In response to today's column, a reader writes:What scares me the most is that throughout my life whatever the Left
says the Right is going to do, is exactly what they try when they have
the power and the opportunity. In psychological terms it is projection.
The louder they shout these things, the more I become a "broken glass
Me: I think there's an important point here. So much of the demonization of conservatives from liberals in the last fifty years has worked on a formula which goes something like this: "I want use the state to impose my dreamy good intentions. Conservatives are evil. So, if they get ahold of government they will use government to do evil in the same way that we would do good."
The column in question, written by Jonah Goldberg discusses the fears (read: paranoia) of the left about a variety of things that make no sense to anyone with a firm foundation in reality. For example, the idea promulgated energetically by the left that an imminent Christian theocracy is about to be imposed on America.
As Goldberg says, "One is tempted to invoke Orwell’s dictum that some things are so stupid, only an intellectual could believe them. But, the truth is, lots of otherwise normal people believe this stuff."
Paranoia in American society indeed strikes deep--in recent years particularly so. And, the person quoted in The Corner has identified the correct psychological mechanism at work here.
First, let's get one thing out of the way. There is no evidence that a Christian theocracy is about to be imposed on the American people. In fact, the religious rhetoric of this administration is not significantly different from that of any other previous admministration in the last 100 years or so. You would have to go back to the Founding Fathers and that era in American life to see real religious preoccupation (why they even used the word "God" quite liberally in writing important American documents--what
I wrote in this post:
A definition of Christianophobia or Christianity Derangement Syndrome (CDS), could be formulated thusly:
"The excacerbation of acute and severe paranoia about the imminent imposition of a Christian theocracy in the U.S.; in an individual already suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome as a reaction to the very existence of (1) the Christian religion; (2) the practitioners of Christianity; and (3) symbols of Christianity anywhere within the culture; while simultaneously completely ignoring and dismissing any threat from the religious fanatics of Islam who repeatedly and clearly have stated that their goal is the imposition of a world-wide Islamic theocracy (or "Caliphate")."
So, as a result of this interesting disorder, here we are in a war with Islamic fundamentalism, and many on the left seem to think that the U.S. is at risk in having a Christian theocracy imposed and that the Bushitler is more dangerous than Bin Laden.
During the 2004 Presidential campaign, one of my friends was so pre-occupied by this issue, she literally could not understand why I would vote for Bush, since it was clear to her that he intended to usher in a religious state.
Since that time, I can't help but have noticed that all the women of my acquaintance are now wearing nun habits; that holy communion is being forced down the throats of unrepentant leftists; and that there has been a dramatic decline in sexually explicit material everywhere as the purveyors of same have been rounded up and summarily executed by the religious police.
Why, last week I (a professed, unrepentant agnostic) was forced to enter a church to obtain sustenance (they were having a bake sale).
And I wondered then-- as I do regularly about the lunatic left and its fears that now infect some otherwise reasonably normal people--how does a person make sense of symptoms of paranoia so bizarre? So....displaced....from the real threat?
If you read that post, you will see that the psychological displacement of affect from the real threat of barbaric Islamic fascism onto Christianity, which poses no threat at all in modern times, is a way of dealing with intense anxiety.
By and large, displacement is a merely neurotic psychological defense mechanism. With a little insight and self-awareness, it is possible to easily come back in touch with reality as time goes on and the evidence before your eyes becomes more obvious.
But projection (which is the basis of paranoia)is far more primitive, and what it defends against is usually a devastating aspect of reality--one that is threatening to the very foundation of one's sense of self.
And that is what is at stake should the left come to grips with their paranoia and projection--the carefully constructed reality bubble they have created in their minds would come crashing down around them.
The left's paranoid style develops new strategies for concealment every day.
Psychologically, it is very difficult to abandon paranoia once it is taken on by a particular group, since it--and the accompanying delusions that it generates-- serves the purpose of accounting for an unacceptable status quo. Without a scapegoat who is considered to be racially, sexually, physically, or intellectually inferior, onto which your own fears can be projected; it would be horrifying and untenable to look inside one's own heart and soul for the source of the fear.
This is the nature of projection and paranoia. The unacceptable thoughts or feelings are denied ("not owned") by the person experiencing them, and instead are projected onto another individual or--as in this case--a group. Thus, the person who originally had the offensive thought or feeling becomes the helpless victim of the evil "other" and they do not have to cope with the fact that the evil lies within themselves. This is the origin of almost all acts of racism, sexism, anti-semitism, etc. It is the source of most prejudice in the world; and certain prejudices that become socially acceptable--like the casual anti-semitism of the Middle East; or the causal anti-Republicanism adopted by the intellectual "elite" of this country.
The commenter on Jonah's column above is exactly correct. The left believes that Republicans are imminently going to impose their belief system on the American public because that is exactly what they would do--and did--when they were in power. That is their modus operandi. They don't want their ideas adopted by reasoned debate or even by democrat majority rule.
They are the one's who constantly seek to impose their values on others by fiat or judicial decree. They are the ones who claim that all morality is relative, except for their ideas, which represent absolute truth. They are the ones who, to put it bluntly, wish to impose their religion of multicultural diversity and political correctness upon America, and have been doing so at every level of society for decades. Just try to violate the dogma of their religion and see the outrage that is generated, if you have any doubts about their level of committment to free speech and thought.
Projection is never a good long-term psychological strategy--nor is it healthy--in an adult; and using such a defense mechanism represents a primitive attempt to shirk the responsibility for one's own feelings, thoughts, and actions. It causes and has caused much human misery, death, destruction and some of the most horrific acts that humans are capable of. When entire countries subscribe to a projected delusion (e.g., the "Jews" are to blame; the "Blacks" are the cause of all of our problems; "Republicans" are evil; Bush=Hitler) it can lead to genocide and other behaviors that are paranoid and psychotically delusional. Full-blown paranoia occurs when one's mind severs the connection with reality entirely.
The recent altercations at Columbia are just one example on how far and how violent the left is willing to go to protect themselves from the knowledge that they are the totalitarians; they are the fascists; they are the racists; and they are the tyrants who seek control over others. And through the years, they have developed many clever psychological disguises and behavioral manipulations to keep themselves ignorant of this reality.
Christianity hasn't been much of a problem for over thousand years. The left, however, has been at the forefront of thought control, supression of speech, and enslavement of the individual for the "good" of their utopian societies for the last hundred.
Just remember this old psychiatric maxim when dealing with the real threat to freedom in our time: you aren't paranoid if they really are out to get you.