It is in my nature to defend the underdog. I don’t think I am unusual in that. In fact, I think it is a prerequisite for being a liberal, and I think most of you would agree. We liberals are all about getting behind the oppressed, the voiceless, the 99% who are being crushed under the heel of the 1% super rich, are we not? I see bullies and their bootlickers, on the other hand, as conservatives. They are the poseurs, the hypocrites, the cruel, swaggering cowards of the political spectrum.
One form of bullying I find particularly loathsome is fat shaming. The overweight are the perfect victims for cowards who exploit the perception that overweight people are products of their own greed, even though that perception has been discredited by medical science. Losing weight is not easy and many people turn to food for comfort or because they are addicted to it. Fat shamers prefer to believe otherwise.
Though there ought to be, there is no particularly strong social recourse for victims of this kind of bullying. As a form of bigotry, fat shaming has yet to rise to the full dignity of political incorrectness. In other words, it’s a safe refuge for the moral coward.
Not content merely to be cruel, however, the fat shamer also presents himself as virtuous. Engage one long enough and they will inevitably say what all bullies always say, “I’m just being honest,” as if crushing a human soul is justified by truth, as if honesty is a universal moral antiseptic. But the reality is they are not being honest, they are lying. Their goal is not to help but to harm. Truth plays no role here, and statistics show that a surprisingly large fraction of fat shamers are in fact themselves obese. Their pleasure and their only goal is to be cruel.
Which brings me to Donald Trump and the counterintuitive mystery of why so many of his followers insist that he is truthful. In contemplating the phenomenon of the fat shamer it finally came to me. I now understand what they are really saying. Trump’s followers don’t really mean to say Donald Trump is honest, they mean to say he is cruel. Trump’s idolaters simply do not understand the difference between honesty and cruelty.
Bigots often mistakenly think they speak out loud what the rest of us are afraid to say. That’s what “I’m just being honest” really means. It means, “I’m saying what you think in your secret soul. You’re just afraid to say it out loud.” And yes, they really are that arrogant. So when Donald Trump proclaims that Mexico, “sends drug dealers, criminals and rapists,” he is, in the twisted, lizard brains of his followers, “just being honest and saying what we all know to be true.”
Whether Trump is being factually correct or incorrect doesn’t interest them. They don’t care about such subtleties. Those things rarely concern them anyway because most of them live in fantasy worlds. But they have finally found a politician unafraid to speak out loud the hatred they nurture in the sickness of their inner souls. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what they mean when they say Donald Trump is honest. They are just saying, in an odd sort of roundabout, sort of coded way, the same thing we have been saying all along: Donald Trump is a heartless bastard. Now that I finally understand what they really mean, now that I get what they are actually trying to say, I think I agree with them.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.