I have been working on the next installment of my Cultural Insanity series and it is on the way, but since posting the first part I have seen something related to it that I would like to report as a separate post. Frankly, I have been a little distracted by monitoring the response to my first Cultural Insanity post; after all although I was trained as an anthropologist and not unfamiliar with psychological theory, in making the analogy between a personality disorder and two very different cultural sub-groups, I was treading on somewhat unfamiliar ground.
I was elated when ShrinkWrapped, a psych-blogger whom I respect enormously picked up on my ideas and posted a not unsupportive discussion of it mixing in material fro Dr. Sanity and Victor Davis Hansen. of it.
A day or so later Solomonia put up a post citing the video of a classic television confrontation between Ayaan Hirsi Ali and “an anti-American Canadian interviewer”, Avi Lewis of Canadian Television.
Lewis, in this clip, personifies the smug, self satisfied, passive aggressive argumentation style of the “progressive left”. But the very slickness of his approach combined with the emptiness of his arguments alerted me to something that I had never realized before about the way they argue. I saw immediately that I had identified another aspect of the psychological blindness that the lefties and Islamists have in common. It points back to my original diagnosis of Borderline Personality.
… They (the left and the Islamists) focus, as Avi Lewis does in this interview,on picking out isolated examples of widely disapproved of, squalid and reprehensible behaviors from Israel, America and The West (as when Lewis says “they shoot abortion doctors in the US”)and insisting that they are proof that we, as nations and a civilization, are not living up to our high ideals. Thus Israel, The U.S. and the west is held to account for an idealized, utopian standard of perfection without margin for error. The fact (and they never stoop to dispute the fact) that Israel, America and the west in general are far better in comparison to the rest of the (far more squalid and reprehensible) real world is avoided when possible and brushed off as rationalization when unavoidable. In the event that it is pointed out forcefully that the rest of the world is so much less democratic and desirable and that it is always an option to leave and that no one leaves- in fact, America is still the great magnet of immigration it has always been as Hirsi Ali does here the leftist will always shift the subject. Lewis counterattacks with a jocular but passive aggressive suggestion that she must have had to go to a special school to learn “these American clichés” as part of her application process”. This begs the question which Hirsi Ali asks this dope- "why don't you and your leftist friends go somewhere else?" Naturally, they'll never admit it but there IS no other place that they could tolerate and there is certainly very few that would tolerate them.
For the sake of accuracy I must point out that what I described in the last three sentences above did not occur as I first described it in that comment. What Hirsi Ali actually said was that she did not believe Lewis’ description of the plight of Muslim Americans was nearly as dire as Lewis described it to be. And she offered the opinion that if they were truly feeling under siege that they would do what other people all over the world have done when they have felt to be under siege, they would move away. She pointed out that there is no such population movement as this taking place and that there would not be. The first time through I had thought that I heard this exchange to include a challenge to Lewis on why he persists in living in a western country. I was mistaken. I believe that if she had made that challenge, the exchange would have gone much as I outlined it.
After seeing this post and responding to it in the comment stream I continued to reflect on this new insight into this essential similarity in tactics between the Islamists and the left. It was beginning to occur to me that there was something else, something deeper that I had not reached yet.
Meanwhile, for two days the comment trail on ShrinkWrapped’s post had been quite supportive- until someone with the screen name copithorne wrote a comment using a tactic out of the same family. Since I quote copithorne’s full comment in my reply I’ll let my reply speak for both…
A two sentence fisking:
"Diatribes about "the left" in which no "leftist" appears -- no quotes, no policy positions -- are expressions of projection of a disowned shadow."
Leftists who don't bother to read a sincere analysis thoroughly enough to observe that it actually began with a live example of a leftist argument and then label such analysis as “diatribe” are intentionally projecting their own aggressive rejection of discourse on the conservative analyzer. It is not necessary (in informed and reasonable circles) to have exhaustive actual quotes of Hitler’s hate speech to know that he was a genocidal anti-Semite. It is not generally in question that Lenin and Stalin tried to institute a paradise of the workers by slaughtering, starving and persecuting them in their millions. Just so, if characterizations of the left hit their mark and sting to the degree that the only feasible defense seems to be a trivial
pettifogging by attacking the lack of “quotes” and “policy positions” it means that he has no real rebuttal for the characterizations themselves. It is a disingenuous trial lawyer’s trick to subvert meaningful point/counter point with meaningless "discovery” of inconsequential minutia. Note that he neither actually points to a faulty idea nor does he contradict anything ShrinkWrapped, Dr. Sanity, VDH or I say. If there is a disowned shadow in the neighborhood I say copithorne might do well to look and see if it’s connected to his own feet.
This currently seems to be the total sum of contemporary conservative politics -- the appeal of having enemies on which a person can project material of which they are unable to be self-aware.
