So I’ve been seeing this message (figure 1) around Pittsburgh a lot lately.
Fig. 1. Photograph by author, August 25, 2020.
And if you’re wondering what kind of an asshole actually puts a message like “Fuck Your Feelings” on the back of their car, or on a yard sign, or in a campaign poster, the first point to acknowledge here is that yes, this is an asshole.
The use of “fuck” in this context is clearly not in a warm fuzzy context of coital relations and I think I might be even more disturbed if it were—we might well be talking about rape.
This is an aggressive use of the word directed at “your” feelings. Whose feelings? Presumably not the feelings of Donald Trump supporters. Donald Trump supporters’ feelings are just fine in such assholes’ reckoning; but they not only do not want to hear about “your” feelings, they feel aggressive toward “your” feelings and they feel entitled to express that aggression.
What feelings? Donald Trump is notorious for his racism, his sexism, his narcissism, and his corruption. In a pandemic, he has rushed to offer human sacrifices by the hundreds of thousands to the capitalist god. We might infer that this message is aggressive toward any revulsion to or offense taken from these traits.
Racism, sexism, narcissism, corruption, and a disregard for human life are therefore, in such assholes’ light, positives to be affirmed, even flaunted, as Trump indeed does.
So what kind of an asshole affirms racism so flagrantly? One of the ways I distinguish a paleoconservative from an authoritarian populist is that the former will tell you s/he is a racist and make no bones about it. Within that panoply, the aggression moves this toward white supremacism.
I don’t have a similar analysis for flaunting sexism (not even traditionalist or social conservatives would generally endorse such an attitude toward women that is aggressive in this particular way), narcissism, or corruption. But we may reasonably infer that those who display this message feel an entitlement that privileges their own feelings over those whom they may offend, even over the feelings of those who have lost loved ones to the novel coronavirus.
This is the hardest of Trump’s hard core base. However you explain their motivation, these people will be a problem regardless of an electoral outcome in November, regardless of the outcome of the racial justice movement, regardless of the outcome of any other progressive social movements.
Expect them to be armed. Expect them to be incoherent. Expect them to be angry, even incandescent, when they stop getting their way.
- More precisely, narcissistic rage: George Simon, “Understanding and Dealing with Narcissistic Rage,” Counselling Resource, July 24, 2017, https://counsellingresource.com/features/2017/07/24/understanding-narcissistic-rage/↩
- The rush to reopen the economy, even at a realized risk of a surge in cases, incorporated a rejection of scientific advice, a willful ignorance of deaths as they occurred, and political and economic pressure in the face of a severe recession to reopen despite the foregoing: Joel Achenbach et al., “Coronavirus hot spots erupt across the country; experts warn of second wave in South,” Washington Post, May 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/coronavirus-hot-spots-erupt-across-the-country-experts-warn-of-possible-outbreaks-in-south/2020/05/20/49bc6d10-9ab4-11ea-a282-386f56d579e6_story.html; Joel Achenbach, Rachel Weiner, and Isaac Stanley-Becker, “Study estimates 24 states still have uncontrolled coronavirus spread,” Washington Post, May 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/study-estimates-24-states-still-have-uncontrolled-coronavirus-spread/2020/05/22/d3032470-9c43-11ea-ac72-3841fcc9b35f_story.html; Agence France-Presse, “Fauci warns U.S. is “knee-deep” in coronavirus first wave,” CBS News, July 7, 2020, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/fauci-warns-us-knee-deep-coronavirus-first-wave/; Talal Ansari, “Texas Governor Rolls Back Reopening as U.S. Virus Cases Hit Record,” Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/coronavirus-latest-news-06-26-2020-11593159630; Adam Cancryn and Nancy Cook, “Health officials want Trump to ‘double down, not lighten up’ restrictions,” Politico, March 23, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/23/coronavirus-economy-trump-restart-145222; CBS News, “U.S. sees another record-breaking day with more than 63,000 coronavirus cases,” July 10, 2020, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/coronavirus-cases-usa-63000-daily-record/; Jonathan Chait, “Trump Wants to Starve the States Into Opening Before It’s Safe,” New York, April 20, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/04/trump-coronavirus-open-state-governors-protests.html; Annie