Cults & Corporations

The Cult of Trump

Mr. Fish / Truthdig

Cult leaders arise from decayed communities and societies in which people have been shorn of political, social and economic power. The disempowered, infantilized by a world they cannot control, gravitate to cult leaders who appear omnipotent and promise a return to a mythical golden age. The cult leaders vow to crush the forces, embodied in demonized groups and individuals, that are blamed for their misery. The more outrageous the cult leaders become, the more they flout law and social conventions, the more they gain in popularity. Cult leaders are immune to the norms of established society. This is their appeal. Cult leaders demand a God-like power. Those who follow them grant them this power in the hope that the cult leaders will save them.

Donald Trump has transformed the decayed carcass of the Republican Party into a cult. All cults are personality cults. They are extensions of the cult leaders. The cult reflects the leader’s prejudices, worldview, personal style and ideas. Trump did not create the yearning for a cult leader. Huge segments of the population, betrayed by the established elites, were conditioned for a cult leader. They were desperately looking for someone to rescue them and solve their problems. They found their cult leader in the New York real estate developer and reality television show star. Only when we recognize Trump as a cult leader, and many of those who support him as cult followers, will we understand where we are headed and how we must resist.

It was 40 years ago next month that a messianic preacher named Jim Jonesconvinced or forced more than 900 of his followers, including roughly 280 children, to die by ingesting a cyanide-laced drink. Trump’s refusal to acknowledge and address the impending crisis of ecocide and the massive mismanagement of the economy by kleptocrats, his bellicosity, his threats against Iran and China and the withdrawal from nuclear arms treaties, along with his demonization of all who oppose him, ensure our cultural and, if left unchecked, physical extinction. Cult leaders are driven, at their core, by the death instinct, the instinct to annihilate and destroy rather than nurture and create. Trump shares many of the characteristics of Jones as well as other cult leaders including Marshall Herff Applewhite and Bonnie Lu Nettles, the founders of the Heaven’s Gate cult; the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who led the Unification Church; Credonia Mwerinde, who led the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God in Uganda; Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong; and David Koresh, who led the Branch Davidian cult in Waco, Texas. Cult leaders are narcissists. They demand obsequious fawning and total obedience. They prize loyalty above competence. They wield absolute control. They do not tolerate criticism. They are deeply insecure, a trait they attempt to cover up with bombastic grandiosity. They are amoral and emotionally and physically abusive. They see those around them as objects to be manipulated for their own empowerment, enjoyment and often sadistic entertainment. All those outside the cult are branded as forces of evil, prompting an epic battle whose natural expression is violence.

“A cult is a mirror of what is inside the cult leader,” Margaret Thaler Singer wrote in “Cults in Our Midst.” “He has no restraints on him. He can make his fantasies and desires come alive in the world he creates around him. He can lead people to do his bidding. He can make the surrounding world really hisworld. What most cult leaders achieve is akin to the fantasies of a child at play, creating a world with toys and utensils. In that play world, the child feels omnipotent and creates a realm of his own for a few minutes or a few hours. He moves the toy dolls about. They do his bidding. They speak his words back to him. He punishes them any way he wants. He is all-powerful and makes his fantasy come alive. When I see the sand tables and the collections of toys some child therapists have in their offices, I think that a cult leader must look about and place people in his created world much as a child creates on the sand table a world that reflects his or her desires and fantasies. The difference is that the cult leader has actual humans doing his bidding as he makes a world around him that springs from inside his own head.”

George Orwell understood that cult leaders manipulate followers primarily through language, not force. This linguistic manipulation is a gradual process. It is rooted in continual mental chaos and verbal confusion. Lies, conspiracy theories, outlandish ideas and contradictory statements that defy reality and fact soon paralyze the opposition. The opposition, with every attempt to counter this absurdism with the rational—such as the decision by Barack Obama to make his birth certificate public or by Sen. Elizabeth Warren to release the results of her DNA test to prove she has Native American ancestry—plays to the cult leader. The cult leader does not take his or her statements seriously and often denies ever making them, even when they are documented. Lies and truth do not matter. The language of the cult leader is designed exclusively to appeal to the emotional needs of those in the cult.

