In a Kavanaugh debate already full of anguish and anger on the part of a liberal press which has already convicted Judge Brett Kavanaugh in their own minds, Adam Serwer of The Atlantic made a quantum leap into irresponsibility with “The Cruelty Is the Point -- President Trump and his supporters find community by rejoicing in the suffering of those they hate and fear,” posted Wednesday.
One suspects a lack of rational discussion forthcoming when the column opens with a description of lynchings:
The Museum of African-American History and Culture is in part a catalog of cruelty. Amid all the stories of perseverance, tragedy, and unlikely triumph are the artifacts of inhumanity and barbarism: the child-size slave shackles, the bright red robes of the wizards of the Ku Klux Klan, the recordings of civil-rights protesters being brutalized by police.
The artifacts that persist in my memory, the way a bright flash does when you close your eyes, are the photographs of lynchings. But it’s not the burned, mutilated bodies that stick with me. It’s the faces of the white men in the crowd. There’s the photo of the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith in Indiana in 1930, in which a white man can be seen grinning at the camera as he tenderly holds the hand of his wife or girlfriend....
Their cruelty made them feel good, it made them feel proud, it made them feel happy. And it made them feel closer to one another.
What does that remind him of? Trump, naturally:
The Trump era is such a whirlwind of cruelty that it can be hard to keep track.
After dealing with the “ethnic clean[sing]” of children of immigrants, Serwer moved to the latest atrocity committed by Trump in support of Brett Kavanaugh:
At a rally in Mississippi, a crowd of Trump supporters cheered as the president mocked Christine Blasey Ford, the psychology professor who has said that Brett Kavanaugh, whom Trump has nominated to a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court, attempted to rape her when she was a teenager. “Lock her up!” they shouted.
In his view, Trump and his supporters mocked Ford both as a sexual assault victim and a learned professor:
Ford testified to the Senate, utilizing her professional expertise to describe the encounter, that one of the parts of the incident she remembered most was Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge laughing at her as Kavanaugh fumbled at her clothing. “Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter,” Ford said, referring to the part of the brain that processes emotion and memory, “the uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense.” And then at Tuesday’s rally, the president made his supporters laugh at her.
Server made the comparison explicit:
The cruelty of the Trump administration’s policies, and the ritual rhetorical flaying of his targets before his supporters, are intimately connected. As Lili Loofbourow wrote of the Kavanaugh incident in Slate, adolescent male cruelty toward women is a bonding mechanism, a vehicle for intimacy through contempt. The white men in the lynching photos are smiling not merely because of what they have done, but because they have done it together.
And Server ended by mind-reading racist Trump and his supporters who get off on "cruelty":
Trump’s only true skill is the con; his only fundamental belief is that the United States is the birthright of straight, white, Christian men, and his only real, authentic pleasure is in cruelty. It is that cruelty, and the delight it brings them, that binds his most ardent supporters to him, in shared scorn for those they hate and fear: immigrants, black voters, feminists, and treasonous white men who empathize with any of those who would steal their birthright. The president’s ability to execute that cruelty through word and deed makes them euphoric....