Donald Trump Victory Reaction: Nicholas Kristof Compares Surviving President Trump To Suffering From Mental Illness


No, processing Donald Trump’s election victory is not like recovering from addiction

One of the more painful aspects of Donald Trump’s shock election victory, for me, has been having to watch journalists and commentators whom I have previously respected gradually lose all sense of perspective and become almost offensively hysterical in their overwrought catastrophisation of the election result.

This blog was also very much against a Trump victory, but much of the mainstream media commentary seems to have descended into a nationwide, mutually-reinforcing panic attack, like a group of young kids watching a scary movie at a sleepover and then seizing on every nighttime creak or rustle to convince one another that they are being haunted by the monster from the television.

Godwin’s Law is now being proved with such regularity – by supposedly serious journalists writing above the line, and not just the online commentators beneath it – that cataloguing individual instances of Donald Trump victory catastrophisation has become pointless.

And we are not just talking about the more sensationalist, web-based outlets here. One expects little better from the Huffington Post, Buzzfeed or the likes of Everyday Feminism. But now even the New York Times has fallen victim to the great national hysteria – star columnist Nicholas Kristof can presently be found comparing the forthcoming suffering of American leftists under the incoming Trump administration to the pain of people suffering from addiction and mental illness.

I’m not joking – Kristof has just published a column in which he outlines his own patented “twelve-step program” for coming to terms with a Donald Trump presidency.

Kristof begins:

Traumatized by the election results, many Americans are asking: What now? Here are steps that any of us can take that can make a difference at the margins. Onward!

Traumatised? Really? Isn’t that a word that might be better reserved for veterans who watched their friends killed in action or had their own limbs blown off by IEDs, or the victims of sexual assault and other violent crime? Do we really want to extend that term to encompass the tears and frustration of Hillary Clinton supporters as Donald Trump made a mockery of the opinion polls and won a four-year term as US president?

Some highlights from the Kristof 12-steps:

2. I WILL try to do small things in my own life, recognizing that they are inadequate but at least a start: I will sign up on the Council on American-Islamic Relations website, volunteering to fight Islamophobia. I’ll call a local mosque to offer support, or join an interfaith event. I will sign up for an “accompany my neighbor” list if one exists for my area, to be an escort for anyone who is now in fear.

Because in the blink of an eye and before Trump has even taken office, America has become such a seethingly dangerous place that minorities can no longer walk the streets unaccompanied? Has Nicholas Kristof given absolutely zero thought to how this alarmist, apocalyptic language might be contributing (or indeed be the largest contributor) to the fear which he describes?

3. I WILL avoid demonizing people who don’t agree with me about this election, recognizing that it’s as wrong to stereotype Trump supporters as anybody else. I will avoid Hitler metaphors, recognizing that they stop conversations and rarely persuade. I’ll remind myself that no side has a monopoly on truth and that many Trump supporters are good people who want the best for the country. The left already has gotten into trouble for condescending to working-class people, and insulting all Trump supporters as racists simply magnifies that problem.

Credit where it’s due. Kristof manages something close to magnanimity here, but his call for fellow progressives upset at the election to avoid demonising Donald Trump supporters would be all the more convincing if it didn’t come in the middle of a hysterical article comparing a Trump presidency to living with serious mental illness.


5. I WILL support groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center that fight hate groups, and back the center’s petition calling on Donald Trump to disavow bigotry. Depending on my interests, I’ll support an immigration rights group, the A.C.L.U. or Planned Parenthood. And I’ll subscribe to a newspaper as one way of resisting efforts to squelch the news media or preside over a post-fact landscape — and also to encourage journalists to be watchdogs, not lap dogs.

That would be the same Southern Poverty Law Center which has utterly capitulated to ideological leftist Islamism-deniers, and which has the nerve to place tireless fighters against extremism such as Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali on a list of supposed anti-Muslim bigots, in a desperate bid to placate and appeal to goodness knows who.

The ACLU of course does some vital work defending civil liberties, but it too has started to crumble under pressure from the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics, and is now just as zealous about protecting non-existent positive “human rights” as defending genuine civil liberties and Constitutional protections. One can still make an argument for joining the ACLU in an attempt to change it from within (it is less far gone than, say, the UK’s Liberty) but somehow I don’t think that this is what Kristof has in mind.


