It’s written by a woman, a certain Shahida Arabi, who appears to be kind of a snowflake, at a web site called “Thought Catalog.” Her essay is littered with the cringe-inducing vocabulary of snowflakery: micro-aggressions and triggers and validating and the like.
However, I don’t know her, and I don’t know her experience, so that’s by no means a hard and fast conclusion. She appears to have devoted an entire blog to “An Abuser.” Not sure who that is, but obviously it’s someone with whom Miss Arabi had a bad experience.
The headline to Arabi’s piece was just so arresting I had to check it out. Here’s the headline:
20 Diversion Tactics Highly Manipulative Narcissists, Sociopaths And Psychopaths Use To Silence You
One theme we’ve hit hard in these pages is this: The Left don’t argue, because they know the weakness of their thinking, so they do their level best simply to silence opposition.
The Left ceased to be a source of original thinking decades ago. And they know they’ve dried up. Their main current of thought, Socialism, proved itself bankrupt — morally, spiritually, intellectually … financially — decades ago. Long before the dramatic fall of the Soviet Union.(1)
However, to acknowledge that would have meant to admit they had been wrong. Deeply, tragically, horrifically, massively, bloodily wrong. Admitting to being wrong is difficult for anyone… and darned near impossible for a leftist.
That’s why people like David Horowitz, Jerry Rubin and Eldridge Cleaver are such wonders. These were men of the ugly, bloody, bloodthirsty American left, who came around, and became Conservatives and intellectuals of the right.
In her essay, Miss Arabi appears to be trying to indict those who disagree with the snowflakery rampant across the country, recognizing it for what it is: spoiled brats not wanting to confront reality. Like the American Left, and the RGI in particular. However, her essay indicts, instead, the snowflakes and the Left. My experience with the RGI lines up nearly point for point with Arabi’s essay.
Here’s the list of the 20 “diversion tactics” that highly manipulative narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths use to silence you. I’ve added some commentary (in red) from my experience with the RGI.
#1: Gaslighting. This is some variation of “That didn’t happen.” The idea is to discredit whatever evidence you present by saying either that it never happened, didn’t exist, doesn’t exist, or you misunderstand it and it’s not even what you say it is.
How familiar is this?!? I had a premise in debates with the RGI. It was a simple premise: If any black person (1) gets an education, (2) learns to speak well, (3) works hard, (4) interacts well with others, and (5) presents him or herself more or less normally, then he’ll have no more obstacles in the path of his success than anyone else.
I presented as evidence things like: Barack Obama, and tens of thousands upon tens of thousands of black Americans who had escaped poverty — many achieving great wealth — by nothing more than hard work, and millions upon millions of non-white people doing all but throwing themselves into the ocean to come here to America. None of those facts, I said, could even be possible in a country in which the majority white population was racist against minority non-white peoples.
I never received the courtesy of an attempt to refute either the basic premise or my evidence. But I certainly got a whole bunch of gaslighting.
#2: Projection. here’s what Shahida Arabi says about Projection:
One sure sign of toxicity is when a person is chronically unwilling to see his or her own shortcomings and uses everything in their power to avoid being held accountable for them. This is known as projection. Projection is a defense mechanism used to displace responsibility of one’s negative behavior and traits by attributing them to someone else. It ultimately acts as a digression that avoids ownership and accountability.
While we all engage in projection to some extent, according to Narcissistic Personality clinical expert Dr. Martinez-Lewi, the projections of a narcissist are often psychologically abusive. Rather than acknowledge their own flaws, imperfections and wrongdoings, malignant narcissists and sociopaths opt to dump their own traits on their unsuspecting suspects in a way that is painful and excessively cruel. Instead of admitting that self-improvement may be in order, they would prefer that their victims take responsibility for their behavior and feel ashamed of themselves. This is a way for a narcissist to project any toxic shame they have about themselves onto another.
For example, a person who engages in pathological lying may accuse their partner of fibbing; a needy spouse may call their husband “clingy” in an attempt to depict them as the one who is dependent; a rude employee may call their boss ineffective in an effort to escape the truth about their own productivity.
