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Why let facts get in way of a perfectly good war?

by Arianna Huffington Wednesday, Jun. 25, 2003 at 3:57 PM

This goes out with a big dose of PAXIL to all you Stockholm Conservatives.

Why let facts get in way of a perfectly good war?

Commentary by Arianna Huffington

June 24, 2003

 

By all accounts, the battle within the Bush administration over just what information should be used to make the case that Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat to the world was a knockdown, drag-out fight between the facts and a highly politicized "who needs proof?" mindset. And at the end of the day, the truth was left writhing on the floor.

This pathological pattern of disregarding inconvenient reality is not just troubling — it's deadly. And it's threatening to drag us into a Sisyphean struggle against evildoers in Syria, Iran, North Korea, or whatever locale Karl Rove thinks would best advance "Operation Avoid Bush Sr.’s Fate."

Since I'm not a psychiatrist, I consulted the work of various experts in the field in order to get a better understanding of the fanatical mindset that is driving the Bush administration.

Dr. Norman Doidge, professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, has identified among the telltale symptoms of fanatics: an intolerance of dissent, the belief that one's cause has been blessed or even commanded by God, and the use of reinforcement techniques such as repetition to spread one's message.

Sound like anyone you know? George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, come on down!

According to Doidge, one of the essential features of fanatics is their certainty that not only is their cause good "but that it is the only good, an absolute good." Or as President Bush famously declared: "There is no in between as far as I'm concerned. Either you're with us, or you're against us."

This absolute intolerance of dissent, says Doidge, often extends beyond the fanatics' enemies — frequently leading to a "campaign of terror" against those within their own ranks.

If you're wondering what this has to do with the Bush administration, you might want to give a call to Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and George Voinovich. After having the temerity to question the wisdom of the president's massive tax-cut plan, the senatorial pair became the targets of withering TV attack ads, sponsored by allies of the White House, that portrayed them as "so-called Republicans" and compared their opposition to the latest round of tax cuts to France's opposition to the war in Iraq.

Another crucial element of a fanatic's faith, according to Professor Dixon Sutherland, who teaches religion at Stetson University, is that he "sees himself as acting for God.” Tom DeLay, for example, saw the 2000 election as a choice between a "biblical worldview" and the worldview of "humanism, materialism, sexism, naturalism, post-modernism or any of the other -isms." And the Republican Party, of course, represented the biblical worldview, God and all things good.

Gustav le Bon, a social scientist known for his crowd psychology theories, has stressed the importance of repetition as a weapon in the fanatic's arsenal. "Ideas, sentiments, emotions and beliefs," writes le Bon, "possess in crowds a contagious power as intense as that of microbes."

As James Moore, co-author of Bush's Brain, says, "If the president says it over and over enough, people will believe it, just as Karl Rove got him to say over and over that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11." The technique was so successful that a poll taken by the Pew Center in 2002 showed that 66 percent of Americans believed that Saddam and bin Laden were both behind the attacks.

Wonder why the WMD are MIA? The answer may lie in the DSM — the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. I know it can sound a bit cheap to call people you disagree with nuts, which is why I refer to the psychiatric literature. And keep an open mind, something the Bushies stopped doing a long time ago.

Arianna Huffington is a syndicated columnist.

