Bullying and the suppression of empathy and shame.

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On Friday, at the National Mall in Washington, DC, there occurred A Tale of Two Rallies: two rallies that clashed in a way that says everything about where America as a country stands in 2019.

As the Indigenous Peoples Rights demonstration was winding down, the March for Life anti-abortion rally was just starting. A large group of boys from Kentucky’s Covington Catholic High School were attending the March for Life.

An indigenous elder and Vietnam veteran named Nathan Phillips was standing alone on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, singing a native American protest song as he banged a small handheld leather drum. As he sang and kept rhythm with his drum, a large group of teenage boys from Covington began to surround him and taunt him, cruelly imitating his singing, dancing to the music in a mocking way, and shouting “Build that wall!”  Many of the boys wore red MAGA hats — a clothing item that is already becoming associated with hatred and racism, much as the swastika or brown shirts of WWII Germany eventually became associated with the Nazis and the Holocaust.

One boy in particular stood out, and the video of his silent and seemingly hostile standoff with the Indian elder has gone viral. I won’t name the boy, because I have no desire to ruin his life.   Although the teen’s behavior toward the elder was deplorable and cruel (involving a form of bullying known as physical intimidation — invading someone’s personal space),  I blame the environment he was raised in, particularly the environment of Covington Catholic, which has developed a reputation of fostering a culture of racism, sexism, and white supremacy in its all-male student body (though both the school and the diocese have apologized for the students’ behavior at the rally).

I do not think the boy in the video is necessarily a sociopath or a narcissist, although his behavior toward the elder certainly makes it appear that way.   There are reasons to think this boy is a normal kid who may have been doing this on a dare or to appear “cool” among his peers, and may also be being indoctrinated by his school and his classmates to harshly judge and intimidate people who are different than he is.

Jack Brown, MD, is an expert on facial and body language, and he writes fascinating Twitter threads and articles analyzing the facial and body language of celebrities, politicians, and sometimes, everyday people like this high school boy, whose facial expressions during the exchange with the elder proved to be far more complex than they at first seemed.

So I have taken the liberty of reposting Dr. Brown’s fascinating thread, which goes into great detail about the boy’s subtle facial cues, which while on the surface seemed threatening and bullying, showed fleeting glimpses of shame, anger, sadness, and even empathy.

First, here is the video of the incident.    You can use this to reference the incidents described in Dr. Brown’s tweets.

1/ On Friday 18 January 2019, in Washington DC, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, a confrontation occurred between some students of Covington Catholic HS (a private, all-boys school in Park Hills, KY) & members of the Indigenous Peoples March – most notably, Nathan Phillips.

2/ The students were in DC to participate in a March for Life event. Many of the boys in the crowd were wearing MAGA hats as well as clothing with Covington Catholic High School insignia.

3/ Mr. Phillips is a veteran of the Vietnam War and Native American elder of the Omaha tribe. What follows is a partial nonverbal analysis of this event.

4/ At 0:06, we see this student display what is known as a Loose Tongue Jut. A loose tongue jut is a microexpression/near-micro expression signifying the thought-emotions of:

• I’ve been caught

• I’ve been bad

• I’ve done a stupid thing

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5/ During 0:07 – 0:08, we see a second student exhibit this identical behavior.

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6/ During 0:23, one student pushes another student toward Mr. Phillips in an effort to further encroach into Nathan Phillips’ personal space (intimate space).

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7/ A third student displays another Loose Tongue Jut during 0:34

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8/ During 0:43, we see the student who, in the remainder of this video, is the primary confrontational individual (here referred to as John Doe). He is shown here, in near profile, in order to demonstrate his normal chin contour.

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9/ This image (0:48) is captured shortly after John Doe and Nathan Phillips encroach into each others’ personal space. The expression on Doe’s face is a partial, sincere smile (Duchenne Smile).

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10/ Entering into another person’s interpersonal space (personal space and even intimate space) – is a body language behavior which very often provokes violence.

11/ While this is true for all genders, it’s particularly incendiary when two men are Whole Body Pointing toward each other (eyes, head, shoulders, torso, hips, and feet). Simply by turning 20º – 30º to one side will de-escalate the potential for physical confrontation.

12/ During 0:53, Doe adopts a significant component of Disgust – and his smile ceases to be sincere – ergo this is a Disgust-Pseudosmile.

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13/ During 0:55, John Doe begins to display a Jaw Jut – a forward displacement of his mandible – and here, indicative of an Adrenaline Surge. He is also suppressing laughter.

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14/ During 0:56, we begin to see a fascinating dynamic – the first signals of a tremendous example of Emotional Dissonance.

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15/ Although John Doe is primarily being governed by peer pressure – and mob mentality (aka herd mentality, pack mentality, gang mentality) – his individual personality is breaking through in his moment.

16/ Indeed, Doe is suppressing his empathy – specifically his feelings of sadness for indigenous peoples and/or Mr. Phillips specifically. Note his mid-facial tension.

17/ Although contraction of the “mustache area” and flaring of his nostrils are also associated with disgust – it’s also a dynamic associated with the suppression of crying. For a couple seconds, Doe is on the verge of tears.

18/ Please watch this video first at normal speed, then at 0.5 and then again at full speed – particularly this crucial portion. The details will then be more discernible.

