Where I Direct My Empathy–And Where You Should Too

Published June 2, 2021

A reader writes:

This article gives me a lot of empathy for people, especially older people who have been sucked into the Trump cult, I’m sure this is something you’ve thought about, so don’t take this as a critique, but my sense is, you are too hard on people that are in this lie, and in my experience, you catch more flies with honey, than vinegar, but candidly, I’m not 100% sure about that,  I was with two close friends on Saturday night, who still believe Trump was cheated, and they won’t listen to well thought out reason, even though I’m delivering it in a measured tone, so I’m not even sure anymore myself, its frustrating, anyway, this is a very good piece on this very topic

My approach to the Cult is Matthew 7:6.  I am not trying to catch any flies.  Beelzebub is the Lord of the Flies.  Nor do I buy the idea that the Cult is primarily poor or disadvantaged.  The data I keep seeing is that these are primarily white and middle-class and racist.  Stupid and ignorant, yes.  But made so by their wilful refusal of truth, not by being disadvantaged.

I think it is a fundamental mistake to place these people at the center while relegating their victims to the fringe, which tends to be the approach of conservatives horrified by MAGA.  The tendency is to treat them as straying sheep who must be saved by reasoning together.  I think our duty lies with their victims: the poor, the weak, the brown, the COVID victims, the people they trampled in the Insurrection and whose policies continue to trample.  It is the least of these, not the people who rob, harm, and kill them, that Jesus puts in the center. With those who have willfully rejected the good of the intellect and who hug spite to their breast, Jesus urges us in Matthew 7:6 not to beat our heads against a wall.  That doesn’t mean God forsakes them.  It means that God, not us, is their Savior and we should use our energies doing some good for their victims, not waste it on them.  He will see to changing their minds and hearts.  So I write to encourage, nerve, and educate their victims so they can see how the lies, deception, trickery, manipulation, and abuse works and find the courage and vocabulary to call it out, expose it, fight it, and defeat it.

8 Responses

  1. To your reader who wrote…

    You have an impulse to be generous and kind, which is good and commendable. No argument from me about your sentiments or your motivations, AT ALL.

    In my 50 years of fighting for gay rights, and in my 70 years as (now, a cultural) Jew, two things I learned very early on, much to my youthfully optimistic surprise. You are never going to reach people who don’t want to be reached, especially those whose living, or self image, or standing in a community depends on their not being reached. And you are never going to reach people who are irretrievably poisoned by hate, fear, ignorance, bad parenting, despite, bigotry, traumatic childhood experiences, toxic religious belief, or their own bad choices.

    As Maya Angelou noted, when someone tells you who they really are the first time, believe them.

  2. The link to the article doesn’t seem to be working.

    I heard a very interesting podcast on the subject last summer though. The older generation is very gullible, and stunted in the worldview of their generation. Also, humans are wired for tribalism. That’s going to be a tough one, but the human race is making huge gains. There is so much information, and so many images of the world at our fingertips. In the case of the oldest generation, many of them still have a newspaper being delivered to their home and tune in to network news (Fox). They will be mostly gone in the next ten years. Kids are the opposite. They get too much information.

    GOPtrumpism comes down to bullyism. I think some people mistakenly put their faith in a bully because they thought that only a bully could stand up to the “elites” (that fuzzy group that they believe are controlling the world), the Chinese, (and Russia, if Putin didn’t have the goods on Trump…). They knew they were somehow selling out. They know. Jesus was the opposite of a bully.

    Even a tiny little kid can spot the bully in a crowd. Studies have proven that babies have a sense of justice, and a distaste for thuggery. So WHY do we celebrate aggression?

    When I was a kid, I constantly heard about the feminization of men. The Christian right was so sure that real men were being emasculated. It was a mantra we heard over and over again.

    They are So afraid of being “gay-ified” (perceived as having feminine qualities). And no, they didn’t just look away from Trump’s sexual creepiness–no possible way, they celebrated it. They admired it. They don’t see a clown, they see a man’s man. He and Melania represented everything they wished they could have been in life. –But If anybody dares to call out a con, or use the words “toxic masculinity” they are instantly written off as a liberal or a feminist –which is akin to being called Satan. I laugh when they tell me that it’s me that is angry and that I just need to pray to Jesus to find peace again. Someone told me that a couple of weeks ago in a NCREgister combox. When I told him I paid more taxes in one year than Trump did in a decade, he literally flipped out, and told me “THAT HASN’T BEEN PROVEN!!!!”

    As I recall the uncouth, foulmouthed, hillbilly mob swarming the capital, brandishing a noose for Pence, and crosses like they were weapons–I can’t think of anything less masculine. –A bunch of stunted, toxic, delusional, crybabies that happen to have a Y chromosome.

    Ultimately they were right about the emasculation of men, AND the war on Christianity–yes the war on Christianity. But they couldn’t imagine that it was *them* all along.

    In their hearts they probably know the truth deep down, but they thought they could cover the truth up with guns, war mongering, and the objectification of women and nonwhites.

    It hasn’t even dawned on them how future generations will look upon them.

  3. @taco

    Bang on, exactly the case.

    The second guilty plea in the insurrection happened today. Paul Hodgkins of Tampa He’s going to get 21 months in prison. Nowhere near enough, but just enough to give him another imaginary grievance against the gummint. So even more radicalized.

    What’s funny Is, he looks like a guy fawkes day mask. White as white can be. But still, it’s antifa and BLM.

    1. Got his widdle white whists slapped.

      I’ve heard that even the people in Florida know about the people in Florida.

    2. If the great bulk of the 1/6 terrorists get light or even suspended sentences, but felony records, that in itself will do some good. That means no more guns or body armor for them. I hope the most violent of them get 20 years and more.

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