We Know How Abusers Operate

For many years, it’s been OK for the Republicans to heap scorn on the other side. Those of us who aren’t Republicans also aren’t “real Americans.” We’re “coastal elites,” even those Democrats (often of color) who work serving meals, doing data entry, and emptying bed pans in big city hospitals. Elites, every one. We’re such assholes that we eat arugula, put dijon mustard on our sandwiches, wear tan suits, and drive Prisuses instead of monster trucks. We’re “libtards,” and “socialists,” (even though the Rs have no idea what that means). They announce that we “hate America,” even as we serve in the armed forces, pay our taxes, participate in our democracy, and volunteer in our neighborhoods. Our religions don’t matter — Hillary Clinton talked about her Methodist faith in almost every speech she gave and that was ignored. Joe Biden goes to Mass every Sunday (as did John Kerry) and the Republicans say that Biden will “hurt god.” And we’re told that we’re “snowflakes,” too sensitive and too fragile. There are people in my neighborhood right now who have bumper stickers and flags that say, “Trump 2020 — Make the Liberals Cry Again.” Trump can label every single Democrat with one of his school-yard-bully names (Crooked Hillary, Sleepy Joe, Phony Kamala — the list is endless) and if you object, you’re just being too politically correct.

Somehow, the opposite is never true. If Hillary says that it’s deplorable for people to be racists and sexists, it’s bad news for years. Democrats must always be “reaching out to the other side,” examining themselves to see how they could possibly have failed to win the Evangelical vote and/or the vote of white supremacists. You hear it in every speech Joe Biden gives, pleading with people to recognize that, “We’re the United States of America.” (Narrator: Joe, we are not.) He keeps insisting that he can “reach across the aisle and work” with Republicans who have been accusing him of stealing an election and who have been attacking his son. When the Democrats win, they’re urged to “reach out” and appoint some Republicans to cabinet positions. The minority of Americans who voted for Trump must “be heard” and have “an outlet for their frustration.” If that means raging through the Capitol, smashing windows, smearing feces, and stealing laptops, well, gee, they were upset at the election. (As someone noted, when Hillary’s supporters were upset, we knitted pink hats and got to work registering voters to elect Democrats in local and state elections.)

Now, the Rs have finally gone too far.

After Republicans committed this week’s bloody insurrection in our nation’s Capitol, even Joe Biden is calling them out for their Nazi behavior. Even Twitter finally (years and years too late) blocked Trump. Even moderate Dems are calling for Trump to be removed.

And, oh, my goodness.

The weeping, and wailing, and shadow threats, and virtue signaling. One of the most-used tropes is that if Dems call out fascist behavior, if Twitter enforces its terms of use and bans Trump, if Dems impeach Trump, well, then “WE CAN”T HAVE UNITY. DIDN’T YOU SAY YOU WANTED TO WORK TOGETHER??? WELL, LISTEN LIBTARDS! THAT CAN’T HAPPEN IF YOU HURT OUR FEELINGS, YOU SNOWFLAKES!!!” It’s kind of like the ridiculous trope where conservatives call for our execution and, when we say, “No, it’s not OK for you to do that,” they say, “Oh, look at the intolerant left. I thought you guys were supposed to tolerate different points of view.”

First of all, those of us who have lived with abusers know this behavior all too, too, too well. “Don’t do that or you’ll make me mad.” Also, it’s ALWAYS your fault when the abuser loses control and hits you, destroys things, cancels plans, makes life hell. “See what you MADE me do?!?!?” he says, as if he, the master of the universe, the strong one, the one that weak-you must obey, had no agency at all. Running around and making sure that the abuser isn’t “triggered” (that’s the title of Don, Jr.’s book because, according to them, we’re always being “triggered,” — every accusation is projection) can become a full-time job. I remember a friend who was married to an abusive alcoholic. Her daughter had grown up in that toxic environment and spent her life trying to manage things so that daddy wouldn’t be mad. “Mom, do we have dog food so dad won’t come home to feed Buster and get mad if there’s no dog food? Mom, I can do the laundry so dad’s shirts are clean. Mom, do you want me to stay up to fix dad a hamburger when he comes in? Mom . . . .”

