"I wanted kicks—the kind of melodramatic thrills and chills I’d yearned for since childhood ... I wanted to see the world—and I wanted the world to be just like the movies."
At a gas station, a guy comes up after seeing my "FUCK TRUMP" sign:
Him: You know why we love Trump so much?
Him: Because he gets under the skin of liberal faggots like you. We don't care what he fucks up, as long as he pisses you off.."
#MAGA in a nutshell.
I only joined the service out of anger at everybody and there I was in Afghanistan with no supervision. I did a lot of very bad things.
In every job I’ve ever had (and even in my own family) there have been people — usually men — who could be offensive, sometimes blindly and sometimes on purpose. They were often the same men who could fly into a rage. And they were also capable of positive passion, or they thought they were. They wanted action, stuff happening. War.
Even in the context of the Unitarian Universalist congregations, which are liberal and forgiving (or think they are, though they're not a "Peace Church" like Quakers because UU's want the full span of emotions, like the movies) certain men could not resist making jokes about pork when they were with Jews and could not keep from jokingly advocating rape when they were with feminists. They were still men who believed that people should choose their own taboos, which ought to be honored, and they would never consider acting out this hate talk. They DID have the conviction that it was all just talk, which didn’t count. WTF?
It's as though they don't know they're insulting people, even as they seem to be doing it on purpose. They seem to be feeling around in the people closest to them, people of good will, trying to find their "hot buttons." They seem to think they are unmasking hypocrites, a test to see whether all that tolerance is real or just a pretense to fool them. People in a snit seem to feel more authentic and oddly closer, more intimate.
Someone explained carefully what Trump once explained to HIM, that his conscious strategy, even when quite young, was to pretend to be as outrageous and offensive as possible, to go with whatever statements got a reaction, to insult whatever ideas, people, or things the person was most attached to. Once he found the way to stick the needle deep, and had the person worked into a rage -- but not quite to the point where they would strike him -- he would abandon the field. Just shrug and walk off before the person went over the edge. Then he had won. And the person in his nearly incoherent state would do anything Trump wanted. But there would be no fist-fights.
He just did it again with G-7. No one realized. They CARE and that makes them vulnerable. They have high ideals and that makes them vulnerable. They try to help others and you know how much trouble that gets them. Trump doesn't care -- he thinks not caring makes him stronger, superior, more entitled to any strategy that wins. If you say, "consider the consequences," he claims the world is a evil and doomed place and no one will even distinguish was he does from all the other atrocities.
I recognize this. I've taught high school kids, led congregation members, tried to reform people who abuse animals -- a few of all these people were stone cold. Seemingly. The shrinks label them sociopaths as though that word taught you anything. In many cases they are people whose brains are deficient -- the part that enables empathy is missing. Sometimes they just can't grasp reality, like the kid who set an apartment complex on fire and burned whole families alive. He could not grasp that they suffered, only that everyone was mad at him. His father disciplined him by hitting the kid in the head, leaving dents big enough to lay a finger in.
But the milder cases, the ones that were taught by life to have this point of view, always draw me in. It's the Universalist thing about no one being unredeemable, which is a bit of a challenge. I mean, how would you get Trump to realize what he has done at the Mexican border? What would you say to him? What would you show him? To him it's invisible. But from the Unitarian rational side, how would you reason with him? (Sometimes the name of this denomination is more useful than its principles.)
Long ago I realized that love and hate are not two sides of the same coin. It's a bad analogy. Love and hate are often entwined: they are organic, using many of the same brain pathways. I've collected a number of articles explaining all this. The OPPOSITE is neutrality, not caring. Not connecting. Chilled.
Often obnoxious people who are deliberately offensive are simply playing "Made you look," and not realizing that "looking" is not all that will happen. They are often people whose sore spots are jabbed all the time, put-downs about status or education or having only a mom or none. They want -- they CRAVE -- attention and negative will do as well as positive. Even getting beaten up is contact. Even being excluded and avoided means being noticed, a kind of negative attention. Sometimes their rage-baiting will alternate with generosity that verges on bribery.
The media repeats all this, models it, bases gripping stories on it, makes it seem inevitable. ("So exciting! I couldn't put it down! I wept!") Sociopaths with their shrewd understanding of what is possible, can often evoke groups to oppose them or fortify each other. But also, alas, they can rally people around gut issues, hot button issues, the basic emotional issues. Since they don't have any of their own, they are quick to claim whatever works. Since their self-regard is rock bottom, they don't have to worry that their hatred will besmirch them with blowback. No one can judge them.
One of the ironic features of the UU is that many members are there to hate theism -- they can be defiantly atheistic -- or more lately there to hate their oppressors whom they judge to be old educated white men with money. (They are right.) But it's all irrelevant. It's all institutional. It's all a pattern we've seen a zillion times in history. When I say UU, I mean 9.9% in Brooks' figure of income levels that qualify people to be what we used to call "the middle class" but is now American Aristocracy. Which makes people very angry if they are excluded from it. All UU's are in the 9.9%.
Excluded people become rage-baiters, feeling around for the human hot buttons that will force the princes and princesses to admit their shit stinks just like everyone else's. But the practical answer to that is not to make the mayor mad -- it's to figure out how to finance the infrastructure to handle shit.
I wonder how different that is from developing infrastructure for rage, or whether rage-as-shit is an analogy as useless as the coin binary. Shit has always been a metaphor for money. What if shit were a metaphor for rage as a byproduct of society? On both levels, personal and national?
Tying this up by going back to Trump, here is a man who pretends to be a ladykiller but is not, pretends to be rich but is not, pretends to be educated but it is not, pretends he is president but is not. We're a little afraid to pry too deep. But how exciting it would be! Surely there's something down in there -- but what? A whimpering frozen child without even tinfoil for a blanket?