Your comment is almost entirely a string of strawmen, so you’re not really engaging with what I wrote, but perhaps venting your frustration at the suggestion that Trump’s critics (including me) could somehow be in the wrong.

I didn’t say Trump’s a victim “because he’s hated.” I said he’s a victim because he has severe, untreated mental disorders. So your first two paragraphs are irrelevant.

Nor did I say that Trump can’t understand the difference between right and wrong and is therefore legally psychotic. I understand there are many degrees of incompetence and that Trump is likely legally culpable for his actions. My articles on Trump are about his moral status as literally an evil monster or supervillain, and about our hatred of him on that basis.

So I agree that Trump likely has agency in the legal sense and I hope he’s convicted for his crimes (but it would take a miracle for that to happen). That doesn’t change the fact that Trump’s mind and personality are subhuman, morally and psychologically speaking or that the critics fed his disorders and condemned what is essentially an alien, inhuman creature.

The problem is that the very features that make him evil or monstrous are in fact the mental disorders that make him a victim—not so much of his critics but of nature. The question is whether we should treat mentally disordered people with the same light touch as we give to physically disordered ones. On the contrary, people with less obvious, mental disorders have a stigma attached to them so that they’re often ignored altogether. And when their disorder takes the form of pure evil (malignant narcissism), there’s no thought at all of pity for their incapacities. I’m just reminding readers of these facts.

Again, I didn’t suggest that his critics are “as bad as” Trump, so that’s irrelevant.

But the one spot where you touch on something I actually implied is where you say Trump isn’t pitiable. That is indeed the question I’m raising. The conundrum is that the very features that would make him pitiable are those that make him evil. So what should our response be to real evil, to someone with a superhuman capacity for villainy?

Obviously they have to be opposed, but wouldn’t it have been far more galling to a narcissist like Trump to openly pity him for being manifestly subhuman (e.g. for being unable to feel empathy or to understand his real position in the world, without the megalomania), as opposed to giving him all the attention and high status he could ever want?

You admit that Trump doesn’t suffer and that he thrives off of being hated. The first point makes him a victim of nature, a mental mutant or subhuman (potentially transhuman) creature. The second point implies that his critics might have tried pity rather than hatred. And yet his evil and the magnitude of his misdeeds seem to call for our deepest contempt. This is the conundrum I was wrestling with in the letter.

Remember when Nancy Pelosi tried to pity Trump when she said she’ll pray for him? Did you see how it got under his skin, how he went out of his way to say he didn’t believe her prayers would be real? She left him that opening because she didn’t explicitly say why she’d be praying for him. She pretended she was just praying for the nation as usual, as though Trump's monstrousness should be normalized, like it was just another day at the office.

If she laid out the full, obvious truth, that Trump deserves our pity because he’s a victim not of the deep state or of his critics, but of his genes and his father’s authoritarian way of raising him, and because he’s specifically a malignant narcissist with all kinds of cognitive blind spots that make him a fool, a buffoon, and an unloved monster, that might have cornered Trump and cleared the air. But the Democrats are far too politically correct to dream of publicly identifying the reality of Trumpism.

Knowledge condemns. Art redeems. I learned that as an artistic writer who did a doctorate in philosophy. We should try to see the dark comedy in all things.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store