The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Double Fault

I have written many times about the Left’s propensity to act in a manner that Freudian pychologists call “reaction formation.” According to Wikipedia, reaction formation is “a defense mechanism in which anxiety-producing or unacceptable emotions are replaced by their direct opposites.” We all look at the frightening irrationality and barbarity of Islamofascists. Some of us recognize that they, and only they, are responsible for their world view and their actions Our reaction to them should not be one of “understanding” or “tolerance,” but rather of outright condemnation and when necessary, confrontation. Others however, cannot absorb the irrationality and barbarity and instead blame the victim and express rage the someone else’s actions are the cause for Islamofascism. That someone else is the USA. The latter line of thinking is comforting really, because it provides those who believe it with a illusory solution. If only we’d change our ways, be less confrontational and more tolerant, less greedy (for oil, of course) and more capitulatory, all this would resolve itself – peacefully, of course.

Wretchard of The Belmont Club comments:
There is the unfortunate tendency to regard America as responsible for everything in the world. Michael Young [in the WSJ] performs the invaluable service of pointing out that the actions and decisions of others matter too. Iran's assertive behavior, beginning with the Islamic Revolution in 1979 and its pursuit of nuclear weapons, not to mention its meddling in Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Iraq have poured as much gasoline into the campfire as anything else. Michael Young argues that the illegitimacy and fragility of many Sunni states drives aggressive and paranoid behavior to compensate for weakness at home. And the mixture is lethal.

The less sophisticated version of the West's own paranoia -- the idea that whatever bad thing happens it has somehow deserved -- of which the "we caused 9/11" is a prime example, has the sad effect of sometimes misdirecting analysis. Perhaps not everything is "our fault". The sad truth is that terrorism and the networked insurgency probably would have emerged from the Middle Eastern pressure cooker whatever America did. The concoction of backward, illegitimate regimes, fantasy ideology, abundant oil money, a conflict with Israel, sectarian rivalry. Who would not have imagined such a stew to be incapable of producing terrorism? No one, possibly, except those wedded to the idea that the US is the sole actor in the world. Maybe the basic problem with the idea of "bringing democracy to the Middle East" is that it puts the onus on someone else. It sets up the problem such that America cannot guarantee the outcome. It creates a process whose ultimate product no American President can honestly promise to deliver. Not everything is America's fault; and not everything is in America's power to answer.

Maybe, just maybe, none of this is our fault. Maybe, just maybe, we are in a “clash of civilizations” that could ultimately lead to the destruction of everything liberal, everything progressive, everything, dare I say it, modern and civilized.

And the great irony is that those who have the most to lose, those who cherish freedom of expression and ideas, are the first in line to blame their own country and culture -- a country and culture that has supported these ideals throughout its short history. Sad.