19/ During 0:57, Doe’s jaw juts out further. He begins what is called a Hard Swallow (note his Adam’s apple moving up and down – indicating a dry throat and elevated anxiety).

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20/ Although we can’t them directly, Doe’s repositioning of his hands begins in this moment – most probably into his pockets. This is akin to a turtle retreating into his shell – he very much wants to leave, but peer pressure is preventing him)

21/ At 0:58, he tilts his head and neck backward and thrusts his chin forward – signifying strong feelings of Defiance. Here he finishes his hard swallow and the repositioning of his hands.

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22/ During 1:04 there is a resurgence of empathy-sadness (although some disgust as well).

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23/ At 1:05, John Doe Breaks his Eye Contact (he’s looking just past Mr. Phillips or perhaps at Phillips’ right ear).

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24/ We often break eye contact in such scenarios in order to suppress strong emotions. In this second, it allows Doe to once again break this cycle of empathy-sadness.

25/ This lack of eye contact enables John Doe to, once again, break into a sincere smile and a moment of suppressing laughter (1:11).

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26/ During 1:29, we see another example of emotional dissonance – a combination of disgust and tear suppression.

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27/ During 1:30, he breaks eye contact in another manner by looking down and to HIS right. Although this is obviously in the direction of Nathan Phillips’ drum, it’s also the quadrant to which most people look during strong feelings of shame, guilt, and moments of sadness.

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28/ Here, during 1:41, Doe is once again looking past Phillips.

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29/ And in the other direction (1:43) – disengaging himself from the intensity of this confrontation.

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30/ At 1:53, after Doe re-establishes eye contact, he re-escalates his emotions, becoming angry.

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31/ At 1:54, Doe looks away again – and immediately his anger is erased and we see the beginnings of a smile (with a hint of disgust).

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32/ During 2:23, we see a stronger example of Disgust. His partial eyelid closure, while not a requirement of disgust, acts as an amplifier.

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33/ During 3:21, another student, who is probably a friend or possibly a family member, begins to give John Doe a Shoulder Rub.

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34/ This is an example of emotional support and affection – but it’s also another signal of emotional dissonance. It’s as if the student in the blue jacket is trying to say, “You did good bro – but time to disengage”.

35/ He stops his shoulder rub at 3:22, yells/howls repeatedly – and displays multiple pseudo-chest/abdomen beating gestures. He exhibits a Loose Tongue Jut during 3:28 – as his psyche declares a mea culpa – calling himself out for his mocking of indigenous peoples.

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36/ He turns to walk away – retreating to the back of the crowd – but not before he displays yet another loose tongue-jut (3:30).

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37/ SUMMARY: Many students of Covington Catholic High School, along with some others who were in this crowd, displayed blatant racism toward indigenous peoples in Washington DC on 18 January 2019.

38/ One individual in particular deliberately maintained his position in Nathan Phillips’ personal space. Mr. Phillips was, of course, vastly outnumbered and elderly – however, in many (most) similar scenarios, this student’s act would have provoked violence.

39/ The display of disgust in this situation is profoundly noteworthy. Outside of the context of true self-defense, in order to for the psyche to inflict harm on another person or group, it must view them as less than human.

40/ Those who commit such acts need to see their victims – as “others” – beneath them. Disgust is the emotion which encapsulates this feeling. Indeed, disgust is the most common emotion displayed by people committing hate-crimes and acts of mass violence.

41/ This phenomenon was well-documented during the Holocaust.

42/ While this incident in front of the Lincoln Memorial was certainly an example of peer pressure and mob mentality, it also exemplified cognitive and emotional dissonance.

43/ The primary confronting student’s emotions oscillated from disgust, anger, and even taking joy in his deliberate intimidation – but also to sadness, empathy, guilt, shame – and several times he was even near-tears.

44/ In the near future, this student will very likely appear in a public setting/television interview, where he will apologize. A written statement (usually prepared by an attorney) is nowhere close to a sincere or meaningful apology.

45/ In giving a public apology, with high probability, he will break down in tears – and it will become, for him, a fundamental life inflection point. It will be healing. Such a public apology will permanently up-regulate his empathy.

46/ Alternatively, if he neglects to undertake this difficult, but emotionally intelligent act – he will most probably spend the rest of his life digging in his heels and rationalizing his bad behavior.

 —  Dr. Jack Brown, MD

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My takeaway is similar to Dr. Brown’s conclusion:  this incident will be a pivotal event in this boy’s life.  If he takes the high road and chooses to acknowledge his barely suppressed empathy and shame, and publicly (or even privately) apologizes, he will feel painful emotions but will be able to redeem himself.  He will have learned a valuable life lesson and his empathy will henceforth no longer be so hidden.  He will grow up into a man who can truly care about others.

But, coming from a school environment having a reputation for racism and “othering” people who are different, combined with peer pressure from classmates who may be more sociopathic than he is, he may choose not to acknowledge his feelings of cognitive dissonance, and not apologize, which will make it easier for him to suppress his empathy and shame in the future.  As Dr. Brown pointed out, should he choose that road, his personality, still malleable due to his youth, could turn sociopathic or narcissistic.

*****

Follow Dr. Jack Brown’s Twitter page:

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Happy Birthday, President Obama!

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Because of Donald Trump, many people are realizing how good we had things during the 8 years from 2009 to 2017, including me.   A very bad president is making his predecessor (who otherwise might have seemed just a tad better than average), in comparison seem like one of the nation’s great leaders, a leader who will be remembered fondly by history and whose big wide happy smile may even adorn our currency one day.

