Blind Patriotism

So after September 11th there was an amazing outpour of charity and unity amongst Americans.  We allowed President Bush to pass the Patriot Act, bomb the hell out of Afghanistan, and start a war with Iraq.  But why?  Why did we allow the government to throw away our freedoms?  Why did we suddenly give a shit about Iraq, a country that hardly anyone in the world cared about prior to 9/11?  Many say it was blind Patriotism.  Well this is a very scary thought to me, to know that our government could use fear as a tactic to get us to rally around any decision they seem to think is good for the country.  I remember after 9/11 the terror alert system was created so we could know how safe things would be that day.  I remember the fear I felt, as many Americans did, when it was orange.  And I remember eventually being pissed off about it when I saw nothing come of the alerts.  I also remember being told, “We received a threat today.  We do not know from where this threat comes or who, we do not know when it will happen, but we know there is a threat.”  Which is when I started to get really pissed at my government.  Then Michael Moore came along with his infamous Fahrenheit 9/11.  This movie finally seemed to open people’s eyes as to what blind patriotism is, and how dangerous it is. 

Well blind patriotism is still alive and well today.  It is one of the few explanations I make for those that still support the Iraq war.  And leads me to my real reason for this response: Demonstrators Support Charged Marines.  I usually try to stay away from making opinions about a case until it goes through the legal system, but this article got to me a bit.  Many of the sound bites used were people supporting the 8 troops in this case.  Why, because they support our troops and what they do in Iraq. 
My favorite quote,

“My son is over in Iraq right now, but I would hate to think that he would hesitate to shoot.  No matter what these guys did to survive this war I just hope the can survive our justice system.”

I wish I could hear this woman tell that same thing to the Iraqi parents of the thousands of children that have been killed in bombing raids and by accidental fire, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

If you read an article on the same issue from another publisher, you can find people that really think they are just innocent, but many just support our troops, and that is their reasoning.  It kind of threw me off.  Even the defense attorney seemed to state that he was defending the actions of his client, because he was young, instead of going off to college he joined the Marines, he watched as 19 personnel in his unit died, and two died within his hands.  Well I gotta say I certainly feel for this young man and his family, and the family of the 19 other troops that passed away in Iraq.  But it still brings up the issue, are war conditions a cause of murder, or a justifiable cause for murder?  I answer this question always with a resounding NO!  But there are others that seem to think differently.  This issue was even discussed on DOF’s blog: What do Soldiers Have to do to Stay Sane?  Well there may not be much for them to do in Iraq, but showing a lack of multi-cultural understanding through a stupid video, should not be one of them.  And dragging someone into the street, tying their hands, shooting them, and then placing an AFK on the body should also not be one of them.

If the 8 men are innocent of the charges then fine.  But don’t support someone or say, “I believe they are innocent, because of the violence and everything else they have seen over there.”  That, to me just shows stupidity. Nothing can justify ethnocentricity but stupidity, and nothing justifies murder except self-defense.

98 thoughts on “Blind Patriotism

  1. I agree with pretty much your whole post, except:

    Why did we suddenly give a shit about Iraq, a country that hardly anyone in the world cared about prior to 9/11?

    One can certainly debate the March to War and the justifications thereto (or about the tie between Iraq and 9/11, but there were a lot more people than “hardly anyone in the world” who cared about Iraq prior to 9/11.

  2. I thought it went along with the concept that all Christians, all law makers, all law enforcement are good by default. They aren’t fallible human beings.

    Isn’t that the fallback belief of most Americans?

    So, if anyone questions the leaders (who are inherently good and infallible), then they are wrong and bad.

    It’s like this idiotic thing that standing up for yourself isn’t nice and is therefore wrong—especially of you’re female.

    It’s a just “shut up and do what you’re told because I said so” mentality.

  3. Les: nothing justifies murder except self-defence

    Part of a soldier’s (or any other adult’s) responsibility is NOT to become part of a mindless mob.
    I know how easy it is to get caught up in the moment, when fear over-rides and blinds one’s logic, but it’s NEVER an adequate defence in the cold light of day. downer
    I hope we find out what the Sergeant did (or failed to do) when the Lieutenant went down … how much leadership training did he have?
    It’s gonna be nearly as interesting as the aftermath of My Lai. downer

  4. Post was written by Webs, not by Les.

    It might be correct to say; “Nothing justifies murder.”  If it’s justified (such as self-defense) then it isn’t murder.

