“In all such photos, the baby participates unwittingly. But in this one, his conscription is grotesque, and his lack of expression nauseating to behold. The vacancy of his stare is somehow more crushing than if he were bawling, and thereby showing some awareness of his loss.
“Does he know that his parents will never come back?
“Does he know that these plastic people, grinning in his parents’ place, will hand him to relatives and never come back either?
“Does he know that one of them called people who looked like his parents “invaders,” the same word used by the killer who shot them dead at a Walmart?”
This is what you taught me, ttaf supporter, when I was a small child…abuse in the name of love.
I have no doubt that you experience feelings of “love” for me…but I remember way too many things that were abusive.
I remember the awful things you said to me when I confronted you about ttaf in 2016: you disowned me and accused me of murdering your son…and then true to form, “took it back” after a week or so…after (you thought) the damage was done and the abuse had served its purpose…to keep me captive to your manipulation and emotional obligation…except it did not work.
You need to rethink what you think love is…and I really and truly hope you can rethink your abusive relationship with ttaf…that is Trump The Absolute Fucker in case you have forgotten.
That goes for you too, Reader, and your abusive relationship with “the church, the network” (shuddering at that horrid word and its slimy connotations).
Love is a verb…and Jesus shows the Way.
“…I think about all of this as I watch President Donald Trump, who is locked in an abusive relationship with his supporters, and with America. He has built his political project on the fraught and popular philosophy that love is said, love is felt—that love is a noun.
“Listening to Trump’s soundtrack of hate, it is easy to miss that he considers the songs on his MAGA soundtrack to be love songs. Trump’s central political message: “I love America—and want to give back—so we can MAKE AMERICA SAFE & GREAT AGAIN, TOGETHER,” as he posted before the 2016 election. “I AM FIGHTING FOR YOU” against those who hate America, he promised.
“When he said on Tuesday, “Those people are living in hell in Baltimore,” and when he tweeted on Saturday that majority-black Baltimore is such “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” that “no human being would want to live there,” he considers those statements to be love…
“To the red-hats, Trump himself embodies love, and his critics, especially the antiracist critics of color, embody hate…
“For many Trump supporters, to love Trump is to love white people is to love America. To hate Trump is to hate white people is to hate America. This love-hate duality is essential to understanding Trumpism, and essential to the mind game Trump and his lieutenants have been playing with white Americans…
“White people, too, are victims of his domestic assaults, his alternative facts, his dalliances with Vladimir Putin, his tariffs, and his tax cuts for the super-rich. But while many white voters break up and make up with Trump, most never leave. Their white fragility, to use Robin DiAngelo’s term, makes them crave the security of Trumpism. He loves them. They love America. He is America.
“He is them. They are him. Whiteness all told.
“The red-hats don’t like being told that their pro-life label is bogus when they are not fiercely opposing the march to war with Iran; that their defense of American Jews is a charade when they join forces with anti-Semitic white nationalists; or that their Christian identity is a sham when they worship a man who is the antithesis of Jesus Christ.
“Trump makes the red-hats feel good by telling them he loves them, and by telling them they are not racist—their anti racist critics are the real racists. He makes them feel good when he says that they are the real patriots, that their “civilization” is superior, and that they have more because they work harder and better.
“At his campaign rally in Greenville, North Carolina, on July 17, Trump said of his kind, “We love our nation.” He said that four congresswomen of color are “hate-filled extremists who are constantly trying to tear our country down.” They “never have anything good to say.” He suggested that children “should be taught to love our country, honor our history, and always respect our great American flag.” Which is to say, children should always say good things about Trump. “Love it,” or rather him, or “leave it.”
“Before Trump attacked congresswomen of color, he attacked the Obama administration in similar terms. “Americans love their country,” Trump said in his first State of the Union address, in 2018, “and they deserve a government that shows them the same love and loyalty in return.”
“To Trump, love means loyalty. No, not loyalty. Obligation. No, not obligation. Submission. Complete submission. No criticism, no matter what.
“No matter all the women who’ve accused him of sexual misconduct.
“No matter all the brutal bigotry falling from his lips.
“No matter the natural disasters getting worse under his watch of climate denial.
“No matter the crimes against humanity along the southern border that we will all one day have to atone for.
“No matter his desire to spend billions on a border wall when America’s infrastructure is collapsing.
“No matter all the high crimes and misdemeanors described in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
“And he loves America? He is demanding submission. He has been demanding this submission since his 2016 campaign.
“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and wouldn’t lose any voter, okay?” Trump said at a campaign rally, as he formed and fired a gun with his fingers. “It’s, like, incredible.”
“…bell hooks’s books on love…it was the first of those four volumes, All About Love, that made the deepest impression.
“The word ‘love’ is most often defined as a noun, yet all the more astute theorists of love acknowledge that we would all love better if we used it as a verb,” she wrote.
“Love is about nurturing one’s own growth or another’s growth, she told me. Love is not instinctual. We choose to love a romantic partner, a relative, a friend. “Love and abuse cannot coexist.” What about feeling? “When we feel deeply drawn to someone, we cathect with them; that is, we invest feelings or emotion in them.”
“Cathexis is different from love.
“It was painful to admit…that I had not known regular love, had not been regularly loving to people I claimed to love. But with that admission came more freedom.
“I felt free to grow through critique. I started re evaluating relationships and people and myself.
“Who had been a constructive force in my life? Who had been a destructive force in my life? Was I a constructive force in my own life, or in the lives of others?
“We can ask the same questions of America: Who is a constructive and destructive force in America’s political life? Who is wounding America? Who is putting Band-Aids on problems that need surgeries?
“Growth necessitates deep-seated, fundamental critiques. But radical critiques can hurt feelings. Asking these questions hurt me to my core. But no longer was I equating simply feeling good with love, or feeling bad with hate. Instead, I was starting to think of love as a constructive act, and hate as a destructive one.
“Trump says he loves America, and he whispers sweet somethings that sound so good to his red-hatted supporters, but is he really nurturing their growth? Trump has shattered America in two: those who love him, whom he can abuse, and those who hate him, whom he can fight. How is that love? How is he being caring, affectionate, respectful, trusting, and honest—what hooks considers the active ingredients of love—to his supporters, let alone to the rest of us?
“If love is a verb, then hate is also a verb. Trump hates America.
“Racists can’t possibly love America. They are anti-growth, only talking about what they and America and Trump are not: not racist. They can’t look past their own hierarchical worldview to see that the problems afflicting them are not caused by other races, but by power and policy. Racism is hate.
“Anti Racists must practice love. Anti Racists must nurture themselves and America no matter the pain that is essential to healing. They must construct anti racist ideas that say there’s nothing wrong with our race or any other. They must nurture their communities and institutions by constructing anti racist policies that yield racial equity.
“The beating heart of love is nurturing, is constructing, is pumping out growth, like a person striving each moment to be anti racist. Doing it, love lives. Not doing it, love dies.
“Love (of America) is a verb.”