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Trump, the Coronavirus Pandemic, Asian American Xenophobia, and Humanistic Psychology

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Abstract

This article discusses the relationship of humanistic psychology to what the author perceives as the dangerous leadership and rhetoric of United States President Donald Trump, in particular in regard to the severe crisis of the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump's divisive political and racist rhetoric is described with an emphasis on it quite possibly being linked to a rise in xenophobic violence against Asian Americans, which is related to Asian Americans being unfairly blamed for the spread of the coronavirus. Core values of humanistic psychology consisting of genuine and empathic human relationships, personal growth and transformation, and creativity are offered as antidotes to the severe world of lockdowns, social distancing, and remote interactions becoming the norm that we are currently witnessing in the existential crisis of the coronavirus pandemic. The author utilizes his own experience in the Resisting Trump progressive politics movement as an additional antidote and focuses on the extreme urgency of doing so in our current coronavirus pandemic existential crisis. Finally, the author conveys the importance of working through humanistic psychology cofounder Abraham Maslow's lower and higher levels simultaneously in Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory, to survive the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump, the Coronavirus Pandemic, Asian American Xenophobia, and
Humanistic Psychology
Elliot Benjamin
First Published December 14, 2020 Research Article
https://doi.org/10.1177/0022167820979650
Abstract
This article discusses the relationship of humanistic psychology to what the author
perceives as the dangerous leadership and rhetoric of United States President Donald
Trump, in particular in regard to the severe crisis of the coronavirus pandemic. President
Trump’s divisive political and racist rhetoric is described with an emphasis on it quite
possibly being linked to a rise in xenophobic violence against Asian Americans, which is
related to Asian Americans being unfairly blamed for the spread of the coronavirus. Core
values of humanistic psychology consisting of genuine and empathic human relationships,
personal growth and transformation, and creativity are offered as antidotes to the severe
world of lockdowns, social distancing, and remote interactions becoming the norm that we
are currently witnessing in the existential crisis of the coronavirus pandemic. The author
utilizes his own experience in the Resisting Trump progressive politics movement as an
additional antidote and focuses on the extreme urgency of doing so in our current
coronavirus pandemic existential crisis. Finally, the author conveys the importance of
working through humanistic psychology cofounder Abraham Maslow’s lower and higher
levels simultaneously in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, to survive the coronavirus
pandemic.
Keywords humanistic psychology, coronavirus pandemic, hierarchy of needs, progressive
politics, genuine and empathic relationships, personal growth, transformation, and creativity
Introduction
Many of the statements and policies of United States President Donald Trump are
completely antithetical to the basic premises of humanistic psychology that involve
engaging in empathic, authentic relationships with people (Baum-Baicker, 2020; Benjamin,
2019; Fein et al., 2018; Lee, 2019).1 This current article describes the relationship of
Trump and the coronavirus pandemic in the context of Asian American xenophobia and
humanistic psychology, and expands on previous work connecting humanistic psychology,
the deleterious effects on people in the United States from the presidency of Donald
Trump, and the coronavirus pandemic (Benjamin, 2020a, 2020b; Bland, 2020; Larson,
2020). To begin with, the following section addresses the Trump/coronavirus pandemic
relationship to Asian American xenophobia.
Trump, the Coronavirus Pandemic, and Asian American Xenophobia
There are numerous articles that describe how the actions and non-actions of President
Trump have resulted in the horrific escalation of sickness and death, as well as the
prevalence of economic devastation, from the coronavirus pandemic that we are currently
witnessing in the United States (see, e.g., Annieli, 2020; Sumner, 2020a, 2020b). But what
the present author finds to be particularly egregious is the current scapegoating of, and
hate crimes against, Asian Americans, who are unfairly being victimized for the spread of
the coronavirus (Kelley, 2020; Stevens, 2020; Yan et al., 2020). This is disgustingly
antithetical to anything even remotely related to the core values of genuine and empathic
relationships between people that is the hallmark of humanistic psychology (C. R. Rogers,
1961), and I would like to explore how this inexcusable blame and violence toward Asian
Americans came about.
Consequently, this leads right back to previous concerns about the “dangerous leadership
and rhetoric of President Donald Trump” (Benjamin, 2019).
For a period of time, President Trump promoted the term “Chinese Virus,” and although he
subsequently stopped using this term, his past comments may very well be related to the
rise of Asian American xenophobia (Leigh, 2020; Somvichian-Clausen, 2020). According to
the World Health Organization (WHO): “Naming viruses after geographic locations or
groups of people is inaccurate, inappropriate and could aid in the creation of negative
connotations for Asian Americans, specifically those of Chinese descent” and this can “lead
to the profiling of individuals associated with the virus” (Somvichian-Clausen, 2020, pp. 4-
5). Furthermore, Trump’s sudden decision to stop using the term Chinese Virus, while seen
as a definite improvement by those who have condemned the use of the term, still raised
concerns for some Asian Americans, as conveyed by Yale University professor of sociology
Grace Kao: “Even with that quote he uses the words ‘us and them’ in a way that very
clearly marks that Asian Americans are not ‘us’” (Somvichian-Clausen, 2020, p. 6). Kao
explained further the damaging effects of Trump’s use of the term Chinese Virus: “With
something like COVID-19, where everyone is scared of catching it, Asian Americans
become the physical embodiment of disease, so we’re seen with great suspicion”
(Somvichian-Clausen, 2020, p. 7).
