In the op-ed, titled, “Is Trump missing the thing that makes people human?” Virginia Heffernan, a columnist at the paper, compared 2020 presidential contender Andy Yang’s response to shooting victims to that of Trump.
She questions whether the president has “mirror neurons.” Neuroscientists reportedly say mirror neurons fire in the brain when an animal acts and when an animal observes the same action performed by another. They’ve been hailed as the cornerstone of human empathy, the piece said.
“Scientists don’t know enough about human mirror neurons to speculate about whether some people lack these exact cells. But an inability to be respectful or joyful in the presence of strong emotional stimuli would suggest something amiss in a brain’s wiring — say, Trump’s wiring,” Heffernan wrote.
In a recently circulated video, Yang leaps up to hug the mother of a young boy after she describes how her son was shot in front of his twin sister. A visibly emotional Yang says he can’t imagine his own young sons witnessing something so horrific as to see a sibling be killed.
Heffernan suggests Yang’s “mirror neurons” are functioning normally. She said Trump, on the other hand, lacked empathy when he smiled alongside Melania Trump as she held an infant whose parents were killed in the El Paso, Texas, shooting.
“It’s hard to imagine any flesh-and-blood person, of any political sensibility, being hard-hearted when meeting a newly orphaned infant. But there was Trump: thumbs-up, signature grimace-as-smile, with eyes only for the camera,” Heffernan wrote.
According to the op-ed, the president’s disdain toward the late Sen. John McCain’s status as a war hero, his reaction toward Myeshia Johnson, whose husband was killed in combat, and his response to Puerto Ricans following Hurricane Maria all demonstrate how Trump lacks “mirror neurons” and the ability to show normal human empathy.