Posts Tagged ‘Patriotism’


(First off, not all of those who voted for Trump in 2016 fall into the following category, only 75% to 80%. The remaining 20% to 25% were justifiably disgusted with the do-nothing policies of Obama/Biden/the Clintons that had left them totally screwed over economically, and just wanted to shake things up. If you’re among them, please realize that you are not who I’m talking about. I’m talking here about the real true believers, Trump’s personality cultists. There’s no reasoning with them, and it’s time to call them out for what they are.)

* * *

We’ve all seen ’em, assholes driving around in land-raper pickups wearing MAGA hats, flying huge American flags. Using the symbol that’s supposed to stand for individual freedom and equal opportunity as a stand-in for preening jingoism, butt kissing of their glorious leader, and intimidation of those they disagree with.

They’re utter, total phonies. They systematically betray everything America is supposed to stand for.

Let’s look at specifics:

  • Freedom of speech. They beat protesters at Trump rallies, and show up bearing assault weapons at anti-Trump demos to intimidate protesters (as at Charlottesville — and thank god for Redneck Revolt showing up equally well armed to oppose them). On a more mundane level, Trump routinely attacks the press — about the only real check on the misdeeds of the powers that be — as “enemies of the people,” and god help you if you refuse to participate in the mass domination/submission spectacle at the start of ballgames.
  • Equality of Opportunity/Self-reliance. We’re talking about a moron who managed to bankrupt casinos, who had a silver spoon protruding from every orifice at birth, and who started receiving an “allowance” or $200,000 a year at age three — and in all a total of over $400 million from his dad. Trump is the proverbial entitled brat who was born on third base and has been bragging ever since that he hit a triple. And his sycophantic followers admire him for it.
  • Independence. Republicans/Trump supporters (there’s almost no distinguishing between them at this point) are slavish members of a personality cult. Trump famously bragged that he could murder someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and his base would continue to support him. He was right, but it’s worse than that. He could strangle a puppy and sodomize its corpse on national TV, and his base would praise him for it, saying how “out of the box,” “what a different kind of president” he was. If sucking up to Dear Leader and excusing every one of his crimes is “independence,” Trump’s supporters would win a gold medal.
  • Mercy. Trump puts children in cages and separates them from their parents. The members of his personality cult applaud this vicious behavior precisely because it is so vicious. All too many of them like to hurt people. They do it vicariously through Trump, and feel self-righteous about it.
  • Your Tired, Your Poor. Somehow the powers that be and their tools have convinced idiot Trumpistas that people even poorer and more powerless than they are are the cause of their misfortunes. These fear-driven dumbasses actually believe that desperate people fleeing horrendous conditions in Central America are somehow threatening them. (Many of the refugees are fleeing Honduras — thank Hillary and Obama for that one with their support of the coup there in 2011, and the installation of the narco Hernández regime)  Trump’s followers concentrate their hate on these powerless scapegoats who just want work and safety for their families, while supporting a billionaire parasite who’s never done a single day’s work in his life.
  • Fairness. Republicans support a system in which the three richest men in the United States own more of the wealth than the bottom 50% of the population combined, and in which unearned income is only taxed at half the rate or earned (through work) income. They support a system that is rigged in favor of the rich. They’re also so deluded that they think that a billionaire con man is somehow on their side, and that he somehow personifies the American spirit. To quote a sign I saw yesterday (carried by a goofball at the corner of First Avenue and Ft. Lowell), “God delivered Trump to us.” If so, the Westboro Baptist Church must be right, and god really must hate America.
  • Loyalty. The orange cancer just capitulated to Turkish Islamist tyrant Erdogan and betrayed America’s only true ally in the Middle East, the Kurds. They lost over 11,000 soldiers fighting ISIS, and Trump just sold them out. As a result, there are already mass civilian casualties, over 100,000 have fled the Turkish invasion/bombardment, ISIS captives have been freed en masse, and America’s reputation is in shreds. Of course, the bootlickers in his personality cult will somehow find a way to praise him for this.
  • Courage. Then there’s Cadet Bonespur’s draft exemption during the Viet Nam War. There were reasons in abundance to avoid involuntary servitude during that imperialistic crime against humanity. Somehow, one suspects, Trump’s draft avoidance had nothing to do with principled reasons. On a more contemporary level, Trump routinely doesn’t even have the guts to take responsibility for his own actions. The latest example is his refusal to take responsibility for betraying the Kurds, insisting, even after his capitulating phone call to the Turkish thug whose tanks then rolled into northern Syria, that he’s somehow not responsible for that, and in fact opposes it. If he’d actually opposed it, he wouldn’t have pulled back US troops and wouldn’t have told Erdogan it was okay to invade Syria. (It’s a very good bet that most Republicans in both the House and Senate are well aware of this and are disgusted by it. But they’ve placed their own political fortunes, currying favor with the Trump cultists, above what’s good for the country. How patriotic.)