Narcissistic abusers love to play the “blameshifting game.” Objectives of the game: they win, you lose, and you or the world at large is blamed for everything that’s wrong with them. This way, you get to babysit their fragile ego while you’re thrust into a sea of self-doubt. Fun, right?
Poor grammar notwithstanding, that’s not a bad definition of “Projection.” To summarize, though: Projection can be understood as: seeing one’s own failings in someone else, in order to make oneself seem better by comparison. In other words: if you’re a jerk, you tend to conclude that everyone else is a jerk too. Especially those who disagree with you.
Wow, did I encounter this one! The RGI is probably the most racist group of people you will ever encounter. Many of them make no bones about the fact that they consider white people inferior, merely because their skin is white. A more purely, open, unconcealed bunch of racists you would be really hard pressed to find. They make the Klan look open-minded and mild. See if you can guess what the very first, last and constant accusation was that they leveled against me — and against my various colleagues who engaged them. Yep. That we were racists. What’s funny about that was that none of us who engaged with them was even white! You heard all manner of other accusations leveled against us too. All of which were characteristics in no short supply among my RGI “debating” opponents.
#3: Nonsensical conversations from hell. And here’s an excerpt — somewhat cleaned up — from the explanation under that interesting heading:
If you think you’re going to have a thoughtful discussion with someone who is toxic, be prepared for epic mind****ery rather than conversational mindfulness.
Malignant narcissists and sociopaths use word salad, circular conversations, ad hominem arguments, projection and gaslighting to disorient you and get you off track should you ever disagree with them or challenge them in any way. They do this in order to discredit, confuse and frustrate you, distract you from the main problem and make you feel guilty for being a human being with actual thoughts and feelings that might differ from their own. In their eyes, you are the problem if you happen to exist.
Spend even ten minutes arguing with a toxic narcissist and you’ll find yourself wondering how the argument even began at all. You simply disagreed with them about their absurd claim that the sky is red and now your entire childhood, family, friends, career and lifestyle choices have come under attack. That is because your disagreement picked at their false belief that they are omnipotent and omniscient, resulting in a narcissistic injury.
Remember: toxic people don’t argue with you, they essentially argue with themselves and you become privy to their long, draining monologues. They thrive off the drama and they live for it. Each and every time you attempt to provide a point that counters their ridiculous assertions, you feed them supply. Don’t feed the narcissists supply – rather, supply yourself with the confirmation that their abusive behavior is the problem, not you. Cut the interaction short as soon as you anticipate it escalating and use your energy on some decadent self-care instead.
Again, setting aside the very colloquial writing, the commentator makes several great points. I’ve highlighted them in red. I disagree with the proposed solution though. I say, have at them! Rhetorically beat them up one side and down the other, as we did with the RGI. Anyone who followed our back-and-forths (several college classes did) could conclude only that we utterly and thoroughly demolished their arguments. Largely because we used actual arguments, while they were desperately trying simply to shut us up.
About the “word salad” thing. Spot on! I harken back to the person who brought up “Dr. Llaila Afrika.” Talk about word salad! Watch the YouTube recording under that link, if only for the value of hearing someone who spouts the same nonsense of the Eugenicists of the 1920’s and 1930’s. Interesting note: someone who respected eugenicists like “Dr. Llaila Afrika?” Adolf Hitler.
The most important point in the above passage is: “They do this in order to discredit, confuse and frustrate you, distract you from the main problem and make you feel guilty for being a human being with actual thoughts and feelings that might differ from their own. In their eyes, you are the problem.“
#4: Blanket statements and generalizations. Excerpt:
Malignant narcissists aren’t always intellectual masterminds – many of them are intellectually lazy. [Our Comment: Ya think?!?] Rather than taking the time to carefully consider a different perspective, they generalize anything and everything you say, making blanket statements that don’t acknowledge the nuances in your argument or take into account the multiple perspectives you’ve paid homage to. [Our Comment: Huh?!?] Better yet, why not put a label on you that dismisses your perspective altogether?
On a larger scale, generalizations and blanket statements invalidate experiences that don’t fit in the unsupported assumptions, schemas and stereotypes of society; they are also used to maintain [sic] the status quo. This form of digression exaggerates one perspective to the point where a social justice issue can become completely obscured. For example, rape accusations against well-liked figures are often met with the reminder that there are false reports of rape that occur. While those do occur, they are rare, and in this case, the actions of one become labeled the behavior of the majority while the specific report itself remains unaddressed.
