Power Line readers have probably noticed, and may well be irritated by, my occasional attempts to “psycho-analyze” liberals. I admit that the main reason I have continued to read liberal writing over the years is my fascination with the liberal psyche. But psychoanalysis is best left to professionals. With that in mind, I offer the following e-mail we received from Stephen Marmer: “I’m a psychiatrist by trade (almost an oxymoron to be a Jewish psychiatrist in West Los Angeles and a conservative). One of my patients told me today that he just figured out why we have to go to war against Iraq. It is, he declared, because of North Korea. Now that North Korea presumably has nuclear weapons they have a bargaining chip to prevent attack against themselves. We can ill afford to let Sadaam have the same kind of threat.
Why is this remarkable? This reasoning has seemed obvious for months, if not years. It should be clear to all by now, especially after Charles Krauthammer’s recent article on the obsolescence of “deterrence.”
To me the problem is the inability of those on the left to recognize human evil. They of course do recognize such “evils” as second hand smoke and the potential extinction of an obscure species of gnats. By not recognizing human evil they are able to remain in a state of hopeful optimism about the ability of negotiation, persuasion, and international pressure to force the bad guys to be good. But is there something deeper behind what I regard as self-delusion? I believe there is.
The answer is cowardice, or at least a lack of courage. They don’t want to recognize the extent or danger of human evil because a) it would make them feel at risk, and they have an overwhelming preference for comfort, and b) if they acknowledged the threat of evil they would have to take strenuous action against it, which would expose themselves to danger. To face risk and to willingly expose oneself to danger requires real courage. This includes the courage occasionally to be wrong and certainly includes the courage to endure not being liked.
I’m far from certain that this exhausts the explanation of liberal delusion in the face of what is clear to the rest of us as human evil. But I do think it is a small piece of the puzzle.”
So do I, Dr. Marmer.
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