Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hatred, Slurs, Scapegoats & Psychological Projection

Smearing the (political) enemy with moral pejoratives has an old tradition. If you do it often enough some of the slur may actually stick. As it frequently does

The hatred of the Russians for the Nazis is a good example. 

National Socialism and Communism are kindred ideologies. But Hitler stabbed Stalin in the back after the Molotov-Von Ribbentrop Pact, and ever since every Russian enemy is called a 'Nazi'. 

Here's another example, classical Jew hatred.

On a synagogue in Simferopol on the Crimea peninsula is defiled with antisemitic texts: kill the Jews! Ha’aretz is reporting that the Jews are having a hell of time at the hands of both parties in the conflict. Anatoly Gendin, representative of the Jewish community on the Crimea: “Since the start of the conflict prices have soared and pensions have not been paid. Somebody must be blamed.”

Traditionally these uneducated peasants honestly had no foggy idea what was going on in their countries. Jewish scapegoats are an easy target to explain a phenomenon they can't understand otherwise. It's a sort of superstition. And it saves them from having to lay the blame where it lies: with those in power on whom they owe their existence. 

And then there's psychological projection or demonization. Those who like to think of themselves as nice, empathic, inclusive, under-dog loving people, often are very far from it. Their shortcomings are projected onto the adversary. Projection is a psychological coping device that deals with the ensuing cognitive dissonance by turning the opponent as by magic into a demon. 

In all, smears and scapegoating has its function in the human psychology, but it isn't very nice, and often may become extremely vicious and vile.

Projection: the town of Eugene is expecting a visit from Governor Sarah Palin. The local Dems aren't very hospitable.