“Hitler kept his enemies in a state of constant confusion and diplomatic upheaval,” Joost A.M. Meerloo wrote in “The Rape of the Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing.” “They never knew what this unpredictable madman was going to do next. Hitler was never logical, because he knew that that was what he was expected to be. Logic can be met with logic, while illogic cannot—it confuses those who think straight. The Big Lie and monotonously repeated nonsense have more emotional appeal in a cold war than logic and reason. While the enemy is still searching for a reasonable counter-argument to the first lie, the totalitarians can assault him with another.”

The cult leader grooms followers to speak in the language of hate and violence. The cult leader constantly paints a picture of an existential threat, often invented, that puts the cult followers in danger. Trump is doing this by demonizing the caravan of some 4,000 immigrants, most from Honduras, moving through southern Mexico. Caravans of immigrants, are, in fact, nothing new. The beleaguered and impoverished asylum seekers, including many families with children, are 1,000 miles from the Texas border. But Trump, aided by nearly nonstop coverage by Fox News and Christian broadcasting, is using the caravan to terrify his followers, just as he, along with these media outlets, portrayed the protesters who flooded the U.S. capital to oppose the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh as unruly mobs. Trump claims the Democrats want to open the border to these “criminals” and to “unknown Middle Easterners” who are, he suggests, radical jihadists. Christian broadcasting operations, such as Pat Robertson’s The 700 Club, splice pictures of marching jihadists in black uniforms cradling automatic weapons into the video shots of the caravan.

The fear mongering and rhetoric of hate and violence, as I saw in the former Yugoslavia, eventually lead to widespread acts of violence against those the cult leader defines as the enemy. The 13 explosive devices sent last week to Trump critics and leaders of the Democratic Party, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, along with George Soros, James Clapper and CNN, allegedly by Cesar Sayoc, an ex-stripper and fanatic Trump supporter who was living out of his van, herald more violence. Trump, tossing gasoline on the flames, used this assault against much of the leadership of the Democratic Party to again attack the press, or, as he calls it, “the enemy of the people.” “A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News,” he tweeted. “It has gotten so bad and hateful that is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its acts, FAST!”

It should come as no surprise that on Saturday another enraged American white male, his fury and despair seemingly stoked by the diatribes and conspiracy theories of the far right, entered a Pittsburgh synagogue and massacred eight men and three women as he shouted anti-Semitic abuse. Shot by police and arrested at the scene was Robert Bowers, who believes that Jewish groups are aiding the caravan of immigrants in southern Mexico. He was armed with a military-style AR-15 assault rifle, plus three handguns. The proliferation of easily accessible high-caliber weapons, coupled with the division of the country into the blessed and the damned by Trump and his fellow cultists, threatens to turn the landscape of the United States into one that resembles Mexico, where at least 145 people in politics, including 48 candidates and pre-candidates, along with party leaders and campaign workers, have been assassinated over the last 12 months, according to Etellekt, a risk analysis firm in Mexico. There have been 627 incidents of violence against politicians, 206 threats and acts of intimidation, 57 firearm assaults and 52 attacks on family members that resulted in 50 fatalities. Trump’s response to the mass shooting at the synagogue was to say places of worship should have armed guards, a call for further proliferation of firearms. Look south if you want a vision of our future.

Domestic terrorism and nihilistic violence are the natural outcomes of the economic, social and political stagnation, the total seizure of power by a corporate cabal and oligarchic elite, and the contamination of civil discourse by cult leaders. The weaponization of language is proliferating, as seen in the vile rhetoric that characterizes many political campaigns for the midterm elections, including the racist robocall sent out against Andrew Gillum, an African-American candidate for the governorship of Florida. “Well, hello there. I is the negro Andrew Gillum and I’ll be askin’ you to make me governor of this here state of Florida,” a man speaking in a caricature of a black dialect accompanied by jungle noises said in the robocall. Cults externalize evil. Evil is embodied in the demonized other, whether desperate immigrants, black political candidates and voters, or the Democratic Party. The only way to purge this “evil” and restore America to “greatness” is to eradicate these human contaminants.

The cult leader, unlike a traditional politician, makes no effort to reach out to his opponents. The cult leader seeks to widen the divisions. The leader brands those outside the cult as irredeemable. The leader seeks the omnipotence to crush those who do not kneel in adoration. The followers, yearning to be protected and empowered by the cult leader, seek to give the cult leader omnipotence. Democratic norms, an impediment to the leader’s omnipotence, are attacked and abolished. Those in the cult seek to be surrounded by the cult leader’s magical aura. Reality is sacrificed for fantasy. Those who challenge the fantasy are not considered human. They are Satanic.