7. I WON’T let it slide if a friend makes degrading comments about a minority or women. Even if it’s over Thanksgiving dinner, I’ll push back and say something like: “Come on! You really think that?!” Similarly, I may not be able to prevent a sexual predator from reaching the White House, but at events I attend, I may be able to prevent a sexual predator from assaulting a drunken partygoer.

8. I WILL resist dwelling in an echo chamber. I will follow smart people on Twitter or Facebook with whom I disagree. I will also try to enlarge my social circle to include people with different views, recognizing that diversity is a wonderful thing — and that if I know only Clinton supporters, then I don’t have a clue about America.

Again, credit where credit is due. We should all have the courage to take a stand where we see overt racism or sexism occurring in front of us. Confronting these bad ideas and exposing them to the unforgiving light of public ridicule is one of the best means of defeating them. But Kristof has clearly attended one “rape culture” seminar too many, and would have us all patrol every party we attend with a pocket breathalyser, pouncing on amorous couples to ensure that no alcohol has been consumed and that the appropriate consent forms have been signed.

It is also laudable that Kristof encourages people to look beyond their own ideological echo chamber and acknowledge the legitimacy and fundamental decency of those Americans who hold sincere political differences. However, one gets the feeling that this “step” might be the stumbling block for many leftists, just as some recovering addicts pause when confronted with Steps 8 and 9 (making amends to those they have harmed). It does not come naturally to many people to expand their social circles to incorporate those with different viewpoints and values – indeed, many people assiduously prune their social circles to achieve the precise opposite in the quest for ideological homogeneity.


11. I WILL take on sexism and misogyny, which in forms like domestic violence, sexual assault and sex trafficking affect women and girls across the country. Even today, Republicans and Democrats should be able to work together to get funding for women’s shelters or to prosecute pimps.

Even today? What is that supposed to mean? That however bad Donald Trump and Republicans may be, with the right outreach it may just still be possible to convince these heartless conservatives that sex slavery, rape and domestic violence are bad things? Well, I should hope so. This wouldn’t even need saying, were it not for the fact that many people who read Kristof’s column have been fed a steady diet of propaganda suggesting that Donald Trump is about to make his own unreconstructed attitude towards women compulsory for all men in the country.

And finally:

12. I WILL not lose hope. I will keep reminding myself that politics zigs and zags, and that I can do more than shout in the wind. I can fight for my values even between elections, and even at the micro level I can mitigate the damage to my neighbors and attempt to heal a social fabric that has been rent.

“A social fabric that has been rent” – a nicely passive way of describing the division in America, as though the Kristof-reading American Left had absolutely nothing to do with the rending of America’s social fabric.

Look: the offensive thing here is not necessarily the content of Kristof’s article or the sentiments he expresses. As I have acknowledged, many of the points are actually very laudable calls for all of us to be better, more engaged citizens – something that this blog heartily approves of, and has long called for. What is really offensive is the fact that Kristof felt it in any way appropriate to compare the disappointment of losing an election with the torment of addiction, that he packaged this collection of decent advice and condescension in the guise of a 12-step program.

Imagine for a moment that Nicholas Kristof had written an article encouraging disappointed Clinton supporters to view the next four years as a painful course of chemotherapy. Imagine the outrage which would rightly be prompted by comparing the pain of electoral defeat with the ravages of cancer. But when it comes to addiction and mental health, apparently everything is fair game. It is perfectly acceptable for wealthy, pampered Manhattanites to compare their suffering to that of people suffering from mental illness.

Or imagine that the positions were reversed and a right-wing columnist had compared the suffering of conservatives under a Clinton administration to people trying to recover from addiction. Again, that columnist would immediately be hauled over the coals by the perpetually outraged Left.

This is another one of those occasions where the decadent metro-left grants itself a waiver from the outrage and opprobrium it would rain down on anybody of more conservative persuasion who dared to do the same thing. It’s fine for Nicholas Kristof to talk about processing a Democratic electoral defeat as though it is in any way similar to working through mental health issues, because he does it for the Greater Good of the leftist cause, but heaven forfend that anybody else speak too casually about a “traditionally marginalised group”.

