Contact) if they are able (the Flight reaction);

3.  Numb the soul and mind through alcohol or drugs (there’s a reason, besides their highly addictive properties, why the opiates are a huge crisis right now: people are trying to numb their psychic pain).  It’s also why alcoholism is so high in certain failed states and dictatorships, such as Russia, Belarus, and Hungary.   Some people don’t turn to drugs or alcohol to cope, but are able to just turn off their emotions and feel nothing anymore (Freeze/dissociative reaction)

4.  Refuse to normalize what is happening, even though not doing so makes one extremely vulnerable to great suffering, and an overwhelming sense of sadness, existential grief, stark terror, and other unpleasant emotions that are part and parcel of a serious existential threat.  However, this painful awareness also leaves one open to righteous anger, a galvanizing force which can be the catalyst to changing a dangerous and toxic political system.  (the Fight reaction).

This last group are the survivors.   They are the ones who, by facing the reality of the trauma inflicted on them by their government, are most likely to create positive change starting in their communities, and finally in their state, and even on the national or world scale.   They tend to be the young, the people whose future matters the most, and whose leaders have so callously failed them in favor of their own self interest.

emmarodriguez

Emma Rodriguez, a victim of the Parkland school shooting, stands in silence for six and a half minutes, with tears rolling down her face, to protest gun violence at last year’s March for Our Lives event.  It was an extremely powerful few moments for everyone who watched.

One only need to look at the Parkland school shooting survivors (especially Emma Rodriguez) to see how great suffering can lead to great courage and eventually to change.   The same can be said about 16 year old Swedish climate change activist, Greta Thunberg  (please watch this video), who has parlayed her terror about her own and her peers’ future into worldwide activism that has galvanized young people all over Europe to demand an end to the use of fossil fuels.  Not only that, the adult lawmakers are actually listening.

gretathunberg

So, if you are feeling a lot of emotional or mental pain right now, if you are grieving the America you knew when you were young, if you find yourself feeling terrified or close to tears, or angry much of the time, please know that these reactions don’t mean there’s something wrong with you.  On the contrary, they mean something’s very right with you, and you actually have an intact soul that is uncompromised by evil.    Once you begin to normalize the “new normal,” and accept it, that’s when your soul has begun to die.

Use mindfulness techniques, visualization, prayer, or seek counseling to deal with the unpleasant and painful emotions.  Mental health professionals say their caseload is WAY up since Trump became president.  Many of them, who tend to be politically liberal, are as upset and alarmed by this regime as their clients are, so they will be able to empathize and assure you that you are not the one with the problem, but reacting in a normal way to something that is abnormal.

Every time you feel the depression, fear, or rage crop up, remind yourself this isn’t bad: it just means you have an intact soul.  You just need to know what to do with those feelings.

Write about your feelings, like I do.  Write a protest song.  Sing!  Scream!  If you’re good at organizing and are fairly social, use your rage to plan a demonstration or a march in your community.   Write letters to your representatives.  Register people to vote, or volunteer to work on the campaign of a political candidate you admire.

Don’t forget you will need to replenish every so often and do unrelated things to take your mind off the political situation.  Balance is important.   If you need a day to rest, or go to a movie, or the beach, or just sleep in, don’t feel guilty.  Your body and mind needs these breaks to replenish so you can be more effective as someone who helps bring about change.

I also recommend reading Pete Walker’s helpful and easy to read book about C-PTSD, Complex C-PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving.   Because that’s what we’re dealing with under Trump and the sycophantic GOP.

*****

Further reading:

The Four F’s of C-PTSD

Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving (book review)

12 Ways to Resist Without Losing Your Mind

The Death of Democracy: Who’s behind it and why

Leave comments on the original post.

The Secular Jurist

By Robert A. Vella

As humankind marches relentlessly towards a profoundly uncertain future, there’s one political change most everyone agrees is likely to happen in the 21st century – the ultimate death of democracy.  Some insist that democracy was never a good idea, and that allowing ordinary people a voice in governance was foolhardy.  Some believe that democracy has outlived it usefulness, and that it is now insufficiently responsive to an increasingly complex world.  Even some supporters freely admit that the forces arrayed against democracy have become too powerful to resist.

