The Widdershins

Narcissism of minor differences…

Posted on: October 15, 2013

Good afternoon Widdershinners.  Here’s hoping your Tuesday is a great one.

Last Friday we looked at the causality links between Tea Party adherents and their loss of social prestige — their fear of Palin Cruz Vet Marchlosing the “real America.”  And this past weekend, as if it was an annoyingly persistent STD, it appeared — let’s call it “CLP”, the Cruz, Lee, Palin syndrome. Too bad Rep. Amash was not a part of it so it could have been plain old CLAP.

To recap, Friday was to bring thousands of enraged truckers to D.C. in what was billed as a truckocalypse.  Few showed up.  Sunday was to bring a Million Veterans March.  A few hundred showed up.  Not to worry, where there is the slightest ember of outrage, the usual cast of characters will show up to stoke it.

Sunday’s Hundreds of Veterans March was co-opted by Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Sarah Palin.  So there is no confusion, Cruz and Lee were there to register their outrage at the government shutdown.  The very shutdown they helped engineer.  This fact had the analogy engines working overtime this weekend.  One analogy was:  Ted Cruz wailing about the government shutdown is like O.J. searching for the real killer.

While good, I thought I would try my hand:  Ted Cruz appearing at a rally to protest the shutdown is like Dr. Jekyll leading a support group for multiple personalities and being infuriated when Mr. Hyde shows up and asks, “Did I miss anything?”

A particularly interesting speaker Sunday was Mr. Larry Klayman, founder of FreedomWatch.  For those keeping score, Mr. Klayman’s prior claim to fame was during the Clinton impeachment.  Shortly thereafter, his next claim to fame was being booted from his own organization.  With the same spittle splattered microphone used by Cruz, Lee, and Palin, Klayman dialed up the insurrectionist hatemongering by saying:

I call on all Americans to engage in a non-violent second American  revolution of civil disobedience.  Obama bows down to Allah.  I demand this President leave town and get out.  He should put the Quran down, get off his knees, and figuratively come out with his hands up.

Confederate Flag American Flag White HouseThis raving lunacy is a pitched cry for relevancy.  The shutdown is now a 15-day wail of “pay attention to me” by a 30-40 Tea Party insurgents who have sworn fealty to Cruz and are following him down the swirl of the cesspool.  In the land of the blind a one-eyed man is king.  Given that most Tea Partiers would have difficulty spelling “CR” there is little wonder how Cruz has captured their attention.

The saner precincts of the Republican party are asking, “How did we allow this to happen?”  This is the same establishment that ceded its philosophical direction and soul to radio clowns who are paid tens of millions a year to fulminate this type of outrageous rhetoric.  I would just remind these Republican party elders, “When you climb in a clown car it’s hard to complain about your fellow commuters.”

Daniel Goleman, the psychologist who wrote Emotional Intelligence, recently penned an interesting essay entitled, Rich People Just Care Less.  It is an insightful look at the chasm between the One-percenters and everyone else.  For those who lack the time to enjoy the full essay, here are some excerpts:

[M]etaphors for condescending or dismissive behavior are more than just descriptive.  They suggest the social distance between those with greater power and those with less…A prerequisite to empathy is simply paying attention to the person in pain….Tuning in to the needs and feelings of another person is a prerequisite to empathy, which in turn can lead to understanding, concern and, if the circumstances are right, compassionate action….Social distance makes it all the easier to focus on small differences between groups and to put a negative spin on the ways of others and a positive spin on our own.  Freud called this “the narcissism of minor differences“…This widening gulf between the haves and have-less troubles me, but not for the obvious reasons.  Apart from the financial inequities, I fear the expansion of an entirely different gap, caused by the inability to see oneself in a less advantaged person’s shoes.  Reducing the economic gap may be impossible without also addressing the gap in empathy.

Goleman’s hypothesis was on full display this weekend.  Lee, Palin, and Klayman boarded the “Cruz line” plying the seas of narcissistic differences.  On this cruise there are no lifeboats of empathy — there aren’t even life vests of understanding, concern, or compassionate action.  There is only a burgeoning lack of understanding being stoked by the flames of hate, discord, and indifference.  Those who employ such tactics too often fail to consider:  When you burn white-hot, the light is bright, but the fuel is soon spent.  That time can’t come soon enough for me.

This is an open thread.


21 Responses to "Narcissism of minor differences…"

Excellent post as always, Prolix. Here’s hoping that Cruz goes out like a bright light as well.

Excellent post, Prolix.

I think the essay on why the rich care less is particularly insightful. The lack of empathy coming from the wealthy on the right is certainly on display now in Congress. They don’t feel our pain; they don’t even care that we’re in pain. In fact, they hate us. Our problems annoy and bore them. We’re not fellow human beings in their eyes; we’re gnats.

