Two Commentaries on the Current Crisis

Here are two articles on the current crisis that I think are worth sharing.

First, the education author Alfie Kohn summarizes what we know about the mind of the President-elect:

This is not someone who is merely narcissistic in the colloquial, casual sense of the term, meaning that he’s selfish or self-centered. This is someone with a psychiatric disorder in all its flagrant, florid particulars. To grasp its seriousness is to be staggered that someone too disordered and rancid to be a trustee of your condo association will be running our country.

Kohn describes him as:

  • given to boasting, preening and swaggering to the point of self-parody;
  • not merely thin-skinned and petulant but vindictive when crossed or even criticized;
  • restless, with the attention span of a toddler;
  • desperately competitive, driven to sort the world into winners and losers;
  • astonishingly lacking not only in knowledge but in curiosity;
  • given to uttering blatant falsehoods on a constant basis and apparently unaware of the extent of his dishonesty; and
  • possessed of a sense of absolute entitlement, along with a lack of shame, humility, empathy, or capacity for reflection and self-scrutiny.

Mr. Kohn wonders what we can do to protect ourselves. He mentions legal challenges, pressuring lawmakers, mass civil disobedience and “disciplined non-cooperation” with the new administration’s worst policies. Kohn doubts that trying to manipulate a mentally ill President by playing to his illness would have much success – although one possibility he doesn’t mention is that the White House Medical Unit will finally get their new boss the mental health treatment he needs.

The second article is by the Nigerian author (and winner of a MacArthur Genius Grant) Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It’s excellent and not very long. It deserves reading in full, but I’ll quote some just in case:

Now is the time to resist the slightest extension in the boundaries of what is right and just. Now is the time to speak up and to wear as a badge of honor the opprobrium of bigots…. Hazy visions of “healing” and “not becoming the hate we hate” sound dangerously like appeasement. The responsibility to forge unity belongs not to the denigrated but to the denigrators….

Now is the time to burn false equivalencies forever. Pretending that both sides of an issue are equal when they are not is not “balanced” journalism; it is a fairy tale—and, unlike most fairy tales, a disingenuous one….

Now is the time to recalibrate the default assumptions of American political discourse. Identity politics is not the sole preserve of minority voters. This election is a reminder that identity politics in America is a white invention: it was the basis of segregation [and slavery, of course]

Now is the time to counter lies with facts, repeatedly and unflaggingly, while also proclaiming the greater truths: of our equal humanity, of decency, of compassion. Every precious ideal must be reiterated, every obvious argument made, because an ugly idea left unchallenged begins to turn the color of normal. It does not have to be like this.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is ahead by 2% nationwide or 2.6 million votes. Her opponent is leading by 80,000 votes in the three decisive states. In Austria, a right-wing extremist lost by 6% and won’t become Prime Minister. Now if only the President-elect will do something so un-Republican in the next two weeks that 37 members of his party will vote against him in the Electoral College. It’s highly unlikely, but not impossible.