Meerloo wrote:

The dictator is not only a sick man, he is also a cruel opportunist. He sees no value in any other person and feels no gratitude for any help he may have received. He is suspicious and dishonest and believes that his personal ends justify any means he may use to achieve them. Peculiarly enough, every tyrant still searches for some self-justification. Without such a soothing device for his own conscience, he cannot live. His attitude toward other people is manipulative; to him, they are merely tools for the advancement of his own interests. He rejects the conception of doubt, of internal contradictions, or man’s inborn ambivalence. He denies the psychological fact that man grows to maturity through groping, through trial and error, through the interplay of contrasting feelings. Because he will not permit himself to grope, to learn through trial and error, the dictator can never become a mature person. … It is because the dictator is afraid, albeit unconsciously, of his own internal contradictions, that he is afraid of the same internal contradictions of his fellow man. He must purge and purge, terrorize and terrorize in order to still his own raging inner drives. He must kill every doubter, destroy every person who makes a mistake, imprison everyone who cannot be proved to be utterly single-minded.

Behavior that ensures the destruction of a public figure’s career does not affect a cult leader. It does not matter how many lies uttered by Trump are meticulously documented by The New York Times or The Washington Post. It does not matter that Trump’s personal financial interests, as we see in his relationship with the Saudis, take precedence over the rule of law, diplomatic protocols and national security. It does not matter that he is credibly charged by numerous women with being a sexual predator, a common characteristic of cult leaders. It does not matter that he is inept, lazy and ignorant. The establishment, whose credibility has been destroyed because of its complicity in empowering the ruling oligarchy and the corporate state, might as well be blowing soap bubbles at Trump. Their vitriol, to his followers, only justifies the hatred radiating from the cult.

The cult leader responds to only one emotion—fear. The cult leader, usually a coward, will react when he thinks he is in danger. The cult leader will bargain and compromise when afraid. The cult leader will give the appearance of being flexible and reasonable. But as soon as the cult leader is no longer afraid, the old patterns of behavior return, with a special venom directed at those who were able to momentarily impinge upon his power.

The removal of Trump from power would not remove the yearning of tens of millions of people, many conditioned by the Christian right, for a cult leader. Most of the leaders of the Christian right have built cult followings of their own. These Christian fascists embraced magical thinking, attacked their enemies as agents of Satan and denounced reality-based science and journalism long before Trump did. Cults are a product of social decay and despair, and our decay and despair are expanding, soon to explode in another financial crisis.

The efforts by the Democratic Party and much of the press, including CNN and The New York Times, to discredit Trump, as if our problems are embodied in him, are futile. The smug, self-righteousness of this crusade against Trump only contributes to the national reality television show that has replaced journalism and politics. This crusade attempts to reduce a social, economic and political crisis to the personality of Trump. It is accompanied by a refusal to confront and name the corporate forces responsible for our failed democracy. This collusion with the forces of corporate oppression neuters the press and Trump’s mainstream critics.

Our only hope is to organize the overthrow of the corporate state that vomited up Trump. Our democratic institutions, including the legislative bodies, the courts and the media, are hostage to corporate power. They are no longer democratic. We must, like liberation movements of the past, engage in acts of sustained mass civil disobedience and non-cooperation. By turning our ire on the corporate state, we name the true sources of power and abuse. We expose the absurdity of blaming our demise on demonized groups such as undocumented workers, Muslims, African-Americans, Latinos, liberals, feminists, gays and others. We give people an alternative to a Democratic Party that refuses to confront the corporate forces of oppression and cannot be rehabilitated. We make possible the restoration of an open society. If we fail to embrace this militancy, which alone has the ability to destroy cult leaders, we will continue the march toward tyranny.

from:   https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-cult-of-trump-2/

Tesla & Trump

The Connections Between Nikola Tesla and Donald Trump

Do we need another conspiracy theory involving the president-elect? Yes, especially if the theory is about connections between him and Nikola Tesla. This goes back to January 7, 1943 – the day Tesla died in the Hotel New Yorker in New York City.

