Dear Ms. Conway,
Yesterday I caught your interview with George Stephanopoulos. It was disturbing, on many levels. You dodged his very reasonable question about why Donald and press secretary Sean Spicer both lied about attendance at the inauguration, and when he did what good interviewers do, (that is, repeat the question until you gave a real answer) you accused him of harping on an issue. Even when he clarified that he agreed it shouldn’t be important, but stressed that the falsehoods were worthy of discussion, you kept treating him as if he was single handedly standing in the way of talking about real issues.
That was abusive, Ms. Conway. That was practically gaslighting.
And that wasn’t the only time you used tricks from Manipulation for Psychological Abusers 101. You used promises of future good behavior to bargain for free reign now, when past behavior clearly indicates those promises will go unfulfilled. You encouraged viewers to confuse “less bad” with “good” when you talked about Donald’s inauguration speech. True, it was not as horrendously crass as we are used to, but it was also fearmongering and an inaccurate characterization of our nation. I know you want to people to equate “he’s not being quite as nasty as we are used to” with “he’s actually fine,” because that’s a classic trick manipulative people use to convince others to trust them. It saves them from the inconvenience of a real apology.
That brings me to the one thing that made me more angry than any of the other abuser tactics. You used one of the most sadistic mindfucks of all; using your victim’s defenses against abuse as justification for that abuse.
The press criticize you, so it’s fine that you exclude them and dodge their questions. People protest you, so it’s fine that you lie and cheat and bully. You treat other people horribly, but that’s fine, because by having the audacity to stand up against their own bad treatment, they justify your abuse.
No. That’s not how this works.
We all saw this dumpster fire of an election. We saw how your candidate bullied, insulted, and incited violence at every rally. Every newscaster and journalist saw how he changed the tone of the entire election cycle. He spent more time insulting Mexicans alone than talking about concrete policies, and still had time left over for African-American communities, women, people with disabilities, Muslims, refugees…..
Let me break this down for you. Until Donald Trump makes a genuine apology for everything he has said over the past year and a half, you have no moral high ground to criticize anyone’s conduct or civility, period. Here’s what that apology would look like;
- Admitting, without reservation, that he was crude, demeaning, and even abusive to millions of people.
- Naming specific individuals and groups and directing individualized apologies to them.
- Admitting that this was damaging on both a personal level and damaging to our national culture.
- Taking full responsibility for what he said and the consequences, and apologizing for going so long without an apology.
Having trouble picturing the Donald we all know doing that? Well, tough. That doesn’t change the fact that this is the only thing that would even give you the right to criticize other people’s tones. You don’t get to adjust the goalposts for him to something like;
- Going nearly fifteen minutes without adding to the list of people he has crassly insulted.
- Being polite to people who are knuckling under and giving him everything he wants for fear of being abused even more.
- Giving one of those fake apologies where you explain how nothing you did was actually your fault.
- Stating that things are going to be better in the future and expecting forgiveness on credit.
And since I’m having to explain these basic things in detail, I might as well add that if such an unlikely apology were to be given, it would only give you the right to ask for civil discourse to begin again. It would not give you the right to avoid doing any of the following;
- Answering questions from the press, including ones that could potentially make you look bad.
- Listening to the concerns of people, regardless of whether they voted for you or not.
- Tolerating peaceful protests from people who decide, for any reason at all, that they aren’t happy with your actions.
- Educating yourselves collectively on the issues, and evolving your stances.
- Compromising and being happy with getting some of what you wanted, instead of whining that you didn’t get to steamroll over those with a slightly different take on the world.
Those are all just basic consequences of getting to live in a democracy.
Based on Donald’s past behavior, we can’t even picture him dealing with that final list of to-dos. That’s why we hate your boss, and that’s why we protest him. We are expressing anger and fear at a man who has gone out of his way to be infuriating and scary.
This has been your refresher course on Basic Decent Human Behavior. If you don’t like it, get the fuck out of here.
Lane William Brown