The Cruelty Is the Point

  
Via:  tessylo  •  5 months ago  •  46 comments

The Cruelty Is the Point

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



The Cruelty Is the Point



President Trump and his supporters find community by rejoicing in the suffering of those they hate and fear.

OCT 3, 2018



Staff writer at   The Atlantic







lead_720_405.jpg?mod=1538599049 REUTERS / JONATHAN ERNST


The Museum of African-American History and Culture is in part a catalog of cruelty. Amid all the stories of perseverance, tragedy, and unlikely triumph are the artifacts of inhumanity and barbarism: the child-size slave shackles, the bright red robes of the wizards of the Ku Klux Klan, the recordings of civil-rights protesters being brutalized by police.



The artifacts that persist in my memory, the way a bright flash does when you close your eyes, are the photographs of lynchings. But it’s not the burned, mutilated bodies that stick with me. It’s the faces of the white men in the crowd. There’s the photo of the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith in Indiana in 1930, in which a white man can be seen grinning at the camera as he tenderly holds the hand of his wife or girlfriend. There’s the undated photo from Duluth, Minnesota, in which grinning white men stand next to the mutilated, half-naked bodies of two men lashed to a post in the street—one of the white men is straining to get into the picture, his smile cutting from ear to ear. There’s the photo of a crowd of white men huddled behind the smoldering corpse of a man burned to death; one of them is wearing a smart suit, a fedora hat, and a bright smile.









Read Adam Serwer on why the Supreme Court is headed back to the 19 th century

Their names have mostly been lost to time. But these grinning men were someone’s brother, son, husband, father. They were human beings, people who took immense pleasure in the utter cruelty of torturing others to death—and were so proud of doing so that they posed for photographs with their handiwork, jostling to ensure they caught the eye of the lens, so that the world would know they’d been there. Their cruelty made them feel good, it made them feel proud, it made them feel happy. And it made them feel closer to one another.

The Trump era is such a whirlwind of cruelty that it can be hard to keep track. This week alone, the news broke that the Trump administration was   seeking to ethnically cleanse   more than 193,000 American children of immigrants whose temporary protected status had been revoked by the administration, that the Department of Homeland Security had lied about creating a database of children that   would make it possible to unite them   with the families the Trump administration had arbitrarily destroyed, that the White House was   considering a blanket ban   on visas for Chinese students, and that it would   deny visas to the same-sex partners   of foreign officials. At a rally in Mississippi, a   crowd of Trump supporters cheered   as the president mocked Christine Blasey Ford, the psychology professor who has said that Brett Kavanaugh, whom Trump has nominated to a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court, attempted to rape her when she was a teenager. “Lock her up!” they shouted.


Ford testified to the Senate, utilizing her professional expertise to describe the encounter, that one of the parts of the incident she remembered most was Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge laughing at her as Kavanaugh fumbled at her clothing. “Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter,” Ford said, referring to the part of the brain that processes emotion and memory, “the uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense.” And then at Tuesday’s rally, the president made his supporters laugh at her.

Further reading: The most striking thing about Trump’s mockery of Christine Blasey Ford

Even those who believe that Ford fabricated her account, or was mistaken in its details, can see that the president’s mocking of her testimony renders all sexual-assault survivors collateral damage. Anyone afraid of coming forward, afraid that she would not be believed, can now look to the president to see her fears realized. Once malice is embraced as a virtue, it is impossible to contain.


The cruelty of the Trump administration’s policies, and the ritual rhetorical flaying of his targets before his supporters, are intimately connected. As Lili Loofbourow   wrote of the Kavanaugh incident in   Slate , adolescent male cruelty toward women is a bonding mechanism, a vehicle for intimacy through contempt. The white men in the lynching photos are smiling not merely because of what they have done, but because they have done it together.