Two days later the Federal Bureau of Investigation ordered the Alien Property Custodian to seize Tesla’s belongings, even though Tesla was an American citizen. Tesla’s entire estate from the Hotel New Yorker and other New York City hotels was transported to the Manhattan Storage and Warehouse Company under the Office of Alien Property (OAP) seal. John G. Trump, a professor at M.I.T. and a well-known electrical engineer serving as a technical aide to the National Defense Research Committee, was called in to analyze the Tesla items in OAP custody.

That’s from Wikipedia, not Wikileaks, and John G. Trump is the late uncle of the current president-elect. Dr. Trump died in 1985 but he had a known influence in 2016 on what voters thought of his candidate nephew.

My father’s brother was a brilliant man . . . We have very good genetics.

John G. Trump

John G. Trump

Donald Trump also revealed that his uncle …

… would tell me many years ago about the power of weapons someday, that the destructive force of these weapons would be so massive, that it’s going to be a scary world.

Was the “brilliant” Dr. Trump telling his young nephew about what he saw in the things taken from Nikola Tesla’s hotel room – the room whose contents the FBI took possession of in order to look for Tesla’s alleged death ray?

[Tesla’s] thoughts and efforts during at least the past 15 years were primarily of a speculative, philosophical, and somewhat promotional character often concerned with the production and wireless transmission of power; but did not include new, sound, workable principles or methods for realizing such results.

So John G. Trump saw no value in the papers of Nikola Tesla – despite what others thought – and claimed a box containing part of the “death ray” only held a 45-year-old multidecade resistance box. Dr. Trump also didn’t seem to think there was anything wrong with how Tesla’s belongings were confiscated – by an order of the Office of Alien Property even though Tesla was not an alien but an American citizen and a fellow New Yorker. Perhaps Uncle John had more influence on his nephew than just “genetics.”

Then there’s the FBI files on Tesla released in September of this year. One document says:

…the Soviet Union has allegedly had access to some of Tesla’s papers, possibly in Belgrade and/or elsewhere, which influenced their early research into directed energy weapons, and [name deleted] feels access to much of Tesla’s papers on lightning, beam weapons and/or ‘death rays’ would give him more insight into the Soviet beam weapons program.

The Soviet Union allegedly had access to papers on Tesla’s “death ray” – the one that Dr. Trump called “speculative.” Could those papers now be in the possession of the leaders of Russia? Isn’t that where a Tesla Tower is located?

Russia's Tesla Tower

Russia’s Tesla Tower

So the country possessing Tesla’s paper is the same country that seems to be popping up in the latest news stories about the president-elect, his connections to that country’s leader, alleged election hacking and a possible Secretary of State nominee with strong business relations going up to the very top.

Shouldn’t someone be looking at these connections between Donald Trump and Nikola Tesla a little more closely, especially with their connections to Russia?

from:    http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2016/12/the-connections-between-nikola-tesla-and-donald-trump/

What Value – Hope?

In Stripping Away Our Hope, Maybe Trump Has Done Us a Favor

The outcome of this election is a wake-up call to action. Now that we know our elected leaders will not save us, let’s get to work.
Trump-Action.gif

Prince Ea, rapper and spoken-word artist and social justice advocate, has a soliloquy on YouTube with a surprising title: WHY IM HAPPY TRUMP WON. How could he think that, as he has passionately called for recognizing the dignity in all people? He’s happy, he says, because he sees this election result as a wake-up call. It forces us to recognize the sickness of our society and “that we cannot legislate our way out of human problems, nor can we truly change the world by changing the rulers.”

I remember hoping a Clinton-Gore administration would lead to a system transformation back in 1992. I had the same hope for the Obama administration in 2008.

But it’s now clear that leadership for the needed system change will not come from within the existing corporate-dominated political system. It must come from We the People, claiming and exercising our sovereign right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Since we cannot expect action from the upcoming administration and Congress on any measure that puts environmental and social interests ahead of the interests of corporations and the very rich, there will be no point during the next two to four years in the old discussions of what might be politically feasible. We can instead focus on building popular support for what is necessary and desirable and transforming the political landscape to press the rule makers to follow.

