The recent brouhaha that developed when President Bush's reminded people of the consequences that ensued after the U.S. abandoned Vietnam, are significant from a psychological standpoint.
It is worth recalling that during Vietnam, the media; academics, intellectuals, many public figures, entertainers, as well as the antiwar protesters of the time; consistently and stubbornly refused to see Communism for what it really was. They steadfastly ignored the millions of deaths in the Soviet Union and elsewhere and instead focused their attention on the United States as the center of all evil in the world.
Today we have the very same people and their intellectual descendents consistently and adamantly refusing to acknowledge Islam and the Jihadis for what they are. Again, this group are extremely adept at ignoring a barbaric ideology that promotes enslavement and death; while actively undermining the premier international symbol of freedom and the sanctity of an individual's life. How many movies have been made about that threat versus the ones that depict the US as evil? And these are not propaganda movies made by the enemy in a time of war...these are the elites of today's political left, who once again are choosing to focus their attention on American imperfections, while giving the utterly barbaric Islamic crusaders a complete moral pass.
With tedious and infinitely repetitive talking points, they again subscribe to the comforting notion that it is the United States which is the cause of all mayhem and butchery, even as they blithely ignore the real butchers.
It has been nearly half a century, but the left's fundamental "template" has remained consistent throughout. That template, however, is and always was, nothing more than that primitive and immature psychological defense mechanism known as Psychological Denial.
In two major wars, the left has consistently perceived America as the real threat to the world, and ignored to the point of complete hysterical blindness the real oppressors of human freedom and dignity. During Vietnam they deluded themselves into thinking that communism was benign (some even believed it to be superior to a free society) as long as you didn't provoke it.
And now they prefer the same delusion about Iraq and the homicide bombers of the religion of peace.
They were wrong then, and they are wrong now.
After 9/11, Bush faced a terribly unpleasant truth. He understood that if America ignored or minimized the reality of that day, we could easily maintain the false sense of security that characterized the previous decade--even as the very real and deadly threat coalesced and took substantial form. We could ignore it--or we could confront it decisively now.
Many in this country would prefer to pretend that 9/11 didn't really happen. Or to pretend that the U.S. caused the attacks; or that if Bush hadn't been the President, the attacks would never have happened. All these fantasies have one thing in common: They deny the reality for the purpose of maintaining a sense of control over events whose implications are horrendous.
For some, it is so much better to believe in the fantasy of control because then the solution would be simple: get rid of Bush/Cheney and it will all go away--just like a bad dream!
In their psychological denial and subsequent paranoia, they are ready to embrace a multitude of fantasies and conspiracy theories. Such theories provide comfort and the illusion of control. They also serve to erect an formidable barrier between the paranoid's belief system and any unpleasant intrusion from reality.
The barriers that they erect have many layers, each one more paranoid and delusional that the last.
Take for example, the strongly-held belief that is widespread on the political left that somehow Christianity or Judeo-Christian values are the real threat to civilization and humanity. Witness all those who claim that Bush is imminently going to impose a Christian theocracy here; the complete hysteria over Christian "symbols" and the denial of a Judeo-Christian heritage. This is the same kind of psychological displacement that can be seen in the phenomenon of Bush Derangement Syndrome. If Bush is the cause of all the evil in the world, these same people see Christianity (or Judaism--any religion but Islam) as the greatest threat to the utopia in their mind.
The left's talking points on Iraq, echoed by their Dhimmicrats in Congress (as they proactively attempt to undermine the Petraeus report next week) and the failure to see Iraq's importance in the War on Terror and consequently for the long-term security of America, completely denies the Islamic/fascist threat to all of civilization.
In a world where the Democratic Party leadership was anchored to reality, the debate with Republicans would be how to fight the war on terror better; and the American public would not be constantly subjected to the constant whining--by Reid, Pelosi, Kerry and others of their gormless ilk-- about how we shouldn't have gone to Iraq in the first place. Or the increasingly petulent demands to simply cut and run because everything is not going according to some perfect plan.
And, even when things start to improve, they can't understand why...America is supposed to lose according to tenets of their holy template.
The proponents of doom and gloom in the "reality-based" nutroots community insist that it is Bush who is in denial (or people like me), even as they twist and turn every major victory in the war into more evidence in their own minds that we are losing. Bush's trip to Anbar this past week was not evidence of the Surge working, but evidence of its failure, according to their bizarre logic; and is it any wonder that they cannot process the fact that combat deaths in Iraq have declined in Iraq: fact such as these are completely inexplicable to a mentality that has erected a barrier between itself and the real world.
My willingness to passively observe such dysfunctional behavior and my patience with this blatant political and psychological denial--with its concomitant paranoid delusional system and vast conspiracy theories promulgated by the hysterical left-- ended on 9/11. The ratcheting-up of the political insanity exhibited by these dead-enders has become a threat that no rational person can afford to ignore. Not only do they place themselves in danger, but everyone else in this country is at risk because of their adolescent, borderline psychotic fantasies.
In a previous post on the subject of denial, I mentioned a rather remarkable patient with a relatively rare neurological diagnosis. This patient had suffered a stroke and one of his symptoms was that he did not acknowledge that the entire left side of his body was physically a part of him. It was an astonishing conversation our team had with him. "Is this your arm," the neurologist would ask him, pointing to the patient's left arm. "No, it's not mine," would be the reply. The neurologist would then take the man's arm and show him how it was connected with the rest of his body. The man would watch this, then shake his head and emphatically tell us, "No! I see that it is connected. Someone must have connected it when I wasn't looking. But it isn't my arm."
The evidence that it was his arm was before him. In this patient's case, the physical damage to his brain prevented him from being able to be convinced that his own arm belonged to him.
This clinical case parallels the present psychological denial of the left; as they are increasingly unconvinced by attempts to point out the obvious. They may not have suffered any real physical damage to their brains, but they suffer from a self-inflicted brain disorder that is the result of a complete ideological hardening of the arteries; and functioning with only half a brain.
For the left, there is no evil but Bush and Cheney and Republicans. They are incapable of understanding the threat that has been unleashed on the world; and even less capable of appreciating how that threat is completely synchronous and compatible with their own ideology and how they encourage and enable it on a regular basis.
Or, to put it in terms of the psychological projection employed by your basic leftist paranoid like the one linked to earlier, "No, that isn't my arm, dude--it must be yours!"
They see that the arm is actually connected to them--but someone must have connected it when they weren't looking. It is not theirs. It must be Bush's. They remain the real patriots, defending the nation from the evil BushCheneyRove fascist monster. In their view, outing Valerie Plame's supposedly covert status at the CIA an incredible moral outrage; outing the NSA surveillance program required courage and was necessary for truth and justice and the American way. Leaking presumably classified "attack plans" on Iran demonstrates the ultimate patriotism; while the Bush Administration--which has somehow, mysteriously and inexplicably managed to prevent another attack on the homeland these past 6 years--is rife with treason.
Oh yeah, I forgot. Bush has only managed to prevent further attacks like 9/11 because he is behind 9/11 to begin with! Isn't paranoid logic simply awe-inspiring.
The "reality-based" community continues to enjoy wallowing in this sort of psychological denial because they have perfected paranoia as a foolproof method to prevent any insight or self-awareness. Even as, one by one, the the holy foundations of their denial are toppled by reality, they simply adapt their intricate and increasingly complex delusional system to accommodate any inconvenient reality--distorting the truth until it is unrecognizable and fits into their ideological template.
The paranoia of the left is thus effortlessly self-reinforcing and infinitely comforting to true believers.