Fake empathy.

Most US Presidents, following a national disaster like Harvey, have spent time with survivors — comforting and talking to them, serving them food, and sharing hugs and even tears.

Donald Trump not only took several days to visit the people of Houston after Harvey left it devastated, when he arrived there, he spent more time bragging about the size of the crowds (as if he was at one of his rallies instead of at shelters where he had a captive audience) and what a “huge storm” Harvey had been.  He talked more about how Texas could handle things because it was so strong than he did actually offering words of support and comfort to its people.    Most outrageous of all, he told the survivors — people who had lost everything and were staying in crowded shelters — that they seemed “happy.”

Sure, he provided some good “optics” — picking up and kissing babies and pretending to serve food to the survivors — but his words to the people who were his captive audience were hollow, inappropriate to the occasion, and extremely awkward.   He also didn’t miss an opportunity to diss the media and Hillary Clinton.

The mainstream media gave him a pass, fawning all over him for having at least tried to act presidential, when they should have been calling him out on his inappropriate, callous, and outrageous words of “support” to these devastated people.

This morning he decided to put an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), an Obama-era program that ensured that young people who were brought over from other countries as children — a program that required its recipients to either be working or attending school.   By ending DACA, he doomed these productive, intelligent young people to deportation back to the countries their parents brought them from (with a six month delay).   That would mean that these kids and young adults, the vast majority of who are high achievers and are benefiting our economy,  would lose everything.   They would be stranded in foreign lands they couldn’t remember, in some cases knowing absolutely no one.  For a party that calls itself “pro-family,” his heartless and cruel decision will tear families apart and destroy lives.

Trump also had a history of failing to acknowledge Americans who have died in tragic accidents, most recently the 12 sailors who died in an accident on a Coast Guard ship.   Not one word was ever mentioned about those sailors, but this was far from the first incident in which Trump — unlike past presidents — just didn’t seem to care.

Watching Trump, I believe he not only has no empathy, he also has no conscience.  That to me indicates a sociopathic, not merely narcissistic, personality.    He actually seems to delight in causing pain and suffering.  I do think he is in fact sadistic, and enjoys pushing policies that will traumatize and hurt people.

When he talked about Harvey, he seemed almost gleeful over how “big” and “powerful” the storm was.   He seemed almost proud of it and acted like the Houston survivors should be proud of it too, as if it were some national monument or sports record.  I think he could relate to the storm.  He can relate to anything that’s powerful and destructive and destroys lives, because destruction and chaos is the only thing he understands.

Now he’s traumatizing the entire country by playing chicken with an equally unhinged narcissistic sociopath using nuclear weapons.   Nuclear war is a real possibility.    We are in grave danger of annihilation.   But it’s just a game to these two — and we are pawns in their game.  We are expendable because we aren’t people; we are merely objects to be played or discarded at whim.   Trump’s ego is much more important than human life, and he is willing to kill us all to save his ego.

A friend told me her young daughter comes home everyday crying because she’s so afraid of nuclear war.   She’s just 12, and can’t sleep.  She can’t concentrate at school and is withdrawn and depressed.   My friend told me she has had to send her daughter to a therapist to try to address this trauma.   But this girl isn’t alone.  Many people are being traumatized by this president’s actions and threats, but he will never care.  Nor will he stop his destructive and dangerous behavior.

Going back to Harvey,  Joel Osteen, the multimillionaire Prosperity Gospel preacher who holds his church services in a huge stadium, refused to open the stadium to flood survivors until he was finally shamed into it.    He held a service to pray for the survivors– and passed around a collection plate for donations to the cause — even though the people at the service were the survivors themselves! Who does that?

Trump’s evangelical “spiritual advisers” offered only “thoughts and prayers” to the flood survivors– not any real tangible help such as money, food, clothing, or time spent comforting families. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with praying for people, but when “thoughts and prayers” are used as a substitution for any real help, they are as meaningless as a Hallmark card.

I’ve noticed this is something narcissists will do in lieu of offering any real help.  They will condescendingly say, “I will pray for you,” or promise you they will send their “thoughts and prayers.”   Another thing they will do is offer you phony and hollow platitudes, slogans, and sayings in place of actually offering you a listening ear, compassionate advice, or any real empathy. There’s a huge emotional disconnect — they can’t relate to you with any depth or as a person with real feelings.  Instead, they try to mollify you with a few canned words printed on a card or a meme — and then put a guilt trip on you if you aren’t grateful for their lame and shallow efforts at “comfort.”