Trump’s adding fire to the fuel against Asian Americans is heart-wrenching in the effects it
may have escalated: “Rampant ignorance and misinformation about the novel coronavirus,
experts say, has led to racist and xenophobic attacks against fellow Americans or anyone
in the US who looks East Asian” (Yan et al., 2020, p. 1). These racist and xenophobic
attacks on Asian Americans have been described in graphic terms, inclusive of the
“profound sadness” that Asian Americans consequently feel:
And then came the coronavirus—a pandemic that unleashed a torrent of hate and violence
as bigots blamed Asian-Americans for the outbreak. In recent weeks, they have been yelled
at, spit on, physically attacked and more, leading at least three organizations to begin
tracking the episodes. Hundreds of people have filed reports, the groups say, though an
untold number of incidents have most likely gone uncounted as victims have chosen to keep
quiet. . . . They also spoke of a profound sadness; despite a long struggle for hard-won
educational economic and political gains, the xenophobic attacks and political rhetoric of the
last month have served as a reminder that, especially under Mr. Trump, Asian-Americans
may never fully be able to shake the feeling that they are perpetual foreigners. (Stevens,
2020, p. 1)
There is no doubt that prejudice against Asian Americans was there to begin with, but the
concern is that the political rhetoric of President Trump has exacerbated this prejudice and
has brought it out in the open after being stimulated by the coronavirus: “These
stereotypes have been here for decades. . . . They’re always kind of underneath the
surface. But if there’s some precipitating event, then it can bring it all back out” (Stevens,
2020, p. 2).2 Former Asian American Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang
conveyed his own personal similar feelings as being “disheartened by his [Trump’s]
decision to inflame hostilities” (Stevens, 2020, p. 5).
Thus, in addition to the inexcusably tragic leadership and lack of leadership by President
Trump that has resulted in the growing destruction and death caused by the pandemic in
the United States, his reckless damaging term that made people think of the coronavirus
as the “Chinese” virus has likely resulted in the targeting of Asian Americans unfairly and
brutally (Kelley, 2020; Stevens, 2020; Yan et al., 2020). This reckless and damaging use of
political rhetoric by President Trump has certainly not been limited to Asian Americans, as
is blatantly obvious from his previous use of the term “shithole countries” to refer to Haiti,
El Salvador, and nations in Africa (Vitali et al., 2018), and his making a statement that four
progressive minority congresswomen who had been outspokenly critical to what they
perceived as President Trump’s destructive racist agendas should “go back to the
countries they came from” (K. Rogers & Fandos, 2019). But what is focused on in the
remainder of this article is how core values of humanistic psychology can be utilized in
these dangerously tragic times to at least partially offset the rampant destructiveness that
is related to what I have previously referred to as the “Deadly Duo”: Trump and the
Coronavirus.3
Trump, the Coronavirus Pandemic, and Humanistic Psychology
Humanistic psychology is all about personal growth and transformation, authenticity,
creativity, empathy, and compassion (Arons & Richards, 2015; Elkins, 2015; C. R. Rogers,
1961; Walsh, 2015). However, Abraham Maslow in his theory of the hierarchy of needs
(Maslow, 1962) argued that we need to navigate the lower levels, inclusive of physiological
and safety needs, before getting to the higher levels, inclusive of love, belongingness, self-
esteem, creativity, and self-actualization, although this may not be as straightforward as
Maslow had envisioned (McLeod, 2020), which is discussed further below. But due to the
coronavirus pandemic, and from the extreme worsening of its destructiveness in the United
States through the actions and nonactions of President Trump (Annieli, 2020; Benjamin,
2020a; Gutiérrez & Clarke, 2020; Sumner, 2020a, 2020b),3 the lower levels that we are
now dealing with are bare survival and existence—life and death. In this regard, in order to
fully focus on the basic values of humanistic psychology we need to convey sincere
empathy to those whose loved ones have died from the coronavirus, and we need to feel
that we ourselves are not going to suddenly die from the coronavirus. Furthermore, the
basic values of humanistic psychology, in particular the values of genuineness, empathy,
and creativity, may very well assist us in being able to do this.