So we have Republicans — who have spent years destroying any national unity we might ever have had — now suddenly demanding that we not “trigger” them because THAT would destroy national unity. Why would it destroy national unity? Because if we dare to call out their Nazi tactics or remove their unfit president from office, they will CHOOSE to behave like abusers. “If you call the police after I hit you, it will be your fault when I lose my job, beat you up worse, get mad and throw away all the kids’ toys.” Your fault.

Second, let’s talk about unity, and coming back together, and reconciliation. Those things don’t just happen and they don’t happen because the victims just swallow all that’s been done to them and pretend it never happened. (Trust me. I grew up in a dysfunctional family where that was exactly what was expected and, no, it never changed the dysfunctional behavior.) Those things CAN sometimes happen, but they require something from both sides of the aisle. They require Respect (especially for the victims), Relevant Education about what has happened and who did it, Reciprocal Relationships (where BOTH SIDES must both give AND take), and Responsibility (where the abuser acknowledges what they have done, what it caused, and why it was wrong.) Want unity? Apologize for Trump, for cozying up to Russia, for racist cops, for rape culture, for, well, there’s a long list. Let’s get some reparations. Let’s hear how YOU are going to change your behavior. Let’s talk about what YOU did wrong and how you’re going to stop yourself the next time you feel like doing that. No one here is stupid enough to believe that if the Democrats had been craven enough to not stand up to what happened this week, the Rs were suddenly going to go all kumbaya, pass Biden’s legislation, and wear masks in the middle of a pandemic .

Third, let’s talk for a minute about free speech — you know, the supposed reason why Twitter can’t banTrump for violating its terms of service, why Biden can’t criticize the Republican’s “big lie” that the election was stolen, why it’s horrible for Hillary to say that racism is deplorable. Before I retired, I was a lawyer and we lawyers have this affinity for “the text.” In this case, the text is the Constitution of the United States. The First Amendment only tells us what Congress (not corporations, such as Twitter) can not do. It says that Congress can’t make any law that “abridges” freedom of speech or the press. Here, “abridge” means to shorten or curtail. So Congress can’t pass a law that bans Trump from Twitter, at least based on what he expresses.

So, just to be clear, when we say that “Americans have free speech,” or “You can’t violate my First Amendment rights to free speech,” we mean that the government can’t abridge or curtail political speech. We’re not talking about other entities besides the government.

Republicans have for decades defended corporations. Any regulation of any corporation has been suspect. So, a corporation, such as Twitter, can (and does) impose any terms of service it likes. If you violate those terms, Twitter is free to ban you or to revoke or abridge your ability to use its service. If a bakery doesn’t want to bake a cake for your gay wedding, your right to “freedom of speech” (not to mention your First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion) doesn’t mean that the bakery has to bake your cake. The bakery isn’t Congress, so it can tell you to pound sand. If a store doesn’t want to serve people who won’t wear masks, that store is free to refuse to sell to you, to not admit you into their store, to fail to help you buy what they sell. The store’s not the government and it can refuse to sell to you and your right to free speech isn’t even invoked. If an employer (in one of the many at-will employment states, which Republicans have endorsed) wants to fire you for not getting the COVID vaccine, or for showing up on YouTube hurling racist insults at your neighbor, or for posting a Facebook picture of yourself making the white power symbol — well, that’s the employer’s right. You were employed “at will” and don’t have any recourse. (Hey! All those regulatory protections were only for libtards, anyway, right?)

Bottom line: Republicans aren’t interested in “unity” or “coming together.” The last four years have shown that. They’ve spent that time calling us nasty names, demonizing us, and doing all they can to marginalize us. Republican assertions that Democrats are harming any chance of unity are simply based upon their belief that “unity” is an effective club to use against Democrats when Democrats are in power. Republicans aren’t concerned with freedom of speech. Their pleas to avoid “cancel culture” and “political correctness” are simply based upon their determination to continue to demonize us without any pushback.