Trump’s cultists are the seamy underside of America: they’re the authoritarian 25% or so of the American people who give lip service to American ideals, wrap themselves in the flag, and then betray everything the flag is supposed to stand for. Their motto might as well be “Sieg Heil Y’all.” (with a tip of the hat to the late Molly Ivins, who ages ago came up with that most apt phrase)

 

 

 

 


Alcoholics Anonymous: Cult or Cure? front coverby Chaz Bufe, author of Alcoholics Anonymous: Cult or Cure?

Of late, critics often accuse Donald Trump and his followers of being a cult. The problem is that they seemingly never define what a cult is, never define the characteristics of a cult, and of course never see how well Trump & co. match such characteristics. It’s time to do so.

Before I began writing AA: Cult or Cure?, I spent well over a year on research, much of it involving religious and political cults. I discovered that all cults, whatever their nature — religious, political, commercial (e.g., multi-level marketing scams) — have many characteristics in common. By the end of my research, I had discovered 23 separate characteristics common in cults; some cults exhibit almost all of them.

(Robert Jay Lifton in his groundbreaking and influential Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism lists eight cult-like characteristics; while I included Lifton’s characteristics in the list I compiled, I strongly believe that his book would have been better if he had included more such characteristics — ones I believe are obvious.)

Let’s see how many of the 23 Trump and his followers exhibit:

1) Religious orientation. Are Trump and his followers religiously based? Yes.

Trump’s core followers are conservative evangelicals. He received the votes of 81% of them in the 2016 election, and that level of support remains virtually unchanged. As well, Trump — who’s about as religious, and has about as much knowledge of the Bible, as the average poodle — routinely panders to evangelicals, flattering them endlessly and doing his best to ram through anti-choice, anti-LGBT judges and repressive, religiously inspired laws.

2) Irrationality. Are Trump and his followers irrational, do they discourage skepticism and rational thinking? Emphatically yes.

Trump and his followers are characterized by their ignorance of and contempt for science and rationality. The examples of this are manifold, with climate-change denial being the most obvious and dangerous. Climate scientists — who arrived at their conclusions through massive, decades-long research and application of the scientific method to the data they’ve gathered — are virtually unanimous in the conclusions that climate change is due to human activity (especially the burning of fossil fuels) and that it’s a dire threat to humanity. Trump and his followers irrationally and dangerously deny this.

3) Dogmatism. Are Trump and his followers dogmatic? Yes in the case of Trump’s followers, no as regards Trump himself.

Trump’s most fervent followers, evangelicals, Bible literalists, are by definition dogmatists. They believe (or at least insist that they believe) that a 3,000-year-old book written by Iron Age slaveholders is inerrant, true in every respect. This leads them to insist on absurdities, such as that the Earth is only 6,000 years old; that humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time (or that the devil placed fossils in the earth to mislead humans); that, for that matter, the devil actually exists; that the sun stood still; that a dead man arose after three days and walked out of his tomb . . . The list of dogmatic absurdities goes on and on. In contrast, Trump himself is an amoral opportunist with no apparent beliefs who will say and do anything as long as he thinks it’s in his self-interest to do so.

4) “Chosen People” mentality. Do Trump and his followers have such a mentality? Yes.