Lockdowns, social distancing, and remote interactions becoming the norm make it
challenging for people to engage in the kind of genuine, empathic relationships that is the
hallmark of humanistic psychology (Holcombe, 2020; C. R. Rogers, 1961).4 These kind of
challenges may very well include various significant mental health concerns:
The protracted disruption to life as it was, mental health experts say, could bring feelings of
anger, depression, anxiety and even grief. . . . It could put strain on families, send children
home to abusive situations, make those living alone feel isolated and threaten people’s
sense of purpose by keeping them from work. (Holcombe, 2020, pp. 1-2)
However, it is also the case that many people have demonstrated creative and resourceful
ways of dealing with this “protracted disruption to life as it was,” reflecting core humanistic
psychology values of empathy, authenticity, and creativity through “virtual” dialogue via
email, phone, and Zoom, as well as engaging in teletherapy.4
Creativity in the everyday sense is intimately connected with the foundations of humanistic
psychology (Arons & Richards, 2015; Maslow, 1962; C. R. Rogers, 1961). This kind of
everyday creativity is currently being demonstrated in the midst of the coronavirus crisis
through activities such as teachers making new distance learning environments and
lessons for their students, spiritual leaders and churches creating new ways to worship and
connect using technology and drive-in style services, and staff at senior communities
organizing Zoom interest groups and creative programming for residents (Benjamin,
2020a; Graham, 2020; Holcombe, 2020).4 Personal growth and transformation, which is a
foundational value of humanistic psychology (C. R. Rogers, 1961), has been studied after
trauma in the context of posttraumatic growth, and includes creativity as an important
factor (Schulenberg, 2020; Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2004). Personal growth and
transformation in the context of spirituality after trauma can help individuals develop a
much needed sense of peace and comfort during times of upheaval (Aten et al.,
2019; Schulenberg, 2020), and this also is intricately linked to humanistic psychology
(Elkins, 2015; Walsh, 2015). Similarly, the practice of meditation is linked with humanistic
psychology in the context of a practitioner developing an expanded awareness (Criswell &
Serlin, 2015; Kabat-Zinn, 2005; K. Rogers, 2020; Schneider, 2015). Applying these
humanistic psychology–related ideas and practices in our current pandemic crisis may be
of enormous benefit in assisting people to survive, and perhaps even grow, from the
trauma that they are currently forced to live through (Wong, 2020).
Genuine and empathic communication, which is another foundational value of humanistic
psychology (C. R. Rogers, 1961), is currently being practiced during this very challenging
pandemic crisis in a variety of settings, inclusive of senior communities (Graham, 2020),
online political groups (Benjamin, 2020a), and online therapeutic settings (Villano,
2020; Willingham, 2020).4 Esteemed humanistic psychology elder Maureen O’Hara (2019,
pp. 147, 149) conveyed some wise and inspiring words as she described “persons of
tomorrow everywhere engaged in large and mostly small creative and effective initiatives
addressing the multiple challenges humanity faces in the 21st century” as an urgent
alternative to the “current narratives of despair, fear and division” in order to “promote
narratives of hope and solidarity not just with other humans but with all the species on the
planet.” The present author believes that O’Hara’s description of “persons of tomorrow” is a
good summary of an optimistic developmental outlook for humanistic psychology in our
current trying times.
The Merging of Humanistic Psychology With Progressive Politics
Maureen O’Hara’s vision of humanistic psychology promoting “narratives of hope and
solidarity” can be an antidote to the “current narratives of despair, fear, and division” in a
number of specific concrete ways, as described above. But I also think that in order to
effectively accomplish this, there needs to be a merging of humanistic psychology with
progressive politics (Benjamin, 2020a, 2020b; House et al., 2018; Proctor et al.,
2006; Schmid, 2015). Progressive politics is intertwined with values inclusive of social
reform, nonviolent dissent, freedom of speech, combating climate change, limiting the
power of monopolistic corporations, environmental justice, economic and political equality,
and improvement of the human condition (Greenberg & Levin, 2019; The Progressive
Magazine, 2020; Sargent, 2018; Wikipedia, 2020). In regard to our current coronavirus
pandemic crisis, virtually all of these progressive politics values are intimately related to the
core humanistic psychology value of empathy (C. R. Rogers, 1961, 1986). What I have
perceived as the destruction of these progressive politics values, and most especially of
the core humanistic psychology value of empathy, by the deadly actions and rhetoric of
President Trump was part and parcel of my involvement in the Resisting Trump/grassroots
progressive politics Indivisible movement ever since Trump was elected president in
November 2016 (Benjamin, 2020a, 2020b; Greenberg & Levin, 2019). As described in the
previous section, Trump’s divisive and racist political rhetoric has now extended to Asian
Americans with his attribution of the “Chinese virus,” and this has likely had violent
consequences. And with regard to the merger of humanistic psychology with progressive
politics, the present author feels inspired by Carl Rogers, who in the late 1970s toward the
end of his career, came to terms with his own self-realization that he needed to “speak out”
as he believed that his culture was “facing a life and death crisis on many fronts” (C. R.
Rogers, 1986, p. 24).