I see the empathy gap in my everyday life as well. Because I’m disabled, I can’t drive. I have problems even getting to necessary places like the grocery store. I have had friends who drive BMWs, Lexuses (sp?), and other luxury cars tell me I am “lucky” not to have a car because I don’t have to worry about parking. Parking problems seem to occupy their minds to an extraordinary degree. I even had a well-to-do friend tell me it must be nice to be disabled because it’s like a “permanent vacation”! I wanted to say, “Are you effing kidding me?”, but I stifled myself. I have told friends who complain about parking problems that they could try taking public transportation. You should see the look of horror on their faces at this thought. Egads! Public transportation is for poor people who probably have cooties or something!

When I would cry as a child because I was hungry or didn’t have shoes that kept my feet warm, my mother would try to comfort me by saying, “Suffering makes you more beautiful.” She would use the example of St. Bernadette as proof of this. As an adult, I don’t hold to that belief, but I do think suffering can make a person more compassionate. It can open hearts to the suffering of others.

I have had friends who drive BMWs, Lexuses (sp?), and other luxury cars tell me I am “lucky” not to have a car

Beata: have they ever offered to take you to the grocery or run any errands or say “Hey B, I’m going by such and such, do you want to take a ride and get anything?”

I’ve got a friend whose truck recently crossed over to the old vehicle hereafter and he’s decided to try to go w/out a vehicle for awhile. Good thing he’s athletic because he literally runs to do some errands. However, if I’m going out someplace I have no problems with giving him a call and saying where I”m going to and does he need a ride to take care of anything while I’m going.

Beata, what a wonderful post — your examples perfectly encapsulate the core of problems facing the country. Thank you for sharing.

Hey Prolix!!!! You stole my picture that I stole! 👿

I couldn’t find a way to fit this into the post, but here’s an example of the insidious nature of the “new Right.” Last Friday when I was writing the post on the Tea Party and their “fear” of losing “their America,” as I often do, I went to “” to jog my thoughts. My search term was “fear” — and don’t you know, the google ad that popped up was from newsmax, the conservative news feed, and it was a survey on the “horrors of Obamacare.”

If you can’t search for a quote about fear without being chided that allowing those less well-off to buy insurance from a private insurer on a government operated website is a “horror” something is terribly wrong on the priorities of this country.

@5, Fredster, so sorry to follow your excellent post with essentially the same thing. Given that my wifi spot was closed, I had no idea what you had posted. Sorry to glom onto your idea.

Now prolix, you know I was teasing about the pic. While the posts may have been on a similar topic you always have great things to point out that I entirely overlook. I had never heard of that website brainyquotes but I do have it bookmarked now.

You know, the thing I find utterly delightful about this mess is the fact that the Chamber of Commerce and the other “leading” business organizations that have always championed the Right and their ilk are having conniption fits over all of this. But then I’ve always enjoyed schadenfreude too.

@8, Fredster, I know you were kidding about the pic. There are so many great pics of Cruz in his “starry-eyed, off-in-the-distance, I hear destiny calling” it was funny that we selected the same one out of the “Cruz cornucopia” of his Olin Mills shots. Just think, he’s been around for 8 months and he has a reputation that he will never live down. That says it all.

@3: Fredster, very rarely do they offer me a ride anywhere, even though I live quite close to them. They are busy important people doing busy important things. Me, not so much. Bless their hearts. The people who do offer me rides tend to be poor women I barely know. They understand what it means not to have a car since they have usually been without transportation themselves at some point in their lives.

@4: Prolix, I really don’t like writing comments like the one @2. They make me feel pathetic. But the voices of the poor are not often heard on the Interwebz so I suck it up and try to speak for them, too. Then maybe others will understand how this kind of life feels. It doesn’t feel very good.

@11: That’s pretty crappy. The friend up here has asked me a couple of times if I could take him someplace when I wasn’t going anywhere or when it was out of the way and I said sure no problem. Usually then I’ll take a couple of buck for gas when he was offers. That’s just to keep him honest. I think in his case he’s going to find that trying to live an “urban” lifestyle in the suburbs doesn’t work too well when there is limited public transportation. I have a feeling he’ll be looking for a used car sometime in the near future.

They are busy important people doing busy important things.

As you said, bless their hearts.

Chuck thinks a musical interlude would be nice.

Aw right Chuck!

@11, Beata, true wisdom has no special wrapping or affectation. It has real worry lines, real fatigue, and more often than not, real tears. True wisdom won’t be found on the dashboard or in the bluetooth of a Lexus. We got to see true wisdom in your comment above. While it made you feel better, and I’m glad it did, you made us all a better today by sharing it. Living everyone a bit better than we found them is a goal to which we should all aspire.

@15, that should be, “Leaving everyone a bit better than we found them is a goal to which we should all aspire.”

Another goal for me would be typing gooder.

Prolix@15/16: Amen brother, amen.

@16: Scout-like.

Excellent post, and comments. Beata, appreciate your comment at #2, we all need reminders to pay attention to those around us…well, I do anyway!

Hey Annie, check my reply to you yesterday on your comment. It’s number 14.

Tea Party crazies in the House joined together yesterday to sing “Amazing Grace”. Being dumber than bags of rocks, they obviously know nothing about the song’s historical context or meaning, nor do they realize that these days the song is usually sung at funerals.

Judy Collins’ version:

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