Because of the depth and breadth of the change our circumstances require, we will need to organize on many fronts, including the following four:

1. Resist the forces of corporate rule. Given Trump’s record and that of his political allies, we should be prepared to expose his betrayal of his promise to his base to clear the swamp of Wall Street interests and lobbyists as he pushes to privatize public services, programs, and infrastructure; roll back environmental protections; cut taxes for the rich; normalize corruption; and further rig the electoral process. All the while, we must keep clearly in mind that resistance without a compelling positive alternative is a losing strategy.

2. Grow community. The relationships involved in strong, inclusive, caring communities are an essential foundation of what some call the ecological civilization we must now bring into being. Reconnecting with neighbors. Organizing activities that connect people across religious and racial lines. Rebuilding local economies. Resisting racism and sexism. Supporting local farmers. Participating in local initiatives to restore local ecosystems. Supporting sustainable-energy initiatives. Advancing cooperative ownership. Electing community-oriented city council members and county supervisors. Supporting groups finding housing for the homeless and jobs for the jobless. Campaigning for a living wage. I find hope in evidence that such efforts are blossoming all around the country in ways I’ve not seen in my lifetime. As science is confirming, such community-building engagement affirms our self-worth and aids recovery from the distrust and fear the presidential campaign has evoked.

3. Democratize political institutions. Voter suppression, the distortions of corporate media and dark money, gerrymandering, the candidate limitations of a two-party system controlled by a corporate establishment, and an electoral college system that ignores the will of the majority are powerful reminders that democracy in the United States remains an aspiration. A true democracy of the sovereign people is another essential foundation of the ecological civilization on which our future well-being depends. We will have it only as We the People organize to demand it.

4. Advance a new public narrative. We humans are only beginning to awaken to the fact that our status as living Earth’s dominant species carries with it responsibilities as well as rewards. The ways of living, the institutions, and the narratives of our past no longer serve. We humans live by shared stories. We need a shared narrative that gives us the courage and guiding vision to take the step to species maturity. Through public dialogue, social networking, and independent media, we can find a compelling shared narrative to guide our path to institutions and policies appropriate for our time.

If the outcome of this election forces us to face up to the depth of system failure that threatens our common future and motivates us to engage the work of an essential cultural and institutional transformation, it may prove to be, as Prince Ea put it, a blessing in disguise.

from:   http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/in-stripping-away-our-hope-maybe-trump-has-done-us-a-favor-20161130

Reflections on The Election

The Election: Of Hate, Grief, and a New Story


The following was originally published on The New and Ancient Story.

Normal is coming unhinged. For the last eight years it has been possible for most people (at least in the relatively privileged classes) to believe that society is sound, that the system, though creaky, basically works, and that the progressive deterioration of everything from ecology to economy is a temporary deviation from the evolutionary imperative of progress.

A Clinton Presidency would have offered four more years of that pretense. A woman President following a black President would have meant to many that things are getting better. It would have obscured the reality of continued neoliberal economics, imperial wars, and resource extraction behind a veil of faux-progressive feminism. Now that we have, in the words of my friend Kelly Brogan, rejected a wolf in sheep’s clothing in favor of a wolf in wolf’s clothing, that illusion will be impossible to maintain.

The wolf, Donald Trump (and I’m not sure he’d be offended by that moniker) will not provide the usual sugarcoating on the poison pills the policy elites have foisted on us for the last forty years. The prison-industrial complex, the endless wars, the surveillance state, the pipelines, the nuclear weapons expansion were easier for liberals to swallow when they came with a dose, albeit grudging, of LGBTQ rights under an African-American President.

I am willing to suspend my judgement of Trump and (very skeptically) hold the possibility that he will disrupt the elite policy consensus of free trade and military confrontation – major themes of his campaign. One might always hope for miracles. However, because he apparently lacks any robust political ideology of his own, it is more likely that he will fill his cabinet with neocon war hawks, Wall Street insiders, and corporate reavers, trampling the wellbeing of the working class whites who elected him while providing them their own sugar-coating of social conservatism.

The social and environmental horrors likely to be committed under President Trump are likely to incite massive civil disobedience and possibly disorder. For Clinton supporters, many of whom were halfhearted to begin with, the Trump administration could mark the end of their loyalty to our present institutions of government. For Trump supporters, the initial celebration will collide with gritty reality when Trump proves as unable or unwilling as his predecessors to challenge the entrenched systems that continually degrade their lives: global finance capital, the deep state, and their programming ideologies. Add to this the likelihood of a major economic crisis, and the public’s frayed loyalty to the existing system could snap.

