Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us, is Donald Trump Jr.’s story. It’s also mine. Because not only does the book tell his story from his perspective, but in doing that it accounts for what happened to me as I told the same story, from my perspective–an outside, independent observer of Election 2016.
Remarkably, there is a lot of overlap between his story and mine. One big difference is that the Trumps “counterpunch” hard, “When we get hit, we hit back twice as hard.” (pg. 150) Again on page 279, “We’ll do what we always do: hit back twice as hard.” That is a family tradition of theirs. I didn’t hit back. Instead, I went into therapy. Nevertheless, we came to the same conclusions, and I’ll stand by them.
Donald Trump Jr. was born December 31, 1977 to a very rich, white, American man and a beautiful, athletic, foreign born white woman. When he was twelve, in 1990, his parents divorced, which was front-page fodder for the New York media. Not only that, but his Czechoslovakian, maternal, grandfather died, whom he had been very close to all his life. Don Jr., as might be expected, struggled and did what a lot of sons do – rebelled – and got a stern talking to from his father. Despite that, he continued to separate. “I felt slightly adrift in the world. It was as though I had been living my life on stilts–one anchored to the woods of Czechoslovakia, the other to the gridded streets and swanky apartments of Manhattan–and his death had knocked one of them right out from under me.” (pg. 58)
At seventeen he bought a jeep (his father made him work for his money), and after graduating university loaded it up and headed to Aspen, Colorado (making a living tending bar), and a life in the “great outdoors”. His grandfather, Dedo, had taught him the ways of the woods back in the Czech Republic, where he also saw the perils of Socialism and Communism.
When the attack on America happened on September 11, 2001, Don Jr. decided to go home and join his father’s company. He was twenty-three, and then became his father’s “apprentice” – learning how to be a builder and real estate developer. During subsequent years and through the campaign of 2015-16 he discovered he was “more like my father that I’d ever thought.” (pg. 150)
is told in, Election 2016, so just briefly – I fell victim to the hate and anger from the left that Trump speaks to in this book. In the reading of Triggered, I learned just what happened to me (I was “cancelled”), how it was done (see chapter 13, “Shadow Banned: How the liberals grip on social media can ruin your life” (pg. 205-24), and why.
Here, Don Jr. and I agree. Because the underlying reason is jealousy, as well as greed and power. Said another way – sex, money, and power. Jealousy is an emotion, I submit, that begins with a weak “foundation”, or as Trump suggests, “helicopter parents” leading to a sense of entitlement and an over sensitivity to loss. So combined with political correctness and social media, you’ve got the perfect cocktail to foster hate and revenge. He lays this out in Chapter 8, “Back to school”. (pg. 123-43)
The Big Idea
or thesis, is told in that chapter where he speaks to what has happened to higher education in America – the shutdown of respectful disagreement and debate, as well as the above mentioned factors.
Trump takes the philosophy of Nassim Nicholas Taleb and applies it to the human condition, particularly in the formative years. Taleb posits that, “there are three ways an object can be in the world: fragile; not-fragile; or a third category, antifragile.” (pg. 138-9) It is here I somewhat disagree with Trump. I would love the opportunity to debate him! Maybe around a campfire!
I think the state of a human being, unlike an “object”, falls on a spectrum of fragility, as do all aspects of the condition of being a person … as shown below.
Thus the state of a human being, at any given time, falls on a spectrum. Some states, or traits, more variable than others. It would be rare, but not impossible, for a person to always be 100% at one extreme of the spectrum, which Taleb’s theory implies. So a person, an individual, might be most of time antifragile, but sometimes, in some situations – fragile, or breakable. I was.
The problem with politics today is that it forces people to choose one side, or team, or the other. And the two teams have fundamentally different world views as to human nature and who is right. Dr. Mina Cikara is at the leading edge of research on this matter.
But in this, I agree with Don Jr.: This unfortunate circumstance falls (mostly) at the feet of Democrats, or “lefty, leftist, left”. And but then Trump adds, “not all Democrats are leftists. Many are good people, some even voted for my father.” (pg. 19) Which, most importantly, bolsters my argument about “spectrum”.
Throughout the book, Trump lets the reader know what his values are, and they are consistent with the values of Conservatism. Or as Mark Levin calls it, “Americanism”. Simply stated, most important to conservatives are God, country, and family. All of which the Trump family highly values; and the “lefties” only give lip service to. Or, believe all that is, is a social construction and relative. Most importantly – subject to interpretation.
Contrary to that, as the above meme implies, the Conservative belief is rock solid and based upon the God given freedoms of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Notably spelled out in the US Bill of Rights.
By which I mean writing style (and attitude). Don Jr.’s is very colloquial. Because he uses, okay over uses, catch phrases. Such as: “empty suit”; “blue in the face”; “over the hill”; “down the drain”; “end of story”; “name of the game”; “money doesn’t grow on trees”; “a pipe dream”; “they melt down”, and on and on. Not unlike his father. And he fully admits to be a “shit-talker par excellence”. (pg. 9) Admittedly, this can be off-putting but I found it authentic. He is also very sarcastic, which again, can be off-putting.
In interviews he talks fast, really fast. He attributes his energy, his grit and zest to adrenaline, testosterone, Red Bull, and genes. He is a fighter and aggressive. In contrast to his sister, Ivanka, who appears much kinder and gentler – while still holding to their values. (See Doug Wead’s new book: Inside Trump’s White House) That makes sense.
It’s possible that, like many of us, Don Jr. overcompensates for insecurities. Growing up in the long shadow of his father, and given his early losses – his brazen and tough-minded, tough “shit” talking, and overall machismo, is a just and necessary coping mechanism. A style that works for him.
A mask for a wounded boy?
Is the last chapter where he sums up the Trump family’s approach, and makes the case for reelecting his father. He is brutal toward the Democrats. He considers most of them hypocrites and liars. In support of this he recounts much evidence.
Here, he references evolution for the first time: “Fight or flight is a basic component of human evolution. What can I say? I guess in the Trump family, the flight instinct never really developed.” (pg. 279) He is, you could say, “a chip off the old block.”
I will say it should be. The book gives great insight into the Trump family, fathers and sons in general, and the election of 2016. Like I said, my story and my book have considerable overlap with his, which I find striking.
I also found this very interesting: When I searched Goodreads for the title “Triggered”, this book did not come up on the first page, or twenty titles! I thought that was strange so I looked into it. Seems like Donald Jr.’s not paranoid after all regarding “shadow banning” and social media’s anti-conservative bias. And also, the whole publishing and political industries’ “rigging” of lists.
One last thing
On the inside front jacket flap there is a (trigger) warning. Quote: If you’d rather see this country fail than succeed under President Trump, this book might not be for you. If you’re an American and think Donald Trump is “not your president,” this book is also not for you.
I disagree, I still have hope that most people are decent and want our country to succeed. I think that reading this book can help in that regard. Because understanding does lead to compassion. And compassion for others, even people whose style you may not like, can lead to a better place than rancor and hate.