When Hatred Has a Young Man’s Face

Screen Shot 2019-01-20 at 3.40.18 PM.png On Facebook, last week, I said that the photo of Trump grimacing in front of the McDonald’s feast was the emblem of Trump’s presidency. This week, I’d say that this photo is the emblem for his followers. You probably know the story around this image. On Saturday, students from an anti-abortion march surrounded a demonstrator from the American Indian Movement, where they jeered, and chanted “Build that wall!” In this picture, one of our sterling youth wears a MAGA hat, while he taunts Vietnam Veteran, Nathan Phillips.

What new insight can I add to the conversation? Perhaps the best I can offer is the fact that there’s nothing new here at all. That’s why the photo is the very emblem of the Trumper. Long before now, Hatred wore a MAGA hat when it threatened violence at Trump’s rallies: “Knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously, ok? Just knock the hell… I promise you I will pay for the legal fees.” Hatred wore a MAGA hat when it marched in Charlottesville. And Hatred wore a MAGA hat when Parkland shooter, Nikolas Cruz, featured one on his Instagram avatar*.

Back at Trump’s rallies, Hatred has also chanted “build that wall,” at least as often. Hatred chanted it in Iowa City, in a middle-school lunchroom, the day after Trump won the presidency. And as we saw yesterday, Hatred will chant it even when the phrase doesn’t make sense, (such as when some bigot lodges the line against a Native American). As twitter so aptly suggests, the slogan is basically something that Hatred secretes when it wants to single out one of its targets. The phrase is shorthand for the same thing that MAGA itself signifies: Expel everyone except us.

And that leads me to the third non-newness that appears in this picture. Our good “Christian,” in his baseball cap, came to counter the Women’s March, I suppose. I mean, if nothing else, he came to speak for the babies he purports to save. Such a stance isn’t very far from the rationale that the United States adopted in the 1870s, when they forced Native-American babies into boarding schools, as they endeavored to “kill the Indian [and] save the man.” Hundreds of thousands of Native American children matriculated through these schools, which Native-Americans had no right to resist until the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act. The white “Christian’s” disdain for the Native American is very old; we know that. But it takes photos like this to show the non-Native how strong that Hatred still is. Hatred is what moved Dakota Access’s security firms to release dogs on the Standing Rock activists. Hatred is what moved those security forces to shout for the protestors to lay down their (non-existent) bows and arrows. Hatred is what allowed the ND governor to authorize those same forces to shoot water cannons at the protestors in sub-zero temperatures. This Hatred happened under Obama’s administration; the sickness indeed goes back centuries. But Trump has owned assets in Dakota Access, and after he came to power, the suppression of the protest increased to the point where North Dakota now prosecutes 800 cases against Standing Rock activists, while the fed also prosecute 6. When Trump came to power, in fact, James and I stopped our trips to Standing Rock. That’s shameful, perhaps, but the Hatred there had just lost any semblance of a federal backstop.

Standing Rock is the first place I saw the media suppression, the official deception, and the vengeful litigation that the Trump administration would later employ though ICE. It’s the same Hatred we see in Saturday’s picture: This expression of malice—this vile exuberance—is what Hatred looks like when it believes it’s winning.

*According to the Miami Herald, he also placed a MAGA hat in the casket with his liberal mother, when she died in 2017.

EDIT: As the story develops, a video suggests that the altercation was not so one-sided. That might be the case, and it might even bear reflection. But the smugness from the MAGA folks is the outgrowth of everything else I mention in this article.

Sir Pence and Scripture

This is from Mike Pence, regarding the press’s questioning his wife’s enrollment at Virginia’s Immanuel Christian School: “To see major news organizations attacking Christian education is deeply offensive to us.”

Crafty. “Major news” is bad. “Christian education” is good. Shore up all the messaging when your boss’s approval numbers are slipping. “Deeply offensive to us” is a line that Pence ostensibly means in terms of Karen and himself, but it also shouts out to his voters. In fact, I’m wondering if I’d go too if I said that it identifies that base as a group that should be protected as a culture we diversity-minded people should avoid offending: “Hey,” says Pence. “If you really stand for civil rights, protect those groups that seek to strip civil rights from others.” That is, after all, the Trumpites’ definition of religious freedom.

I’m not going to get into the weeds about that. Virginia doesn’t prohibit discrimination against sexual orientation or gender identity—so despite Pence’s bleats about endangerment, the law is very much on the “Christian” patriarchy’s side.

I am tempted to talk about what Christianity is (and isn’t)—especially in light of the fact that the Dept. of Health and Human Services just revealed that thousands more immigration children saw separation from their families than the Trump administration reported. I’m also tempted to talk about what Christian education should be, considering that a real study of the Bible reveals that the so-called anti-gay scriptures pertain to idolatry and breaches of hospitality. I ‘d further like to discuss the fact that, according to the Public Religion Research Institute, over half of all American Christians support gay marriage, while over half of all religious Americans support LGBT protections. And maybe I’d choose to finish by quoting Immanuel Christian School’s actual code of conduct, which reserves the right to terminate employment or enrollment, based on “heterosexual activity outside of marriage (e.g., premarital sex, cohabitation, extramarital sex), homosexual or lesbian sexual activity, polygamy, transgender identity, any other violation of the unique roles of male and female, sexual harassment, use or viewing of pornographic material or websites, and sexual abuse or improprieties toward minors as defined by Scripture and federal or state law.” In other words, I wonder how Mr. Pence feels about the fact that his own boss couldn’t work there.