11 responses to “We Know How Abusers Operate

  1. How can I share this on Facebook?

  2. Copy the link at the top of the page and paste it into a post

  3. Any woman of any color anywhere within the World
    caught up within .r e p e a t e d. attempts at her partner’s
    controlling and silencing and his dissing of her
    i) will recognize these ( vastly mostly ) men’s violating crimes,
    ii) knows that a n y of the beaucoup times of her charitably
    taking – him – back cuz she and the kiddos have
    ” nowhere else ” to go and no funds with which to escape
    the ” episodes ” of his moments of ” just losing it some ” and
    iii ) knows that IF his apology does n o t ALSO involve
    a) verbal and public admittance of wrongdoing and
    b) professional therapy followed by years’ worth of visible
    and public behavioral reversals toward both her and
    her community of persons, THEN she should never, ever
    T R U S T that criminal man. Again.

    Ms Atwood:
    ” Men fear women will laugh at them.
    Women fear men will k i l l them. ”

    the late Mr Tsutomu Yamaguchi who survived
    the only two n u c l e a r strikes in history and,
    thus, DESERVES our respectful attention:
    ” The only people who should be allowed
    TO GOVERN countries with nuclear weapons
    are mothers, those who are
    still breast – feeding their babies. ”

    NO charity. Only FULL accountability
    of them all. Same as what any of
    the Rest of Us would have coming to us.

    I have heard NO apology. Of the only ONE type
    of apology that there a c t u a l l y IS:
    ” We are sorry. We are wrong.
    This type of behavior will N E V E R
    happen from us again. ”


  4. EXACTLY. Well said!

  5. Thank you for writing this excellent post. I, too, have left an abuser and am very cognizant of abuser tactics. I agree that the current administration and the surrounding supporters engage in common abuser tactics. Of course, they don’t see it that way but that is part of that package.

    I have also found it very confusing as to how the concept of “the left” has been turned into something that must be hated, blamed and destroyed. How did this happen? Who is responsible for this? I am of an age when being on “the left” meant that you were anti-war, cared about the planet, cared about people’s wellbeing, natural health, peace, love, etc. How is that not beneficial to all?

    Thank you for outlining the reality of the 1st Amendment in that only Congress cannot make laws abridging freedom of speech and the fact that corporations are actually free to do as they please when it comes to free speech.

    We need to get the corporations and corporate interests out of our government.

  6. Exactly! Especially the first paragraph, which really resonated with me, as I live in NY State, am very active in Dem campaigns at all levels. R’s constantly try to pin the elitist label on me and people like me — even though I live in a modest ’50s ranch house on state highway, am an Elder at my small rural church, have volunteered for decades for church, school, and civic stuff, have had income low enough to qualify for ACA subsidy before I hit Medicare age recently. I said in 2016 and I’ll say it again: Hillary hit the nail on the head with her basket of deplorables statement, and she was referring to the deplorable values they espoused, such as racism, sexism, xenophobia, antisemitism, etc., not the people. But it’s OK for R’s to constantly hurl slurs at us, at human beings. I want unity, too, but I will not pretend that what the legions of cowardly Trump enablers did was OK.

  7. kathleenacurran

    wow!!! and yes. this is so eloquently stated. thank you. thank you.

  8. Brilliant and thorough. I love your fury.

  9. While true, it’s a summary of what Dems already know. Does not point to anything helpful, there will be no apologies for dysfunction from the Republicans. You heal on a personal and collectively by holding those accountable, at the same time having positive intention and plans for positive future. Remember, the original basis that Trump saw & used was racism. How do you hold individuals accountable for racism and delusions, you can’t! You can only lead by example and show diversity in every branch of government and every industry, reform justice for equity under the law. Reform school system for equal education until they see that “the other” is not their enemy, and is just part of the American fabric not something to be feared. Trump played on people’s fears to get elected then spent 4 years magnifying and throwing fuel on the fire. They were led down a dead end road on imagined fears. A new admin can only show a better road, can’t make them walk down it, can only show it’s a better path & hope they eventually meander down it to a better future.

  10. … … in re ” & hope they eventually meander down it to a better future ? ”

    ” hope ” for the doing o’th’ Right Thing ? !

    LONG and long known is that hope IS a woman – killer.
    Reason’s and rationality’s and reality’s W O R K is necessary.
    Now. https://orionmagazine.org/article/beyond-hope


  11. Perfectly worded. Thank you. Sharing.

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