Gowen, Arelis R. Hernández, and Lori Rozsa, “Young people urged to take virus more seriously as pandemic worsens in U.S.,” Washington Post, June 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/young-people-are-driving-a-spike-in-coronavirus-infections-officials-say/2020/06/27/3654638c-b7b4-11ea-a510-55bf26485c93_story.html; Thomas Heath and Hannah Denham, “Dow tumbles 730 points as covid-19 flare-ups force states to push back reopening,” Washington Post, June 26, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/06/26/stocks-markets-today-texas-coronavirus/; Claire Lampen, Hannah Gold, and Amanda Arnold, “Everything to Know About the Coronavirus in the United States,” Cut, June 24, 2020, https://www.thecut.com/2020/06/which-states-have-coronavirus-and-how-do-you-minimize-risk.html; Kenya Evelyn, “‘We’re expendable’: black Americans pay the price as states lift lockdowns,” Guardian, May 25, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/25/covid-19-lockdowns-african-americans-essential-workers; Emma Farge with Peter Graff, “WHO warns of ‘second peak’ in areas where COVID-19 declining,” Reuters, May 25, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-who-peak/who-warns-of-second-peak-in-areas-where-covid-19-declining-idUSKBN2311VJ; David Frum, “Why Mitch McConnell Wants States to Go Bankrupt,” Atlantic, April 25, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/04/why-mitch-mcconnell-wants-states-go-bankrupt/610714/; John F. Harris, “Admit It: You Are Willing to Let People Die to End the Shutdown,” Politico, April 30, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/04/30/coronavirus-shutdown-altitude-ethics-223569; Thomas Heath and Hamza Shaban, “Dow tumbles more than 700 points as surge in coronavirus cases rattles investors,” Washington Post, June 24, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/06/24/dow-tumbles-more-than-700-points-surge-coronavirus-cases-rattles-investors/; Jeet Heer, [Twitter thread], Twitter Thread App, July 9, 2020, https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1281071726596521984.html; Chelsea Janes et al., “Surge in virus hospitalizations strains hospitals in several states,” Washington Post, July 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/surge-in-virus-hospitalizations-strains-hospitals-in-several-states/2020/07/08/12855e5e-c135-11ea-864a-0dd31b9d6917_story.html; Sarah Knapton, “Lockdown may cost 200,000 lives, government report shows,” Telegraph, July 19, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/07/19/lockdown-may-cost-200k-lives-government-report-shows/; Christina Maxouris, “Officials say states like Arizona and Texas reopened too quickly after soaring Covid-19 cases,” CNN, July 6, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/06/health/us-coronavirus-monday/index.html; Tom McCarthy, “‘The virus doesn’t care about excuses’: US faces terrifying autumn as Covid-19 surges,” Guardian, July 18, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/18/us-coronavirus-fall-second-wave-autumn; Robert McCartney, “McConnell’s rejection of federal aid for states risks causing a depression, analysts say,” Washington Post, April 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/mcconnells-rejection-of-federal-aid-for-states-risks-causing-a-depression-analysts-say/2020/04/26/1fd4731c-8632-11ea-a3eb-e9fc93160703_story.html; Lauran Neergaard and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, “Fauci: Next few weeks critical to tamping down virus spikes,” Associated Press, June 23, 2020, copy in possession of author; Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey, and Yasmeen Abutaleb, “With Trump leading the way, America’s coronavirus failures exposed by record surge in new infections,” Washington Post, June 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/with-trump-leading-the-way-americas-coronavirus-failures-exposed-by-record-surge-in-new-infections/2020/06/27/bd15aea2-b7c4-11ea-a8da-693df3d7674a_story.html; Reuters, “U.S. has potential of becoming coronavirus epicentre, says WHO,” March 24, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-who-usa/u-s-has-potential-of-becoming-coronavirus-epicentre-says-who-idUSKBN21B1FT; Ben Riley-Smith, “Donald Trump launches plan to ‘open up America again’ after coronavirus lockdown,” Telegraph, April 17, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/04/16/donald-trump-launches-plan-open-america-coronavirus-lockdown/; Jennifer Rubin, “Mitch McConnell cries ‘Uncle!’” Washington Post, April 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/04/28/mcconnell-cries-uncle/; Adam Serwer, “The Coronavirus Was an Emergency Until Trump Found Out Who Was Dying,” Atlantic, May 9, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/05/americas-racial-contract-showing/611389/; Lisa Shumaker, “U.S. shatters coronavirus record with over 77,000 cases in a day,” Reuters, July 17, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-records/u-s-shatters-coronavirus-record-with-over-77000-cases-in-a-day-idUSKCN24I014; Lisa Shumaker and Sharon Bernstein, “Washington state makes face masks mandatory as some states see new coronavirus surge,” Reuters, June 23, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa/washington-state-makes-face-masks-mandatory-as-some-states-see-new-coronavirus-surge-idUSKBN23U2QT; Lisa Shumaker and Brendan O’Brien, “Record spike in new coronavirus cases reported in six U.S. states as reopening accelerates,” Reuters, June 16, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-idUSKBN23N32O; Teghan Simonton, “Pittsburgh professors see flaws in coronavirus modeling, predict more grim outlook,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 3, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/pittsburgh-professors-see-flaws-in-coronavirus-modeling-predict-more-grim-outlook/; Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Eileen Sullivan, “As Trump Pushes to Reopen, Government Sees Virus Toll Nearly Doubling,” New York Times, May 4, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/04/us/politics/trump-coronavirus-death-toll.html; Margaret Sullivan, “Trump wants America to ‘normalize’ coronavirus deaths. It’s the media’s job not to play along,” Washington Post, May 10, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/media/trump-wants-america-to-normalize-coronavirus-deaths-its-the-medias-job-not-to-play-along/2020/05/09/72de4c32-9090-11ea-a9c0-73b93422d691_story.html; Reis Thebault and Abigail Hauslohner, “A deadly ‘checkerboard’: Covid-19’s new surge across rural America,” Washington Post, May 24, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/05/24/coronavirus-rural-america-outbreaks/; Meg Wagner et al., “Fauci, Redfield testify on Covid-19 reopening as cases rise,” CNN, June 30, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/webview/politics/live-news/covid-19-school-work-reopening-testimony-06-30-20/h_cc7cf09eae87064e72f75af30984acd3; David Wallace-Wells, “We Are Probably Only One-Tenth of the Way Through This Pandemic,” New York, April 17, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/04/we-are-probably-only-a-tenth-of-the-way-through-the-pandemic.html; David Wallace-Wells, “There Is Still No Plan,” New York, May 7, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/05/white-house-plan-for-ending-coronavirus-stay-at-home-orders.html; William Wan, Carolyn Y. Johnson, and Joel Achenbach, “States rushing to reopen are likely making a deadly error, coronavirus models and experts warn,” Washington Post, April 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/04/22/reopening-america-states-coronavirus/; Ben White, “Trump faces the risk of a coronavirus cliff,” Politico, April 28, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/28/trump-reopening-coronavirus-213535; Griff Witte and Ben Guarino, “It’s not only coronavirus cases that are rising. Now covid deaths are, too,” Washington Post, July 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/its-not-only-coronavirus-cases-that-are-rising-now-covid-deaths-are-too/2020/07/17/193006e8-c868-11ea-8ffe-372be8d82298_story.html; Griff Witte and Rachel Weiner, “Sun Belt hospitals are feeling the strain from virus’ surge — and bracing for worse,” Washington Post, July 16, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/coronavirus-hospitals-florida-texas-arizona-california/2020/07/16/dea0ed7a-c79b-11ea-8ffe-372be8d82298_story.html; Matt Zapotosky et al., “Trump administration pushing to reopen much of the U.S. next month,” Washington Post, April 9, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/trump-reopen-us-economy/2020/04/09/10d42b4a-7a7b-11ea-9bee-c5bf9d2e3288_story.html↩
- Denise Lu, “The True Coronavirus Toll in the U.S. Has Already Surpassed 200,000,” New York Times, August 13, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/08/12/us/covid-deaths-us.html↩
- David Benfell, “The capitalist death cult,” Not Housebroken, March 27, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/27/the-capitalist-death-cult/; David Benfell, “An impatient capitalist god demands human sacrifice. Now,” Not Housebroken, April 17, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/15/an-impatient-capitalist-god-demands-human-sacrifice-now/; David Benfell, “Surprise! Surprise! The capitalist god is greedy!” Not Housebroken, May 25, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/05/23/surprise-surprise-the-capitalist-god-is-greedy/↩
- David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).↩