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Trump as Human COVID

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I form an instant antipathy to people who don’t wear masks in crowded public spaces.

I can’t generalize about who they are, because they’re all types: black, white, Asian, Latino, old, young, whatever. The thought that forms in my mind when I see them is that there’s something mentally sick about them: it’s as if they’re giving an angry middle finger to all of society. Why would they do that? I don’t know, but I suspect a good many are Trumpers.

Now, there’s a new study that lends credence to my suspicion, and furthermore identifies their personality disorder: these people are sociopaths.

In the words of an article about the study, people who reported antisocial traits, such as low levels of empathy and high levels of callousness and risk-taking, were less-likely to comply with Covid-19 prevention measures, such as wearing a mask and social distancing.”

These “sociopathic” traits are diagnostic of “antisocial personality disorder,” which is defined by the American Psychological Association as “a chronic and pervasive disposition to disregard and violate the rights of others. Manifestations include repeated violations of the law, exploitation of others, deceitfulness, impulsivity, aggressiveness, reckless disregard for the safety of self and others, and irresponsibility, accompanied by lack of guilt, remorse, and empathy.” I think we’ve all encountered such people. In street parlance, they’re known as assholes.

Because I grew up in a moral household, I learned early on not to be an asshole. I never play my T.V. or music at a level that will disturb my neighbors. I don’t litter. I certainly don’t steal. I try to be as respectful of others as I want them to be of me. And of course, I wear a mask. This doesn’t mean I love everybody. It means that I’m smart enough to realize that the Golden Rule is the guiding principle of civilization, and without it, we’re kaput.

This is why I wear a mask. In addition to protecting myself and others from the virus, it’s a mark of my respect for my fellow citizens. That respect is mutual, on the part of people who also wear masks. It’s decidedly lacking in people who don’t wear masks. Sometimes, I want to confront them. But I don’t, for obvious reasons.

Antisocial personality disorder is—as you might expect—more common in men, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. The study described how anti-maskers “demonstrate the ‘Dark Triad,’ a set of three socially aversive personality traits: narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy” that are determinative of a lack of empathy. Does this personality syndrome remind you of anyone in particular?

Of course it does. Donald Trump’s absence of empathy was notoriously one of the most flawed parts of his abnormal personality. Trump, too, was a narcissist. He, too, was “Machiavellian” in his cunning and unscrupulousness. His “psychopathy” consisted of “a hunger for adulation to compensate for an inner lack of self-worth, [a man who] projects grandiose omnipotence,” in the words of a psychologist profiled in Scientific American.

Trump’s psychopathology was “shared” by “millions of others” as Trump “induced delusions” into his followers. Trump’s sickness amplified, or was amplified by, the religious insanity of many of his so-called “christian” followers (although Trump himself was an atheist who pretended to be religious). Just as we’re experiencing with COVID superspreaders in this pandemic, Trump was “highly symtomatic” in his mental illness, and because of his “influential position,” the virus of his sickness “spread through the population…heightening existing pathologies and inducing delusions, paranoia and propensity for violence—even in previously healthy individuals.” The only treatment, says the psychologist, bluntly, “is removal of exposure.”

All of these things go through my head when I see the anti-maskers. In an inchoate, almost primeval way, I know that they’re dangerous, to be avoided—predators, in their own violent way. Every tribe of creatures, I think, instinctively reacts to others in their midst who pose danger to the group. They will shun the threat, or drive it from their midst, or kill it—this is the “removal of exposure” the psychologist referred to. We have just begun to “remove the exposure” of Trump by making him the loser in the recent election. But, as the people of Wuhan have discovered, just because you think you’ve driven out the source of infection doesn’t mean you have. Vigilence must be kept; better to be safe than sorry. This is why, now more than ever, we have to crush Trump, and Trumpism, and Marjorie Taylor Greene and the rest of them. They are human COVID. Removing them (non-violently, of course!) is protecting ourselves and our loved ones.

  1. Bob Rossi says:

    “Because I grew up in a moral household, I learned early on not to be an asshole. I never play my T.V. or music at a level that will disturb my neighbors. I don’t litter. I certainly don’t steal. I try to be as respectful of others as I want them to be of me. And of course, I wear a mask. This doesn’t mean I love everybody. It means that I’m smart enough to realize that the Golden Rule is the guiding principle of civilization, and without it, we’re kaput.”

    Those are words to live one’s life by. Very good.

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