We can hear the spectacle of cruel laughter throughout the Trump era. There were the border-patrol agents   cracking up at the crying immigrant children separated from their families, and the Trump adviser who   delighted white supremacists   when he   mocked a child with Down syndrome   who was separated from her mother. There were the police who laughed uproariously when the president   encouraged them to abuse   suspects, and the Fox News hosts   mocking a survivor of the Pulse Nightclub massacre   (and in the process inundating him with threats), the survivors of sexual assault   protesting to Senator Jeff Flake , the women who said the   president had sexually assaulted them , and the teen   survivors of the Parkland school shooting . There was the president   mocking Puerto Rican accents   shortly after thousands were killed and tens of thousands displaced by Hurricane Maria,   the black athletes protesting   unjustified killings by the police,   the women of the #MeToo movement who have come forward with stories of sexual abuse, and the disabled reporter whose crime was reporting on Trump truthfully. It is not just that the perpetrators of this cruelty enjoy it; it is that they enjoy it with one another. Their shared laughter at the suffering of others is an adhesive that binds them to one another, and to Trump.


Read Adam Serwer on why the white nationalists are winning

Taking joy in that suffering is more human than most would like to admit. Somewhere on the wide spectrum between adolescent teasing and the smiling white men in the lynching photographs are the Trump supporters whose community is built by rejoicing in the anguish of those they see as unlike them, who have found in their shared cruelty an answer to the loneliness and atomization of modern life.

The laughter undergirds the daily spectacle of insincerity, as the president and his aides pledge fealty to bedrock democratic principles they have no intention of respecting. The president who demanded the execution of five black and Latino teenagers for   a crime they didn’t commit   decrying “false accusations,” when his Supreme Court nominee stands accused; his supporters who fancy themselves champions of free speech meet references to Hillary Clinton or a woman whose only crime was coming forward to offer her own story of abuse with screams of “Lock her up!” The political movement that elected a president who wanted to ban immigration by adherents of an entire religion, who encourages police to brutalize suspects, and who has destroyed thousands of immigrant families for violations of the law less serious than those of which he and his coterie stand accused, now laments the state of due process.


This isn’t incoherent. It reflects a clear principle: Only the president and his allies, his supporters, and their anointed are entitled to the rights and protections of the law, and if necessary, immunity from it. The rest of us are entitled only to cruelty, by their whim. This is how the powerful have ever kept the powerless divided and in their place, and enriched themselves in the process.






Further reading: I know Brett Kavanaugh, but I wouldn’t confirm him

A blockbuster   New York Times   investigation   on Tuesday reported that President Trump’s wealth was largely inherited through fraudulent schemes, that he became a millionaire while still a child, and that his fortune persists in spite of his fumbling entrepreneurship, not because of it. The stories are not unconnected. The president and his advisers have sought to enrich themselves at taxpayer expense; they have attempted to corrupt federal law-enforcement agencies to protect themselves and their cohorts, and they have exploited the nation’s darkest impulses in the pursuit of profit. But their ability to get away with this fraud is tied to cruelty.


Trump’s only true skill is the con; his only fundamental belief is that the United States is the birthright of straight, white, Christian men, and his only real, authentic pleasure is in cruelty. It is that cruelty, and the delight it brings them, that binds his most ardent supporters to him, in shared scorn for those they hate and fear: immigrants, black voters, feminists, and treasonous white men who empathize with any of those who would steal their birthright. The president’s ability to execute that cruelty through word and deed makes them euphoric. It makes them feel good, it makes them feel proud, it makes them feel happy, it makes them feel united. And as long as he makes them feel that way, they will let him get away with anything, no matter what it costs them.

We want to hear what you think about this article.   Submit a letter   to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.


Related Video





Tags

jrDiscussion - desc
smarty_function_ntUser_is_admin: user_id parameter required
Find text within the comments Find 
 
Tessylo
1  seeder  Tessylo    5 months ago

The Museum of African-American History and Culture is in part a catalog of cruelty. Amid all the stories of perseverance, tragedy, and unlikely triumph are the artifacts of inhumanity and barbarism: the child-size slave shackles, the bright red robes of the wizards of the Ku Klux Klan, the recordings of civil-rights protesters being brutalized by police.

