Why Do They Hate Us?
It is odd that the only people who ask this question are suffering from the same logopathology that causes us to be hated in the Arab Muslim world: Quite simply, they hate us because they believe lies about us. Just as Palestinians hate Jews because they believe terrible lies -- delusions, really -- about them, leftists hate President Bush because they believe lies about him.
In this regard, it doesn't really matter if the hatred engenders the lie, or the lie fosters the hatred. (More on that tomorrow.) The end result is the same: banishment to a negative psychological space, a parallel universe ruled by lies and hatred instead of love and truth, and where emotional and intellectual growth are impossible. The Arab Muslim world is immersed in a sea of lies about almost everything you could imagine (as catalogued by memri.org), which is the real source of their spiritual sickness.
In order to grow, the mind requires truth. Similarly, a culture or nation that is deprived of truth will literally become spiritually ill. The mind, although it is not a physical entity, nevertheless has a function, just like any other organ. Your heart functions to pump blood. Your lungs function to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide with the environment. And the mind functions to metabolize truth so that it may grow.
A mind nourished on lies will still grow, but it will grow in a monstrous way analogous to a tumor. Rather than being a unity, it will be an agglomeration. It will be riven by contradiction, and there will be no true synthesis of its elements.
Indeed, this is one of the reasons why it is so difficult to argue with a leftist. Such an individual will freely believe all kinds of mutually contradictory things, such as "our soldiers are engaged in a genocidal war based on lies, and I support the troops," or "President Bush lied about WMD, and President Clinton was telling the truth about them," or "we should have prevented North Korea from obtaining nukes, and Saddam was not a threat to obtain them."
At the same time, the leftist will unconsciously "attack" the connecting links in your own psyche, giving you the subjective experience of what it must be like to be them.
It is almost impossible to read a leftist editorial without these kinds of irreconcilable contradictions. Yesterday, for example, Tom Friedman's editorial argued that Bush is arguably the worst president in US history, but that "we [we!] are about to produce the most legitimate government ever in the Arab world." He notes that it is "appalling to watch Bush and Cheney act like two Rove attack dogs" (that is, to have the audacity to respond to slanderous charges against them), but that the much harsher Democratic attacks on the President must be overlooked because "they are not in power." (Apparently, power is absolute. The left and the New York Times are utterly powerless today, just as the Republican party was powerless during the Clinton presidency. Right.)
Friedman claims that to "accuse anyone of lacking seriousness on Iraq is disgusting," but that President Bush has disgustingly "fought this war on the cheap, always putting politics before policy." Always. Of course, Friedman doesn't explain why President Bush would want to cynically pursue a policy he doesn't believe in just to garner a 30% approval rating, but it doesn't matter. Friedman is smarter than you or I. He has an important job at the New York Times.
Friedman's thinking is so chaotic and contradictory, one hardly knows where to begin. Plus, it's all wrapped in an aura of intellectual superiority which is the real message of the article.
That is, if you are a therapist, you don't listen just to the meaning of the words, but the emotional tone that is being conveyed. In Friedman's case, the message he wishes to convey is of moral and intellectual superiority, the conviction that all badness may be located outside himself and in President Bush and his corrupt cronies, and that he (Friedman) is not, I said NOT an immature and childish thinker taking pot-shots at the grownups. (In the same article he asks, "Where are the adults?," unconsciously referring to himself.)
But all of these assertions are self-refuting, in that they are reactions to a deeper, painful truth that Friedman unKnows but is unwilling to face. Editorials this passionately disjointed are painful to read, but that's part of the process. Through the process of projective identification, we must bear the pain he cannot. It is left to us to try to put together his broken fragments of emotion-driven thought and make sense of them, just as one would do with a child or patient. Like Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman or the persecuted hosts of Air America, his emotions are obviously quite serious, even urgent. That much is clear. Just don't take his thoughts seriously.
More tomorrow on the relationship between lies, hatred, emotional growth, and the conscience.
UPDATE--via Shrinkwrapped, a very helpful guide to the techniques of propaganda posted at strategypage.com. For example, in Friedman's editorial alone, I counted seventeen out of twenty two propaganda techniques: Guilt By Association, Backstroke, Misinformation, Over Humanization, Name Calling, He Said, She Said, Unproven "Facts," Lying, Subtle Inaccuracies/Dismissive Tone, One-One Punch, Volume, Coordination, Preemptive Strike, Framing the Debate, Token Equal Time, Interpreting, and Withholding Information. No wonder these guys can only publish a couple of short editorials a week. It takes a lot of time and effort to squeeze in all those techniqes and be concise about it.