But the truth is that if I expounded on all that, I’d let Mr. Pence take up too much of my morning. So, instead, I’ll say this. Mr. Pence: On account of your bigotry, misogyny, and hypocrisy, I find it deeply offensive that you call yourself a Christian. On account of your hack scholarship, your hostility to diversity, and your attacks on the press, I find it deeply offensive that you try to speak for education of any kind. And on account of the fact that your wife just happens to take a job at this school while your Russia-linked administration desperately needs the support of its base, I find it deeply offensive that you call yourself a public servant. According to the Hill, the Atlantic, and the Los Angeles Times, you have said that you think God has chosen you to become the president. I hope he has. I hope that, upon Trump’s impeachment, you have that job for a day, or a week, or even a month. And during that time, you will suffer such meticulous scrutiny that you’ll reveal to everyone exactly what your piety is—how many back doors it has, how many dungeons and double sides. And then, God willing, you will embody the very sank in your movement’s sanctimony.

A Mental-Health Expert Says WH Staffers Have Solicited Her Advice About Their Boss

My father is a moderate Republican and a psychologist. During the Trump campaign, he called the man a malignant narcissist. He wasn’t making an official diagnosis; he was in his living room, talking to his family. In the following post, Slate interviews Dr. Bandy Lee, who is also not focused on making a diagnosis, but is very devoted to her duty to warn. The whole article is worth the read, but the crux is that Lee has been contacted by people who work with Trump and who have concerns about him. Lee also believes that Trump’s psychosis is getting worse. Here’s an outtake:

Q. What sorts of things are you talking about, besides lying?
A. The increasing frequency in lying, the increasingly belligerent tweets, his inability to vary his responses to situations. For example, he cannot let a criticism go. He has to fabricate reality to situations that are distressing to him. And the thing about pathology, as opposed to normal reaction, is pathology actually becomes more rigid and more predictable. A healthy individual might be able to vary their response, especially if it’s strategy. They can choose to act differently if something is not working. Whereas pathology tends to become more and more rigid as it worsens. And what we’re seeing is simple repetition now, and worsening, greater frequency of his poor coping mechanisms.

Read the rest here:  https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/09/trump-mental-health-bandy-lee-psychiatrist.html

Trump’s First Disaster Alert

My guess is that it would go like this:

Hello, this is THE REAL PRESIDENT of the United States, talking on everybody’s own telephone, because I want all of you to listen to the national disasters: The news media—almost the whole news media—is a national disaster. It’s a real disaster for all the real people in this country. My alert system will give you the TRUE information when this and other disasters are getting out of control. Also: We have a national disaster at the border. This disaster’s been around longer than the media, and it’s really a very illegal disaster. It will do all sorts of non-lawful things to all the people who actually stand for what the United States really means—which is not taking any more of anybody else’s disasters, which are very much out to cheat us. We have enough disasters of our own, so be sure to vote. Unless there’s a disaster, which I’ll tell you about. Like a big black out or a brown out. Those are worse disasters than you think. Far worse than Puerto Rico, which, believe me, wasn’t really a disaster at all. I know all this, and now you’ll also know, because thanks to my alert system, you can count on me to bring you the disasters. Go USA.

Walk with Purpose, Please.

Season 9 of The Walking Dead is creeping upon us, and I watched the trailer with as much attention as a person can maintain while also trying to eat her Spaghetti-Os. I keep rooting for this show. There’s lots to like:  the zombies, the grit, the fact that I still care when characters die WHILE ALSO coming to care about the characters who replace them. But something needs to change. The zombies haven’t evolved, so their menace starts to stagnate. The whole 28 Days Later bit about human morality was interesting, but we’ve had years of that. We need the next thing. Show us the wider world. Or show us a Patient Zero. Or show us a cure, or a mutation, or I don’t know… some dire weapon (like a nuke) that would stop the epidemic at the price of millions of lives. (That’s a little too Fallout maybe. But you get what I mean.) We need something big to progress. And although the establishment of an early-industrial civilization (and a glimpse of a helicopter) might be a baby step in that direction, I don’t want to watch twenty hours of people fighting over legal codices and a windmill. Nor do I want to come across another band of people who add a third (or fourth) variation on The Lord of the Flies. That sort of plot device really needs to shuffle off. (Get it?) And really, the next goal has to involve the zombies. Otherwise, we’re all just wandering around with them.

I’m Afraid the Answer is Yes.

Ali (my sister): Let me tell you. There is a special place in hell for those who cut a cream-filled donut in half, and leave the rest of it just oozing there in the conference room.

Megan: Absolutely.

Ali: All the innards rush out. Irretrievable and utterly useless.

Megan: Indeed. I suspect this is a complaint that most lions have about leftover antelopes.

Dad: What are you guys? Niles and Frasier?