  5. There’s a mindless way in which people follow the president: A blind patriotism of the sort that constitutes weak moral thinking. By that I mean that people’s moral evaluation of the acts undertaken are dictated not by thoughtful consideration but by a kind of blind faith in the leadership. 

    Governments (and many other organizations including the military) use a whole host of psychological strategies to get people to follow unquestioningly: Symbols (flags, ribbons) rousing speeches, half-truths, fear, in-group loyalty (“yer either fer us or ag’in us”) and so on.

    When you’re in an uncontrollable situation and afraid ( and that’s the whole point of terrorism), it is comforting to know that someone else is in control and will protect you, isn’t it? Manipulative? Sure. But very good psychology.

    As far as the crime itself goes, if these men are guilty, it is because of a complete failure of leadership.

    There’s some pretty interesting psychological stuff that also goes on to get men to kill in war (many people are unaware of the extraordinarily high non-firing rates by soldiers in WWI and II—something rectified in Vietnam).

    When at war, the government must have soldiers who fire and kill, and they train them to do so through both physical means (training/conditioning them to fire) and through psychological means (e.g., in-group identification, psychological distancing, de-personalization, vilification of the enemy, denigration of their ideas and culture etc). Leadership fosters and fuels the kind of rage, anger, and blind faith that allows soldiers to do their job.

    However, the means used to get soldiers to fire and kill will necessarily make them “culturally insensitive” and it is up to the leadership to constrain and control what they’ve created.

    That is not to say that I believe that the men are not responsible for their actions. However, I suspect that the leadership/government will take far less responsibility for whatever occurred than they should.

    It seems to me that the government plays a very delicate game both with its citizens and its soldiers.

  6. This isn’t so much about blind_patriotism as it is about America’s younger generations’ growing sociopathic tendencies.

    Americans have, unlike prior generations, failed to teach empathy. American youth are wholly unprepared for the world that awaits them, without resorting to the pathology of the “me human, you not” pathology.

    It’s a bitter dish long in the making.
    America’s youth have become cold, and at best indifferent, and more commonly, mean-natured and hateful of that which is different than themselves.

    rob@egoz.org

  7. Dof: Post was written by Webs, not by Les.

    This seems to be becoming a bad habit. Thankyou for correcting me.
    Sorry Webs – a part (a big part) of me forgets that other people also have excellent inputs.
    Did I suck hard enough? Did you come? LOL

    Shelley: When at war, the government must have soldiers who fire and kill, and they train them to do so through both physical means (training/conditioning them to fire) and through psychological means (e.g., in-group identification, psychological distancing, de-personalization, vilification of the enemy, denigration of their ideas and culture etc). Leadership fosters and fuels the kind of rage, anger, and blind faith that allows soldiers to do their job.

    You nut-shelled it.

    However, the means used to get soldiers to fire and kill will necessarily make them “culturally insensitive

  8. America’s youth have become cold, and at best indifferent, and more commonly, mean-natured and hateful of that which is different than themselves.

    I dunno… I actually agree with Rob here, to some extent. I don’t think hateful is a word I’d use in general; that’s stretching it. I’ll grant that I’m an unusual case, but even in trying to form relationships with people I’ve realized the the stiff competitive pressures on our young people have caused them to abandon a lot of that. Who has time to actually do anything with friends or call their families or… y’know? I also tend to think that our empathy is nurtured through empathetic relationships, so a general lack of them isn’t going to help. There’s just so much more important shit to do now that we have to buy everything in sight.

    However, the means used to get soldiers to fire and kill will necessarily make them “culturally insensitive

  9. failed to teach empathy

    This isn’t exactly true. Empathy is innate (for all but a very, very small minority—thus the high non-firing rate in past wars.) The problem is that we’ve done many things that de-sensitizes people to the feelings and injuries of others unlike ourselves—basically, we train the empathy out of them. We do it on a large scale when we teach men to go to war, but we do it in small ways every day.