In our current time, this life and death crisis is absolutely no exaggeration as we are
currently witnessing multitudes of people getting infected and dying every day from the
coronavirus (Benjamin, 2020c; Carbone, 2020; Croft, 2020; Foran & Ehrlich, 2020; New
York Times, 2020; Sumner, 2020a, 2020b; 2020c; Treisman, 2020a, 2020b).3 Furthermore,
there are alarming signs that this life and death crisis is likely to soon get far worse, based
on Trump’s successful pressure to now dangerously open the schools, as well as his
unleashing quasi-military “kidnapping” and violent responses to peaceful demonstrators
(Dartgnan, 2020; Leeb et al, 2020; Sumner, 2020a, 2020b, 2020d). Furthermore, it has
been demonstrated through terror management theory that this life and death crisis has
significant effects on the thoughts, values, attitudes, and mental health of a great number
of people all over the world (Pyszczynski et al., 2020; Solomon et al., 2015). However, the
present author takes courage from two of the founders of existential/humanistic
psychology: Victor Frankl (1959/1992) and Rollo May (1985). Frankl (1959/1992) brought
forth his model of logotherapy as a “person of tomorrow” courageous and creative
response to the horrors of Hitler and the holocaust. May (1985) wrote about the tragedies
of senseless war and destruction, but somehow emerged with his sense of “beauty” intact.
And I believe that the writings of May and Frankl, as well as a number of other
humanistic/existential psychologists, such as Kirk Schneider’s (2004) writings about
existential “awe,” and in particular the timely coronavirus writings related to humanistic and
existential psychology by Paul Wong (2020) and Evone Phoo (2020), are immensely
relevant right now as we try to survive the current existential crisis that the whole world is
suffering through with the coronavirus pandemic.
The present author was pleased to see the Journal of Humanistic Psychology devote two
of their 2020 special issues to concerns about President Trump,1 and two of their 2020
and 2021 special issues to the coronavirus pandemic. I view the inclusion of two Journal of
Humanistic Psychology special issues related to concerns about President Trump as a
significant merger of humanistic psychology and progressive politics in its own regard. We
thus see the merging of humanistic psychology and progressive politics in action during the
current existential crisis that the world is facing with the coronavirus pandemic, and in
particular during this precarious time in which the severity of the crisis in the United States
is being elevated by President Donald Trump.
Maslow’s Hierarchy, Humanistic Psychology, and the Coronavirus Pandemic
As people all over the world are currently practicing continuous social distancing, isolation,
and various hand washing and other protective survival measures,4 I think back
to Maslow’s (1962) hierarchy of needs. People are certainly operating firmly in Maslow’s
lowest levels, that of utter survival (Pyszczynski et al., 2020; Solomon et al., 2015).
However, a number of humanistic psychology writers have conveyed that in order to
effectively maintain their survival mode of functioning to stay alive, they need to be
simultaneously immersed in what can be construed as “higher level” Maslow activities
(Gupta, 2020; Phoo, 2020; Wong, 2020). And this experiential “simultaneous” living out of
Maslow’s higher and lower level needs is consistent with a critical evaluation of Maslow’s
hierarchy of needs by Saul McLeod (2020, pp. 7-8), who conveyed that “a person may be
motivated by higher growth needs at the same time as lower level deficiency needs” and
gave the example that “many creative people, such as authors and artists (e.g., Rembrandt
and Van Gogh) lived in poverty throughout their lifetime, yet it could be argued that they
achieved self-actualization.” The present author has previously written about how there are
a number of well-known examples of famous creative artists who suffered their whole lives
through various forms of mental disturbance, including some who took their own lives, and
this is another argument that Maslow’s higher and lower levels can be occurring
simultaneously (Benjamin, 2020d).
We can see an impactful description from Viktor Frankl’s (1959/1992, p. 162) formulation of
“tragic optimism” of working simultaneously on Maslow’s lower and higher levels, that was
motivated by Frankl’s survival in the unspeakable horrors of the Nazi holocaust:
I speak of tragic optimism, that is, an optimism in the face of tragedy and in view of the
human potential which at its best always allows for: (1) turning suffering into a human
achievement and accomplishment; (2) deriving from guilt the opportunity to change oneself
for the better; and (3) deriving from life’s transitoriness an incentive to take responsible
action.
In particular, Paul Wong (2020, p. 45) gave a poignant illustration of working
simultaneously on Maslow’s lower and higher levels in regard to functioning effectively in
the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, as he conveyed that “It takes nothing less than a
resilience revolution to defeat the pandemic” and “The preventive measure of self-isolation
may provide much needed time to discover your true self—perhaps, even to follow your
deepest yearnings to become what you were meant to be.” And Evone Phoo (2020, p. 591)
poetically conveyed Frankl’s tragic optimism perspective in the face of the coronavirus
pandemic as follows: “The virus might take our lives, but it does not take away humanity.
‘Grace under fire.’. . . . They always echo in my ears, in times of my shivering anxiety and
shaken faith. . . . in our grace, we shall finally find hope.”
