Humans communicate in subtle ways, especially when signaling dominance or contempt.
Someone once told me a story about her father, whose patriarchy was a reign of terror. After describing her father’s many abuses, this person came to what she regarded as the worst of it: when one of her father’s children needed money, he would stand at the top of a staircase and throw a wad of cash to the bottom, making the child bend down to pick it up.
Everything about it was a message: his standing above; his throwing down to; his making the child come to him; his making the child bend down and pick it up. He was saying, I am your lord; you are at my mercy; everything I do for you I do at my own expense; you are unworthy; you must beg even for meager sustenance.
I thought of that when I saw Donald Trump tossing rolls of paper towel at the victims of Hurricane Maria, making them bob and weave if they wanted some of what Trump was bequeathing. Come to me, he was saying; I have gifts. But you will have to clamor for these gifts like Mallard ducks chasing scraps of stale bread. That is what you are to me — compared to me — and you are nothing more.
One wonders whether those who don’t see Trump for what he is have ever dealt with monsters in their own lives; diagnosing Trump’s malignant depravity is utterly uncomplicated for anyone who has seen such a creature up close — unless, of course, one is himself or herself such a creature.