During the time Obama was president, I took him for granted.  Sure, I voted for him and was happy when he was elected in 2008, but once he was settled in for the long haul, I largely ignored him and was even somewhat critical of him for being too “corporate-friendly” or for pandering to conservatives too much.   I also didn’t like the individual mandate that was a core part of his healthcare plan (ACA), not realizing what its purpose was or why it was necessary (I do now).   Obama eventually became part of the background: just another centrist politician who was about as important to my life as the beige color of the walls at the post office.  But my disinterest in his presidency was in itself a sign that democracy — cripped though it might have become — was still working:

In a functioning democracy, people don’t constantly obsess about politics.  — Unknown

 

In Obama, I see a man who had a genuine, open, and sincere smile — not a hateful scowl, pout, or sneer.  He held his arms wide open in welcoming gesture, not constantly folded tightly against his chest in wounded defensiveness.

In Obama, I see a man who always had kind words for all his constituents, regardless of race, social class, income, nationality, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.  Trump never has a kind word for anyone —  unless they are useful to him in some way, or “strongmen” dictators and despots of oppressive regimes he admires and aspires to be just like.

In Obama, I see a man who respected the free press, the rule of law, the justice system, our system of checks and balances, and democracy itself.   Trump is actively trying to dismantle all of these things.

In Obama, I see a man who could roll with the punches, take jokes and criticism at his expense, and even be able to joke back and be funny (but never in a cruel way) in his own right.   He wasn’t afraid to be criticized by the press and if the criticism was deserved, he was able to own it and admit when he’d been wrong, unlike Trump who is so thin skinned he can never apologize or accept responsibility for anything he does — and yet constantly takes credit for good things that others do (especially Obama).

In Obama, I see a man who was empathetic and compassionate, who wasn’t afraid to show deep emotion and even shed tears when tragedy happened, such as when the children at Sandy Hook were shot down by a gunman.  He cried on other occasions as well,  but always for others, never for himself.   He could hug and console members of grieving families after Hurricane Sandy, and even weep with them.   Trump has never been able to show empathy or shed tears of compassion, or reach out to anyone who was hurting.   People are not real to Trump; as they are for all narcissists, to Trump, people are either sources of contempt or pawns he can use to get what he wants (recognition, money and power).

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In Obama, I see a man who genuinely loved and cared for his wife and family, protectively shielding Michelle and his daughters with an umbrella when it rained, putting his arm around her protectively when entering events or Air Force One, or guiding her tenderly through doors.   In photos of the two of them, they appear to share a genuine affection and love for each other.   Their smiles and laughter appear genuine to me.    In contrast, I do not see that in any photographs of Trump and Melania.  Their relationship appears ice cold, even hostile.

In Obama, I see a man who could be a gentleman, who was chivalrous without being sexist.  He respected women and humanity in general.  He never bragged about grabbing women by their private parts or treated them as second class citizens.  Compare Obama’s treatment of women in general to that of Trump,  who treats women as if they have fewer rights than men and are undeserving of basic respect and dignity.   It’s also interesting to note how few women (and even fewer women of color) he has in his cabinet.  It saddens me deeply that my daughter may be oppressed and treated as “less than” during most of her adult years just because of her gender.  It breaks my heart that she may be deprived of the freedoms people of my generation and the preceding mine enjoyed due to the progress made during the 1960s and 1970s.  She and members of her generation may not be so fortunate. They may have to fight for those hard won rights all over again.   If they are even allowed to.

In Obama, I see a man who was able to have fatherly fun with his two daughters, unlike Trump, who you rarely if ever see with Barron and is usually ignoring him the few times he is seen with him.  Barron to me seems very sad and distant from his father.  From what I’ve observed and read, Trump’s relationship with his three eldest children seems unhealthy, and to me, they appear as toxic and personality disordered as their father.

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In Obama, I see a man who truly cared about the American people and did his best to improve our lives and fix the terrible economy the Bush years and the 2008 housing crisis had left us with.   Obama tried to make healthcare more affordable for every American.  No, it wasn’t a perfect system.   There were many improvements that could have been made to it.   Lots of people — including myself — didn’t care for the indidivual mandate at first.   But that was before I knew why it existed.  Sure, single payer (like other advanced democracies have) would be better, but the ACA was at least a cautious step in the right direction.

Trump, despite promising a brand new “big beautiful healthcare plan” during his campaign, has done nothing but sabotage, demonize, and decimate the ACA, making it more expensive and far less comprehensive than it was two years ago.   He wants to bring back preexisting conditions, which will make healthcare out of reach for millions of Americans.  The plan is to still completely  destroy the ACA, replacing it with nothing or with something much worse.   As for the economy, sure, the stock market is way up due to the tax breaks which enable corporations and the wealthy to buy back their own stocks.  But that means nothing to the average American worker, most who are not better off than they were two years ago, and many are much worse off.

In Obama, I see a man who celebrated with the LGBTQ community when the White House was lit up with all the colors of the rainbow when gay marriage was finally recognized by the Supreme Court.  Trump wants to roll back gay and transgender rights, and put these people back in the closet, packing the courts with far right judges, and courting the help of far right evangelicals who want to further oppress and persecute this group.   As the mother of a gay son, this concerns and hurts me.  I worry for my son in the current political environment and at some point, I plan on speaking to him about leaving the country should things get too dangerous for people like him — even if that means I may never see him again.