The artifacts that persist in my memory, the way a bright flash does when you close your eyes, are the photographs of lynchings. But it’s not the burned, mutilated bodies that stick with me. It’s the faces of the white men in the crowd. There’s the photo of the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith in Indiana in 1930, in which a white man can be seen grinning at the camera as he tenderly holds the hand of his wife or girlfriend. There’s the undated photo from Duluth, Minnesota, in which grinning white men stand next to the mutilated, half-naked bodies of two men lashed to a post in the street—one of the white men is straining to get into the picture, his smile cutting from ear to ear. There’s the photo of a crowd of white men huddled behind the smoldering corpse of a man burned to death; one of them is wearing a smart suit, a fedora hat, and a bright smile.

 
 
 
Heartland American
1.1  Heartland American  replied to  Tessylo @1    5 months ago

This article is one dishonest hit piece equating Trump and his supporters with the kkk and torture and lynching and at best is a massive sweeping generalization of trump supporters.  

 
 
 
Tessylo
1.1.1  seeder  Tessylo  replied to  Heartland American @1.1    5 months ago

Aww, does the truth hurt your feelings?

 
 
 
Tessylo
2  seeder  Tessylo    5 months ago

Their names have mostly been lost to time. But these grinning men were someone’s brother, son, husband, father. They were human beings, people who took immense pleasure in the utter cruelty of torturing others to death—and were so proud of doing so that they posed for photographs with their handiwork, jostling to ensure they caught the eye of the lens, so that the world would know they’d been there. Their cruelty made them feel good, it made them feel proud, it made them feel happy. And it made them feel closer to one another.

The Trump era is such a whirlwind of cruelty that it can be hard to keep track. This week alone, the news broke that the Trump administration was   seeking to ethnically cleanse   more than 193,000 American children of immigrants whose temporary protected status had been revoked by the administration, that the Department of Homeland Security had lied about creating a database of children that   would make it possible to unite them   with the families the Trump administration had arbitrarily destroyed, that the White House was   considering a blanket ban   on visas for Chinese students, and that it would   deny visas to the same-sex partners   of foreign officials. At a rally in Mississippi, a   crowd of Trump supporters cheered   as the president mocked Christine Blasey Ford, the psychology professor who has said that Brett Kavanaugh, whom Trump has nominated to a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court, attempted to rape her when she was a teenager. “Lock her up!” they shouted.

Ford testified to the Senate, utilizing her professional expertise to describe the encounter, that one of the parts of the incident she remembered most was Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge laughing at her as Kavanaugh fumbled at her clothing. “Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter,” Ford said, referring to the part of the brain that processes emotion and memory, “the uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense.” And then at Tuesday’s rally, the president made his supporters laugh at her.

Further reading: The most striking thing about Trump’s mockery of Christine Blasey Ford

Even those who believe that Ford fabricated her account, or was mistaken in its details, can see that the president’s mocking of her testimony renders all sexual-assault survivors collateral damage. Anyone afraid of coming forward, afraid that she would not be believed, can now look to the president to see her fears realized. Once malice is embraced as a virtue, it is impossible to contain.

The cruelty of the Trump administration’s policies, and the ritual rhetorical flaying of his targets before his supporters, are intimately connected. As Lili Loofbourow   wrote of the Kavanaugh incident in   Slate , adolescent male cruelty toward women is a bonding mechanism, a vehicle for intimacy through contempt. The white men in the lynching photos are smiling not merely because of what they have done, but because they have done it together.

 
 
 
Tessylo
3  seeder  Tessylo    5 months ago

A blockbuster   New York Times   investigation   on Tuesday reported that President Trump’s wealth was largely inherited through fraudulent schemes, that he became a millionaire while still a child, and that his fortune persists in spite of his fumbling entrepreneurship, not because of it. The stories are not unconnected. The president and his advisers have sought to enrich themselves at taxpayer expense; they have attempted to corrupt federal law-enforcement agencies to protect themselves and their cohorts, and they have exploited the nation’s darkest impulses in the pursuit of profit. But their ability to get away with this fraud is tied to cruelty.