Who is projecting here? All I see is customary leftist rejection of all contradiction to his “ideas” on any technicality no matter how flimsy or arbitrary. It’s the pedant’s refuge, rejecting the student’s ideas and labor because they are beyond him with the
stinking hypocrisy that his footnotes are in the wrong format and his bibliography is not long enough.
So, up to this point, I have been concentrating on understanding how this method worked on a practical level. Now I had begun to see clearly that it was not just intentional blindness to (and twisting of) the the reality of the situation but, in fact, reflected the selective vision of splitting and dissociation. Assuming the unearned and undeserved position of moral, spiritual and intellectual superiority they are not open to dialog but insist on ignoring what we say and either “correcting our papers” or rejecting our thoughts and ideas on technicalities.
Then, on the blog Cuanas, I found another posting of the Lewis/Hirsi Ali interview with this comment posted by a fellow named Irfan Yusuf.
Irfan Yusuf said...
So let me get this right. This woman has little or no knowledge of the varieties of religion or communities she criticizes (apart from her own Somali upbringing).
She was caught by the Dutch telling lies to gain migration status. She told Ian Buruma that she committed "immigration fraud".
And now the Americans are lapping her up as some kind of long last(sp) daughter. Had she not been so anti-Muslim, you'd have tossed her in immigration detention yourself, if not in Guantanamo Bay (heck, her name is "Ali" and that's a common Ayrab (sp) terrorist name, isn't it?).
I can't wait to see how your evangelical conservatives behave when you realize (sp) she is pro-abortion and wants those teaching creation science to be thrown into prison.
What I see here is more like squirming to keep from seeing the truth. At a loss to prove Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrong or even mistaken about anything, Irfan does a crazy little Islamic tattletale dance (oooh, look she is a baaaad girl! Don’t talk to her! Don’t listen to her!) while at the same time accusing us of being blindly anti-Muslim. Here is the answer I posted:
Mr Yusf, exactly how much do you have to know about a bunch of communities in which the leaders and the apparent majority of the citizens consider anyone who worships a different God less human, practice honor killing, celebrate the killing of innocents in terror attacks and vow to make the entire earth into a Caliphate where everyone will be subject to the terror of Islamofascism in order to be qualified to criticize them? Something tells me that when her co-filmmaker and friend Theo Van Gogh was butchered in the streets for the film they made together and a threat against her was pinned to him with the murder weapon she earned the asylum of the United States of America.
If you think a technicality like a lie she told in order to insure her own escape from the hell of living under Islamic rule is going to persuade us to think less well of her you are even more blinded by your cultural disease than most of your compatriots. It’s pathetic that you write it as though we might think that it invalidates what she says and writes. Is that all you've got?
I should also have pointed out to Mr Yusuf that even if some of the more literal minded Christian evangelicals do not find her positions on abortion and evolution to be in agreement with theirs, they will issue no fatwas calling for her death, neither will they justify trying to treat her as a second-class citizen for it. Oh well, he wasn't really listening anyway...
I have been trying to pull this all together in my mind and, in the end, I keep remembering a short, pathetic little comment on ShrinkWrapped’s post that I had ignored as twaddle at first. The commentor’s screen name is Post Hole Digger, which I assume means he is a PhD in something.
Huh, here I thought that what I wanted was to see a world of peace and kindness,and to do toward others as I would want done toward me. I am now ashamed to admit, but I even thought that was actually a good thing. But now you explain that I'm really just insane. Instead of virtues, I have a grave psycho/emotional dysfunction. I just never realized.This is not twaddle, it is the cry of a lost soul. Post Hole Digger is right, only his sarcasm is misplaced. Both Islamism and Leftism are attempts to see a world of peace and kindness. That is very nice to say but the unfortunate fact is that this is not a world of peace and kindness. There is no such world. This is a world that contains peace and kindness along with hatred, love, avarice, generosity, violence and cruelty. Both Leftism and Islamism are nothing more than ideologies that pretend to be able to control and rationalize the unfathomable complexity of life.
To anyone not enmeshed in their borderline systems the actual out come of their utopian schemes, proven out in the past, is obvious.
The Islamists would have their Caliphate where everyone and everything would submit to the will of Allah. That sounds OK until you ask who is interpreting Allah’s will for us. As it has turned out in the past, it has most often been the most bloodthirsty political infighter or conqueror capable of rising to the top of the Shari a system who has gotten to say what’s on Allah’s mind. The best that The Caliphate has been able to offer in the past has been the more moderate, slightly less megalomaniacal son or grandson of the deceased bloodthirsty political infighter or conqueror.
As for the poor, deluded lefties like PHD, they are destined to be frustrated by their efforts to help their fellow man. But for all their talk about equality, sharing, peace, love and understanding, if put to the test of leadership, they would, like all other leftist/socialists who have ascended to leadership (Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Hitler, Pol Pot, etc…) turn to violence, coercion and despotism out of their exasperated zeal to reform humanity against its wishes and nature. It is not insane to do toward others as one would want done toward one's self- that is a great moral principal- but it is insane to assume that others are on the same program and have the same vision of what is good.