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In Obama, I see a man I have come to miss very much, and now think of as one of the greatest presidents of my lifetime. Yes, he made mistakes.  No, he wasn’t perfect, far from it — but he was a genuine human being possessed of compassion, intelligence, wisdom, good judgment, respect for our Constitution and democracy, and genuine concern and care about  about the future of our great country.

I remember when Obama was elected, how proud I felt to be an American. I remember thinking how wonderful it was that racism, exclusion, and hatred had finally been replaced by acceptance, inclusion, and love.

How wrong I was.   All of that was ugliness still there; it just went into hiding.  A whole swath of Americans were so enraged that a black man actually became President that it exposed all the hatred and racism that had always been festering back out into the open like it was during the Jim Crow days.  Some people truly felt that having a black man try to give them healthcare was worse than having an angry and ignorant white president encourage and enable violence and hatred against people who weren’t exactly like them and anyone who disagreed with Trump.

I have come to realize that the Trumpist antagonism toward “political correctness” was really just a thin cover for “I want the right to call people I don’t like terrible names and discriminate against them.”  People have always had the right to call groups they dislike nasty names, but it was socially unacceptable (as it should be!).  Now, under the guise of  Sessions’ “religious freedom task force,” it may actually become legal to discriminate and deny civil rights to anyone who isn’t white, male, straight, rich, and the “right kind” of Christian (dominionist evangelical).  Oh, and while we’re on that topic, the only other countries that have a “religious freedom task force” are Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Pakistan.  Let that sink in.

Under Obama, I felt like there was real hope for the future — a good and secure feeling that things would continue to get better and the future would be bright for our children, grandchildren, and future generations.  “Yes, we can!” Obama and his supporters proclaimed.  And we really felt like we could!

Now, Trump and his complicit Greek chorus of spineless Republicans have shattered that feeling of hope and optimism and replaced it with fear, anger, helplessness, despair, and empty slogans.  The only people feeling any hope right now are Trump’s base, but it’s a false hope because they too will be hurt by his policies — if not now, then eventually.

I know we can’t have Obama back, but I look back fondly and yes, wistfully on the eight years he served as our leader, and the hope he represented for millions of people.  I only wish I had appreciated him more during those years, never realizing what horror was going to follow.

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So, happy birthday, President Obama.  I hope you have a wonderful day.

I am sorry you were so vilified during the time you served in the White House and still continue to be, by your successor and his cult of hate.

You will always President to me, and to millions of other Americans who still stand for democracy and what’s right and good.

God bless and godspeed in all your endeavors.   You were and continue to be an inspiration to me to be a better person and a better American.

What Color Am I? A True Story About Race Identity and Racism.

I love this post about racism by my friend Linda Lee, and want more people to read it. I was surprised by what she found out about herself, but I think it’s so cool!

Please leave comments under the original post.

 

A Blog About Healing From PTSD

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I have never been able to understand racism. Not even when I lived in an all-white town and believed that I, too, was 100% white.

If racists were a tiny minority group, then I might understand it. I would believe they were mentally ill. Their thinking is screwed up because their brain isn’t working right. (Yes, I know how ironic this is, considering that I have a diagnosis of PTSD!) But so many otherwise “normal” people are rabidly racist — WHY? It makes no sense to me.

I grew up in a small town in southwestern Missouri. One day when I was five years old, my mother took me to see the doctor. Ahead of us, in the waiting room, sat a beautiful dark skinned family: a mother, a father, and two small children. They were sitting near the receptionist’s desk, in the area where everyone usually sat.

I went…

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The eerie similarities between the alt-right and Charles Manson’s cult.

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When Charles Manson, the infamous mass murderer who ordered his followers to carry out a series of brutal murders in 1969, died in prison in early November,  I was intrigued by the many comments I read that half-jokingly (but also half-seriously) said that had Manson been free (and still alive) he would have become an icon for the alt-right and possibly even become a de facto alt-right leader.

If you don’t think about it too deeply, the comparison seems preposterous.  After all, Charles Manson was an outcome of the 1960s far left (or at least seemed to be):  an aging LSD-tripping, wild-eyed, long haired musician (I hesitate to call him a hippie because he actually was not) and ex-convict psychopath who headed a commune of long-haired young hippies, most who were girls and most who were runaways (or castaways) from broken homes.   The girls (and the few boys) who lived with him at the Spahn Ranch in the remote California desert worshipped him as if he were a God, and he played the role well.   He had a mesmerizing, almost supernatural effect over his charges, and these lost kids, who weren’t necessarily bad people when they joined his ranch, became so brainwashed they were willing to do anything for him — even commit murder for him.

During their time at the Spahn Ranch, Manson and his disciples (collectively they were known as “The Family”) engaged in sex orgies, dropped LSD together, listened to music, especially the Beatles (Manson believed the words of certain Beatles songs spoke directly to him and were prophetic), and even made music (there is actually an album of music they released). They listened raptly to Manson’s sermons letting them know he was Christ and Satan wrapped in one, and about the coming Helter Skelter, which they were to set off.

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Some members of the Manson Family.

