Trump Trashes the Veneer of Civilization.

By Dr David Laing Dawson

Just as we humans always overestimate our memories and find ourselves regretting we didn’t commit to paper or snapshot yesterday or last week, we also overestimate the extent to which our actions are guided by thoughtful consideration and choice.

We are easily influenced, especially if the influence is playing to our rat brain, to centuries of old survival coding.

The crowd of ordinary people chant in unison, “Lock her up. Lock her up.” It is, of course, entirely irrational, a bit nasty, and quite contrary to all due processes of judgment and punishment that have developed within western civilization over the past 100 years. I scan the part of the crowd shown on my monitor and I can’t find one person who has chosen not to chant.

But then we already know this about humans within crowds and mobs and humans under the influence of a charismatic authority, even when that authority is self-proclaimed. It is a small percent that can resist at that moment, that can buck the trend, be contrary, who can ask themselves, “Is this right?”

We know this from history. We know this from the Nuremberg Trials, from human behaviour in times of armed conflict and occupation. And we know this from some simple experiments in social psychology.

And we also know that among us are a few who respond eagerly to license and sanction, the go ahead to unleash the beast within, to act on a simmering hatred. Again we know this from history and contemporary observation.

Though the assumption of free will and personal responsibility is a cornerstone of human society, it does not negate the reality of what is written above.

We know these things about human behaviour. All our leaders should know these things.

So, yes, when Donald Trump’s crowds chant “Lock her up.” and “CNN sucks.” and when he tells his people they should fear the caravan of “invaders”, and when he fails to condemn the Alt-right extremists or other tyrants, he is culpable.

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3 thoughts on “Trump Trashes the Veneer of Civilization.

  1. The “ordinary citizens” who make up the 61 million MAGA voters are the same ones that have always kept the USA, a racist and bigoted hypocrisy. From Jefferson raping a slave and being mythologized as a being in a loving relationship with a black woman, to George Wallace, Reverend Billy Graham, Bob Jones, Richard Nixon, Jesse Helms, Dick Cheney, Peter King, Steve King, Mike Pence, and now President Trump. The myth of representative democracy, fairness, decency, and justice is only a means to an end for the last remaining military superpower. America has never been any more just or rational that the Saudis, Russian, Chinese, or anyone else. Trump is parroting what he hears on Fox News and from his Alt-Right advisors. A mentally ill and emotionally unstable politician has been the symptom of what is wrong with humanity since the beginning. We cannot and will not change.

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  2. A persuasive argument. Yes, the leader of a mob is culpable for directing the actions of the mob, and if things get out of hand, he/ she is culpable because he/ she should have known that a and b can lead to c. Re: pipe bombs, all the recipients of the bombs were critics named by Mr. Trump, which puts him closer to ultimate actions. As to the shootings at Tree of Life synagogue, Mr. Trump has always expressed support for Israel, and spoken against antisemitism and even has Jewish grand children. Does it compute that he is culpable on both counts? It will be interesting to hear the Monk School debate tomorrow between Steve Bannon and David Frum, providing that political correctness doesn’t end the debate before it starts. I am not the moral arbiter of Mr. Trump’s soul. However, it would be better all around if the leader of the free world had some respect for rule of law. “Lock her up” doesn’t cut it.

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    1. Mary, after Charlottesville and Jeffersontown, the argument that Trump cannot be racist because he is buddies with Kanye West, LL. Cool J., Clarence Thomas, Candace Owens, or any African American on Fox News is simply false. As is the idea that when President Trump embraces white supremacists “Jews for Jesus”, David Duke, the “good people ono both sides” (I.e. Nazis, Klansmen, and the Alt-Right) whose philosophy is based on anti-Semitic themes. David Frum is a political apologist and talking head who was forced to leave the Bush White House. Steve Bannon is an unrepentant white nationalist and bigot who follows the “The Fourth Turning,” by William Strauss and Neil Howe. If these two men are the arbitrators of the conservative US mind, then President Trump is secure in winning a second term. But, they are not. If you wish to see a rational debate of conservative ideas, philosophies, and values in the past, present and future, then host people that have some professional, academic, or other background that makes their analysis relevant – rather than those who use such platforms as merely an excuse to sell books, get booked on cable television, or try to be relevant to anyone other than their extremist, unread, or ignorant supporters.

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