We are entering a time of great uncertainty. Institutions so enduring as to seem identical to reality itself may lose their legitimacy and dissolve. It may seem that the world is falling apart. For many, that process started on election night, when Trump’s victory provoked incredulity, shock, even vertigo. “I can’t believe this is happening!”

At such moments, it is a normal response to find someone to blame, as if identifying fault could restore the lost normality, and to lash out in anger. Hate and blame are convenient ways of making meaning out of a bewildering situation. Anyone who disputes the blame narrative may receive more hostility than the opponents themselves, as in wartime when pacifists are more reviled than the enemy.

Racism and misogyny are devastatingly real in this country, but to blame bigotry and sexism for voters’ repudiation of the Establishment is to deny the validity of their deep sense of betrayal and alienation. The vast majority of Trump voters were expressing extreme dissatisfaction with the system in the way most readily available to them. (See here, here, here, here) Millions of Obama voters voted for Trump (six states who went for Obama twice switched to Trump). Did they suddenly become racists in the last four years? The blame-the-racists (the fools, the yokels…) narrative generates a clear demarcation between good (us) and evil (them), but it does violence to the truth. It also obscures an important root of racism – anger displaced away from an oppressive system and its elites and onto other victims of that system. Finally, it employs the same dehumanization of the other that is the essence of racism and the precondition for war. Such is the cost of preserving a dying story. That is one reason why paroxysms of violence so often accompany a culture-defining story’s demise.

The dissolution of the old order that is now officially in progress is going to intensify. That presents a tremendous opportunity and danger, because when normal falls apart the ensuing vacuum draws in formerly unthinkable ideas from the margins. Unthinkable ideas range from rounding up the Muslims in concentration camps, to dismantling the military-industrial complex and closing down overseas military bases. They range from nationwide stop-and-frisk to replacing criminal punishment with restorative justice. Anything becomes possible with the collapse of dominant institutions. When the animating force behind these new ideas is hate or fear, all manner of fascistic and totalitarian nightmares can ensue, whether enacted by existing powers or those that arise in revolution against them.

That is why, as we enter a period of intensifying disorder, it is important to introduce a different kind of force to animate the structures that might appear after the old ones crumble. I would call it love if it weren’t for the risk of triggering your New Age bullshit detector, and besides, how does one practically bring love into the world in the realm of politics? So let’s start with empathy. Politically, empathy is akin to solidarity, born of the understanding that we are all in this together. In what together? For starters, we are in the uncertainty together.

We are exiting an old story that explained to us the way of the world and our place in it. Some may cling to it all the more desperately as it dissolves, looking perhaps to Donald Trump to restore it, but their savior has not the power to bring back the dead. Neither would Clinton have been able to preserve America as we’d known it for too much longer. We as a society are entering a space between stories, in which everything that had seemed so real, true, right, and permanent comes into doubt. For a while, segments of society have remained insulated from this breakdown (whether by fortune, talent, or privilege), living in a bubble as the containing economic and ecological systems deteriorate. But not for much longer. Not even the elites are immune to this doubt. They grasp at straws of past glories and obsolete strategies; they create perfunctory and unconvincing shibboleths (Putin!), wandering aimlessly from “doctrine” to “doctrine” – and they have no idea what to do. Their haplessness and half-heartedness was plain to see in this election, their disbelief in their own propaganda, their cynicism. When even the custodians of the story no longer believe the story, you know its days are numbered. It is a shell with no engine, running on habit and momentum.

We are entering a space between stories. After various retrograde versions of a new story rise and fall and we enter a period of true unknowing, an authentic next story will emerge. What would it take for it to embody love, compassion, and interbeing? I see its lineaments in those marginal structures and practices that we call holistic, alternative, regenerative, and restorative. All of them source from empathy, the result of the compassionate inquiry: What is it like to be you?

It is time now to bring this question and the empathy it arouses into our political discourse as a new animating force. If you are appalled at the election outcome and feel the call of hate, perhaps try asking yourself, “What is it like to be a Trump supporter?” Ask it not with a patronizing condescension, but for real, looking underneath the caricature of misogynist and bigot to find the real person.