The young women cooked, cleaned and had sex with Manson, and even bore his children, who were also fed drugs and indoctrinated in Manson’s strange religion.  There was nothing Manson could do, no matter how heinous, that wasn’t perfect in their eyes, and his followers defended him and his actions to the death, even after he (and several of the followers) were convicted of first degree murder.   To these kids, Charles Manson was the Messiah.

But Manson’s “Family” was not just a late ’60s hippie commune that went bad.  In fact, Manson himself (who was already a good bit older than the average hippie) held hippies in contempt and looked down on them.   He was irritated by their idealism and obsession with peace, love, and Vietnam.   He could not relate to either their pacifism or their idealism.   He disliked their attitudes that “we are all one,” because Manson did not share their views about race or unity.  He was a racist who hated black people and admired Adolf Hitler so much that he tattooed a swastika on his forehead, and required his “girls” to do the same.   The Family’s entire belief system revolved around a future apocalyptic race war Manson called “Helter Skelter”:

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Patricia Krenwinkle, Susan Atkins, and Leslie Van Houten at their murder trial.  They believed they did no wrong.

Per Wikipedia:

Manson had been predicting racial war for some time before he used the term Helter Skelter.  His first use of the term was at a gathering of the Family on New Year’s Eve 1968. This took place at the Family’s base at Myers Ranch, near California’s Death Valley.

In its final form, which was reached by mid-February 1969, the scenario had Manson as not only the war’s ultimate beneficiary but its musical cause. He and the Family would create an album with songs whose messages concerning the war would be as subtle as those he had heard in songs of the Beatles.  More than merely foretell the conflict, this would trigger it; for, in instructing America’s white youth to join the Family, it would draw the young, white female hippies out of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury.

Black men, thus deprived of the white women whom the political changes of the 1960s had made sexually available to them, would be without an outlet for their frustrations and would lash out in violent crimes against whites.  A resultant murderous rampage against blacks by frightened whites would then be exploited by militant blacks to provoke an internecine war of near-extermination between racist and non-racist whites over blacks’ treatment. Then the militant blacks would arise to sneakily finish off the few whites they would know to have survived; indeed, they would kill off all non-blacks.

In this holocaust, the members of the enlarged Family would have little to fear; they would wait out the war in a secret city that was underneath Death Valley that they would reach through a hole in the ground. As the only actual remaining whites upon the race war’s true conclusion, they would emerge from underground to rule the now-satisfied blacks, who, as the vision went, would be incapable of running the world. At that point, Manson “would scratch [the black man’s] fuzzy head and kick him in the butt and tell him to go pick the cotton and go be a good nigger.”

The term “Helter Skelter” was from the Beatles song of that name (from their 1968 White Album), which referred to the British amusement-park ride of that name, but was interpreted by Manson as concerned with the race war.

There are a lot of similarities between the attitudes and beliefs of the alt-right and those of the Manson Family, which includes the cult-like worship of morally questionable, even psychopathic leaders.  Trump (and to a lesser extent, Steve Bannon and Roy Moore) are seen as messiahs to those who relate to their message:  heroic, refreshingly (to them) politically incorrect, abusively outspoken (they hear that as “honesty”) avengers and destroyers of the institutions and establishments they believed ruined America.  In Trump, Moore, and Bannon, they see men who sympathize with their racist, sexist, nationalist, anti-establishment, anti-government, and unpopular beliefs.

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Neo-Nazis in Charlottesville.

Like Manson, Trump also seems to have a cult-like appeal to his supporters.  It seems there is nothing he can say or do that will end their devotion to him.  Trump, possibly speaking the only truth he’s ever told, was right when he said he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and he would keep his supporters.   They would walk off a cliff if he asked them to.   Manson’s followers were under similar thrall, believing him perfect and right even after he ordered them to commit murders to set off his dreamed of racial Armageddon.

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Jerry Rubin, 1970.

Parallels between the alt-right and 1960s radical far left.

In some ways, the alt-right/white nationalist movement is even similar to the radical/militant 1960s far left movement that spawned groups like The Weathermen and the Yippies.    This far left movement, led by people such as Jerry Rubin (who later became an establishment businessman and 1980s yuppie) and Abbie Hoffman, was a movement that also encouraged anarchy and destruction of the establishment, by violent or militant means if necessary.  The anarchy and destruction encouraged by both groups had opposite goals of course: the radical 1960s far left wished to create a socialist, egalitarian utopia (using militant tactics to achieve that); the alt-right prefers a fascist nationalist dystopia.

Both movements attract(ed) young disaffected men who felt alienated from the society they were raised in.    Both movements also spread their message and inform each other of events using non-traditional, covert means of communication: for the far left radicals, it was “underground” papers, mimeographed flyers, and word of mouth; for alt-rightists, it’s social media like Reddit, 4chan, troll or neo-Nazi sites, and the “deep web.”   The alt-right, unlike the ’60s radicals, are more likely to achieve their nationalist dream, since they actually have a president (and others in power) who share their views.

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Jerry Rubin’s how-to guide to left wing anarchy (published 1970).

Here’s another article from VICE that draws a similar conclusion about Manson and the alt-right.

What Charles Manson Had in Common with the Alt-Right

 

The choice is yours.

 

A reminder from James Martin, SJ (via Twitter)

In case anyone has forgotten:

Child abuse is a sin.

Sexual abuse is a sin.

Sexual harassment is a sin.

Racism, and white supremacy, is a sin.

Jesus asks us to welcome the stranger.

