To Donald J. Trump, the idea of helping other people is a punishment

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Donald J. Trump mocked Serge Kovaleski’s physical disability in November 2015, because he’s cruel and chooses not to empathize with other people. He believes the rest of the world thinks and behaves the same as he does.

I read something yesterday, a story from CNN about Trump trying to get Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kristin Nielsen to release immigrant peoples detained by our government onto the streets of so-called Sanctuary Cities as a punishment. Something about the idea seemed bizarre to me, but I couldn’t articulate it. Was the story even true?

After reading the CNN account, I woke up this morning and saw these two tweets from Donald J. Trump where he confirmed the story was true.

To a person like Donald J. Trump, the idea of helping other people is not just alien, it feels like a punishment.

I couldn’t make sense out of the political calculus. There was something gross about using imprisoned, suffering people in some kind of callous sociopathic game that Trump was playing. But I couldn’t make sense out of it.

This morning, I also read a story about Infowars encouraging their viewers to give Avocados to liberals to ‘trigger’ them, as a kind of anti-protest political stunt to make some kind of point about the manufactured Southern Border crisis the Trump regime is fomenting.

I like avocados, and I assume like many politically liberal people who like avocados, I’d be happy to receive the gift of free avocados.

This whole line of thinking is completely alien to me. I like avocados, and I assume like many politically liberal people who like avocados, I’d be happy to receive the gift of free avocados. But for the people giving these gifts, the idea would be that, I guess, the avocados would make me angry? Or hurt my feelings? And that in that moment, the MAGA person giving me the avocados would feel joy at my suffering?

It’s bizarre thinking, to me. The idea of specifically doing something to hurt someone else is strange to me. But the idea that a gift of an avocado would hurt me is equally strange.

And then, thinking about this (to me) bizarre line of thinking about gifting avocados as some kind of joyous punishment, and trying to understand Donald J. Trump’s thinking about releasing imprisoned people onto the streets of New York, two important things came together.

To a person like Donald J. Trump, the idea of helping other people is not just alien, it feels like a punishment. Like, he can’t fathom helping anyone other than himself. It’s not who he chooses to be. It’s painful for him to be unselfish. His way is about selfishness, greed, and ultimately narcissism. It’s a completely unhealthy way to live your life. But when you live your life this way, when you’re the kind of person who feels pain at the very idea of helping someone else, then the idea of helping other people who need help is a punishment. In a just world, Donald J. Trump’s punishment for his crimes against humanity would be working as a homeless outreach coordinator on the streets of New York City until his dying breath.

This whole line of realization also gets to something deeper, about empathy.

Because, in order to follow that whole line of thinking, we have to accept something even more disturbing about the way that Trump and his supporters think. Namely, that he and many of his supporters are only willing to look at the world from their own narrow, selfish perspective. Trump assumes the rest of the world thinks as he does, and experiences the world in the same way. His ability to understand other people’s perspectives, and willingness to try, are limited by his selfishness. If something hurts him, it must hurt other people. Many of his supporters seem to follow this same line of thinking. Reading the comments in that Twitter thread, I saw more than one person talk about how much they hated avocados. So, if you hate avocado, of course other people would hate avocados, and giving them to people would be a punishment, and trigger them.

And then it gets even deeper, once you realize that the whole purpose is for the person inflicting these punishments on others to enjoy watching other people suffer. As a former employee of Trump said in March 2019, Trump Likes to Hurt People. As The Atlantic published in August 2018, with Trump and many of his supporters, The Cruelty is the Point. Donald J. Trump mocked Serge Kovaleski’s physical disability in November 2015, because he’s cruel and chooses not to empathize with other people. For many, if not all, of Trump’s supporters, then, Trump only disappoints them when he hurts the wrong people. The Government shut-down hurt the wrong people. His supporters, also, enjoy seeing people suffer, as long as its the right people.

Trump, ultimately, only truly understands people like him. Thankfully, the number of people who think the same way he does, that see helping people as a punishment, that enjoy inflicting pain on people, that embrace selfishness so deeply, are few in number.

Our only problem is that people with this cruel streak at heart are in power and trying to insert a permanent foothold into maintaining their power.

If you are empathetic, kind-hearted, generous, and do want to help people, your impulse would be to find a way to help people wallowing in cruelty that enjoy human suffering. The way you might want to help them is to find a way to help them see the error of their ways.

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“ … Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” This quote from Emma Lazarus’ sonnet, New Colossus, is on the Statue of Liberty, and many people in New York believe in these words.

I’d offer that a better way would be to do everything you can to ensure people like this have no governmental power or authority over other people. If we follow this path, we’d not only be helping the cruel despots avoid their basest impulses, more importantly, we’d ensure that the people being forced to suffer no longer suffer.

I hope that Trump follows through with his perceived threat to release detained immigrants into the streets of places like New York City. Because, while our city has deep problems, it’s also filled with people who care about others, and do their best to help. It’s like the old saying goes, “ … Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” This quote from Emma Lazarus’ sonnet, New Colossus, is on the Statue of Liberty, and many people in New York believe in these words.

I’d rather see those people free, so that we can help them, then continue to see so many people being locked into concentration camps on American soil, in our names, because of the limited emotional and intellectual capabilities of Donald J. Trump and his supporters.

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