Even if the person you face IS a misogynist or bigot, ask, “Is this who they are, really?” Ask what confluence of circumstances, social, economic, and biographical, may have brought them there. You may still not know how to engage them, but at least you will not be on the warpath automatically. We hate what we fear, and we fear what we do not know. So let’s stop making our opponents invisible behind a caricature of evil.

We’ve got to stop acting out hate. I see no less of it in the liberal media than I do in the right-wing. It is just better disguised, hiding beneath pseudo-psychological epithets and dehumanizing ideological labels. Exercising it, we create more of it. What is beneath the hate? My acupuncturist Sarah Fields wrote to me, “Hate is just a bodyguard for grief. When people lose the hate, they are forced to deal with the pain beneath.”

I think the pain beneath is fundamentally the same pain that animates misogyny and racism – hate in a different form. Please stop thinking you are better than these people! We are all victims of the same world-dominating machine, suffering different mutations of the same wound of separation. Something hurts in there. We live in a civilization that has robbed nearly all of us of deep community, intimate connection with nature, unconditional love, freedom to explore the kingdom of childhood, and so much more. The acute trauma endured by the incarcerated, the abused, the raped, the trafficked, the starved, the murdered, and the dispossessed does not exempt the perpetrators. They feel it in mirror image, adding damage to their souls atop the damage that compels them to violence. Thus it is that suicide is the leading cause of death in the U.S. military. Thus it is that addiction is rampant among the police. Thus it is that depression is epidemic in the upper middle class. We are all in this together.

Something hurts in there. Can you feel it? We are all in this together. One earth, one tribe, one people.

We have entertained teachings like these long enough in our spiritual retreats, meditations, and prayers. Can we take them now into the political world and create an eye of compassion inside the political hate vortex? It is time to do it, time to up our game. It is time to stop feeding hate. Next time you post on line, check your words to see if they smuggle in some form of hate: dehumanization, snark, belittling, derision.., some invitation to us versus them. Notice how it feels kind of good to do that, like getting a fix. And notice what hurts underneath, and how it doesn’t feel good, not really. Maybe it is time to stop.

This does not mean to withdraw from political conversation, but to rewrite its vocabulary. It is to speak hard truths with love. It is to offer acute political analysis that doesn’t carry the implicit message of “Aren’t those people horrible?” Such analysis is rare. Usually, those evangelizing compassion do not write about politics, and sometimes they veer into passivity. We need to confront an unjust, ecocidal system. Each time we do we will receive an invitation to give in to the dark side and hate “the deplorables.” We must not shy away from those confrontations. Instead, we can engage them empowered by the inner mantra that my friend Pancho Ramos-Stierle uses in confrontations with his jailers: “Brother, your soul is too beautiful to be doing this work.” If we can stare hate in the face and never waver from that knowledge, we will access inexhaustible tools of creative engagement, and hold a compelling invitation to the haters to fulfill their beauty.

Image: Creative Commons – picture by Abhi Ryan

from:    http://realitysandwich.com/320959/the-election-of-hate-grief-and-a-new-story/

The Politics of FEAR

Trump Couldn’t Have Asked for a Better Media Climate: All Fear, All the Time

03/01/2016 11:19
  • Dan Gillmor Professor of Practice, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Arizona State University

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A few weeks ago, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof weighed in on who is to blame for the poisoning of American politics.

“The G.O.P. Created Donald Trump,” blared the headline. In recent decades, Kristof wrote, Republican leaders “pried open a Pandora’s box, a toxic politics of fear and resentment, sometimes brewed with a tinge of racial animus, and they could never satisfy the unrealistic expectations that they nurtured among supporters.”

True enough, but incomplete. The lies and predations of the power elite have given voters ample reason to be angry. Almost every major institution in American society, including government and big business, has failed in some fundamental ways. That so many voters have gravitated toward a bigoted, egomaniacal liar like Trump — and may do so again today on Super Tuesday — points us toward another failed institution with which Kristof is intimately familiar: the nation’s newsrooms.

Crime-infested local news programming has continued even in an era of plummeting crime rates in America.