These everyday microaggressions also happen in toxic relationships. If you bring up to a narcissistic abuser that their behavior is unacceptable for example, they will often make blanket generalizations about your hypersensitivity or make a generalization such as, “You are never satisfied,” or “You’re always too sensitive” rather than addressing the real issues at hand. It’s possible that you are oversensitive at times, but it is also possible that the abuser is also insensitive and cruel the majority of the time.
Hold onto your truth and resist generalizing statements by realizing that they are in fact forms of black and white illogical thinking. Toxic people wielding blanket statements do not represent the full richness of experience – they represent the limited one of their singular experience and overinflated sense of self.
Again, I’ve highlighted some of the salient passages in red. It’s the above passage that indicates that the writer Arabi is probably a bit of a snowflake herself (see the blue highlights). However, if the last highlighted passage — they represent the limited one [perspective] of their singular experience and overinflated sense of self — doesn’t perfectly describe the RGI, I don’t know what does!
I don’t know how many times my colleagues and I had to remind our interlocutors in the RGI that their individual anecdotal experiences weren’t useful in understanding the entire country’s reality. It never sank in. This is because to deprive the RGI of their important, but irrelevant, anecdotal experiences as evidence in a debate about the bigger picture, would mean that they’d have to do some actual studying of potentially uncomfortable things outside the scope of their current limited understanding.
And talk about generalizations and blanket statements! In all our interactions with the RGI, we must have heard vast, sweeping conclusions about all white people hundreds of times. I know that I myself reminded people constantly that if I were to do that to black people, everyone would immediately have branded me as a racist. And rightly so. However, I know full well that not all people of any group are alike except for one or two characteristics that mark them as members of the group.
#5: Deliberately misrepresenting your thoughts and feelings to the point of absurdity.
In the hands of a malignant narcissist or sociopath, your differing opinions, legitimate emotions and lived experiences get translated into character flaws and evidence of your irrationality.
Narcissists weave tall tales to reframe what you’re actually saying as a way to make your opinions look absurd or heinous. Let’s say you bring up the fact that you’re unhappy with the way a toxic friend is speaking to you. In response, he or she may put words in your mouth, saying, “Oh, so now you’re perfect?” or “So I am a bad person, huh?” when you’ve done nothing but express your feelings. This enables them to invalidate your right to have thoughts and emotions about their inappropriate behavior and instills in you a sense of guilt when you attempt to establish boundaries.
This is also a popular form of diversion and cognitive distortion that is known as “mind reading.” Toxic people often presume they know what you’re thinking and feeling. They chronically jump to conclusions based on their own triggers rather than stepping back to evaluate the situation mindfully. They act accordingly based on their own delusions and fallacies and make no apologies for the harm they cause as a result. Notorious for putting words in your mouth, they depict you as having an intention or outlandish viewpoint you didn’t possess. They accuse you of thinking of them as toxic – even before you’ve gotten the chance to call them out on their behavior – and this also serves as a form of preemptive defense.
Wow! I understand that the writer is trying to condemn those who would disagree with her, but she has perfectly described those in the Race grievance Industry that we interacted with over the past few months.
Again, as it pertains to my own experience, I had to tell various people literally dozens of times that I had never tried to make the point that white racism had disappeared completely from America, merely that it was no longer a big problem. In fact, I overtly said that white racism had absolutely not disappeared from America, only to hear myself accused of saying that it had. After a while, it became almost funny, and I made a running joke of it. I’d taunt them, saying, “Now, I suppose you’re going to tell me that I said that white racism has disappeared from America, even though I just said the exact opposite.” Needless to say, my interlocutors never got it. Sure enough, several posts later someone would jeer about how I had claimed that white racism had disappeared from America! It was astounding! This went on and on and on and on and on. I assume that if I were to be allowed back on one of those sites, the very same accusation would come up again!