Trump’s evangelical supporters routinely and self-flatteringly refer to themselves using terms such as “God’s people,” “the elect,” and “the righteous.” They also consider themselves above other people, especially atheists and muslims, with a great many evangelicals (and other conservative religious folk) saying they would never vote for an atheist or muslim for public office. Trump himself is a very privileged rich kid with a massive sense of entitlement. He was a schoolyard bully as a child; he believes he has the right to grope women — and has bragged about that groping; and seems to abuse almost everyone unfortunate enough to come in contact with him. Only someone who thinks he’s better than other people, who thinks he’s entitled to do such odious things, would do them. One might also mention “American exceptionalism” here, a belief apparently held by almost all of Trump’s followers and, perhaps, by Trump himself.

5) Ideology above all else. Do Trump and his followers elevate their ideology over experience, observation, and logic? Yes, absolutely.

Again, the most obvious example is climate-change denial. But other examples abound, such as the insistence that grossly ineffective abstinence-only sex “education” is the only type that should be taught in public schools; that a few cells the size of a pinhead are, somehow, a “person” (apparently in the same manner that an acorn is an oak tree); that massive tax cuts for the top 1% are somehow good for the bottom 99%; and that America is the land of “equal opportunity” in the face of gross differences in wealth and income and equally gross differences in the quality of education for the rich and poor.

6) Separatism. Are Trump and his followers separatists? No.

We might be better off if they were. Instead of being separatists, they want to impose their beliefs on the rest of us through the coercive apparatus of the government.

7) Exclusivity. Do Trump and his followers present themselves as the exclusive holders of the truth. Yes.

Trump’s core evangelical followers, biblical literalists, by definition consider themselves the exclusive holders of the truth. (The same holds for his Mormon and conservative Catholic backers.) Trump, with his constant blather about “fake news,” insistence that he’s the only source of the truth and should always be believed (despite his near-constant and blatant lying), and his bald-faced statement to his followers, “don’t believe what you’re reading or seeing,” is equally if not more guilty of this.

8) Special knowledge. Do Trump and his followers claim to have special knowledge that will only be revealed to the initiated? No.

Not unless you count Trump’s for-profit “university” scam, and that would be a stretch.

9) Mind control. Do Trump and his followers employ mind-control techniques? No.

Even Trump’s most hardcore followers don’t employ mind-control techniques such as sleep deprivation, deliberate near-starvation, hypnotic chanting, and thought-stopping techniques (e.g., reciting a mantra over and over again to ward off unwanted thoughts).

10) Thought-stopping techniques. Do Trump and his followers employ thought-stopping language? Not really. 

The childhood religious indoctrination of Trump’s religious-believer backers (evangelicals, conservative Catholics, Mormons), in which children are routinely warned that doubt comes from the devil (and, from my childhood, that you should pray the rosary to ward off doubt), is as close as you’ll get to thought-stopping language in the Trump movement.

11) Manipulation through guilt. Does Trump manipulate his followers through guilt? No.

Rather, Trump manipulates his followers through fear, hate, bigotry, and scapegoating. His appalling attacks on Mexicans and his fear-mongering about an “invasion” of immigrants is only the most obvious example.

12) The cult of confession. Do Trump and his followers use confession for purification and to tie believers to the movement? No. 

The closest any of Trump’s followers come to this is the practice of conservative Catholics who use that “sacrament” for purification and to tie themselves to the church.

13) A charismatic leader. Is Trump a charismatic leader, and do his followers treat him as one? Clearly, yes. 

I’d use many other terms in place of “charismatic,” but the adoration of the Dear Leader by his glassy-eyed followers is all too obvious. The fact that by their own lights he’s moral garbage matters not a whit to them. Nor do his constant, obvious lies and boasting, frequent self-contradiction, bullying behavior, and shameful self-serving. All too many of Trump’s followers worship him no matter what.

14) Hierarchical, authoritarian structure. Do Trump and his followers belong to a hierarchical, authoritarian structure. Yes, several of them.

First and most obviously, the Republican Party, which has been on a decades-long crusade to restrict individual rights (notably reproductive and LGBT rights), and which has likewise been on a decades-long crusade to entrench itself in power via gerrymandering and voter suppression on a mass scale — that is to entrench itself in power by destroying what passes for American democracy. As well, Trump’s conservative Catholic and Mormon followers (and to a lesser degree the evangelicals) belong to clearly hierarchical, authoritarian — “thou shalt”; “thou shalt not” — religious structures.