They also victim-shame.   They airily tell you your life would be better if you just acted more happy, smiled more, or acted more positive.   Now sure, there’s a place for positive thinking, and I agree that positive people tend to draw in more positive things in life (I have seen this work for myself).  However, there is a limit to this.   There are times such an attitude is just plain callous and insensitive, a way of dismissing the very real needs of people who have suffered misfortune through no fault of their own.   Narcissists absolve themselves of any responsibility or having to offer any real help by insidiously blaming the victim by telling them “if only you were more happy/positive/smiled more, etc. ”

During his sermon for Harvey survivors, Osteen told the people — most who had just lost everything they owned — not to play the victim.   I’m sorry, but how are people who have just lost everything they owned playing the victim?   They are victims, and as such, they should be showered with real compassion, not condescending platitudes about positive thinking.   They should also not be expected to donate to their own cause (especially when Osteen himself owns a 15 million dollar home and is one of the wealthiest men in the country) and most of these people had no access to cash or their bank accounts.

I think this conscienceless, heartless administration has been especially hard emotionally on people who have suffered abuse at the hands of people like them and also on people who are empaths and very sensitive to their spiritual darkness.

 

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‘Snowflake’ is a term used to gaslight those who dare speak out against the new authoritarianism.

callmesnowflake

‘Snowflake’ (sometimes ‘special snowflake’) is a slang term used in recent years, usually directed against “entitled” Millennials who complain about the America they inherited — one full of debt, minimum wage jobs,  exhorbitant student loans they can never hope to pay back, and few opportunities.

The term “snowflake” has its roots back in the 1990s and early 2000s when Millennials were still schoolchildren.   In those days, it was fashionable for teachers to recognize that “every child was special” and give awards and prizes just for participating, etc.  so that no one would feel left out.    A real snowflake is a common and unremarkable thing, as common as dust.  But since, purportedly, no two snowflakes are alike, every snowflake is special.

Over time, “snowflake” became a pejorative term, intended to shame a person for allegedly wanting “special” (or in most cases, maybe just “fair” or “just”) treatment.

Since Trump’s win in November, the meaning of ‘snowflake’ has shifted to a more political definition and is no longer confined to Millennials.    The formerly non-political insult has been used frequently by alt-right Trump supporters to dismiss and minimalize the concerns of  “the lib’ruls” (another insult they frequently use against those who oppose their far right views).  “Snowflake” is used to trivialize the very real concerns of those who oppose the Trump presidency, regardless of their generation.  It’s used against anyone of any age who dislikes Trump’s authoritarian, cruel, and controversial policies.  So, if you’re an aging person and afraid you might lose your health insurance or Medicare or social security, are worried about accelerated climate change and the shut down of the EPA when we need it the most,  fear and loathe Trump’s dismantling of democracy, are deeply offended by his war on truth, or oppose the Muslim ban, then, according to the Trump supporters, you are a pathetic snowflake who just expects special treatment or entitlements, when all you really expect is decent and humane treatment and your civil and human rights to not be taken away from you.

Calling people ‘snowflakes’ under these circumstances is gaslighting and shaming.   It’s only one small example of the nationwide narcissistic abuse this administration is already dishing out on all of us, but it’s one of the more obvious (and annoying) ones.   Complain because your mother has cancer and may lose her health care and die, and you’re a snowflake.    Speak out against the president’s constant lies and twisting of the truth into “alternative facts” and “fake news” and you’re a snowflake.   Express concern that this administration’s bigoted policies may  bring back discrimination and sanction public bullying of non-whites, and you’re a snowflake.  Object to Trump’s discussing women like chattel and sex objects, and you’re a snowflake.

In Trump’s strongman world, there is no room for anything feminine, sensitive, or soft.  There is no room for compassion, kindness,  or empathy, for in Trumpland, all those things are weakness.   If you’re bullied, well, you probably deserve it because you’re a loser anyway and probably a snowflake too.   Already I hear stories about bullying of kids who are “different” now being condoned among the kids of alt-right parents. They feel empowered to bully those who aren’t like them, because  Trump is the President and he says it’s okay and he does it himself, so it must be okay.

This administration is bringing out the worst in everyone.  For Trump’s  supporters, they now feel emboldened, because they now have permission to bully and abuse those who don’t agree with them or are different than they are, and for everyone else — especially those of us who suffered abuse —  we feel triggered: dissociated, afraid and hypervigilant, caught in a downward spiral of increasing chaos, hopelessness, and despair.