Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Weapons of Mass Depression 

Arriana Huffington has the digs on the psychology of fanaticism, and the weapons of mass depression, from Alternet:

HUFFINGTON: WMDs and the Psychology of Fanaticism

By Arianna Huffington, AlterNet
June 18, 2003

By all accounts, the behind-the-scenes battle within the Bush administration over just what information should be used, or spun, or hidden, to make the case that Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat to America and the rest of the world was a knockdown, drag-out fight between the facts and a zealous, highly politicized, "who needs proof?" mindset. And, at the end of the day, the truth was left writhing on the floor.

Hey, why let the facts get in the way of a perfectly good war?

This pathological pattern of disregarding inconvenient reality is not just troubling – it's deadly. And it's threatening to drag us into a Sisyphean struggle against evildoers in Syria, Iran, North Korea, or whatever locale Karl Rove thinks would best advance "Operation Avoid 41's Fate."

Since I'm not a psychiatrist, I consulted the work of various experts in the field in order to get a better understanding of the fanatical mindset that is driving the Bush administration's agenda – and scaring the living daylights out of a growing number of observers.

Dr. Norman Doidge, professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, has identified among the telltale symptoms of fanatics: an intolerance of dissent, a doctrine that is riddled with contradictions, the belief that one's cause has been blessed or even commanded by God, and the use of reinforcement techniques such as repetition to spread one's message.

Sound like anyone you know? George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle... come on down!

According to Doidge, one of the essential features of fanatics is their certainty that not only is their cause good "but that it is the only good, an absolute good." Or as President Bush famously declared: "There is no in-between, as far as I'm concerned. Either you're with us, or you're against us."

This absolute intolerance of dissent, says Doidge, often extends beyond the fanatics' enemies – frequently leading to a "campaign of terror" against those within their own ranks. If you're wondering what this has to do with the Bush administration, you might want to give a call to Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and George Voinovich.

After having the temerity to question the wisdom of the president's massive tax cut plan, the senatorial pair became the targets of withering TV attack ads, sponsored by allies of the White House, that portrayed them as "so-called Republicans" and compared their opposition to the latest round of tax cuts to France's opposition to the war in Iraq. It was a Night of the Long Knives, GOP-style.