The coronavirus pandemic is putting a severe strain on all of us, but engaging in authentic
empathic communication with other people, even if much of this communication presently
needs to be “virtual,” is an important therapeutic way of maintaining our human spirit as
well as our sanity (Graham, 2020; Holcombe, 2020; Villano, 2020; Tay & Diener,
2011; Willingham, 2020).4 Furthermore, there are clear indications that President Trump
has made our pandemic ordeal far worse than it had to be (Annieli, 2020; Sumner,
2020a, 2020b). However, the problems in our society that led both to the advent of
President Trump as well as to the far greater destruction and death from the coronavirus
pandemic than needed to be the case, lie well beyond the individual Donald Trump
(Greenberg & Levin, 2019; Sargent, 2018). These problems are reflected in a number of
stark overwhelming political challenges that are currently facing us, inclusive of problems
related to the racist discounting of the voices of Democratic minorities through voter
suppression, gerrymandering, the electoral college, the fillibuster, and police violence
(Greenberg & Levin, 2019; Neiwert, 2020; Sargent, 2018; Sumner, 2020d; Viser et al.,
2020). This racism and bigotry that for a long time have shaped our policies and
policymaking are now sadly visible in the apparently disproportionate impact that the
coronavirus has had on people of color, with vastly higher infection and death rates (Kendi,
2020), and tragically in the police murders of African Americans and the current violence
and chaos that have resulted from the most recent of these horrific murders (Neiwert,
2020; Viser et al., 2020). The present author believes that engaging with these pressing
political/racial problems while simultaneously dealing with the necessary precautions to
avoid sickness and death due to the coronavirus, for some people may be a way of dealing
with the lower and higher levels of Maslow’s hierarchy at the same time (Benjamin,
2020a; McLeod, 2020).
Furthermore, this is consistent with Maureen O’Hara’s (2019) description of a “person of
tomorrow” who is engaged in “large and mostly small creative and effective initiatives
addressing the multiple challenges humanity faces in the 21st century” (p. 147). In this
context perhaps it may be worthwhile for like-minded others to consider becoming involved
in progressive politics as a means of contributing to our current horrific pandemic crisis as
“persons of tomorrow.” This involvement certainly has numerous potential avenues of
activation, especially with the current nightmare of police brutality and murder of African
Americans and the consequential national riots in cities all over the United States, with
accelerated chaos and violence being promoted by white supremacist groups (Neiwert,
2020; Viser et al., 2020). As Maureen O’Hara (2015) has effectively argued, humanistic
psychology needs to extend personal transformation to cultural transformation in “the
service of a world in peril” (p. 580). In the process of getting involved in various creative
activities as described above, there are many possible ways, inclusive of and in addition to
being involved in progressive politics, for humanistic psychologists to become engaged in
the service of the world’s cultural transformation in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
In this context, it may be necessary to work online for as long as the pandemic is a danger,
for the personal safety of everyone involved, while simultaneously being involved on
Maslow’s lower and higher levels in his hierarchy of needs.
Conclusion
Without a doubt we are currently living in a horribly precarious time, as thousands of
people are dying every day from the coronavirus and in the United States these deaths are
currently increasing at an alarming rate. To make matters even worse, we in the United
States are being led through this existential crisis by someone who appears to be putting
his own political and economic aspirations and narcissism, while utilizing destructive
political and racist rhetoric, over the reality of hundreds of thousands of Americans dying.
During these times of seemingly endless lockdowns, social distancing, and virtual
interactions as the norm, it may indeed be challenging to generate any kind of hope or
optimism for the future. But this is exactly where I think the core values of humanistic
psychology have a crucial therapeutic role to play, as described in the above excerpt
from Maureen O’Hara (2019). Furthermore, it may be both feasible and even necessary to
be operating simultaneously on Maslow’s lower and higher levels of his hierarchy of needs
as we navigate through the horrific existential challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
Coupling humanistic psychology with progressive politics to work toward the goal of
removing the “dangerous leadership and rhetoric of President Donald Trump” is what the
present author believes is the most beneficial course of action that he can take personally
to reach this goal. However, there are many possible ways, inclusive of and in addition to
being involved in progressive politics, for humanistic psychologists to enhance our
society’s crucial cultural transformation while we are in the midst of the coronavirus
pandemic crisis.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
Funding
The author received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of
this article.
ORCID iD
Elliot Benjamin https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7551-0377
Notes
1.See also the articles in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology 2020 Special
Issues: Addressing the Elephant in the Room: Stories of Ethical Activism in the Age of
Trump, Volume 60, Number 4; and Turbulent Times in the Trump Era: Inside and Outside
the Consulting Room, Volume 60, Number 6.
2.See CAPAC Media Center (2020) for a description of CAPAC’s (Congressional Asian
Pacific American Caucus) condemnation of President Trump for his use of the term
“Chinese Virus.”
3.See Benjamin (2020c) which includes the links to Parts 2, 3, 4, and 5 of his Deadly
Duo: Trump and the Coronavirus article series.
4.See also the articles in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology 2020 Special
Issue: COVID-19, Volume 60, Number 5.