Trump’s only true skill is the con; his only fundamental belief is that the United States is the birthright of straight, white, Christian men, and his only real, authentic pleasure is in cruelty. It is that cruelty, and the delight it brings them, that binds his most ardent supporters to him, in shared scorn for those they hate and fear: immigrants, black voters, feminists, and treasonous white men who empathize with any of those who would steal their birthright. The president’s ability to execute that cruelty through word and deed makes them euphoric. It makes them feel good, it makes them feel proud, it makes them feel happy, it makes them feel united. And as long as he makes them feel that way, they will let him get away with anything, no matter what it costs them.

 
 
 
JBB
4  JBB    5 months ago

If you have been reduced to arguing how unfair and insulting it is when Trump's concentration camps are compared with Nazi Death Camps then you have already lost and seceded any claims to moral relevance. Hang it up and go on home before debasing yourselves any further...

Also, all of those who are now collecting $750 each per day to warehouse people, human beings including small children, at gunpoint behind barbed wire fences who are being forced to sleep on concrete floors in deplorable filthy conditions without adequate food, medical care or sanitary facilities should be charged with crimes against humanity in addition to illegally profiteering at US taxpayer's expense...

 
 
 
Tessylo
5  seeder  Tessylo    5 months ago

Betsy DeVos has a stake in these fucking deplorable detention centers

 
 
 
JBB
5.1  JBB  replied to  Tessylo @5    5 months ago

Betsy Devos' Amway Prison Systems is a wholly owned subsidiary of Perpetual Wars, Inc which is co-owned by olde Betsy and her baby sister Erica Prince of Z and Blackwater infamy. Can y'all say T R A N S I T I O N I N G? Oops! Did I say too much? Well, that cat is out the bag now. /S. Most of that is true...

 
 
 
Freedom Warrior
6  Freedom Warrior    5 months ago

 Unfortunately this is primarily the doing of the Democrats and it’s so common now that the left-wingers in their fanatical delusional desperation attempt to project all of their wrongdoing on Trump. 

 We are witness to many Democrats now cowering in fear from those open border left-wing feaks in the pup squad and the sickness that pervades so much of left wing fukwadism.  But I’m not and countless others are wise to sick and twisted game played by progressive extremists.

 Which begs the question who do you really think your audience is anymore? 

 It’s not here on social media I guarantee that.

 
 
 
lib50
6.1  lib50  replied to  Freedom Warrior @6    5 months ago

That made zero sense, just a bunch of bullshit with bombast.  Give examples (true examples, not Trump lies). Because all you are doing is trying to deflect from Trump's and the gop's embrace of inhumane cruelty, racism and the never ending lies.  I've seen so many conservatives get angry at being lumped in with all those behaviors, yet instead of strongly condemning and explaining why tax cuts to the top and other political nonsense is worth human lives and decency. No, instead a weak claim of 'but the dems'.    Defending him no matter how low he is.  And some are claiming to be christian!  No, sorry, those can't coexist.   And I don't believe holding those values above money and politics is ever worth it, therefore everybody who accepts it becomes part of it.  I'm not the only one who thinks that way.  All republicans are part of it unless ACTIVELY and LOUDLY decrying and making it obvious it isn't acceptable. 

 
 
 
FLYNAVY1
6.1.1  FLYNAVY1  replied to  lib50 @6.1    5 months ago

Please... your are asking someone that is all in on the biggest shit-stain of a president to see him as the rest of the world sees him.  When all you're doing is kissing Trump's ass, your view never changes.

 
 
 
Freedom Warrior
6.1.2  Freedom Warrior  replied to  lib50 @6.1    5 months ago

You're aren't fooling me.   That tactic is threadbare. We know it and you know it even though you wan't admit it.  It's so frickin obvious you really ought to bonfire the bogus pretense.   

 
 
 
Tessylo
6.1.3  seeder  Tessylo  replied to  Freedom Warrior @6.1.2    5 months ago

[Deleted]

 
 
 
lib50
6.1.4  lib50  replied to  Freedom Warrior @6.1.2    5 months ago

Lol.  Ok. 

