I am struck by how much the current liberal hatred of President Bush articulated by Jonathan Chait resembles the previous liberal hatred of President Reagan. Chait entirely avoids any consideration of the possibiltiy that his hatred is symptomatic of underlying liberal sickness by attempting to make the case that the hatred is unique to President Bush.
Only this past Sunday, Edmund Morris published a review of the new volume of Reagan letters in the Washington Post that seethed with the kind of hatred Chait articulates so perfectly in his New Republic piece. It is the kind of hatred that manifests itself as the symptom of a deep mental disturbance: the hatred of sickness for health and of misery for happiness.
Witness the liberals’ hatred of the Boy Scouts over their refusal to bow before the dogma that homosexuality is the equal of heterosexuality, over their unapologetic patriotism and masculinity — in Chait’s terms, over their very Bush-ness. This hatred manifests itself in the liberals’ profoundly illiberal desire not simply to shun or stigmatize the Scouts, but rather to defund and destroy the organization.
Reader Dafydd ab Hugh expands on the underlying phenomenon in his own inimitable way: “Extreme hatred is what we in mathematics call a self-organizing and replicating system. If you dump a bunch of cubes into a box, they will fall all higgledy-piggledy. But if you begin gently shaking the box, after a while, all the cubes will be oriented more or less the same direction, fitting snugly together. This is a self-organizing system; in the case of Bush hatred, when people around the typical liberal all profess hatred for Bush and keep prodding the new guy for how he feels, he will begin falling in line with the culture around him. This is called acculturation: the new guy feels cognitive dissonance until he begins to voice hatred towards Bush. After a while of saying it, at first just because it’s expected, he begins to believe it metaprogramming).
“Intensification sets in because there is a feedback loop where the more extreme the expression of hatred, the more applause and approval the speaker receives. The system is self-replicating because there are a number of interests — often in the strictest definition of the word, as in financial interests — driving those within the cult of hatred to recruit more members, both to reduce the dissonance (haters like to surround themselves with haters, so they don’t feel guilty or queasy) and also because there is strength and safety in numbers. Hence, self-organizing, self-replicating.
“We see this dynamic truly at work among militant Moslems; but it’s the same dynamic among Bush haters: you conform yourself to the hatred around you, swim in it a while, until eventually you find yourself out recruiting new haters to the fold. It gives the hater a sense of belonging, and perhaps more important, a false sense of adventure, daring, and courage to replace the void within him left by his disengagement from a world that is increasingly bewildering. It is the ‘faith’ of Hatred. It is intimately tied in with the human need for a sense of belonging to something spiritual beyond oneself. You worship the God of love and justice; Mohammed Atta, Jose Padilla, and Jonathan Chait worship the goddess of hate and rage.”
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