There’s some value in attempting to understand the mindset of a person who cheers explicit calls to harm others. But to give that attempt such priority, with so little effort expended in understanding what it’s like to be a person whose harm is being cheered, is revealing.
The reason there’s so much pushback against this flood of “folks in Trump country” profiles, and it isn’t because such profiles are useless. It’s that the preponderance reveals an outsized gap in our empathy priorities.
Taken together, they create the flipside to the message of the rallies, which is “you rally-goers are the people who matter, and these other people don’t matter.”
The tone in the framing of these pieces almost always reveals this empathy gap as well, because they are far more curious about the normalcy of the people who do such an atrocious thing, rather than contemplating what it is about that normalcy that can serve such atrocity.
Taken together, they don’t ask the question “what is going wrong here and how do we stop it?” but rather, “how can the rest of us better make peace with this?”
Usually, when profiling those who find rallies of people cheering explicit calls to harm other people dangerous and chilling and terrifying, the focus interrogates tone, in a way it rarely does for the rallies.

The question asked is “how do we calm these people down?”
And the question of those who find the rally terrifying always seems to take it as given that the response to the terrifying rally is philosophical and abstract.

The people who actually feel terrifying threat to themselves and their families never even seems to be contemplated.
Meanwhile we really need to understand the difference between a violent bully, and what their intent is, and somebody who stands up to a violent bully, and what their intent is.

Until then we are going to keep getting this same bad false equivalency.
Show me the Hillary rally that serves as a parallel for any Trump rally.

It’s laughable.
The empathy gap Is profound and clearly observable. It results in our national division being exclusively framed as between people committed to the idea that other people deserve only threat and manners, and unthreatened people who think that that is atrocious.
Journalists are afraid they’re going to be murdered

Women that they’ll be assaulted without redress

Muslims and immigrants that they’ll be attacked & driven from the country

People of color that they’ll be harassed & killed by police

These people exist. Their fears are valid.
The crowds cheer all these fearful results. They fear mainly that they will be criticized for cheering them, and prevented from bringing them about.

The difference matters a lot.
And yes they’re also worried about their economic prospects.

And yes they’re also anxious about how technology is changing our world.

But we’re all anxious about those things. It’s just some of us have chosen to menace others as a solution.

That difference matters a lot.
And to bring it back around, imagine yourself in the minds of one of these threatened groups. The cheers are terrifying, but this emerging dominant narrative that ignores their terror entirely is itself a significant part of the terror. It adds to it. It enhances it.
This is an interesting point, but I’d modify it. My observation would be that the Trump presidency serves as a national Milgram experiment. We are seeing who falls on which side of it.
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