Putting aside the value and effectiveness of democracy for a moment (we’ll get back to it later on in this post), let’s examine the four main challengers to democracy and their distinct motivations:

CONSERVATISM.  The philosophies of laissez-faire capitalism, Christian fundamentalism, and white nationalism, have coalesced into a generally unified political ideology throughout western societies…

View original post 575 more words

Things are getting really scary.

wearenotok

There’s a reason why I haven’t posted in so long.   My PTSD is at full bore and I can’t focus. I can’t write because my ability to concentrate is shot.   I seem less able to cope with problems as they come up.  I feel constantly on edge.   My anxiety is unrelenting; it keeps me up at night and darkens my days.  I’m often on the verge of tears, and frequently close to white hot rage.    Getting through each day feels like a herculean accomplishment, but there’s no attendant pleasure in a job well done.   Life is more burdensome and the future seems very dark.

There have been problems involving my daughter and addiction again.  That’s bad enough, but I’d be able to cope with that more easily if my country wasn’t collapsing into so much rubble.   Lately, the destruction seems to be accelerating and the things that are happening are becoming more nightmarish and blatantly oppressive.  America has become a place I no longer recognize.

It’s not just Trump.   It’s the fascist patriarchy the Trumpian-retooled GOP has become.  Because of Trump, it has become a party run by a group of  all-white, almost exclusively male sociopaths who despise people of color, non-Christians, Democrats, LGBTQ, migrant children — and women.   Perhaps women most of all.   Their misogyny seems to have no bottom.

The slew of abortion bans attempting to overturn a law that has been in place for 46 years is clear evidence of how much this group hates women.    I don’t care how you feel about abortion, or what your religious views are, the federal government has no business making rules about what should be a personal decision between a woman and her doctor (and in some cases her husband or partner).    The fact that two states made no exceptions for rape and incest, even if it’s a child raped by a relative, proves to me the patriarchy cares nothing about preserving life, or about a woman’s emotional or physical health, but about oppressing women and girls.    The GOP is reminding me more and more of the Taliban.    How much longer until they start making laws mandating restrictive clothing?  How much longer until we are told what we can own and how much money we can have?   How much longer until we lose our right to vote?

The hypocrisy of these men (and a few women) is astounding.  This group is anything but pro-life, judging by their callous and cruel treatment of migrant families and children, their blithe lack of concern about the endless school shootings, their neverending attempts to take away our healthcare (including making pregnancy and even just being a woman a preexisting condition), their contempt for laws that protect our environment, and their unmitigated greed, hunger for power, and lack of empathy.

This is why our founding fathers wrote the separation of church and state into the Constitution.  Mixing religion and government never leads to anything good.  It corrupts both, and theocracies are without exception violent, hellish places to live, especially for women and people who deviate from the governing religion.  One only needs to look at some of the Middle Eastern countries or medieval Europe to see how bad things can get.  Here in America today, we have a group of fundamentalist evangelical Christians who have way too much power and who wish to replace the Constitution with biblical law.  They appear to be succeeding in their efforts so far.  Such an outcome seemed unthinkable at the time of Trump’s election.

We are falling behind other developed nations in every way.   As they move forward into the future, we are becoming an oppressive backwater, a country resembling a repressive Middle Eastern theocracy or a violent banana republic more than a forward looking democracy.    There’s been an uptick in police brutality, and no one does anything about it.   We have a president who chose an attorney general to be his personal lawyer and “fixer” instead of representing the People.  Trump stomps all over our Constitution and the rule of law.  He and his sycophants break the law on a daily basis and are never held accountable.     There are no checks and balances anymore, and the Democratic Congress seems weak and ineffectual, unable or unwilling to contain Trump’s destructive impulses.

No one wants to come here anymore.   On social media, I have heard people from other countries say they have cancelled trips to America because they are too afraid.  I don’t blame them.   There is much to be afraid of.   People who are able to are leaving, especially the young, who rightly see no future here.

I have a terrible feeling about where this country is going that I will leave unsaid.  But I think anyone who is awake and aware sees what’s coming.

We ar running out of time.  We must rise up because no one is coming to save us.    If we don’t, we are complicit in our own destruction.

Why aren’t we flooding the streets to protest this presidency?

seoul

Thousands of protesters flood the streets of Seoul, South Korea in a candlelight march to demand the removal of their despotic president on November 19, 2016.   They succeeded.

In America in 2019, no one is doing much of anything to protest or resist a despotic, sociopathic president who is a clear and present danger to democracy and the rule of law as we have always known it.   We are in grave danger of becoming a totalitarian, fascist regime with the loss of all our rights and protections, and yet are content to sit on our couches and tweet our discontent or just blithely go about our business as if everything is normal.

