As Radley Balko noted in yesterday's Morning Links, the Washington Post and other newspapers pulled Wiley Miller's syndicated "Non Sequitur" cartoon from their comics pages two Sundays back, because Miller pulled a familiar-to-Reason-readers "where's Waldo?" gag with the Prophet Muhammad, satirizing the new 21st century taboo on the depiction of even jokes about the fear of depicting a historical figure who really existed.
As is typical of the genre, Washington Post editors tried to play their own "where's Waldo" with the censorship process:Style editor Ned Martel said he decided to yank it, after conferring with others, including Executive Editor Marcus W. Brauchli, because "it seemed a deliberate provocation without a clear message." He added that "the point of the joke was not immediately clear" and that readers might think that Muhammad was somewhere in the drawing.
If the Post's new standard for comics is to make jokes "immediately clear," then it might be time to kill the comics page altogether. No, Martel/Brauchli, you pulled the cartoon because your fear of Muslims outweighs your commitment to free expression, period.
Now comes L.A. Times media critic James Rainey, who, even while concluding that the cartoon should have run (the L.A. Times, to no one's surprise, suppressed it), makes sure we understand that fear was not a factor, nosiree:That's not to agree with some commentators who have called the refusal to run the comic a cowardly retreat from radicals. I'd say the ax that fell on "Non Sequitur" had more to do expediency. Moving in a hurry, with many other decisions that seemed more pressing at the time, editors probably killed the item rather than face the possibility of a furor for a piece they honestly felt was not of high quality.
Uh-huh. This is really how these gut-checks work. A boundary-stretching case comes before you, and suddenly everyone's an art critic. (Rainey: "I didn't find the panel especially powerful or witty.")
I especially like the comment that "fear was not a factor, nosiree". These people are not only afraid of Islam, they are absolutely terrified--so terrified that they are willing to give up just about anything, including their freedom, to placate the viscious thugs who are in control of that religion now.
So, who are the real Islamophobes? Remember, a phobia is a fear; and Islamophobia is a word that means a fear of Islam.
The point being that the Islamophobes are clearly not those who publicly defy Islam's threats and attacks and who just go ahead and publicly criticise it anyway and publicly mock it anyway. Where's the "phobia" in that? No, the phobia - the fear - is being shown by those who refrain from such criticism and such mockery, because they are afraid, and are afraid even to admit that they are afraid (because that too might be interpreted as an implied criticism of the thuggishness of that which they are refraining from criticising or mocking).
Watching all the kow-towing, bowing and placating; the sucking up and constant forced inclusion into all aspects of American life (even while EXcluding and even eliminating symbols of all other religions); all the perverse pseudo-outrage at any possible slight to this poor, vilified "religion of peace"; and the constant charges of Islamophobia that erupt whenever anyone dares to suggest that putting a monument to Islam on or next to the site of the 9/11 attacks is obscene (and let me make one point here: the terrorists who flew planes into the WTC did not "just happen" to be adherents of Islam--the entire raison de'etre and motivation of these heinous murderers was religious; and to this day they are celebrated as heroes in that religious culture)one gets the impression that there is a strong unconscious psychological process at work here that is disguising an intense, primal fear.
Let's talk for a moment about Anna Freud's concept of Identification with the Aggressor.
Many parents are familiar with a wide variety of children's games in which the children pretend to be wild animals or or even imaginary viscious creatures. Maurice Sendak's famous children's book, Where the Wild Things Are is a perfect example of such games. This kind of play by children psychologically allows them to do several emotional tasks at once.
First, the play allows them an expression of instinctual energy in a setting that is generally not particularly destructive or dangerous. With parents benignly watching over the play, children can literally get away with "monstrous acts" and if they are too rambunctious, they are easily controlled (as Max's mother does in the book).
Second, and just as important, the child through this play can transform their own intense anxiety about being attacked by "monsters" into an identification with the monster. In children's games, this is a pleasurable experience, and helps to lessen the normal kinds of fears and anxieties that are a part of childhood.
Thus we can see the origins of what has become known as the "Stockholm Syndrome" or Anna Freud's concept of "identification with the aggressor."
By taking on some characteristic of a thing which causes extreme anxiety, a child is using that identification (or introjection as it is sometimes called) as a means of reducing his or her anxiety by morphing from the passive role to the active role. With psychological identification, instead of being the object of a threat, you become the one making the threat.