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Author Biography
Elliot Benjamin has a PhD in mathematics from the University of Maine, and a PhD in
psychology from Saybrook University with a concentration in consciousness and
spirituality. He is currently a psychology mentor/PhD committee chair at Capella University
and was previously a mathematics professor for 21 years. He has published four books
and over 200 articles in the fields of humanistic and transpersonal psychology,
philosophy/spirituality and awareness of cult dangers, parapsychology, the creative artist
and mental disturbance, progressive politics, pure mathematics, and mathematics
enrichment. He lives in Maine, is married, enjoys playing the piano, tennis, and ballroom
dancing, and has an author’s website that can be viewed at www.benjamin-
philosopher.com.
... The stigmatization of the Covid-19 virus carried out by political elites through certain narrations turned out to affect public opinion, either directly or indirectly. Narrations that carried out by various political elites from various countries in the world, one of which is Donald Trump who calls the Covid-19 virus the "Chinese Virus", "Kung Flu", "Wuhan Virus" and various other negative mentions that are spread through social media and news channel is a form of xenophobic and racist narrative (Benjamin 2021). The speech has connotations that seem to be scapegoating a certain institution or community-which in this case is China and the Asian community as if to be the source of this problem. ...
... This is because Donald Trump, who is the first political elite to publicly confirm that China is the source of the Covid-19 virus by calling the virus the "Chinese Virus", "Kung Flu", "Wuhan Virus" and various other negative mentions that are spread through the internet. Social media and news channels are forms of xenophobic and racist narrative (Benjamin 2021). The utterance has a connotation that seems to form the image of China as scapegoating the problem of the Covid-19 pandemic which has spread widely. ...
... Then it also encourages the intensification of violent practices, and the occurrence of public anxiety, especially among those of Asian descent, who become afraid of being discriminated against and feel pressured over their physical appearance which confirms their racial identity (Park 2021). This is related to the political discourse carried out by the political elite, which then creates a racist community condition and attacks based on xenophobics everywhere (Benjamin 2021). Degrading treatment includes prejudice and ridicule based on race, harassment against people of Asian race such as spitting, as well as hateful acts justified by law as the definition of hate crime experienced by Asian communities in various places. ...
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The purpose of this paper is to explain how the relationship between foreign policies based on the 'Blame Game' could affect the social conditions of society, especially in terms of discrimination against people of Asian descent. The act of accusing each other by Western countries against China over who should actually be responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic has made international political conditions more tense and heated. China's defensive foreign policy strategy turned out to be aggressive and even creates a distortion of information regarding the truth of the origins of the pandemic. So the result is a Blame Game that is destructive, uncooperative, and actually makes problems unresolved where to deal with a global pandemic requires collective action. This is also leads to the increase of discrimination acts towards Asian community. This paper uses an explanatory-qualitative method, with data collection techniques through literature study. Constructivism theory and the concept of Political Racism are used as an analytical tool to explain how the relationship between the research variable. As the result, political elites create identities through the blaming game on various media platforms especially social media, which impacts on the creation of xenophobic perceptions towards the Asian community.
... The stigmatization of the Covid-19 virus carried out by the political elite turned out to have an effect on public opinion, either directly or indirectly. The narrations carried out by political elites in various countries, one of which is Donald Trump, who called the virus "Chinese Virus", "Kung Flu", "Wuhan Virus" and various other negative mentions spread through the media, is a form of xenophobic and racist narrative (Benjamin, 2021). The speech has connotations as seemed to scapegoating a particular community and also indirectly indicates that the concept of white supremacy still exists. ...
... As a case, hate speech carried out by political elites has an impact on the creation of a racist society and attacks based on xenophobia in various places (Benjamin, 2021). Degrading treatment includes prejudice and ridicule based on race, harassment of Asian racial people such as spitting, and acts of hatred which are justified by law to become the definition of hate crime experienced by the Asian community in various places. ...
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This paper aims to explain how the Anti-Asian phenomenon that occurred during the Covid-19 Pandemic, and its impact on the series of democratic setbacks that occurred globally. The existing policy frameworks at both the domestic and global levels have not shown a significant reduction in racism. Democracy will be on the verge of decline if racism continues to occur. This paper uses descriptive-qualitative methods, with data collection techniques through literature studies and documentation studies. Political racism and democracy are theoretical frameworks used in this study to explain the problems that occur. As a finding, the nature and behavior of anti-Asian discrimination in various countries can be influenced by policies made by domestic political elites themselves, which have an impact on the formation of negative perceptions among the people. One of the triggering factors was Donald Trump’s statement at the beginning of the pandemic using racist words such as “Kung-Flu” and “Chinese Virus”, which resulted in a high level of public negative sentiment in various countries towards Asian society until now. If this situation continues, it will increase the number of cases of racism against Asian descent in the countries and injure their human rights, thus creating setbacks in the application of democratic values both in the state and in society. Based on this, efforts are needed to minimize negative sentiment towards Asian descent, namely that the political elites in each country must avoid creating political discourses that lead to racism and respect for the civil rights of each race. Then the government and grassroots actors need to work together in creating a state climate based on the sustainable implementation of substantial democracy in countries not only during the pandemic but also in the post-pandemic period.