Why is that so?

There are many, many more of us than them.  The power is in our hands.  It always has been.  All we have to do is use it, as South Korea did in 2016 to remove their despotic president, and many other countries have done (even countries where speaking against the government is a crime), and yet we don’t.   Why not?

Sometimes I’m most clearheaded very early in the morning, before my head gets filled with the garbage of daily life.   I answered my own question upon waking up this morning.   I decided to post my thoughts on Twitter in a series of threaded tweets.  To my surprise, my thread went viral, with many retweets and hundreds of comments I am still trying to reply to.    It seems that my early morning musings hit a nerve, so I decided to post it here too.

Feel free to share your thoughts.

protesting

Entrepreneurs of hate

This is an important article for a dark time in history.

Please leave comments on the original post.

disorderedworld

Is it possible to transform politics around values such as empathy, solidarity and love? Many progressive commentators think so, and have laid out different plans to put these ideas into practice. But empathy and love seem in short supply in the actuality of politics today, crowded out by hate and intolerance.  In one society after another fear-mongering proceeds apace against poor people, immigrants, minorities and anyone else who is not part of the dominant group.

This article first appeared on Open Democracy Transformation.

View original post 1,338 more words

Why write about politics and religion?

never-discuss-religion-or-politics

When I started this blog, I remember saying I would never write about politics or religion.

Four years later, I’m writing about both politics and religion.   Though not every one of my posts covers these two divisive subjects, a good percentage of them do.    Sometimes I remember the promise I made when this blog was new, and feel like a bit of a hypocrite.

But then when I realize how closely our political situation (and religion too, since in America, right wing evangelical Christianity has become VERY political) ties in with narcissistic abuse and sociopathy, which was this blog’s original focus —  I realize I made the right decision in tossing aside my original vow to steer clear of religion and politics.

In 2019, narcissistic abuse is no longer a matter that only affects individuals, relationships, and families.   It’s the modus operandi of a criminal political organization or perhaps group of criminal political organizations that is affecting everyone under their rule on a nationwide, or even a worldwide, scale.    What is happening in the Republican Party — no longer your father’s, brother’s, or even your own conservative, small government, ‘family values’ party, but a treasonous terrorist organization of white supremacists and religiofascists that serves only the wealthy, white, straight, and male — is narcissistic abuse writ large.  Like it or not, all of us, to one degree or another, are affected by it.

Those of us who are horrified by what has become of America and the cruel way some vulnerable groups of people are being treated, and terrified by what Trump and his sociopathic regime may do to us next are most likely suffering some form of PTSD.    If we already were victims of narcissistic abuse, we are likely suffering a relapse of Complex PTSD (C-PTSD).  I know I sure as hell am.   Most days I feel like I’m just barely hanging on.   It’s hard to think or to function.   I feel constant anxiety, and sometimes depression.  When I’m not anxious or depressed, I’m in a white hot rage.   Peace of mind is a thing of the past, since I never know what fresh hell each new day will bring.    I know I’m far from alone.

Living in Trump’s America without being part of his cultish base feels a lot like waiting for your abusive husband to get home and not knowing whether he’ll beat you up again or mercifully just ignore you tonight.   It feels like being a scapegoated child in a family of narcissists, who blame you for everything that goes wrong, even though you don’t understand what you did wrong (and probably didn’t do anything).   You’re always anxious and on edge, always waiting for the “other shoe to drop.”  Narcissists like to keep you off balance, and Trump and his sycophants like to create the sort of chaos and say the kinds of things that keep us all off balance and constantly on edge.   What he’s doing isn’t any different than what your narcissistic mother did to you, and it has the same deleterious effect on your mental health.

Since 2016, mental health professionals say their caseloads are increasing, and most new caseloads are people suffering PTSD because of the trauma Trump is causing them.  Even if his cruel and hate filled policies don’t affect you or your loved ones directly, the threat of violence, the taking away of benefits and freedoms, and the mocking hatred is always there, like a black heaviness in the room.  The toxic rhetoric he and his base use against anyone who doesn’t act, believe and look the way they do never goes away, and it’s getting worse.  Now he’s goading his base (through his Twitter account) to actual violence against anyone who dares to criticize him or his policies.   I have no doubt he’s trying to rile up the police, the biker gangs, the gun nuts, and others to form a militia against liberals and progressives (and even moderates), truthtellers, and the lovers of democracy.    Make no mistake:  he’s gathering an army of brownshirts to terrorize, attack, and even kill anyone who isn’t on his side.