In children this is considered a normal part of the development of the "superego" as children learn to master their anxiety. In fact, this capability of identification with another is essential for normal psychological development and when it is not brought about by excessively traumatic events in a child's life (i.e.,during the safety of play) the child can develop normally. The healthy result of this process is an introjection and assimilation of others leading to normal human relationships and empathy and understanding of other people.
When there is abuse or trauma in the picture, this normal process which otherwise allows a child to develop mastery over his or her fears, will sometimes become extremely exaggerated and dysfunctional; resulting in psychological displacement (a neurotic alternative) or even outright projection and full-blown paranoia (psychotic alternatives).
Here is a quote from a released hostage in Iraq:
"I was treated very respectfully and courteously apart from the fact that I was detained against my will and threatened with beheading," Sands told The Associated Press on Saturday. "I was not beaten, starved or treated badly."
Note that this was said of the people who threatened to behead the hostage in question.
In fact, it is not too uncommon for some people in such a hostage situation, particularly where they fear for their lives, to fully and completely identify with the side that is threatening them.
There is an episode of Firefly (interestingly titled "Bushwacked") where the sole survivor of a Reaver attack is rescued by the crew, but he has been the witness to such horrors that he literally transforms himself into a Reaver in order to cope with the trauma. Reavers are what is left of a human being when all civilizing mental processes are stripped from their minds; only the primitive and animalistic part of the human remains. Thus they are capable of any atrocity.
If you have read some of my posts on psychological defense mechanisms (here ), you will realize that "identification with the aggressor" involves the use of a particularly primitive defense called "projection", where one's own unacceptable feelings or behaviors are placed on another individual or group. Thus it is not at all uncommon for those who are sadistically traumatized to become sadistic themselves and carry on the trauma and to project their feelings of helplessness and trauma onto others as they create more victims. This mechanism explains why some abused children go on to become abusers themselves when they are adults. It also explains why someone of Jewish heritage would admire a Hitler and hide their ancestry; or why people in general might find themselves supporting and defending people who despise them or even might want to kill them.
Identification with the aggressor is only considered normal when it is innocuous --as in children's play.
When it occurs in adults in real life situations, it can literally transform those who unconsciously use it into the very monsters they fear the most, as they cope with their severe anxiety, dread, and terror.
I do not contend that coping in a healthy manner to traumatic circumstances is an easy thing to do. In fact, maintaining psychological health under those circumstances may be very difficult. One must do what one must to survive and get out of the deadly situation. Personally, I would say anything (even lying, if necessary) and do anything--right up to the point where it would betray my own fundamental values, without which I am not myself anyway) in order to survive.
But it is after the trauma; after the attack; that the hardest and most painful part of coping psychologically presents itself. And to survive psychologically will require not a little insight, self-awareness, and honesty; possibly shame and/or guilt; and most of all, using one's rational faculty to help understand all that has transpired both externally and internally. In this way, one may permit one's self to tap into the terrible feelings of fear and humiliation and to deal with them --instead of repressing them, and letting them deal with you and thus, unconsciously control you and distort the reality of what happened to you and what may still be threatening you.
An example of this is the case of the hostage above, who clearly dealt with his fear by identifying with his captors and projecting some of his own normality onto them-- as in, "they were so respectful and courteous to me"....
Yes, they were. As "respectful and courteous" as anyone could be when they are threatening to cut off your head. In the same way that Islam is only a misunderstood religion of peace--as "peaceful" as any religion could possibly be that intends to dominate the world, kill all those 'infidels' who will not submit to their ideology; and install sharia law to eliminate political, economic and social freedom from the face of the earth.
The free people of the world are being held hostage by the so-called 'religion of peace'. Indeed, many in the most free and prosperous nations are suffering from a Terrorist-induced Stockholm Syndrome. The intense fear generated by this violent, angry and dysfunctional religion/culture and its adherents has begun to erode the committment of many (especially those of the "progressive" label) to all the basic human freedoms that humanity has worked so hard to achieve. Even human progress itself is threatened by this persistent phobia ; this horror whenever anyone stands up to the bullies of Islam.
So now, who are the ones for whom the dreaded label of "Islamophobia" really applies?
[Political cartoons by Lisa Benson}