    The problem for soldiers is that the empathy doesn’t really go away (it is just suppressed and soldiers are conditioned to respond appropriately (by shooting) in combat. However, there are profound consequences for many men afterward (as you alluded to, arc_legion.)

    For those interested in the topic, there’s a fascinating book called ‘On Killing: The Psychological Consequences of Learning to Kill in War and Society” by Lt. Col. David Grossman. Well worth the read if you’re interested in this subject.

    (Sorry if this isn’t particularly coherent—I’m a bit rushed, but wanted to make the point.)

  10. elwedriddsche, thanks for that link—hadn’t seen it before, but it nicely summarizes Grossman’s work.

  11. Grossman spoke at our university a couple years ago and I went to the lecture.  He was really interesting, though (Les won’t like this) he found today’s video games disturbingly similar to the firing-scenario trainers, both physical and virtual, that the Army uses.  He refers to 1st person shooter games as “murder trainers”.

  12. Shelley,

    thanks for that link—hadn’t seen it before, but it nicely summarizes Grossman’s work.

    Actually, I meant to thank you. I “lost” that paper and you gave me enough search terms to go on and find it again.

  13. This isn’t so much about blind_patriotism as it is about America’s younger generations’ growing sociopathic tendencies.

    Americans have, unlike prior generations, failed to teach empathy. American youth are wholly unprepared for the world that awaits them, without resorting to the pathology of the “me human, you not

  14. No prob Lucky John.  I was interested in what kinds of responses I would get from this post.  I think I would agree a lot with what Shelly stated though.  I think we have certainly become de-sensitized, I think I saw my first murder on the big screen when I was about 10.  After that it was about every other week on TV.  Now action movies just make go, ugh.

    This isn’t exactly true. Empathy is innate (for all but a very, very small minority—thus the high non-firing rate in past wars.) The problem is that we’ve done many things that de-sensitizes people to the feelings and injuries of others unlike ourselves—basically, we train the empathy out of them. We do it on a large scale when we teach men to go to war, but we do it in small ways every day.

    The problem for soldiers is that the empathy doesn’t really go away (it is just suppressed and soldiers are conditioned to respond appropriately (by shooting) in combat. However, there are profound consequences for many men afterward (as you alluded to, arc_legion.)

    For those interested in the topic, there’s a fascinating book called ‘On Killing: The Psychological Consequences of Learning to Kill in War and Society

  15. he found today’s video games disturbingly similar to the firing-scenario trainers, both physical and virtual, that the Army uses.  He refers to 1st person shooter games as “murder trainers

  16. Okay, this really is the last thing: Re that article, elwedriddsche, while it does effectively summarize Grossman’s work, the theisis that the military can overcome PTSD by convincing soldiers that their actions are moral seems weak to me.

    The author is suggesting more psychological training (i.e., brainwashing) to convince soldiers that their actions are just. This could be effective if soldiers come to internalize (become personally convinced in) what they’ve been told.

    However, this requires that soldiers suppress any inclination to think about the issues in a complex way (“just believe what we tell you”), and I suspect that it creates a substantial risk that people will become traumatized when they have the opportunity to re-examine things later.

    I don’t believe that brainwashing is an effective innoculation against the psychological trauma of war, and it just might cause people to become cynical and further embittered if they later feel that they’ve been duped.

  17. Apparently crime went up in 2005 after a decade of declines, but it remains low by historical standards.

    For something more direcly related to youth, school crime rates in 2003 were about half what they were 10 years earlier.

    Talk of the growing sociopathic tendencies of America’s youth reminds me of the justifications for building more supermax security prisons in the 1990s for a generation of ‘superpredators’ that never did appear in large numbers.

  18. Okay, this really is the last thing: Re that article, elwedriddsche, while it does effectively summarize Grossman’s work, the theisis that the military can overcome PTSD by convincing soldiers that their actions are moral seems weak to me.

    Mind you, I didn’t say I agree with every word of that paper wink

    The article conflates morality with justification. By and large, we know deep down that killing somebody else is wrong. There are scenarios in which there is justification for it and the moral absolutists go to great lengths to state these exceptions.