Jesus asks us to love the poor.

There are indeed two sides to these issues: Good and evil.

The choice is yours.

The alt-right are the real snowflakes.

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The alt-right loves to gaslight those of us who don’t support Trump by calling us snowflakes, but they’re the real snowflakes because they are so afraid of everything. And I mean everything.  Even progress.  Especially progress!

In spite of all the recent ugly developments that seem so ominous and seem to indicate  impending fascism, I actually think that, as a society, we are moving toward more inclusion, tolerance and rationality than ever before.  In the midst of all the chaos and strife we are currently facing, I keep hearing stories that give me hope and encouragement.

This seems to be starting at the grass-roots level.  Many local politicians, even in some red states, are turning more to the left than they ever have before, perhaps as pushback against the Trump regime, or maybe they would have done so anyway.  What they are rejecting is Trump’s anti-environment, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-minority, anti-American agenda and enacting drastic changes at the local level unlike anything we have seen before.    There are also more people than ever demanding things like Medicare for All, consumer and environmental protections, and other things that actually help average people, not the oligarchs on top.

Obama was hated for several reasons, none of which are based on reason or critical thinking.   The most obvious reason he was hated was because he was black.  The fact a black man could become president hit white supremacists and neo-Nazis where it hurts the most, because their whiteness is their sole identity and reason for being.   It was also during the Obama administration that gay marriage was legalized, there was a real attempt to provide healthcare to a majority of Americans (even if it fell far short of accomplishing that), and new environmental regulations were put into place to help slow down climate change.

Perhaps most telling of all, local governments are removing statues and monuments honoring the Confederacy at a dizzying rate.

These are all signs of progress, signs that we are still moving forward, even if the obstacles are greater. The vast majority of Americans welcome progress.   Unfortunately, about one-third of Americans feel threatened by it — whether it’s racial equality, environmental protections, healthcare as a human right, or the recognition that groups they label “other” have the same civil rights they do.   They are pushing back — and demanding we go backwards with them without question.   They not only want to undo everything Obama did, they also want to undo all the progress and positive changes we have made since the Civil Rights movement or even earlier.  The removal of Confederate monuments is sounding the alarm bell that backwards values are being abandoned for good, and that is making them react in rage.

Why? Because they’re scared to death of change.  They are kicking and flailing in opposition like 2 year olds having temper tantrums.   They know that in spite of the setback of Trump being president, as a nation we are still moving forward and leaving their ideas and values behind, and they are terrified!

I also think that as a nation we are engaged in a spiritual war, and the greatest evil we are facing — the evil that brought us to this point and made someone like Donald Trump president — is narcissism.   In order to heal, we must recognize that painful truth and find a way to reject this perverted “value” that has eroded trust and caused so much suffering, and replace it with humility and love.

I see more and more people waking up and realizing our collective narcissism (which greed, hatred, and intolerance arises from) must be eradicated and we must begin to care about each other again.

That truth is intolerable to many of Trump’s base, and that’s another reason so many of them are lashing out in hatred and threatening civil war.    Their rage hides their terror.  The truth threatens their misguided belief systems.   They are the real snowflakes.

Trump goes off the rails with hate that leaves us aghast

I’d add my own rant, but these four rants pretty much say everything I feel.  Donald Trump aids and abets domestic terrorists and supports Nazis.   There’s no prettier way to say it and besides, we need to call this what it is.    What he is doing is evil, un-American, and totally unacceptable.  How is he still president?

THE SHINBONE STAR

Yes, this GIF has been used on this site before, but can’t have too much of a good thing.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The 45th president of the United States went off the rails today in a vintage Trump racist diatribe that shook America to its core. Shinbone Star staff members quickly reacted to the latest outrage from the 45th president.

The sound and the fury

By ANNE-MARIE

I have to admit, I’m shaken. I worked in journalism for 36 years, and never, ever have I seen a spectacle to equal 45’s behavior at his Trump Tower press conference today.

The contempt, the hatred in the man’s eyes and in his voice and demeanor. The pure fury when he realized that the press was not going to play his little game, not this time or ever again.

The avowed purpose of the press conference was to pat himself on the back for…

View original post 1,062 more words

Listen up, fake Christians and white nationalists.

Members of the Ku Klux Klan yell as they fly Confederate flags during a rally at the statehouse in Columbia

The Bible you claim to love so much has a lot to say about racism and the kind of deplorable behavior shown in Charlottesville, Virginia this morning.   Maybe it’s time to admit you’ve been wrong about this, and a lot of other things.

racismbible

And that’s just for starters.

You are no better than ISIS terrorists.  They think they’re right too.

 

Trump’s personality disorder brings out the worst in everyone.

manbaby

I think it’s pretty safe to say Donald Trump has a very malignant case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and appears to fit all of its psychiatric criteria.    Unfortunately, he’s only the tip of the iceberg, merely a symptom of America’s soul-sickness.

Trump has surrounded himself with a staff of other Dark Triad or Cluster B personality-disordered types.   Congress and the Senate are also populated by people who appear to have no conscience or empathy, and only feel entitled to take from others to enrich themselves.    Many of them appear to have antisocial or psychopathic personalities.

Narcissists like Trump become codependent and simpering in the hands of psychopaths, because of their emotional neediness.   Vladimir Putin appears to using him to achieve his own nefarious ends of world domination or at least the destruction of western democracy. Trump, being a narcissist and therefore far more emotionally fragile than Putin, doesn’t realize he’s only being used and exploited.