My point is that politics and religion in 2019 is very much tied up with narcissistic abuse and sociopathy, and to not address the fact this problem is now happening on a nationwide or even worldwide scale (and perhaps has been for a long time) is to deny that it is happening at all.  To not write about current events in light of narcissism and sociopathy would be irresponsible.

My first goal in writing about these issues is to educate and make those who might not have connected this presidency with the problem of narcissistic abuse more aware that it is happening.  With awareness and education, people are more equipped to see what is happening, when it’s happening, the various “tricks” they use (gaslighting, lying, blame shifting, demonization of groups, black and white thinking, employing “flying monkeys”, etc.) and take appropriate action or defense measures to guard against it.

Since most of us can’t go “no contact” with Trump (unless we have the means to emigrate to another country), we must stay vigilant and aware of the myriad ways he and his “flying monkeys” abuse us (he abuses his own base too, but they are in denial, like the cult members they are).  At the same time, we can’t forget about our families, our friends, and try to enjoy our lives as best we can.   The little things in life matter too.   We can (and must) take breaks from the news, and focus on more positive things, and try to find joy wherever we can.

Remember that even in the most depressing and darkest of circumstances, it is possible to find joy.     Read The Diary of Anne Frank for inspiration and strength.    If you believe in God, pray.   If you don’t, do positive things for yourself and others.    Give (and get) lots of hugs.  Volunteer.  Adopt an animal.   Do good things in your community.   Everything you do makes a difference.

Don’t put on horse blinders and pretend what’s happening isn’t, but in the midst of all the black chaos, take time out for joy and friendship.  Also remember that Trump is an angry, lost soul who has neither joy or true friends and never will.   You are better than that and that’s why he hates us.

The other reason I write about politics and religion is because it’s a way to personally cope with what’s happening.   Just as I wrote about my own abuse as a survivor of a narcissistic family and emotionally abusive marriage in order to heal, it’s also necessary for me to write about the ways I feel abused by Trump and his regime in order to keep my sanity.   Otherwise I might completely give up hope and put a bullet in my head.

*****

Further reading:

Narcissistic Abuse in Trumpistan

We Need a Lot More Awareness About Narcissism and Sociopathy

Institutionalized soul murder.

handmaids-tale

“If you’ve been following me for some time now, you’ve likely noticed the absence of optimism & hope. While my wife is at work, and my son is in school, I just cry. I’m trying to hide it from them, but they know. I just want to leave this country before I’m destroyed.”  — Twitter user

If you think statements like this are unusual, I can assure you they are not.

Several days ago, Jussie Smollet, “Empire” actor, singer, director, and photographer, was brutally attacked by a couple of Trump supporters wearing MAGA hats (the new KKK hood).  The assailants tied a rope around the man’s neck, yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him, and poured bleach on him.    As the assailants left, they yelled “It’s MAGA country now.”   Smollet’s injuries were severe enough to require hospitalization.  This was a hate crime and most likely an attempted lynching.   Trump is doing everything he can to turn back the clock to the Jim Crow days, and we are almost there.

Indeed, Trump emboldens such violent attacks because of his hateful, racist, misogynistic, and neofascist rhetoric, especially at his rallies.   His hostile and bullying bluster contains obvious “dogwhistles” to his supporters, letting them know that attacking or bullying people who are different than they are is just fine in Trump’s America.

Not long before the Smollet attack, four good samaritans left food and water near the Mexican border for tired, hungry migrants (who are almost all women and children, not the caravans of violent MS-13 gang members and drug dealers Trump keeps screaming about).   Police arrested the kindhearted samaritans, and charged all four of them with misdemeanors!   Why misdemeanors?  For showing empathy?  That’s insane.

Meanwhile, homegrown terrorists, neo-Nazis, and high school racists are invited to the White House, are interviewed on TV, and sometimes treated like heroes–or at least their actions are dismissed as “boys will be boys” or “well, some of them are very fine people.”

A Trump supporting politician named Greg Gianforte body slammed a reporter last year for asking him questions.  He  was held up as a hero for attacking a journalist, and even won his state election, while the injured reporter was vilified as an “enemy of the people.”   (Gianforte later apologized).