    Is the taking of a human life always wrong? It’s a simple enough question, but you will get vastly different answers depending among others on the definition of ‘human life’ and ‘taking of a life’. In other words, even the moral absolutists make allowances for situational context. I suppose they could say it’s unconditionally always wrong, but I don’t know anybody who would waive the right to self-defense.

    The basic message of the article is that if you work hard enough to justify killing people, you also resolve the moral objections. It’s a bit of a slippery slope, isn’t it?

    The military has another problem by having to reconcile two conflicting requirements. They very much want soldiers to obey orders, but they also want them to think on their feet. Too much thinking is dangerous, though, because it might lead to second-guessing orders, interpreting them in self-preservatory ways, or flat out disobedience. I think it was LJ19 who mentioned the term programmed. Problem is, programming and thinking are too likely to conflict with each other.

    If I recall what the article said correctly, the U.S. military trains their soldiers to think their way through missions, but also programs them to respond to stimulus. That may be very well, but it also means that if you task these soldiers with a mission that requires a more discrimintory response to stimulus than you trained them for, these soldiers turn into a liability.

    I can actually see the appeal of remote-controlled weapons. It’s not just that the controller doesn’t get in the line of fire, but the controller is also divorced from the real-world ramifications – by playing a video game, like. Killing a few innocent bystanders? Too bad, fragged the wrong target. On to the next.

    Oddly enough, these questions never bothered me when I did my term in the military. At the time, ours was a defense force only and if we had seen combat, it would necessarily be in response to an invasion.

    Anyway, time to get off the soap box.

  19. Not a Moore fan huh…  Yea I hate it when someone uses facts to make the Bush Admin look like idiots too. tongue wink

  20. What is most troubling about the Moore film.  It doesn’t take playing fast and loose with the facts to make Bush look bad. Bush has supplied the material within context to do the trick more than adequately.

  21. I haven’t seen Fahrenheit 9/11, but I figure the louder the True Bush Believers scream, the more there is to the flick.

    Well what gets me is the ones that yell, scream, and say, “It’s all a bunch of bullshit” because it’s a Moore flick.  But when you ask if they’ve seen it you hear a resounding no.  So my question is how can you roll your eyes are say a movie is full of lies, if you have never seen it.

  22. I figure the louder the True Bush Believers scream, the more there is to the flick.

    That is, alas, precisely the metric by which Ann Coulter believes her latest book has made a resounding hit on its target.  It never occurs to her that she might really BE full of shit and that is what we’re screaming about.

    Ditto for F911.  If Moore is right about even half of what’s in the movie, our president really IS unfit for office.  I found the movie very entertaining.

    From this discussion of the fine-tuning of moral ambivalence in wartime killing, it is plain our soldiers will always suffer from it.  That is probably an inevitable cost of war for which we should account.

  23. Ditto for F911.  If Moore is right about even half of what’s in the movie, our president really IS unfit for office.  I found the movie very entertaining.

    Huh, over 75% of what’s in the movie can be backed up by the 9/11 commission report.  I found the movie entertaining as well, but found it to be one of Moore’s first credible and factual pieces of work.

  24. That is, alas, precisely the metric by which Ann Coulter believes her latest book has made a resounding hit on its target.  It never occurs to her that she might really BE full of shit and that is what we’re screaming about.

    The only thing that mildly interests me about Coulter is whether she writes bullshit or horseshit.

  25. The basic message of the article is that if you work hard enough to justify killing people, you also resolve the moral objections. It’s a bit of a slippery slope, isn’t it?

    Yes, it is. I don’t claim to know the circumstances that lead to the charges against these soldiers, but if soldiers are taught/conditioned to love and follow their leader (and this is necessity if that leader is to ask them to kill and risk their own lives on his/her say-so), there should be no surprise when all hell beaks loose if the leader is killed. It is easy to see how revenge killing might feel “justified.”

    That doesn’t mean that nice, normal soldiers wouldn’t look back on these events with profound regret as new information becomes available to them (e.g., the innocence of the victims).

