…is radical lack of empathy. Indeed, the thing the MAGA mind speaks of with the most sneering contempt has been, for thirty years, empathy in every form but one: pity for themselves.
I can remember the utterly venomous and dripping contempt with which Rush Limbaugh always uttered the word “compassion”, whether mocking a 14 year old Amy Carter as a “dog” on national media, or endlessly mocking the homeless, or vomiting contempt all over people calling for the rescue of girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, or laughing off the victims of gun violence, or any of the other thousands of ways he trained a generation of self-absorbed MAGA narcissistic sociopaths to spit on all human suffering but their own imaginary sufferings, Limbaugh typified the cruelty of the Right Wing Lie Machine and its efficiency in brainwashing a third of Americans to laugh at human pain and close themselves off to pity for all but themselves.
I first (and, to my shame, all too slowly) noticed it with the Gun Cult. Again and again, in response to our nearly twice daily gun massacres there would stand out some massacre so particularly horrific, such as Sandy Hook, that mass revulsion by Normals would threaten the Freak Show with the possibility that they might have to consider somebody but themselves for a second.
So when an entire nation screamed in agony after the massacre of tiny children at Sandy Hook, the Cult swung into action, first to lie that it was “too soon” to talk about gun control, that those who wanted to prevent such a horror were “politicizing tragedy” and then to immediately shriek, “Don’t blame me! Don’t touch my guns!”
Normals, of course, faced with horrors like Sandy Hook, Uvalde, or Parkland ask, “What can we do to make sure this never happens again?” That’s because Normals have a capacity for empathy and putting the good of others before their own.
The MAGA gun cult is characterized by a demographic that radically lacks this capacity in its sociopathic narcissism. So it responds to human suffering with suspicion, mockery, and contempt and thinks first, last, and only of itself. That’s why it never asks, “What can we do to stop this?” and always and only feels self-pity (“Don’t blame me!”) and selfish suspicion that empathy is a plot to deprive the cultist (“Don’t touch my gun!”) So deep-rooted is this sociopathic narcissism and contempt for empathy that the cultists even believed the parents of Sandy Hook were part of a plot to take their guns and spent years making life a living hell for them. That is why they successfully sued Alex Jones for a billion dollars, because he and his audience of cruels so utterly failed this most elementary test of humanity.
But it’s not just the Gun Cult that behaves this way. It is the mark of the whole MAGA cult. It’s why they loved this most cruel and self-pitying of men, because he pronounced a blessing on and gave permission to this cult of contempt for elementary empathy:
It’s why this creature of the MAGA “prolife” cult of death mocks people with Down Syndrome (when he is not getting elective vanity surgery funded by suckers he lies to as he elicits their pity and money while his abused wife is going into labor):
It’s why the MAGA “prolife” cult, in its profound respect for the dignity of the human person, mocks stroke victims:
It’s why, in their deep compassion for the dignity of the human person, the MAGA “prolife” cult cracks an endless torrent of Alzheimer’s jokes in order to lie that those they hate are afflicted with it:
And it’s why that same cult, when they are not bragging about their respect for the sanctity of human life, mock murder victims from ethnic groups they hate:
And it is why the entire Right Wing now speaks with reflexive contempt of being “Woke”. It is, like the endless, boring, stupid, high school clique, in-group catch phrase “Let’s go, Brandon”, a form of vice-signaling whereby members of the cult deploy a sort of shorthand to tell one another that it is safe to speak of empathy as utterly contemptible here. And when Normals challenge that, MAGA bullies and thugs, as bullies and thugs have done all through history, respond not with argument, but with sneering and with self-pity.
Here, for instance is the excellent Gloria Purvis, trying to have a reasonable conversation with a man whose whole MAGA approach to life is summed up in this cartoon:
Gloria responds to yet another classic example of empathy-dead self-pity here:
Note all the same patterns in More’s comments. It’s all another KKKlassic illustration of the MAGA personality at work. The lack of empathy, the kneejerk self-pity, and the sociopathic narcissism of MAGA are all on display again. All suffering not personally experienced by the cultist simply does not exist and is assumed to be a selfish and manipulative display by the sufferer (because the whole universe is read through the lens of the MAGA cultist’s own selfishness). Pleas for empathy are always seen, likewise, as accusation against the cultist. The thought is never ever, “What can be done to right wrongs committed against the sufferer?” and is always always always “Don’t blame me! Don’t ask me to do anything, including think, that will inconvenience me in any way!”
All of this is, of course, at the opposite end of the universe from the love of neighbor commanded by the gospel. Rather than love neighbor as oneself, the MAGA cult sees one’s neighbor as essentially a threat and a competitor and prioritizes one’s own good in opposition to one’s neighbor. If the neighbor is suffering it is either a scamming play for pity to be regarded as a ruse of war or else, if one’s neighbor truly is hurting and they have no personal connection to us (or worse, are seen as culture war enemies), then they are either “not my problem” or their suffering is funny and worthy of mockery. Empathy is one for oneself or for that extension of the self known as the tribe.
The gospel, in contrast, demands of disciples a love so radical that it not only extends to every neighbor regardless of tribe, clan, race, or nation, but even to one’s enemies (including the broken souls in the MAGA sociopathic cult). It does not demand that we shut our eyes to the real world and pretend that sociopaths, cruels, and narcissists are not sociopaths, cruels, and narcissists. But it does demand that we will the good and seek the ultimate happiness of even the worst person. That is a tall order and cannot, I think, be achieved without grace from God. But the good news is that God wills to give us this grace and is so committed to doing so that minor obstacles like “not knowing he exists” are not an issue for him. Any person who seeks to love will be helped to do so by the Holy Spirit. If that were not so, then it would be impossible for there to be any sheep in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, since nobody in the Parable has the slightest awareness that in loving their neighbor, they were loving God.
In short, grace is prevenient and “God commends his own love to us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).