President Donald Trump attended a White House listening session on Wednesday to hear the grievances of those affected by mass shootings in the United States.
There were a number of heated exchanges and demands for the White House to do more to prevent such terrible atrocities, such as the deadly mass shooting in Parkland, Florida last week that killed at least 17 people.
In addition to the potential of expanded background checks, a ban on “bump stocks” and other firearm modifications that increase the rate of fire, the president said his administration is contemplating the potential of arming teachers.
“If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly, and the good thing about a suggestion like that — and we’re going to be looking at it very strongly…but the good thing is you’ll have a lot of [armed] people with that,” the president said.
The conversation was often emotional and sometimes heated.
“Schoolteachers have more than enough responsibilities right now than to have to have the awesome responsibility of lethal force to take a life,” retorted Mark Barden, father of a Sandy Hook victim, whose wife is an educator.
“It should have been one school shooting & we should have fixed it,” Andrew Pollack, who lost his daughter, Meadow Pollack said. “I’m pissed. Because my daughter — I’m not going to see again. She is not here. She is in North Lauderdale, whatever it is, in King David Cemetery. That is where I go to see my kid now.”
It is no surprise that the president made notes to assist him with fielding questions from the emotionally distraught audience and was attempting to be careful to avoid clumsy or insensitive statements.
The following handwritten notes was found in the president’s hand:
— David Martosko (@dmartosko) February 21, 2018
If you can’t read what it is in his hand, it lists five (5) points. The following is legible.
- What would you most want me to know about your experience.
- What can we do to help you feel safe.
- I hear you.
The Washington Post has seized on the note as irrefutable proof that the president is potentially the most inhumane and heartless person on the face of the earth, a person so cold and callous that he would dare to remind himself to say “I hear you” to victims of a horrible shooting.
The newspaper famous for proclaiming, not at all arrogantly, that “democracy dies in darkness,” used the note in an “analysis” piece (which is entirely different than your run-of-the-mill opinion piece or blog entry) to stake out the “fact” that the president has as “empathy deficit.” This note, it heralded, captured the president’s dearth of empathy “better than anything.”
Yep, right there at No. 5 is a talking point about telling those present that he was actually listening. After what appear to be four questions he planned to ask those assembled, No. 5 is an apparent reminder for Trump to tell people, “I hear you.” Even No. 1 is basically a reminder that Trump should empathize. “What would you most want me to know about your experience?” the card reads.
So at least two-fifths of this card is dedicated to making sure the president of the United States assured those assembled that he was interested in what they had to say. (And we don’t know what Nos. 3 and 4 say.)
This would be irrefutable proof that the president is a heartless monster if it weren’t exactly what trauma experts tell people to say when confronting the victims of tragedies.
A federally funded institute published the following on the “psychology of crisis” in a section “acknowledge people’s fears”:
Even when their fear is totally unjustified, people do not respond well to being ignored; nor do they respond well to criticism, mockery, or statistics. And when the fear has some basis, these approaches are still less effective. Instead, you can acknowledge people’s fears even while giving them the information they need to put those fears into context. Giving people permission to be excessively alarmed about a terrorist threat while still telling them why they need not worry, is far more likely to reassure them.
“I hear you.”
These are three words of comfort that are there as a reminder not to rebut victims of tragedies, even if they stray from the facts or their solutions might not work. They were on President Trump’s card to remind him that the White House listening session was not the time or place to debate gun control with victims, but simply, as the “White House listening session” suggests, “hear” them out.
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