And “mind reading” is the single characteristic of which the RGI and the Left are most guilty. Constantly. This is the “You hate women!” accusation. Or “You’re a racist” Or “You hate poor people.” And on and on and on. You know the litany. None of this, of course — the thoughts and feelings of people — is remotely knowable by anyone except the individual experiencing the feelings or thinking the thoughts. Yet these perfectly unknowable accusations are tossed about recklessly by the left constantly. All just to shut you up.
#6: Nitpicking and moving the goal posts.
Excerpt from Arabi:
The difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism is the presence of a personal attack and impossible standards. These so-called “critics” often don’t want to help you improve, they just want to nitpick, pull you down and scapegoat you in any way they can. Abusive narcissists and sociopaths employ a logical fallacy known as “moving the goalposts” in order to ensure that they have every reason to be perpetually dissatisfied with you. This is when, even after you’ve provided all the evidence in the world to validate your argument or taken an action to meet their request, they set up another expectation of you or demand more proof.
Do you have a successful career? The narcissist will then start to pick on why you aren’t a multi-millionaire yet. Did you already fulfill their need to be excessively catered to? Now it’s time to prove that you can also remain “independent.” The goal posts will perpetually change and may not even be related to each other; they don’t have any other point besides making you vie for the narcissist’s approval and validation.
By raising the expectations higher and higher each time or switching them completely, highly manipulative and toxic people are able to instill in you a pervasive sense of unworthiness and of never feeling quite “enough.” By pointing out one irrelevant fact or one thing you did wrong and developing a hyperfocus on it, narcissists get to divert from your strengths and pull you into obsessing over any flaws or weaknesses instead. They get you thinking about the next expectation of theirs you’re going to have to meet – until eventually you’ve bent over backwards trying to fulfill their every need – only to realize it didn’t change the horrific way they treated you.
This happened to us… a lot! The RGI looked all over for anything to change the subject and to try to de-legitimize our thoughts and ideas by associating them with some perceived failure in another area. For example: someone picked up on the fact that we had fewer visitors to our blog than did the owner of the blog where we were making pests of ourselves. Our laughing admission that we had fewer visitors, but that it was (as it still is) by design, met with scornful derision. You can’t tell a leftist, or a member of the RGI, what you’re really thinking or feeling, because they immediately engage in all the above behaviors, but especially in mind reading. As soon as you tell someone in the RGI what you’re thinking, he’ll immediately retort, “No … here’s what you’re thinking.”
You see, if you were allowed to enter your actual thoughts into the debate, then the RGI-member would have to address them. At that point, though, the discussion would leave the control of the RGI-member, and there’s serious risk that he’ll lose the argument. RGI members nearly all display degrees of arrested development, so their maturity level is far lower than their chronological age, and their insecurity controls their thinking. You remember when you were a teenager, don’t you? Therefore, you must be thinking what he says you’re thinking, so that he can simply walk the “discussion” right through to his conclusion, and not risk losing the argument.
Shahida Arabi said, “By pointing out one irrelevant fact or one thing you did wrong and developing a hyperfocus on it, narcissists get to divert from your strengths and pull you into obsessing over any flaws or weaknesses instead.” The RGI tried over and over and over again to do this to us. We simply pointed it out, and challenged them to be substantive. Needless to say, they were not up to the challenge.
#7: Changing the subject to evade accountability. Here’s Arabi’s explanation:
This type of tactic is what I like to call the “What about me?” syndrome. It is a literal digression from the actual topic that works to redirect attention to a different issue altogether. Narcissists don’t want you to be on the topic of holding them accountable for anything, so they will reroute discussions to benefit them. Complaining about their neglectful parenting? They’ll point out a mistake you committed seven years ago. This type of diversion has no limits in terms of time or subject content, and often begins with a sentence like “What about the time when…”
On a macrolevel, these diversions work to derail discussions that challenge the status quo. A discussion about gay rights, for example, may be derailed quickly by someone who brings in another social justice issue just to distract people from the main argument.
I think that, with the “gay rights” silliness(2), Arabi is betraying a bit of her agenda here. No matter. She is right about one thing: Toxic people do change the subject in an argument, though I’m not sure whether it’s to “evade accountability” or simply to avoid losing the argument.
When I was mixing it up with the RGI, they’d constantly change the subject. They’d bring up the “fact” that I was a racist, or the lower visitor numbers to our blog, as if that had some relationship to our credibility, etc.