    I can actually see the appeal of remote-controlled weapons. It’s not just that the controller doesn’t get in the line of fire, but the controller is also divorced from the real-world ramifications – by playing a video game, like. Killing a few innocent bystanders? Too bad, fragged the wrong target. On to the next.

    Hah! Exactly. Killing from a distance reduces PSTD rates to near nil. Interesting, no?

    Oddly enough, these questions never bothered me when I did my term in the military. At the time, ours was a defense force only and if we had seen combat, it would necessarily be in response to an invasion.

    Most people find it very hard to kill someone face-to-face. Even in cases in which people have had to kill to save their own lives, they frequently have a great deal of difficulty with it both at the time and long later.

    Grossman uses an analogy that works really well for me:

    He says that most of us are “sheep”—we’d rather avoid, back down, or run from a face-to-face fight in which we must kill another. These folks often die rather than kill and if they do kill (face-to-face) they frequently suffer very badly afterwards. (As an aside: this is why, if you’re ever in a hostage situation, you want to talk to the hostage-taker and make it as personal as possible: give him your name; take off your hat and let him see your face. If he’s like most of the rest if us in the world, you will make it much harder for him to kill you.)

    There are also those among us who are “sheepdogs”—they guard and protect the flock. They prefer not to kill but can do so easily if the right circumstances occur—we’d find many police officers and career soldiers in this group. They can kill for what they believe is a just and moral cause and not suffer for it. 

    Finally, there are the wolves. They’re predatory, dangerous, and will kill without conscience. They’re a very small minority, but they do a lot of damage and experience no PTSD symptoms from killing.

    Some school safety specialists have attributed the fall in the crime rate in the past decade to more metal detectors, security personnel and programs aimed at curbing bullying, which can lead to more serious crimes.

    Apparently crime went up in 2005 after a decade of declines, but it remains low by historical standards.

     
    Hard to know what this really means—single years can just be statistical blips.

    For something more direcly related to youth, school crime rates in 2003 were about half what they were 10 years earlier.

    Typcially, these kinds of surveys are weak because it is based on what schools report (and they’re not real keen on reporting bad stuff).

    Talk of the growing sociopathic tendencies of America’s youth reminds me of the justifications for building more supermax security prisons in the 1990s for a generation of ‘superpredators’ that never did appear in large numbers.

    There’s no growing sociopathic tendancy among America’s youth—this was just more scare-mongering for political gain.

  26. I for one dislike the idea of the remote controlled weapon.  Because I feel as though it will take away the “human element” of killing.  Many military personnel have not committed war crimes, or committed murders because they have a moral objection to killing someone for no reason, or because they feel it would be wrong, even during a war.  If you take that same person and put them in from of an automatic high powered rifle that is remotely controlled, they may have the tendency to feel disconnected from that human element and may feel no remorse for any wrong doing.  Keeping the same person out in the field with real life targets, will make them more careful on shot selections.

  27. I for one dislike the idea of the remote controlled weapon.

    Too late. The USN uses cruise missiles. You type in the co-ordinates and hit the ‘GO’ button.  I doubt even those loading the guns of the New Jersey as it fired 1 ton 20 inch shells at the middle east in the 80’s had any sense of connection with what they were doing.

  28. DoF: From this discussion of the fine-tuning of moral ambivalence in wartime killing, it is plain our soldiers will always suffer from it. That is probably an inevitable cost of war for which we should account.

    Yes but unless ‘you been there done that’ you have no idea (as it should be) of the psychological ramifications within the soldier.
    Before I was called up for my National Service in 1969 I was just a passive skinny lad who liked to work and fuck.
    In less than a year the army did their best to de-construct and then to re-construct (re-programme psychologically) me into their image of a mean green killing machine in preparation for war.
    I was taught to obey and NEVER to question.
    I often didn’t and did. I wasn’t a ‘good’ soldier.
    When I came back to OZ nothing was as it used to be.
    Family and friends expected to old John to return. He never did, nor will he.
    It took years for me to realise it was ME that’d changed and more years still to come to terms with whatever I’d become, let alone done, or experienced.
    PTSD is a nice psychological/psychiatric term for you’re: fucked because of your experiences and associated fear and you dunno how to deal with it let alone recognise the triggers that can ‘set you off’. And if you do recognise the triggers you’ll have a hard time de-constructing them to harmlessness, if you ever can.
    And just to finish on a sorta lighter note: does anyone know what the boys in Iraq are doing for sex? In Vietnam there were plenty of beautiful bargirls to play all manner of games with. I doubt it’s as loose in Iraq.
    Shit, I hope there’s a root or a head job over there for them coz if there isn’t there are gonna be some problems. smile