... Beyond the oft-cited call for more research, what is particularly needed is research that is empirical. This is because, of the 1,707 publications that were excluded from this study, many were: commentaries; conceptual and rhetorical analyses of the performance of political leaders; personal accounts of COVID-19 experiences; or reflections on the leadership of those on the frontline (29,(48)(49)(50)(51)(52)(53). This suggests there is considerable opportunity for empirical research, particularly that which will help to clarify different approaches to lead teams and organizations during a pandemic. ...
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To manage pandemics, like COVID-19, leadership can enable health services to weather the storm. Yet there is limited clarity on how leadership manifested and was discussed in the literature during COVID-19. This can have considerable public health implications given the importance of leadership in the health sector. This article addresses this missed opportunity by examining the literature on leadership during a pandemic. Following a systematic search of nine academic databases in May 2021, 1,747 publications were screened. Following this, a lexical analysis of the results section was conducted, sourced from a corpus of publications across myriad journals. The results found a prevalence of references to “leader” as a sole actor, risking the perpetuation of a view that critical decisions emanate from a singular source. Moreover, “leadership” was a concept disconnected from the fray of frontline workers, patients, and teams. This suggests a strong need for more diverse vocabularies and conceptions that reflect the “messiness” of leadership as it takes shape in relation to the challenges and uncertainties of COVID-19. There is a considerable opportunity to advance scholarship on leadership via further empirical studies that help to clarify different approaches to lead teams and organizations during a pandemic.
... Scholars continue to reveal concerns expressed by Latinx and Asian students regarding their efficacy to serve a diverse clientele and adequately apply counseling skills, as well as their access to quality training and supervision experiences (Dickson et al., 2010;Goh et al., 2014;Spalding et al., 2018). Students are also concerned with the lack of course content related to White culture within counseling curricula (Spalding et al., 2018) and systemic racism, xenophobia, and discrimination within their communities and the broader society (Benjamin, 2021). These concerns warrant further investigation, as counselors of color have encountered racial microaggressions when providing counseling services to White clients (Branco & Bayne, 2020). ...
Article
Using interpretative phenomenology analysis, this study explored the lived experiences of eight Latinx and Asian trainees. Four superordinate themes were identified: illuminating hegemonic structures, identity challenges, increasing competence through awareness, and varying connections. Implications related to cross‐cultural counseling and counselor education and future research are discussed.
... Although this essay does not aim to reconcile the Bitzer-Vatz debate, conceptualizing the "rhetorical situation" of COVID-19 as both constructing and constructed by rhetorics helps us view the pandemic as an ideologically-constructed phenomenon that shapes exigencies calling for certain rhetorics. We see this scheme in the weaponization of the "Hindutva" ideologies in Indian COVID-19 discourses to legitimize violence against Indian Muslims (Prasad, 2020), Trump's xenophobic framing of COVID-19 to legitimize racism against Asians, particularly the Chinese (Benjamin, 2021), and Duterte's war-like rhetoric to legitimize the securitization of the pandemic response (Arguelles, 2021;Hapal, 2021;Lasco, 2020). This implies that, although these rhetorical situations describe the same pandemic, the narratives about what the pandemic is and how it should be dealt with differ. ...
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Fear appeals used in Filipino COVID-19 discourses are diverse in their strategies, motivations, uses, and forms. On the one hand, some fear appeals, such as showing graphic images of COVID-19 patients to persuade people to follow quarantine protocols, tend to be rational in their approach and underline the importance of adhering to recommended health protocols to avoid contracting the virus. Other fear appeals, on the other hand, such as threatening to shoot those who do not follow quarantine protocols, tend to be more coercive in their approach and use punitive measures as threats. However, socio-psychological definitions of “fear appeal” often fail to recognize these differences in rhetorical strategy and instead conflate all fear appeals into a single genre of persuasive messaging. This conflation becomes problematic as it blurs rhetorical, ethical, and situational nuances present in COVID-19 fear appeals.The purpose of this essay is to fill this conceptual gap by developing a working framework for distinguishing between rational and coercive fear appeals in COVID-19 discourses. First, it surveys Aristotle’s philosophical works on fear appeals in Rhetoric, Nichomachean Ethics, and Politics to construct a rhetorical definition of “fear appeal” as a strategic utterance that uses fear to inspire either courage or cowardice among a polity when confronted with a threat. Second, it locates the exigencies of COVID-19 fear appeals in two rhetorical situations: medical and militaristic, in which the pandemic is framed as either a medical problem requiring medical solutions or a security problem requiring punitive interventions. Finally, it distinguishes between rational fear appeals characteristic of medical rhetorics and coercive fear appeals characteristic of militaristic rhetorics in terms of rhetor-audience relationship, objects of fear, logic and telos of argumentation, and form.