I know this terrain, too, as a longtime journalist — and, more recently, as someone who’s trying to help people navigate the flood of information and misinformation in a digital world. And I’m not talking here (for the most part) about the Rush Limbaugh-led radio cadre, more recently joined by Fox News and a host of right-wing websites that can be counted on to spew fear and loathing. Their role has been corrosive enough, but at least they’re not pretending to be fair or balanced.

No, I’m talking more about the traditional media organizations — newspapers and local TV news in particular — that have spectacularly failed to do their jobs in recent decades. They, too, have contributed to the accelerating meltdown of societal norms.

They’ve been outright complicit in creating the current political environment. When news organizations haven’t been obsessed with celebrities — Trump was an expert celebrity before moving into politics, they’ve catered to fear. When their coverage of politics and policy hasn’t been about who’s winning and losing, it’s been stenography, writing down the words of the powerful and quoting “two sides” in a story even when one is lying. And nuance? What’s that?

For the most part, local TV news would need a huge upgrade just to achieve mediocrity. But its willful badness deserves special mention and no small amount of contempt. It’s been years since local stations made any pretense of serving the public trust. Sure, they provide the services of the weather report and sports scores, along with some infotainment — mostly celebrity voyeurism — and, occasionally, the kind of news and information their communities truly need.

The old cliché about local news’ obsession with murder and mayhem is still accurate: ‘If it bleeds it leads.’

But by and large, the old cliché about local news’ obsession with murder and mayhem is still accurate: “If it bleeds it leads.” On a recent visit to Phoenix, I watched an early-morning news show that went from one crime story to another. Oh, there was a fire, too.

Crime-infested local news programming has continued even in an era of plummeting crime rates in America. And so, over the past 20-plus years, the local news helped feed a tough-on-crime atmosphere that stripped away crucial civil liberties — including most of our Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures — and kept other serious issues off the air.

Network and news-channel journalism has devolved, meanwhile. Terrorism, far less likely to affect an average citizen than domestic crime, has become all too much the focus. After the shootings in San Bernardino, CNN adopted coverage that could be called “all fear, all the time” (my expression, not theirs). When I could stomach tuning in, I saw segment after segment that made a foul-enough crime sound like an attack for the ages, presaging truly mass jihadist carnage on our streets.

Even Kristof’s Times, normally the finest of our journalism institutions, has jumped aboard the Be Afraid bandwagon. The newspaper invited its readers to write in about how much they feared being targeted in a mass shooting and never mentioned in the subsequent story the extreme unlikelihood of this happening to any individual.

Terrorism, far less likely to affect an average citizen than domestic crime, has become all too much the focus.

The Trumps of our culture couldn’t have asked for a better media climate in which to wage war on the political establishment, immigrants, Muslims and truth. Our media lap it up, handing the demagogues the megaphones; they drive ratings and mouse clicks.

Journalists are having qualms, at least. In the past few months, there has been quite a bit of “what should we do about Trump?” conversation in public and private settings. At some level, journalists recognize that they can’t — or at least shouldn’t — sit still as Trump and other candidates lie and pitch the kinds of authoritarian “solutions” that would lead to drastic curbs on liberty.

The right response, however, would take most political reporters and editors out of their comfort zones, where they profess what my friend, the press critic and reviewer Jay Rosen, calls the “view from nowhere” — being above it all and opting not to know or care who’s telling the truth. Reporters behave as if they have an absurd obligation to let politicians attack fundamental liberties, without which robust journalism can’t exist in the first place, without pushing back.

The Trumps of our culture couldn’t have asked for a better media climate in which to wage war on the political establishment, immigrants, Muslims and truth.

Issues such as freedom of expression, freedom to associate and more are in jeopardy in an era of pervasive surveillance and increasingly centralized control of technology and communications. If journalists want to keep their jobs, journalists have to be activists on these very issues, and shouldn’t call themselves journalists if they don’t.

Media people should see candidate extremism as an opportunity, not a dilemma. “Trump may well represent one moment where clickbait and accountability journalism form a partnership,” Erik Wemple, Washington Post media critic, wrote a few days ago. “To understand Trump’s wide-ranging awfulness, after all, you need to present wide-ranging coverage.” (A comedian recently made a good-faith effort to do just that.)

So what should journalists do about Trump? They should do their jobs.

from:    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-gillmor/trump-media-fear_b_9352554.html