  29. What I meant was a 50 calibur rifle attached to a remotely controlled tank or something like that.  Where, just like in a video game, someone can look on a monitor and “fire away.”  Kinda what DOF pointed to.  That really scares me.

  30. What and dropping a sodding huge missile on top of someone is ok? The guy firing has no idea where it’s going- he just types in the numbers.

    Today’s bonus question.

    Why did the US navy train men to write backwards?

  31. LJ, thanks for writing that. 

    Yes but unless ‘you been there done that’ you have no idea (as it should be) of the psychological ramifications within the soldier.

    I hope you know I’m not pretending to understand what it’s like; I’ve led a soft life and I like it that way.  But everything I’ve read by people with battle experience, including what you just wrote, leads me to believe that we should always account that cost before deciding to go to war.  The price tag these chickenhawks put on the war was unrealistically low.

    If we really tote up all the costs, not just the money, we’d engage in a lot fewer wars.

  32. Sorry for double-dipping but here’s a flash-animation Chickenhawks dealie that really delivers a much-deserved smackdown of mockery.  And here’s the whole Chickenhawks database, including the Barking Head Brigade, the Bureaucratic Battalion, the Politicians’ Platoon, and many more.

    The fact that these ass-clowns aren’t struck by lightning every time they make Veterans’ Day speeches is all the proof I need that God either (1) does not exist, or (2) has an extremely sick sense of humor.

  33. Triple: database link no-workee.  Please ignore previous comment.  Let’s try again.

    Sorry for double-dipping but here’s a flash-animation Chickenhawks dealie that really delivers a much-deserved smackdown of mockery.  And here’s the whole Chickenhawks database, including the Barking Head Brigade, the Bureaucratic Battalion, the Politicians’ Platoon, and many more.

    The fact that these ass-clowns aren’t struck by lightning every time they make Veterans’ Day speeches is all the proof I need that God either (1) does not exist, or (2) has an extremely sick sense of humor.

  34. Today’s bonus question.

    Why did the US navy train men to write backwards?   

    Are you talking about the guys who wrote in mirror image on the back side of Plexiglass status boards?  The Air Force had people who wrote in mirror image on the back of status boards too.

    Trivia: The best way to clean grease pencil from Plexiglass is to use toilet paper and cigarette ash.

  35. DoF: I hope you know I’m not pretending to understand what it’s like

    Of course I do.  smile
    It’s the stupids and the chickenhawks (are they one and the same?) that piss veterans off.
    I started my process of getting a pension for PTSD in 1996 – I’m half-way there.
    I have to prove that I experienced scary situations. Right now it’s down to proving One.
    ‘THEY’ don’t take into account that being in a war zone is scary in itself.
    I have absofuckinglutely no ifuckingdea why that is.
    Probably the fact I haven’t killed myself points to the fact that I must be ‘okay’. LOL
    It’s only a little over a year ago that I changed my mindset to accepting what I have and the rest, if it comes, is a bonus But, my future is not dependant on it.
    I think I told y’all the story of a young bloke asking me if the war was anything like in movies and I said it was like the difference between watching a car race on TV and seeing it up close and personal at the track. I could have gone further by adding that to be in the driver in the racing car is the real thing.
    That chickenhawks clip was depressing (thanks anyway) – even more so when I realise the ones who should see it, won’t.  wink

  36. You’re not thinking largely enough, DOF.

    For example: I’d love to perform Chinese water torture on each of them.