I don't have the slightest clue wtf you are talking about.  Again.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
6.1.5  Trout Giggles  replied to  lib50 @6.1.4    5 months ago

Neither does he

 
 
 
Heartland American
6.1.6  Heartland American  replied to  FLYNAVY1 @6.1.1    5 months ago

[delete]

 
 
 
Heartland American
6.1.7  Heartland American  replied to  FLYNAVY1 @6.1.1    5 months ago

Odd that we see it that those on the left did exactly that which you describe above with #44.  

 
 
 
Heartland American
6.1.8  Heartland American  replied to  Freedom Warrior @6.1.2    5 months ago

True that.  It’s nothing more than a defamatory hit piece against Trump and his supporters.  

 
 
 
FLYNAVY1
6.1.9  FLYNAVY1  replied to  Heartland American @6.1.8    5 months ago

Big difference is that Obama didn't embarrass in the eyes of the world unless you get your propaganda from Faux news.

 
 
 
FLYNAVY1
6.1.10  FLYNAVY1  replied to  Heartland American @6.1.8    5 months ago

The shit-stain-n-chief and his supporters have EARNED every one of the defamatory facts brought to light.  The truth speaks for itself.  Too bad those that watch Faux News and post from the likes of American Sinker will never allow themselves to be exposed to the truth. 

 
 
 
Heartland American
6.2  Heartland American  replied to  Freedom Warrior @6    5 months ago

Well said.  I agree with all that you wrote. [Deleted]  

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
7  Bob Nelson    5 months ago

Somebody needs to write an article: "Is Trumpism fascism?".

There have been - there are now - fascists who are not Nazis. The Nazis were/are the ultimate fascists, but they kinda give cover to "lesser fascists". Ya know... the kind who just want to expel "those people", rather than exterminating them...

Maybe a checklist...
 - racism
 - xenophobia
 - contempt for the law
 - gratuitous cruelty to the weak
 - ...

 
 
 
FLYNAVY1
7.1  FLYNAVY1  replied to  Bob Nelson @7    5 months ago

All my German neighbors, and those I work with everyday see it and have commented to the same Bob. 

The parallels to 1930s Germany are staggering!

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
7.1.1  Bob Nelson  replied to  FLYNAVY1 @7.1    5 months ago

I'd bet that the "good Germans" of 1932 didn't see anything "significant" happening, either...

 
 
 
FLYNAVY1
7.1.2  FLYNAVY1  replied to  Bob Nelson @7.1.1    5 months ago

They pretty much stayed silent until it was too late.  Then they didn't have any other choice other than to remain silent out of personal survival.

Please tell me it can't happen in America....

 
 
 
MUVA
7.1.3  MUVA  replied to  FLYNAVY1 @7.1    5 months ago

The only parallel is Germany took over Europe but this time didn't fire a shot.  

 
 
 
FLYNAVY1
7.1.4  FLYNAVY1  replied to  MUVA @7.1.3    5 months ago

I dare you to discuss that point with Brits or the French.

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
7.1.5  Bob Nelson  replied to  FLYNAVY1 @7.1.2    5 months ago
Please tell me it can't happen in America....

It can happen in America.

 
 
 
PJ
7.1.6  PJ  replied to  Bob Nelson @7.1.5    5 months ago

It HAS happened in america.  We see it on this site every single day.  :0(

 
 
 
Freedom Warrior
7.2  Freedom Warrior  replied to  Bob Nelson @7    5 months ago
Maybe a checklist...  - For sure you'll find left wing extremists fingerprints all over this one.
- racism -  Phony accusations of such by left wing propagandists against a backdrop of blatant racist rhetoric by the pup squad.
- xenophobia  -  A Dem party so infilrated by anti-semitism il can't even muster a condemnation of overt anti-semitism by an islamic radical in their ranks 
- contempt for the law - Left wing extremists like Antifa openly contemptuous of the law and even worse cities and states blatantly obstructing federal law enforcement  Democratic Politial figures actively promoting violence against those with opposing viewpoints.  
 - gratuitous cruelty to the weak - More like gratuitous nonsense except to the extent it promotes the loony left's Cloward-Piven strategy.