Do these people have any conception of how hysterical and arrogant they sound?

Go back to Step 3 and do it right this time. Because this is NOT how America will knit back together after the election. Nicholas Kristof should be heartily ashamed of himself.




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8 thoughts on “Donald Trump Victory Reaction: Nicholas Kristof Compares Surviving President Trump To Suffering From Mental Illness

  1. onwyrdsdream November 18, 2016 / 10:34 PM

    For #2, Islamophobia isn’t particularly a problem here to the extent that putting effort into fighting it is likely to cause more problems than doing little to nothing. Especially as it makes the entire class Muslims into victims. The left venerates victims, and thanks to critical theory, claimed victim classes feel like they are owed something even when they’ve suffered nothing personally, even from those who’ve done no wrong. Critical theory is a broadening of corruption of the blood, and thus is wrong minded in the first place. And CAIR has the tendency to act like/with enemy agents. Unindicted co-conspirators” that they are.

    For number #3, that sounds good until you realize that he won’t use Hitler metaphors because “they rarely persuade” rather than because they’re overwrought emotional appeals without any meaningful basis in truth. Saying that there are “many” good people who voted for Trump really brings home the magnitude of how many Trump voters aren’t good people in his mind.

    #5, yes, SPLC always had an agenda, but these days they have little else. As for the rights of immigrants? That’s fine, as long as you admit that among the rights they have, illegal immigrants don’t have the right to live here, rather we have the right as citizens to be selective about those who join. If they want unlimited immigration, while it would still be a bad idea, agree to get rid of all the welfare programs first. Otherwise some who come would be coming to be paid to live here in conditions better than they were locally able to work for. Those people would always vote for more assistance to the poor. And of course, supporting a merchant of baby organs started by a mega racist who saw it was a more compassionate final solution for the “problem” of undesirables.. blacks, the mentally challenged, poor immigrants, uneducated whites, Jews, and anyone else she concluded was genetically inferior. You could argue she’s dead and those who run the place don’t feel that way, but then they run it as if they actually did… also, supression of the news. Hillary’s email server was so she could avoid FOIA requests. Obama openly lied to the media to get Obamacare passed. I don’t think trump is who you have to worry about. And what sort of contrition is giving media that acted as the Hillary Clinton election comittee money? Isn’t that just encouraging them to remain partisans? “I will support my allies” isn’t mending any fences. Right now it is more akin to setting them on fire.

    7, including the comments and insinuations by fellow travelers about Palin, Rice, or Justice Thomas? Also, did he work to prevent Bill Clinton from reaching the Whitehouse? Or if old enough, JFK? How about Ted Kennedy in Senate?

    8. Good. Vigorous debate and reasoned argument is the only way we’ll ever make reasonable decisions about controversy.

    11. The government shouldn’t fund women’s shelters. That isn’t to say they shouldn’t exist, but they shouldn’t rely on political sentiment, the government is to far away to run them well, and even if they aren’t needed anymore they’d likely be funded forever because what if? When the debt can they’ve been kicking for decades stops moving and rolls down hill with an avalanche, shelters would be low priority and you end up putting abused women into Cuban hospitals. For all the above reasons, it’d be better that this issue was as far as possible dealt with by charities instead. It isn’t as though public sentiment is against abused women. If it were you wouldn’t be able to raise them with taxes either.

    All in all, this article isnt a “I will be a better person” piece. Rather, it is to contrast the author’s “from now on” with the Evils of Trump (as he perceives) and enforce the idea with his readership that Trump is the opposite of all these qualities. To make them feel morally superior to Trump even if they don’t do any of the things on the list, since they at least thought about it, as though thinking by itself has moral value. To mitigate the harm of Trump is why this list exists. Because to them Trump is a racist anti immigrant sexist woman abuser who won’t listen to the other side of the argument at all. Even though Trump mainly counts as being on the right when judged by the standard of New York, which presently has a socialist for a Mayor… and thus is actually a bit left of the majority of Republicans. Well, the left has a history of hating competing fellow travelers more than their ideological opponents.