  37. The term that comes to my mind is “fanatacism”.

    According to Wikipedia,

    “Fanaticism, from French fanatique or Latin fanaticus ‘inspired by a god, frenzied’ fanum ‘temple’ is an emotion of being filled with excessive, uncritical zeal, particularly for an extreme religious or political cause…

    The christian right wing has been able to supply the fanatics and the Republican party has been able to brainwash them into a froth.  These fanatics have been brainwashed into swallowing the Republican party line; hook, line, and sinker.

    The right wing christian fanatics have been convinced to vote against their own financial self interest.  Right wing christians tend to have lower income, and they are voting for people who want to take away the programs and services that help lower income people.  I know of people who don’t have a pot to piss in (and pay little or taxes) vote for Republicans because they claim that are good Christians and they want to lower taxes and stop abortion.

    During Vietnam, the hawks defended the war because the US was “fighting the spread of communism.”  The Vietnam hawks were generally right wing, but they were not the right wing fanatics that we are seeing now. 

    It is very scary how the GOP has been able to put together a trinity of traditional Republican constituents, corporate interests, and the fanaticised christian right wing to create an evil ultra conservative, corporate driven, christian facist party.  It seems that the right wing christians are the victims, they are being duped, both by their evangelical leaders and by the corporate interests in the Republican party.  All the traditional Republicans had to do to get the support of the evangelical leaders, and the votes of their followers, was to get the liquor out of the convention hospitality rooms, reopen the abortion debate, and start bashing gays in public.  Once the right wing christians were converted to Republicanism, it took about 10 years for their fanaticism to be ripened and developed for the use of the Republican party.

  38. Very well said, IDM. 

    What scares me is I have no idea where to go from here.  OK, the current GOP is a twisted impostor of the real thing – strategy, anyone?

    Liberalism is hobbled by several things.  One is that the party that includes everyone is at such pains not to offend that it will fail to use its critical faculties on itself.

    As Barack Obama famously quipped; “They say Democrats don’t stand for anything. That’s patently untrue. We do stand for anything,”

    This leaves us quite vulnerable to some rather obvious criticisms.  There are grains of truth in many conservative talking-points and we’d be stronger if we were able to address them.  While quick to accuse conservatives of practicing a modern equivalent to McCarthyism we’re blind to a liberal analogue of it. 

    Also in our zeal to disagree with all things conservative we also tend to overlook points where conservatism really has a point.  This is an important weakness in itself.

    Another ‘weakness’ of liberalism is that if you are inclusive you will include people who really can’t stand each other.  They’re just here for their single issue, which paradoxically includes the very same issues the neocons are exploiting.

    I don’t think we’ll be able to spend the next five presidential administrations complaining about the lock that the neocons have on power.  Freedom of speech is eroding fast, ironically abetted by well-meaning liberals.

    Strategy, anyone?

  39. I started my process of getting a pension for PTSD in 1996 – I’m half-way there.
    I have to prove that I experienced scary situations. Right now it’s down to proving One.
    ‘THEY’ don’t take into account that being in a war zone is scary in itself.
    I have absofuckinglutely no ifuckingdea why that is.

    I can’t possibly know what your experiences were like, Luckyjohn19 (and neither do most of the people making these decisions either).  It sounds to me as though they’re using a straight-forward DSMIV criteria to assess PTSD—which is a very, very bad idea.

    This is a kind of check-list approach to diagnosis that fails to take into account the variability in people’s experience. (It ends up being a little like having a doctor look at a brain scan and saying, “But he can’t possibly have a brain tumor because he doesn’t have a headache.”)

    If facing a scary situation were really the most important criteria in the development of PTSD, all soldiers would experience it and they don’t (which is why they want to know what makes you unique—why did you develop symptoms). What these DSM diagnostic criteria fail to take into account is individual vulnerability and cumulative trauma. Anyone who knows the literature on PTSD should know this, but it is easier to rely on a simple checklist—that’s what big organizations and insurers typically do.

    See the following link for the criteria they’re probably using:Diagnostic Criteria for PTSD

  40. It is very scary how the GOP has been able to put together a trinity of traditional Republican constituents, corporate interests, and the fanaticised christian right wing to create an evil ultra conservative, corporate driven, christian facist party.

