Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Moral Cowardice Syndrome

In the movies, the norm is the fairytale.  Good and evil are clearly defined, and the anti-hero is obvious.  To make it easy, there is usually a mea culpa.  The anti-hero revels in being bad and says so.  If not, their acts are so blatant and extreme that no doubt remains.  The motive is crystal clear, something petty and narcissistic:  lust, envy, a personal grudge, power.  The villain accepts and even wallows in this lack of virtue.  If they do happen to object, the denial is so thin that the audience scoffs.

Enter Donald Trump.  We all know reality is more complex than the movies.  Or do we?  Because Trump embraces Disneyfication.  Over the past few years, his oratory has woven casuistic strings to tug people like puppets.  Trump takes the black-and-white template of childhood fears and imposes it on reality. There is a good side and a bad side, nothing in-between, and he is the champion of the good.  He has seduced tens of millions of people to look at the world this way.

The momentum is still on his side.  False visions can spread by accumulating and offering power to a select group.  Even the most amateur historian knows this.

I want to make it clear that Trump is egregious or evil.  Actually, it is enough for my argument that his actions and words, viewed as a whole, promote things we consider egregious or evil.  Things such as sexism and racism.  

Furthermore, the evil of Trump's actions is obvious from a reasonable point of view. No one without psychological blinders could deny that he is pushing white nationalism.  This conclusion has been argued many times, many ways.  I'm just going to accept and meme it:


Trump is the villain.  But, as I will elaborate, he deviates from a fairytale villain in that he absolutely denies he is the villain and, in fact, calls those on the other side the villains.  At the core of his great darkness is a colossal dishonesty.  

I can now make some points about what I call moral cowardice syndrome.  Moral cowardice is (a) promoting evil in ways that are obvious from a reasonable view, and (b) claiming that you are the good one and that those who oppose  you are the evil ones.  Not just a little evil, or partially evil, but rather completely evil.  Full-on Disneyfication.  Apply endless adjectives like repulsive, reviling, disgusting, and so on.  The cruel rhetoric of the moral coward is ceaseless. 

In fact, this harangue and abuse of those opposed to the moral coward is itself a terrible sickness and obsession, an immoral way of acting.  Another aspect of moral cowardice, then, is (c)  ceaseless, obsessive, specious, spurious, grandiloquent rhetoric to bury what you are doing even from yourself and to coerce others.  This anti-reality of utter abuse is one of the most abhorrent parts of the syndrome.

To emphasize, such rhetoric is abuse.  It is sheer bullying.  Right now, everyone in America lives under an abusive roof at the political level, the level that steers our country and, in effect, everyone in it.  

Those reasonably opposed to the moral coward, those being viciously attacked, are honest and ethical.  They see the hate-mongering, stereotyping and effigy-building for what it is, a mental disorder resulting in a raw power grab.  Not so ironically, then, moral cowards not only promote Disneyfication, they match the ugliness of the fairytale villain's motives.

Claiming you are fighting for certain ideals, such as freedom, while in fact pushing for fascism, is cowardice.  Following a leader who does this, accepting--no, worshipping--that leader's false narrative, is cowardice.  To paraphrase the Bible, Woe unto them who call evil good.  Of course, this is useless as a curative tool.  Presented with such a statement, the coward simply claims that their opponents are the ones calling evil good.

There is no way that logic can reach someone who has embraced a full-fledged moral cowardice.  So, I add yet another component, (d) the coward can no longer see that they are perpetrating evil.  In a sense, the coward has sold their soul by fracturing their mind into a severe compartmentalization.  Such compartmentalization is the antithesis of freedom.

Add to this the ability of the demagogue to fill hearts and minds with twisted emotions that are, in effect, psychic chains.   So, (e) the moral coward is trapped, subconsciously, by twisted emotions such as hate.

In conclusion, villains who admit to evil, like those in the movies, are little threat to society as a whole.  Their actions are horrific to the audience.  They are relatively easy to spot and therefore neutralize.  The true threats to society, the worst of the worst, are those locked in the iron maiden of moral cowardice.  I say "iron maiden" because the syndrome torments those it enshrouds.  It pulls the debauched soul into an abyss of us-vs-them, blinding and binding them.  The coward sits in the darkness of this abyss, chained, while claiming it is light.

There is no worse defeat.

The grip gets tighter as moral cowardice grows stronger.  The vector is toward a country like North Korea.  That is the road we are on, herded down painful miles of collective transformation by Donald Trump, the great Coward.  We are on a journey of fear and delusion.

Hopefully the concept of Moral Cowardice (MCS) will help the resistance.  A force of darkness is easier to deal with once it is classified and understood.

If history is a guide, things are far worse right now than you and I think.  In other words, we all need to fight against Trumpification, but even if we do, right now, with all our strength, we might get crushed. 

Still, as Elie Wiesel beseeches us in Night, we should try.