5/06 Fancy Talk For Ostrich Syndrome
Living in a state of denial is not uncommon for someone following a traumatic experience. Sometimes it may be the only way to bear the impact of the trauma because to face it, the victim fears instinctively, the pain would be overwhelming.
The blank stare of a Sudanese mother who has seen her family and most of her unarmed fellow villagers wiped out by gangs sent by the Muslim regime in Khartoum paint a riveting picture of the face of denial.
The wife who lives with a domineering and abusive husband often denies what she knows for a long time. Sometimes she denies reality too long and ends up dead.
Jews, having been stripped naked on their way into the gas chambers of Nazi Germany, demanded receipts for their clothing from their guards.
In order to function at all when reality is so unbelievably wicked, denial seems to be a defensive reaction the mind resorts to almost instinctively.
That does not mean that it is healthy. It is as unhelpful as the adrenalin rush that people experience when under attack. This makes them “all thumbs” and unable to operate their weapon for which they may well have trained so much. But they trained when nobody was really trying to kill them. This, by the way, is why Gun Owners of America, opposes gun locks. Just when you need as few as possible tasks to perform, even something quite simple can become a life-threatening obstacle.
However normal traumatic denial is, the denial of many intellectuals to recognize that men are inherently capable of great evil is not normal. That assumption leads to an avoidable, but crippling refusal to recognize evil men for what they are and to take necessary defensive actions. These intellectual ostriches insist that we would be better off talking to aggressors (crooks, dictators or terrorists) because “violence only makes things worse.”
“Alternate reality” is the phrase that seems to best describe the willful denial of brute facts. Examples abound. Jack Cashill has written an outstanding intellectual history of modern times entitled Hoodwinked: How Intellectual Hucksters Have Hijacked American Culture. In it, Cashill tells of a number of famous frauds that, even when exposed, are clung to by those insisting that their alternate reality can be the only measure of truth.
One example is that of a professional anti-colonialist and anti-American by the name of Edward Said. He was a professional Palestinian victim, decrying the horrors his people had suffered under the boot of Israeli tyranny. There was one central problem with Dr. Said’s tale of woe. He was an American citizen, living luxuriously in Egypt, and had only briefly visited Palestine during the period over which he had shed so many tears. Even though his hucksterism was reported on in the New York Times, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan just two years later lamented that death had silenced his “distinctive voice.”
Rigoberta Menchu, author of I, Rigoberta Menchu, is one of my favorites in Cashill’s Hucksterism Hall of Fame. Menchu gives lurid details of the wicked Guatemalan army’s massacre of her village from which she miraculously escaped. This was the kind of horror story that all the anti-anti-communists on the left wanted to hear.
What the left did not want to hear was that Rigoberta Menchu’s book is a work of fiction and that her qualifying moment of victimhood never occurred. Not only did it not occur, Menchu was in Guatemala City in a Catholic girls’ school during the whole period. Rather than a downtrodden proletarian, she was — by rural Guatemalan standards — from a solidly middle class background.
The alternate reality that Menchu depicts is clung to because the left has never forgiven General Efrain Rios Montt from arming the Mayans of the Guatemalan highlands. Once the General (then the head of a military junta) armed and organized the highlanders, the communist guerrilla assault on the poor of the region ended in about six months. Rather violently, too, because once the Mayans were armed they acted on their assumption that violence would solve something. They were right, and a lot of wannabe Che Guevarra types were dead. Years later, even though Rios Montt was constitutionally prohibited from running for the presidency, his publicly backed candidate won his biggest margins in his winning campaign in the very places where Rigoberta Menchu had written her “novel.”
Cashill also visits the alternate reality of Michael Moore, the infamous producer of “fact-free” documentaries, as well as Michael Bellesiles, the historian who fraudulently manufactured data to support his fallacious argument that guns were not important to American colonists. Tell that last one to King George!
Happily, although Cashill visits many more alternate realities in Hoodwinked, he made sure to ground his analysis in the reality that is observable, testable and reportable.
Hoodwinked needs to be read by all students before they enter college. Actually, they should read it during their freshman year of high school, and if they need help (although Cashill is an excellent writer), their parents will benefit greatly from reading it together with their kids.
Make sure you only buy round trip tickets when visiting the lands of Alternate Reality. Otherwise you may get stuck in one of those strange lands, where everyone has fallen prey to the ostrich syndrome. You will look quite silly to the rest of us if you are trying to have a serious conversation with an ostrich — especially with one whose head is firmly stuck in the ground.