Moral narcissists are helping to make sure America’s COVID-19 lockdown continues in full force, shaming anyone who objects, refuses, questions, or even simply voices concerns or complaints.
I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already is the title of Roger Simon’s fascinating 2016 book on the subject of moral narcissism. Simon described this particular kind of narcissism as a “far more lethal form” that is destroying “our families, friendships, workplace atmosphere, and democratic republic.” That kind of lethality infecting the “cure” for a pandemic could certainly produce an outcome much worse than that of the virus itself.
Simon describes the feelings of the moral narcissist this way:
What you believe, or claim to believe or say you believe—not what you do or how you act or what the results of your actions may be—defines you as a person and makes you “good.” It is how your life will be judged by others and by yourself…
If your intentions are good, if they conform to the general received values of your friends, family, and co-workers, what a person of your class and social milieu is supposed to think, everything is fine. You are that “good” person. You are ratified. You can do anything you wish. It doesn’t matter in the slightest what the results of those ideas and beliefs are, or how society, the country, and in some cases, the world suffers from them. It doesn’t matter that they misfire completely, cause terror attacks, illness, death, riots in the inner city, or national bankruptcy. You will be applauded and approved of.
We’re supposed to think that the continued shutdowns over the coronavirus are good. Those who dare to ask about the science and models behind lockdown orders, the increasing collateral damage to our economy, or the difference between dying with or dying of the virus, much less the deaths that are happening because of the shutdown—receive swift judgment from the moral narcissists. Not in the form of factual or intelligent answers, but rather, questions framed to shame:
Don’t you care about granny? Do you want more people to die? Is the economy more important to you than people’s lives?
For the moral narcissist, Simon quipped, “A trip to Whole Foods in a Tesla became the equivalent of striking a blow against world hunger.”
Today, wearing a mask while you shop (and only for “essentials”)—plus making sure everyone else wears one and also stays 6 feet away—has become the equivalent of saving people from dying.
These moral narcissists don’t trouble themselves with facts, such as the reality that everyone dies, eventually, or that even before COVID-19 most people who died were elderly, and that most residents who moved into nursing homes were well over the age of average life expectancy and stayed less than six months (and that wasn’t because they checked out and decided to move instead to a condo in Florida).
Neither “quarantine the healthy” nor “social distancing” are even remotely considered oxymoronic phrases by the moral narcissists, who also don’t seem to worry about the psychological impacts of it all (especially) on our children and our nation’s social cohesion and psyche.
Even though one-size-fits-all versions of anything rarely fit anyone at all, the narcissists still insist on this style of sweeping, draconian strategies to combat the virus. The individuals suffering from lack of proper medical care for other conditions, unemployment, etc., are but specks in the narcissist’s imagined grand picture of the greater good for the collective.
If the call to action in the name of public health has revealed the inner dictator in many of our government officials, they’ve found their own army of volunteer enforcers—the moral narcissists not only in the media but in our own neighborhoods. Their shutdown orders may not be constitutional, but by golly, they are moral!
If it only saves one life! And if you disagree with that precept, you could go to jail—not for being guilty of what used to be considered an actual crime, but for failing to comply with these do-gooders’ conceptions of morality.
As Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned those who refused to follow her stay-at-home orders: “We have to take that next level of enforcement to make sure that we save lives . . . We will shut you down, we will cite you, and if we need to, we will arrest you and we will take you to jail.” She also asked residents to anonymously submit tips of the order-breakers to the police.
You see, Mayor Lightfoot and the anonymous tattle-tales know best.
Not coincidentally, it’s also many of the “same people,” as Julie Kelly noted, who knew better than we and who promoted the “collusion hoax, fluffed for Mueller, ignored Russiagate, joined the Kavanaugh lynch mob, condemned pro-life high schoolers for smirking, and demanded impeachment over a phone call [that also] now support a prolonged lockdown.”
The crisis of the virus has certainly given power-hungry state and local politicians a power-grabbing opportunity that they couldn’t let go to waste. But for the moral narcissists, it delivered them the perfect scenario for shaming others into conformity: new rules in order to save lives from the virus—the perfect companion cause to add to their quest to save the planet from climate change (and of course they’re still working on that too, trying to insert Green New Deal policies into the virus relief bills).
But they aren’t looking past their upturned noses to see the mounting collateral damage resulting from their efforts, and as Simon warned, this kind of narcissism:
…makes people blind to reality and democracy moot…[T]he narcissistic allure is not far from the allure of fascism…If our politics is dictated by what makes us feel good about ourselves, our mirror will soon, perhaps inevitably, morph into mass movements in which mock Gestapo salutes or pseudo-anarchist Guy Fawkes face masks, not to mention faded T-shirts emblazoned with mass murderers like Che and Mao, become the real thing.
And here we are: “Social distancing” is the new motto for those signaling their virtuous adherence to this new religion.
Other faiths haven’t been outlawed (yet) as they essentially were by communist regimes, but our churches and synagogues have been shut down, threatened with permanent closure if they fail to comply, and when allowed to reopen must do so at reduced capacity. Freedom of religion already has been evolving into the more limited concept of freedom of worship, and that is now subject to new restrictions. Masks are required to cover the very faces out of which, as H. Reed Armstrong once wrote, “the soul, the image and likeness of God, shines through.”
Community, where resistance might form, is instead unraveled with Orwellian slogans like “Alone Together.” And in case you don’t conform to the new edicts of this Moral New World, Big Brother will keep tabs on your social media, and you—with contact tracing and his army of neighborhood watchers.
We are all in this apart and together and forward, comrade!