  2. AndrewZ November 18, 2016 / 8:32 PM

    There are several reasons for the “panic attack”. Some of it is cynical political tactics. Activists exaggerate their own fears in order to motivate other people and the Democrats had to rely heavily on negative campaigning because it was so hard to say anything positive about Hillary Clinton.

    Parts of the American media are genuinely in a panic because they have suddenly lost control of the narrative. They used all their great words of power against Donald Trump – racist! sexist! fascist! Hitler! – and none of them worked. They took it for granted that they could shape public opinion and now they are still processing the shock of discovering how limited their influence has become.

    There is an element of class prejudice. Journalists, academics and other members of the chattering classes dismiss the inhabitants of “flyover country” as ignorant, bigoted yokels. Therefore, any signs of anger and unrest among those incomprehensible aliens in the heartland seems very threatening to them.

    There is also an element of projection. When leftists take control of an institution they often make it a very hostile place for anybody who doesn’t share their opinions. They do everything possible to harass, punish and exclude their opponents. So, they naturally assume that a populist Republican administration would do the same to them. To think otherwise would mean admitting that the left is far less tolerant than the right.

    Finally, there is the fact that identity politics makes people paranoid. It teaches them to see other people not as individuals but as representatives of a category. The categories are organised into an elaborate hierarchy of victimhood and oppression and all social interactions are treated as an expression of the power relationships between the groups.

    A person who has internalised this way of thinking will start to see everyone who belongs to one of the designated oppressor groups as a threat and will feel acutely uncomfortable in their presence. They will feel that they are surrounded by enemies who are just waiting for an opportunity to do something terrible to them. Since they have been trained to interpret everything they see and hear in terms of power relationships they will see threatening messages everywhere, and their heightened self-consciousness will make it seem as though it’s all aimed at them personally.

    The SJWs are so full of rage and so ready to lash out because they really do think that they are under constant attack. They need to scream and shout to relieve the unbearable psychological pressure of living in a state of permanent siege. That’s also why many leftist writers have such a breathless, frantic style full of hyperbole and wild accusations. It’s the desperate strung-out voice of the paranoiac, surrounded by phantom menaces that nobody else can see.

    To somebody in that state of mind, it would be impossible to conceive of a rich white male Republican – the apex predator of oppression – wanting to do anything other than establish a brutal tyranny. Rage and panic are the inevitable consequences.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samuel Hooper November 21, 2016 / 1:41 AM

      “A person who has internalised this way of thinking will start to see everyone who belongs to one of the designated oppressor groups as a threat and will feel acutely uncomfortable in their presence. They will feel that they are surrounded by enemies who are just waiting for an opportunity to do something terrible to them”

      This is very true. I watched a video last night of an altercation between a radio presenter (white, female, barely five feet tall) with a group of college SJW protesters (the ringleader of whom was a large, tall black male). The male student repeatedly shouted that he felt unsafe in the presence of the woman because “your whiteness scares me”. I repeat, this was a tall and well built man declaring that he was frightened of a petite, middle aged woman because he happened to be black and she happened to be white.

      I think all of the elements you identified come into play – panic, cynicism, projection and paranoia. But the paranoia really struck a chord with me after reading your comment.


  3. AndrewZ November 18, 2016 / 5:09 PM

    Kristof seems to be pulling in two different directions at once. On the one hand, he promises to get out of the echo chamber and engage with people who hold different views. On the other hand, he promises to double-down on identity politics and grievance-mongering and provide support to a variety of extreme-left organisations. I doubt that he will be able to reconcile these things, assuming that he is actually serious about trying.

    However it’s also possible that one of those messages is just there to provide cover for the other. If Kristof is even able to consider that he might be living in an echo chamber then he is probably aware that his friends, colleagues and regular readers are living in it too. In that case he would know that any suggestion that the left should tone down its rhetoric and actually try to understand what the other side is saying would be met with outrage.

    So it’s possible that he is very cautiously asking his readers to consider certain heretical thoughts while making a big show of his “progressive” credentials to assure them that he is still on their side. It’s also possible that he needs to re-assure himself as well.


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