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One of the most significant issues currently affecting our generation is COVID-19. Every area of our life has been brought to a standstill as a result of this unparalleled tragedy, including our social relationships and the vibrant cultures where we once gathered, engaged in conversation, and felt like we were a part of something greater than ourselves. To comprehend how the corona-virus has affected us socially and politically, we will look at its historical development as well impact of it on our lives.
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Many different external factors shape Asian American identity. However, the effect of political elections on racial, ethnic, and national identities has been understudied. This research explores whether political elections represent moments of exogenous shock that can shape the importance of three different dimensions of identities for Asian Americans. This study uses data from the 2016 National Asian American Survey (n = 3,643) to test for a relationship between the racialized rhetoric surrounding the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the aforementioned aspects of Asian American identity. Regression analyses suggest that the election shaped patterns of centrality of racial, national and ethnic identity among Asian Americans, albeit differently across ethnic groups. Specifically, American identity centrality increased for Chinese respondents post-election relative to pre-election, but did not shift significantly for any other group. On the other hand, racial identity centrality significantly decreased for Filipino and Vietnamese respondents post-election, while other groups did not experience a significant change in their racial identity centrality. Finally, ethnic identity centrality only decreased significantly among Korean respondents post-election. This research suggests that these identities among Asian Americans are sensitive to external events, such as political elections, and that the effects of racialized political rhetoric vary across ethnicity.
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Korku Çağı: Terör, Salgın ve Mülteciler dx.doi.org/10.12658/M0642 the journal of humanity and society / İnsan ve toplum dergisi Öz: Küresel tarihî akışa yön veren terör, salgın ve mülteci meseleleri diğer pek çok olgunun yanında önemli bir korku kaynağı olarak çağın bireysel ve toplumsal hayatına yön vermektedir. 21. yüzyılın başlarında üç olgunun toplumsal bir korku kaynağı haline nasıl dönüştüğü sorusu bu çalışmanın temel sorunsalıdır. Bu çalışmanın birinci amacı; çağın toplumsal hayatına korkunun ne şekilde etki ettiğini terör, salgın ve mülteci olguları üzerinden okumaktır. İkinci olarak bu üç olgunun, bağımsız olduğu kadar birbirleri ile bağlantılı olarak da nasıl bir toplumsal korku inşa ettiğini ve aralarındaki ilişkiyi açıklamaktır. Konu edinilen üç olgunun insanları daha fazla kontrol kaybı hissine sürüklediği bunun devamında paradoksal biçimde kontrol etme arayışının arttığı savunulmaktadır. Kontrol arayışı çeşitli aktörler tarafından üretilip kendine özel bir söylemi olan korku dili tarafından inşa edilmektedir. İnsanların sevk ve idaresi için önemli bir aygıta dönüşen korku kaynakları sadece iktidar sahipleri için değil iktidar taliplileri için de kusursuz bir araç haline gelmektedir. Çalışma, 2000 sonrası meydana gelen terör, salgın ve mülteci olgularının arasındaki korku bağlamlı ilişkiyi bütüncül biçimde analiz etmektedir. Abstract: Social scientists have defined modern times by different names and fear is one of them. As the driver for the historical flow in global range besides many other phenomena terror, epidemic and refugee issues direct the individual and social life of the age as a source of fear. This study aims to read how fear affects the social life of the time through the fear of terrorists, epidemics, and refugees. Secondly, it is to clarify what kind of fear is being constructed by these phenomenons and what is the interaction between them. Seeking control is constructed by a peculiar language produced by various actors, fear sources, which turn into an important device for the management and administration of people, become a perfect tool not only for those in power but also for power pretenders. Consequently, realistic or unrealistic sources of fear mutually feed the pursuit of control and the politics of fear.
Article
Social scientists have defined modern times by different names and fear is one of them. As the driver for the historical flow in global range besides many other phenomena terror, epidemic and refugee issues direct the individual and social life of the age as a source of fear. This study aims to read how fear affects the social life of the time through the fear of terrorists, epidemics, and refugees. Secondly, it is to clarify what kind of fear is being constructed by these phenomenons and what is the interaction between them. Seeking control is constructed by a peculiar language produced by various actors, fear sources, which turn into an important device for the management and administration of people, become a perfect tool not only for those in power but also for power pretenders. Consequently, realistic or unrealistic sources of fear mutually feed the pursuit of control and the politics of fear.
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Terror management theory is focused on the role that awareness of death plays in diverse aspects of life. Here, we discuss the theory’s implications for understanding the widely varying ways in which people have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. We argue that regardless of whether one consciously believes that the virus is a major threat to life or only a minor inconvenience, fear of death plays an important role in driving one’s attitudes and behavior related to the virus. We focus on the terror management theory distinction between proximal defenses, which are activated when thoughts of death are in current focal attention and are logically related to the threat at hand, and distal defenses, which are activated when thoughts of death are on the fringes of one’s consciousness and entail the pursuit of meaning, personal value, and close relationships. We use this framework to discuss the many ways in which COVID-19 undermines psychological equanimity, the diverse ways people have responded to this threat, and the role of ineffective terror management in psychological distress and disorder that may emerge in response to the virus.
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