15) Submission of the individual to the “will of God” or God’s appointed representatives. Do Trump and his followers insist on such submission? Yes.

Trump, hypocritically so. But all too many of his followers are sincere in wanting to use the coercive apparatus of the state to force everyone to submit to that “will” (as they define it).

16) Self-absorption. Are Trump and his followers self-absorbed? Yes.

Trump’s narcissism and self-absorption could hardly be more obvious. It’s almost equally so with his Republican Party, with its phony, preening nationalism, and its amoral, ends-justify-the-means mentality that pursues permanent entrenchment in power no matter how foul the means nor how much damage to the country. The current attempt to steamroll the installation of a blustering, bullying, highly partisan, alleged (have to get that alleged in there) sexual predator and apparent perjurer on the Supreme Court is only the latest instance of the Republican Party’s self-absorption.

17) Dual purposes. Does the Trump movement have dual purposes, are its real purposes other than those it presents to the publicYes, absolutely.

This is very obvious in very many ways. Trump — who received over $400 million from his dad — presents himself as the champion of the working man, yet he’s intent on squeezing money from the poor and working classes, and what’s left of the middle class, and transferring it to the top. He just gave the largest tax cut in history to (primarily) the top 1%; he opposes raising the federal minimum wage; he opposes labor unions; he and his minions in Congress have partially dismantled Obama’s (grossly inadequate) healthcare plan and have offered nothing to replace it; and he opposes extending Medicare to all Americans, thus ensuring that tens of thousands of poor and working class Americans die from medical neglect annually. His “family values” followers by and large support his vicious policy of ripping apart immigrant families at the border and throwing children into cages. And Trump and those same followers demand “religious freedom” which really means the “freedom” to discriminate against LGBT people in public accommodations. The hypocrisy of Trump and his followers, their “dual purposes,” is simply nauseating.

18) Economic exploitation. Does Trump economically exploit his followers? Yes.

Sometimes directly, as with Trump “University,” more often via government economic and taxation policies which work to the advantage of Trump and his billionaire buddies and against the rest of us.

19) Deceptive recruiting techniques. Do Trump and his Republican Party use deceptive recruiting techniques. Yes.

In addition to hypocritically presenting himself as the working man’s champion, “Cadet Bonespur” Trump presents himself as the embodiment of patriotism. But Trump’s “patriotism” is the exact opposite of real patriotism, which is trying to do what’s best for the country and following one’s own conscience, doing what’s right in the face of disdain and abuse. For Trump and his followers, patriotism seems to consist of making a fetish of the flag (instead of honoring what it supposedly stands for), robotically engaging in submission rituals at the start of baseball and football games, military worship, impugning the patriotism of those with opposing political views, bullying dissenters, and, of course, “patriotic” bumper stickers. One might also mention the deception of Trump and other Republicans in posing as guardians of morality when they themselves are moral sewers.

20) Possessiveness. Does the Trump movement go to great lengths to retain members? No.

Cults often go to great lengths to retain members, doing such things as threatening permanent disconnection of family members who leave the cult. Trump doesn’t do this nor does he advocate it.

21) A closed, all-encompassing environment. Has the Trump movement created such an environment? No.

Many cults (e.g., Rajhneeshees, Branch Davidians, People’s Temple, FLDS) set up isolated environments in which they control all aspects of members’ lives. The closest Trump’s followers come to this is having a single primary news source (Fox News for 60% of them) and being immersed in the Facebook echo chamber where they hear almost nothing but views they already agree with. But this is a far, far cry from Jonestown.

22) Millenarianism. Does Trump prophesy the end of the world? No.

The closest he comes is dire warnings about what will happen if the Republicans lose power. But some of his followers, hardcore evangelicals, do prophesy that the end is near and are actively trying to bring about Armageddon (through enthusiastic support of Israeli militarism and expansionism) so as to usher in “the rapture.” Still, Trump is definitely not a millenarian himself.

23) Violence, coercion, and harassment. Do Trump and his followers engage in or encourage these things? Yes.