    Amazingly strange, isn’t it? The republicans would seem to stand for so many things that are completely contrary to “Christian” teachings. (Love for others, care for the poor and disadvantaged etc) that you would think that the republicans would have absolutely no appeal to the.

    Yet it seems as though the issues that really turn Christians crank are those that are about what goes on in other people’s bedrooms.

    Christians really seem to focus on sexual morality. (Why on earth does anyone care that Bill Clinton got a BJ from some intern??? It boggles the mind that so much time and energy was spent on this issue. The Republicans did a great job of discrediting Dems generally with it.)

    I almost hate to say it, because it is too freudian for words, but it is almost as though the sexual repression of Christianity has left Christians vunerable to a kind of self-righteous voyerism—and an abnormal focus on what are surely a very peripheral issues (e.g., same-sex marriage; abortion).

    I’d think that the moral surety of Republicanism is appealing to Christians. There’s also that whole blind-faith issue that we’ve talked about repeatedly—Fundamenatlist Christians seem unaccustomed to critical thought—which brings us back to the original topic. Blind faith, blind patriotism. . .

  41. Yet it seems as though the issues that really turn Christians crank are those that are about what goes on in other people’s bedrooms.

    I don’t recall who said, it but apparently the most important thing bar none for right-wing voters is that gay couples can’t have abortions.

  42. It don’t fucking matter: The christian right wing has … the use of the Republican party.

    DoF: Very well said, IDM.

    Also in our zeal to disagree with all things conservative we also tend to overlook points where conservatism really has a point.  This is an important weakness in itself.

    This is the crux of it all, isn’t it?
    It’s a baby Vs bathwater issue.
    If you’re a conservative (anslyse that word) you are, this and that and, if you’re a liberal (anslyse that word) you are, this and that.
    Until both sides can see both sides you will have at least two sides. Where is the meeting point?
    We work from lofty heights instead of working from basics. KISS.
    Either we love our kids or we don’t; either we want freedom to express ourselved or we don’t; either we want equality of the sexes (and sexuality) or we don’t; I could go on but my mate, Jimmy forced me to drink too much beer and the brain is losing interest.
    But, there are so many KISS priciples involved here … why can’t there be some common agreeance on ‘little insignificant stuff’?
    Ahhh, don’t answer that … they have god on their side and we are wrong to even think there’s another way ouside the xian doctrine … whatever they’re contructed the doctrine to be.

  43. Shelley: See the following link for the criteria they’re probably using: Diagnostic Criteria for PTSD

    Wow Shelley !!! It’s as tho ‘they’ read my ‘mind’.
    Many thoughts are running thru my mind – the one that wins is, forget about me – stand up for the lads who don’t know what the fuck is gonna happen in their heads in the future.
    Sorta, ‘don’t cry for me Argentina’ – cry for them.
    As I do. I feel more pain for those who follow than for myself – I have survived. As a 1st of the 1st baby I can quickly realise I will be 60 in less than 6 months. Lotsa Vets never made it to my age with, at least, my level of ‘sanity’. downer
    LOL I still remember my de-brief when I returned from ‘the funny country’: Howyagoin’? Good. Okay, seeya.
    It’s okay to laugh now but … LOL
    If I couldn’t laugh and say: Fuck you … I WILL survive – fuck YOU … I’d be dead. LOLLOL:lol::lol::lol::lol::lol:
    I lasted till 1996 till I recognised I had a problem. Up until then I was not going to buckle under, what my mind told me was the bullshit. I would sort it out without help. Afterall, I was intelligent. I wasn’t like those dumbfucks that bowed down and needed a pension. I did my duty. I am mentally strong.
    Rave Rave Rave Bullshit Bullshit Bullshit
    I need to get off this subject but …
    Please don’t be concerned for me – I’ve come out the other end and …
    Throw your weight behind the others. They’re gonna need more than me.  downer
    A weirdly embarrassed part of me doesn’t want to post this.
    Another part of me is saying: Do it for them. smile
    They won.

  44. DoF: … gay couples can’t have abortions.

    You’re an entertaining bastard. LOL
    Does Mrs DoF know how funny you are? LOL

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