I could go for pages speculating about the psychology of Trump, his enablers, and those who are using him for their own ends (and many have), and I feel pretty confident saying that almost his entire administration is made up of sociopathic and codependent types, the latter of which have mostly already left or been fired (Reince Preibus and Sean Spicer seemed more codependent to me than personality-disordered themselves).

I don’t see any obvious Borderlines in the Trump administration, although Trump himself appears to have a few Borderline or Histrionic traits.    As far as I can tell, Trump is the only obvious case of NPD.   The rest seem more like people with ASPD or psychopathy to me, seemingly emotionless and willing to use and enable Trump for their own ends.

How Trump brings out the worst in everyone.

Authoritarianism and racism are highly correlated with antisocial and narcissistic personalities, and we saw the worst of society become violent at the KKK rally and protest in Charlottesville, Virginia today.    The undercurrent of hatred in this country runs deep, and our election of a black president in 2008 and 2012 did nothing to quell it — if anything, the hatred and racism that were always lurking beneath the surface became even deeper and more toxic than at any time since the Jim Crow days.

America is a sick country and only a sick country would elect a malignant narcissist for its president and psychopathic or antisocial people for high political positions.    Trump isn’t the problem, since the problem would still be there whether or not he was president.   He is the ugly symptom, and is now bringing all the darkness out in the open.   We are finally seeing how deep this cancer runs and hoping against hope it hasn’t reached Stage Four.

In some ways this is a good thing, since now we can see exactly how sick our nation has become and how deep and dark the divisions between us really are.   But Trump also has a way of bringing out the worst traits in everyone he comes in contact with, even indirectly — in his administration, in his supporters, in his enemies, and in his opponents.  Even though I’ve never met the man, whenever he’s on TV I feel as if all the oxygen has been sucked out the room.  He’s everywhere.  You can’t get away from him.

Trump enables his cabinet members and sycophants in their lack of empathy, lack of conscience, and crass greed and selfishness.  They use him for their own ends and they know he will never call them out if they just keep on flattering him and giving him the praise he wants.

Trump brings out the worst in his staff.   He causes drama and chaos whenever his bottomless need for admiration and approval isn’t met — he will attack, devalue or discard whoever he believes isn’t giving him the approval he craves, even those who could benefit him.     He always has a scapegoat, always — even among those who have been loyal to him, like Mitch McConnell or Jeff Sessions.   Never in my life have I seen a White House so filled with drama and discord.   Even the Nixon administration at the height of Watergate seemed like a sanctuary of sanity in comparison.  Trump brings out the very worst in his staff, while anyone with a semblance of a conscience or a soul left has already resigned or been fired.

Trump brings out the worst in his supporters.  He enables them to display their authoritarianism, racism, hatred, and ignorance — even to the point of violence, as we see happening today in Charlottesville.   On social media, the rhetoric of his supporters has become increasingly hate-filled and ugly, to the point of threatening non-supporters with terrorism and even civil war against them.    Trump appears complicit in all this, and acts  as if it isn’t happening.

Trump brings out the worst in his non-supporters.   Many people are suffering from PTSD or even C-PTSD that has been retriggered by his constant gaslighting, projection, threats,  need for revenge, and denial of the truth.   Depression, despair, feelings of dissociation and unreality, and dread are problems for many Americans right now, and therapists even have a name for it:  Trump Traumatic Stress Disorder (TTSD).   Anger is also being triggered in his non-supporters, though not in quite the same way as in his supporters.   Righteous anger differs from hatred, and it may be the only good thing he’s bringing about.   He’s forcing his opponents to expose the truth about what has happened in our country over the past few decades and demanding that we change course — drastically, if necessary.

I was involved in a discussion on Twitter about Trump’s fragile ego, and we agreed that he seems to be a collapsed narcissist, who knows it’s only a matter of time before the whole house of cards comes toppling down and he’s exposed, even to many of his supporters, as the criminal and fraud he really is.   As he grows more desperate, he increases the volume on his endless demands for admiration and approval, holding more hatred-enabling rallies and even threatening nuclear war over a perceived insult from North Korea’s equally unhinged leader.   That’s how bottomless Trump’s emotional void is:  that he would be willing to send millions of people to their deaths — even the entire planet — just to save his fragile ego.  It doesn’t help that many far-right religious leaders are stroking his ego even more by telling him he’s been anointed by God.

We can never begin to think of what he’s doing is normal, because it’s anything but.

trump_2

That’s the sound of your soul being sucked into oblivion. 

****

Further reading:

The Soul-Sucking, Attention-Eating Black Hole of the Trump Presidency.

Rethinking political correctness.

good-manners-

On January 13, 2015, I wrote an article criticizing political correctness, explaining that it was a tactic some narcissists use to control others.   According to Charlton Heston, political correctness was tyranny wrapped in a happy face.     He wasn’t altogether wrong.

Toward the end of that post, I wrote,

I do not believe in political correctness, at least not when it’s taken to ridiculous extremes the way it sometimes is. We live in such a litigious society and almost everything can be construed as offensive. It can get pretty ridiculous.