Tell me, when you’re winning an argument handily, do you have a desperate desire to change the subject? Of course not! It’s like when you’re ahead 20-0 in baseball, and it looks as if it’s about to rain. You hope desperately that the rain will hold off, because it’s fun to win!
If you’re constantly changing the subject, you’re most likely losing the argument. The RGI constantly changed the subject in our exchanges.
#8: Covert and overt threats. Here’s the excerpt from Arabi’s piece:
Narcissistic abusers and otherwise toxic people feel very threatened when their excessive sense of entitlement, false sense of superiority and grandiose sense of self are challenged in any way. They are prone to making unreasonable demands on others – while punishing you for not living up to their impossible to reach expectations.
Rather than tackle disagreements or compromises maturely, they set out to divert you from your right to have your own identity and perspective by attempting to instill fear in you about the consequences of disagreeing or complying with their demands. [Our comment: Presumably, the author means “failing to comply with their demands“] To them, any challenge results in an ultimatum and “do this or I’ll do that” becomes their daily mantra.
If someone’s reaction to you setting boundaries or having a differing opinion from your own is to threaten you into submission, whether it’s a thinly veiled threat or an overt admission of what they plan to do, this is a red flag of someone who has a high degree of entitlement and has no plans of compromising. Take threats seriously and show the narcissist you mean business; document threats and report them whenever possible and legally feasible
In our experience with the RGI, threats were constant. Overt and subtle. In the beginning, it was the threat to ban us from the blog. Note: we’ve never even considered banning anyone from our blog. The RGI does it all the time.
Then, it came down, with Brothawolf, to threatening to run to Mama WordPress and whine about how mean we were.
Often, we heard from people wishing that we white people (another example of “mind reading” — we told them that we were not white, but they simply called us liars and insisted we were) would all simply die. Or be killed.
Some indicated that as soon as non-white people were in the majority, they’d start killing white people. The commentator said that she would welcome that day, and would join in. Not recognizing, apparently, the irony in the fact that if we white people are so racist, and whites are the dominant race, then plainly they should be killing non-whites if only from a sense of self-preservation. Ipso facto, if the non-whites were then to engage in extermination of white people, then they would immediately confirm all the negative things that racists say about non-whites!
Arguing with the RGI is worse than arguing with a three-year old. The three-year old makes more sense and is more mature.
#9: Name-calling. Here’s what the author of this interesting essay says about “Name-calling.”
Narcissists preemptively blow anything they perceive as a threat to their superiority out of proportion. In their world, only they can ever be right and anyone who dares to say otherwise creates a narcissistic injury that results in narcissistic rage. As Mark Goulston, M.D. asserts, narcissistic rage does not result from low self-esteem but rather a high sense of entitlement and false sense of superiority. [Our comment: Yep. This sure rings true as it pertains to the RGI, to the snowflakes on college campuses, and to the larger American Left.]
The lowest of the low resort to narcissistic rage in the form of name-calling when they can’t think of a better way to manipulate your opinion or micromanage your emotions. Name-calling is a quick and easy way to put you down, degrade you and insult your intelligence, appearance or behavior while invalidating your right to be a separate person with a right to his or her perspective.
Name-calling can also be used to criticize your beliefs, opinions and insights. A well-researched perspective or informed opinion suddenly becomes “silly” or “idiotic” in the hands of a malignant narcissist or sociopath who feels threatened by it and cannot make a respectful, convincing rebuttal. Rather than target your argument, they target you as a person and seek to undermine your credibility and intelligence in any way they possibly can. It’s important to end any interaction that consists of name-calling and communicate that you won’t tolerate it. Don’t internalize it: realize that they are resorting to name-calling because they are deficient in higher level methods.
In all my interactions with the RGI, the very first name they called me was, of course, “racist.” Then, however, I quickly morphed into a liar, an idiot, a sociopath, a psychopath, a jerk, and on and on and on and on and on. Sometimes they became quite creative.