Recall Trump’s remarks that some of the murderous neo-Nazis in Charlottesville were “very fine people.” Then recall his attacks on the press as “enemies of the people” and his encouragement of violence against protesters at his rallies. Then recall the huge uptick in racist violence by his alt-right/neo-Nazi supporters since he took office. Finally, let’s not forget that some of Trump’s “right to life” supporters routinely stalk, harass, threaten, and occasionally bomb or shoot abortion providers.

IN CONCLUSION

So, do Trump and his followers constitute a cult? Many of the cults I studied while researching AA: Cult or Cure? exhibit almost all of the above characteristics: the Moonies 22 out of the 23; the Church of Scientology and People’s Temple 21 of the 23; and Synanon 20 of the 23. In contrast, community-based Alcoholics Anonymous only exhibits 11 of the 23, “institutional” AA  (the 12-step treatment industry, which I dubbed “Cult Lite”) exhibits 16 of the 23, and the Trump movement exhibits 13 of the 23, so it’s not entirely accurate to say that the Trump movement is a full-blown cult, though it does have distinct cult-like tendencies. However, and disturbingly, almost all of the cult-like tendencies exhibited by Trump and his followers are also characteristic of fascist movements.


Word just came down that the NRA has named liar, hypocrite, convicted felon (convictions later reversed), and traitor Oliver North as its new president.

(For those with short memories, North conspired with Ronald Reagan to sell arms to the Iranian Islamist government — a “hostile foreign power” — lied about it, and used the funds to bankroll the terrorist Nicaraguan Contras, an act specifically outlawed by Congress. This is about as close to a dictionary definition of treason as you’ll find,)

That the NRA named North as its new leader is entirely fitting.

You see some jerk driving around with a huge American flag flying (probably on a pickup — often two flags), with an NRA sticker on his tailgate, you can bet money that you’re seeing a traitor to (supposed) American values. (Being a pickup driver myself, I have nothing against pickups — just a lot of their drivers.)

These idiots think they’re patriots. They’re not. They make a fetish of worshiping the symbol of supposed American values (individual liberty, freedom of speech), while betraying those values by demanding strict conformity, oftentimes threatening dissenters, and occasionally assaulting those exercising the rights enshrined in the Constitution — rights that the flag is supposed to symbolize.

So, it’s completely appropriate that the NRA has named Oliver North as its president. An organization of traitors to American values has elevated an actual traitor.

An important note: I support gun rights and think every American adult should own at least one semi-automatic assault weapon. But the NRA has strayed so far from that reasonable position — it now takes authoritarian, often theocratic positions on a wide range of social, political, and economic issues — that it’s become a totalitarian, anti-American organization.

All that’s left is for the NRA to institute goose-stepping drills and oaths of fealty to the Glorious Orange Leader.

When I was much younger, I supported the NRA. No more.

I’m utterly disgusted.

What was supposed to be a Second Amendment, responsible gun use organization has transformed into a group of anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, pro-intrusive government theofascists.

 


“When fascism comes, it will not be in the form of an anti-American movement. . . . Nor will it come in the form of a crusade against war. It will appear rather in the luminous robes of flaming patriotism . . .”

John T. Flynn

–John T. Flynn, As We Go Marching


americanism

AMERICANISM, n. 1) The desire to purge America of all those qualities that make it a more or less tolerable place in which to live; 2) The ability to simultaneously kiss ass, pay taxes, follow your boss’s orders, swallow a pay cut, piss in a cup, cower in fear of job loss, and brag about your freedom.

* * *

–from the revised and expanded edition of The American Heretic’s Dictionary, the best modern successor to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary

American Heretic's Dictionary revised and expanded by Chaz Bufe, front coverAmbrose


Arthur Schopenhauer

“Every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud, adopts as a last resource pride in the nation to which he belongs;  he is ready and happy to defend all its faults tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority.”

–Arthur Schopenhauer, Aphorisms


Emma Goldman

“Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who have had the fortune of being born on some particular spot consider themselves better, nobler, grander, more intelligent than the living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill, and die in the attempt to impose [their] superiority upon all others. The inhabitants of the other spots reason in like manner, of course.”

Emma Goldman, “Patriotism”