Yeah I'll say the far left is well down the road to fascism and we could add plenty more examples to that list.

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
7.2.1  Bob Nelson  replied to  Freedom Warrior @7.2    5 months ago

You have the Talking Points down pat.

 
 
 
Freedom Warrior
7.2.2  Freedom Warrior  replied to  Bob Nelson @7.2.1    5 months ago

I have the facts.  And I have plenty more irrefutable examples of left wing fukwadism.

 
 
 
Tessylo
7.2.3  seeder  Tessylo  replied to  Freedom Warrior @7.2.2    5 months ago

What facts?  All you have is reich wing propaganda  

 
 
 
JBB
7.2.4  JBB  replied to  Freedom Warrior @7.2.2    5 months ago

What you are doing here is exhibiting the exact same lack of both historic and personal self awareness that induces cries of, "SEND HER BACK", from the goddamn gop regarding a lovely young first term member of The United States Congress. The entire world is watching in horror as an American President and his rabid fan base decend unto the lowest and most deplorable forms of racist xenophobic FASCIST rhetoric exhibited on the world stage since Hitler and the goddamn Nazis. Deny these facts all you wish. The defining characteristic of Trumpism is CRUELTY!

 
 
 
Freedom Warrior
7.2.5  Freedom Warrior  replied to  JBB @7.2.4    5 months ago

 [Deleted]

 
 
 
Freedom Warrior
7.2.6  Freedom Warrior  replied to  JBB @7.2.4    5 months ago

[deleted]

 
 
 
Heartland American
7.2.7  Heartland American  replied to  JBB @7.2.4    5 months ago

Your description of Trumps entire voting fan base above is quite the sweeping generalization one after another about us all. 

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
7.2.8  Bob Nelson  replied to  Heartland American @7.2.7    5 months ago

One of Trump's very few true statements since he has risen to political stardom came in early 2016, during the campaign:

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
7.2.9  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Heartland American @7.2.7    5 months ago

If the MAGA hat fits.

 
 
 
Freedom Warrior
7.2.10  Freedom Warrior  replied to  JBB @7.2.4    5 months ago

[delete]

 
 
 
Heartland American
7.2.11  Heartland American  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @7.2.9    5 months ago

MAGA is a great thing and we have succeeded.  Now we are going to Keep America Great!  MAGA!  

 
 
 
FLYNAVY1
7.2.12  FLYNAVY1  replied to  Freedom Warrior @7.2.2    5 months ago

I'd suggest that you post from Webster's the definition of fascism, and consider how it applies to the shit-stain-in-chief.   You just might be in for an epiphany.

 
 
 
Ozzwald
7.2.13  Ozzwald  replied to  Bob Nelson @7.2.8    5 months ago
One of Trump's very few true statements since he has risen to political stardom came in early 2016, during the campaign:

Not entirely true however.  All polls show that Trump has lost almost all his voters, except his base.  However his base as shown an ability to excuse him for everything he has done, up to and including pedophilia.

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
7.2.14  Bob Nelson  replied to  Ozzwald @7.2.13    5 months ago

He has always had the same 40% since forever. No matter what he does or says.

 
 
 
Ozzwald
7.2.15  Ozzwald  replied to  Bob Nelson @7.2.14    5 months ago

He has always had the same 40% since forever. No matter what he does or says.

I've seen it listed in the 30's, but you are correct, his base will never leave him since he enables their ability to blame others and feel superior to them.

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
7.2.16  Bob Nelson  replied to  Ozzwald @7.2.15    5 months ago
enables their ability to blame others and feel superior to them.

Yes.

 
 
Loading...
Loading...

Who is online

Greg Jones
It Is ME
loki12
Sunshine
zuksam
PJ
Kathleen
jungkonservativ111


44 visitors