I kind of enjoyed it, because if they called me an idiot, I’d simply suggest that it should be easy, then, for them to beat me, and why don’t they give it a try? And if they called me something evil, I’d challenge them, “Are you going to let [fill in evil name here] triumph? Stand up for all that is good and right and beat my arguments!“
They didn’t like that. But I did.
Arabi’s final paragraph is wrong. Calling what someone says “idiotic” is not name-calling. It’s disparaging, and crude, but it’s not name-calling. This is correct, though: “…they are resorting to name-calling because they are deficient in higher level methods.” And, don’t forget: because they just might be wrong. No “higher level methods” in the world can help a lame argument be a good one.
#10: Destructive conditioning. Okay. This one is just the author’s attempt to describe the behavior of someone with whom, apparently, she lived at some point. Since this is not something that one can do to another in the context of an internet debate, it’s not relevant to this post.
The next few entries are like #10, and pertain to a relationship of people who live together. However, Arabi’s #18 is on the money in describing how the Left and the RGI interact with those who disagree with them.
#18: Condescending sarcasm and patronizing tone.
Belittling and degrading a person is a toxic person’s forte and their tone of voice is only one tool in their toolbox. Sarcasm can be a fun mode of communication when both parties are engaged, but narcissists use it chronically as a way to manipulate you and degrade you. If you in any way react to it, you must be “too sensitive.” [Our comment: Yep]
Forget that the toxic person constantly has temper tantrums every time their big bad ego is faced with realistic feedback – the victim is the hypersensitive one, apparently. So long as you’re treated like a child and constantly challenged for expressing yourself, you’ll start to develop a sense of hypervigilance about voicing your thoughts and opinions without reprimand. This self-censorship enables the abuser to put in less work in silencing you, because you begin to silence yourself. [Our comment: Yep]
Whenever you are met with a condescending demeanor or tone, call it out firmly and assertively. You don’t deserve to be spoken down to like a child – nor should you ever silence yourself to meet the expectation of someone else’s superiority complex. [Our comment: Yep]
Yep. Yep. And yep.
I disagree generally with Arabi’s prescriptions for defeating these people. I suggest simply (1) not allowing them to get to you, (2) calling them every time on their ridiculous, desperate-seeming deflections and (3) challenging them to remain on-topic and to avoid the personal attacks, the mind-reading and all the other nonsense. Then, (4) state simply that in failing to engage with the topic, the person is betraying either the feebleness of his argument or the shabbiness of his character. Or both.
(1) One thing the world absolutely should have done, was to hold Nuremberg War Crimes-style trials in Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Big, publicly available trials for atrocities and other human rights violations on an inconceivably massive scale. And we should have done it right under the noses of the Chinese, the Vietnamese, the North Korean, the Cuban régimes. Trials that would have done for Communism what the Nuremberg War Crimes trials did for Nazism.
The world missed a massive opportunity to expose, loudly and clearly, leftist statism and thought for putrefaction that it is.
By the way, the reason we didn’t was because the very people we would have been putting on trial — Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko, Gorbachev — had followers all throughout American academia, the media, Hollywood, pop culture, and most importantly, one of the two major American political parties.
America would have had, quite literally, to bring to light the huge involvement that the American Democrat Party had maintained with world Socialism for decades, up to and including one war-time Vice-President of the United States!
Here’s an excerpt from the Wikipedia for that Vice-President Henry Wallace (d. 1941-1945):
The “Guru letters” reappeared and were published, seriously damaging his campaign. More damage was done to Wallace’s campaign when journalists H.L. Mencken and Dorothy Thompson, both longtime and vocal New Deal opponents, charged that Wallace and the Progressives were under the covert control of Communists.
Wallace’s refusal to publicly disavow the endorsement of his candidacy by the Communist Party (USA) cost him the backing of many anti-Communist liberals and of independent socialist Norman Thomas. Wallace suffered a decisive defeat in the election to the Democratic incumbent Harry S. Truman.
(2) The continuing silliness over “gay rights” is silliness, because gay people already have more rights than normal people. It’s like feminism: the calls for “women’s rights” have become vastly louder and more shrill because women surpassed men in rights a long, long time ago. Therefore, in order to avoid the truth that feminism is no longer relevant, and is, in fact, harmful, the population must be distracted. You can’t distract anyone with reasonable tones, and rational arguments.