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who very believably and painfully described the way she had been  sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh, was told she was lying by Fox News pundits and Trump’s sycophants.   She was then mocked cruelly by Trump himself at one of his rallies (after Ford said the most painful part of the assault had been the way Kavanaugh and his friends mocked her — I’m sure this was not a coincidence).  Ford’s testimony was dismissed as a bunch of lies, while Kavanaugh, clearly temperamentally unsuited to serve on the Supreme Court, was painted by Trump and the GOP as some sort of misunderstood victim who was being unfairly attacked by lying, spiteful women who just wanted their 15 minutes of fame.   He now sits on the Supreme Court.

Central American children and their parents escaping certain death in their home countries, instead of being instructed in how to apply for asylum (these families are showing up legally at ports of entry) are being caged and forcibly separated from each other by ICE and border patrol agents, then tossed into concentration camps with only a foil blanket for warmth and inadequate food and medical care.   Two children have died in these camps. Unbelievably,  some evangelical Republicans are actually calling these cruel actions “biblical.”  Meanwhile, Democrats and others wanting to see the children reunited with their families and treated with kindness and empathy are dismissed as misguided or even evil.  We are gaslighted and told we just want “open borders,” but that too is a lie.

Undocumented immigrant families are released from detention at a bus depot in McAllen

Photo by Loren Elliott/Reuters

In “The Handmaid’s Tale,”  there is a scene where one of the girls is severely punished and returns with her feet bleeding and barely able to walk.  The other girls feel empathy for her, but don’t dare show it, because if they do, they too will be punished.   The same thing was also practiced in the migrant camps at the border, where siblings and other children were ordered not to hold or comfort each other, even after having been separated from their parents.   I don’t know whether or not they were punished if they broke the rules, but the fact such a rule exists is concerning.  It’s institutionalized cruelty.

There’s a reason for this besides just being cruel.  It’s an effective way populations can be controlled.  If you don’t allow people to comfort or show empathy to each other, they won’t rise up or try to overthrow their oppressors.   Hitler and other dictators were  known for doing this.  It’s also a way to fast track the destruction of human beings.   Don’t allow them any hope or comfort.   It’s an effective form of emotional torture.

concentrationcampww2

Meanwhile, cruelty is rewarded and applauded.  At the very least, it seems to be tolerated a lot more than it used to be.

Our values have been turned inside and twisted beyond recognition by a group of men (and a few women) whose only goal is absolute power.  Evil is now good, and good is evil.  Lies are the truth, and the truth is fake news.   Kindness and empathy are now bad and diabolical, cruelty and violence are godly and good.  Truthtellers are silenced, and liars are given a voice.

War is peace.  Freedom is slavery.  Ignorance is strength.  — George Orwell (1984)

The people having the hardest time under the Trump regime aren’t necessarily the poor (as difficult or even impossible as their lives are), but people with high sensitivity, high empathy, high creativity, and people who are critical, independent thinkers.    This regime is threatened by all those things, just as narcissistic parents are threatened and scapegoat the most sensitive, empathetic child or the child who speaks the truth and exposes the family’s dark secrets.

I have heard many people say that since Trump became president,  they feel constantly on edge, suicidal, depressed, cry every day,  have lost interest in things that once interested them, feel like they can no longer cope, want to leave the country, are constantly afraid, feel constantly angry, isolate from others, feel sick all the time, or feel dead and numb inside.  These are all indications of PTSD and C-PTSD.  Trump and his sociopathic, cruel regime has triggered or retriggered these disorders in many (if not most) Americans, but it’s the sensitive, empathic, and creative, artistic types of people who are suffering the most, and are least able to thrive under an oppressive, authoritarian regime.   At the same time, these are the same people who are most likely to be the truthtellers  and whistleblowers we need so badly right now.

What the Trump GOP is doing is institutionalized soul murder.

Enough.

The Year of Fascism: Ten Lessons We Should Learn from 2018

fascistamerica

I just finished an article that is both profoundly depressing and profoundly eye opening.    I won’t summarize it here.  Just read it.   I think the writer (Umar Haque) nailed what happened to us in a way no one else has.

Fascism came to America in 2018.  And most of us still won’t admit it.  We still think, “it can’t happen here.”  But it already has.   Until we admit we have become a fascist nation, things will continue to get even worse.

The cure for fascism is almost ridiculously simple: restore the middle class.  There’s a simple way to do this.  But will America ever admit it failed its middle class and humble itself enough to do what needs to be done to restore the middle class?  I wonder.

The Year of Fascism; 10 Lessons We Should Learn From 2018