From another post of mine (June 2, 2015) called Narcissists Use Political Correctness to Control:

It’s a huge irony that at the same time we worship the material over the spiritual, the rich and callous over the poor and kind, the corporation over the individual, the aggressive and ruthless over the empathetic and cooperative, that we insist on something called “political correctness.” This ties in closely with a concept we call “zero tolerance.” It’s gotten so extreme that if we tap our child on the rear-end in Wal-Mart, we could be charged with child abuse. If a young boy draws a picture of a gun, they could go to jail.

Later in the same post, I wrote:

We have euphemisms for everything. We have to watch everything we say for fear of offending some or another group of people. Political correctness, we are told, exists so we don’t hurt someone’s feelings or insult a group of people, whether they be of a certain nationality, race, have a particular disability or mental illness, or sexual preference. But I don’t think that’s the real reason for political correctness. I think the real reason is control. If we have to watch everything we say and walk around on eggshells for fear of offending someone, then we become anxious and fearful. That’s the way the narcissistic Powers That Be want us: scared to death and easily controlled. Zero tolerance is another way they can control us.

 

I still believe there is much truth to all this, and in general, I still believe that in recent years, political correctness has gone too far.    We’re afraid to say anything at all or express our real feelings about things, because someone might be offended.   As this cartoon shows, political correctness can be taken to ridiculous extremes:

peanuts_racism

For all its problems, there is still much to be said for political correctness — when it isn’t taken to ridiculous extremes or used to control others.   Political correctness came about because during the 1960s and 1970s, as people became more aware of racism, sexism, and all the myriad ways society tries to separate itself from “people who are not like us,”  it became no longer socially acceptable to call black people the “N” word, gay people “faggots,” or the cognitively challenged the “R” word.    We realized these people were human beings just like us with feelings, and those feelings ought to be respected.    The color of their skin or their sexual orientation or their cognitive or physical abilities didn’t make them any less human or any less prone to being emotionally hurt.

Due to the feminist movement of the 1970s, we also stopped referring to grown women as “girls,” although mature women do still use that term among themselves to refer to each other in a joking, informal kind of way (“I’m having lunch with the girls”).  We also stopped referring to them as “the weaker sex,” which they are certainly not, at least not mentally or emotionally (even though due to their smaller size, there may be truth to women being physically weaker than men).   Of course, being thought of as “weaker” did tend to bring out chivalrous behavior in men (opening doors or holding out a seat, etc. — which most of us still appreciate and recognize as a courtesy rather than an insult to our strength or competence).

So these days it’s pretty unsettling and appalling when we hear a lawyer in a rape case publicly refer to women as “the weaker sex”  or a new President brag about how he can “grab ’em by the pussy.”   It’s upsetting when that same president made fun of a disabled journalist during his campaign by imitating his awkward motions like some 9 year old bully on the playground — and got away with it.    Such behaviors and insults go way beyond thumbing your nose at political correctness and the need to having to watch everything you say.   They show a lack of respect and a callous disregard for our fellow human beings and don’t allow them any dignity.    There’s nothing noble or admirable about having no filter and not caring who you injure with your words.

When public figures callously and openly insult others,  they teach the world that it’s okay to bully and make fun of others who are different from you — especially when they get applauded for it.      Already, teachers, parents, and others who are closely involved with educating children are reporting an increase in bullying behavior in schools, especially toward people of color or non-Christians.   The kids are thinking, if the President of the United States can get away with treating others that way, well, why can’t I?   They wouldn’t be wrong to think that way.   Kids imitate the behavior of adults, especially those in the public eye such as celebrities and politicians.   Why should they listen to some teacher tell them it’s wrong to insult other kids for things they have no control over, when the President himself does it?

peanuts_respect

It seems like civility and politeness are things of the distant past.    We are a polarized nation, with both major parties routinely flinging vitriol and insults at the other party.    While this is to be expected in dark political times when so much is at stake,  it’s unsettling that such barbaric and disrespectful behavior seems to have become the norm even outside the political sphere.  It’s even more disturbing that we excuse it by applauding the bullies for daring to be rogues through their refusal to be “slaves” to political correctness.

Like most other things in life, political correctness can be a negative thing when taken to extremes and certainly can interfere with freedom of speech (as some of its critics have pointed out).    But that doesn’t mean there’s not a need for it.   “Political correctness” is really just the politically correct way to say “respect and kindness toward others” and “do unto others what you would have others do unto you.”    Until Trump’s election, many people (understandably) got so burned out on the political correctness movement that they pushed back against it — so much so that they admired and applauded a man who seemed to thumb his nose at political correctness at every opportunity and seemed to be proud of his propensity to fling hurtful insults at people who were different from him.

We all need to relearn the Golden Rule, which we were taught in Kindergarten but seem to have forgotten.   Being civil and courteous doesn’t mean we give up our constitutional right to freedom of speech.   It doesn’t mean we have to always wear a happy face and lie to others and pretend we love everyone when we don’t.    We don’t have to be fake.  But we do need to learn all over again what it means to listen to each other, to be civil to each other even when we disagree, and to not judge others harshly by things they cannot control, such as their physical or mental abilities, color of their skin, gender, or sexual orientation; or cultural differences such as their religion, cultural beliefs, or creed.   We need to relearn manners and basic civility,  and that means to know when to keep our mouths shut.   If we are thinking hateful thoughts about someone due to something they cannot help and express those thoughts openly, we help no one.  All we do is hurt others and make ourselves look like ignorant jerks.