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LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 64 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
Why should I care about the facts? Stockholm Conservative Wednesday, Jun. 25, 2003 at 3:58 PM
Bush family and facts Ziegler Wednesday, Jun. 25, 2003 at 4:23 PM
The Left Shrieks, America Shrugs Bush Admirer Wednesday, Jun. 25, 2003 at 4:39 PM
The usual Bush Asskisser tactic... Diogenes Wednesday, Jun. 25, 2003 at 4:41 PM
poll Meyer London Wednesday, Jun. 25, 2003 at 6:45 PM
Recent Polls... Diogenes Wednesday, Jun. 25, 2003 at 7:16 PM
Finally, a Diogenes tagline I like! Dagny Wednesday, Jun. 25, 2003 at 7:30 PM
Finally, a Diogenes tagline I like! Dagny Wednesday, Jun. 25, 2003 at 7:31 PM
INDYMEDIA daveman Wednesday, Jun. 25, 2003 at 8:08 PM
Meyer London Where truth or knowdege not required Wednesday, Jun. 25, 2003 at 8:34 PM
The previous post... daveman Wednesday, Jun. 25, 2003 at 8:53 PM
The Left Shrieks, America Shrugs Ffutal Wednesday, Jun. 25, 2003 at 9:56 PM
Hey Meyer, Ann's got something to tell you. Eric Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 10:33 AM
Ann Coulter Meyer London Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 12:53 PM
Meyer London, an ad hominem Eric Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 12:58 PM
ad hominem not a rebuttal Meyer London Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 1:15 PM
Ann Coulter Eric Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 1:22 PM
Oh and Meyer... Eric Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 1:25 PM
Did she really write this? Brian OConnor Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 1:35 PM
Addt'l comments Brian OConnor Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 1:43 PM
Canned, Calling the Shots Meyer London Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 1:56 PM
Best Sellers Meyer London Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 2:12 PM
Eric, what did you think..." Eric Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 2:25 PM
"went to far" Eric Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 2:29 PM
Satire Alter-Airic Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 2:38 PM
Have you noticed... Diogenes Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 2:44 PM
Perhaps. Eric Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 2:46 PM
So is it your contention... Diogenes Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 2:59 PM
your platforms hurt America Sheepdog Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 3:11 PM
It is MY contention... Eric Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 3:19 PM
Uh, Eric... Diogenes Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 3:26 PM
Diogenes Eric Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 3:37 PM
And of course... Diogenes Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 3:47 PM
Knew what? fresca Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 4:00 PM
"learning anything original" Eric Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 4:09 PM
More clues to Airic's problems Brian OConnor Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 4:34 PM
Oh I listen. Eric Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 5:03 PM
Back for more, Brigg? Brian OConnor Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 5:20 PM
why is this site YOURS? Eric Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 5:25 PM
Us and Them Brian OConnor Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 5:53 PM
Oh well you know me. Eric Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 6:06 PM
Pontificate Pilus: the Golden Showers of Brigg Diogenes Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 6:19 PM
answers brigg Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 6:37 PM
Devoid of Value(s) Brian OConnor Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 7:11 PM
BOC brigg Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 7:20 PM
Finite Wisdom from Brigg Brian OConnor Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 7:30 PM
Seriously fresca Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 8:43 PM
Now, be fair, fresca. daveman Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 9:40 PM
Rule number 1 for the Bush Junta Diogenes Friday, Jun. 27, 2003 at 3:13 AM
Rule number 1 for Napoleon...err, I mean, Dio... daveman Friday, Jun. 27, 2003 at 8:01 AM
Hey, daveman. Eric Friday, Jun. 27, 2003 at 9:02 AM
Got critical thinking skills? anti-moron Friday, Jun. 27, 2003 at 11:08 AM
I guess it's an oblique... Diogenes Friday, Jun. 27, 2003 at 1:33 PM
Poll pollster Friday, Jun. 27, 2003 at 1:36 PM
I'm a poll watcher. Ignatius Friday, Jun. 27, 2003 at 1:45 PM
De Nile ain't just a river faker/KOBE Friday, Jun. 27, 2003 at 1:52 PM
^ Ignatius Friday, Jun. 27, 2003 at 1:55 PM
Yep I do. Eric Friday, Jun. 27, 2003 at 1:57 PM
Oh, really? anti-moron Friday, Jun. 27, 2003 at 1:58 PM
Drop It anti-moron Friday, Jun. 27, 2003 at 2:03 PM
^ Eric Friday, Jun. 27, 2003 at 2:06 PM
anti-moron faker/KOBE Friday, Jun. 27, 2003 at 2:10 PM
^ Eric Friday, Jun. 27, 2003 at 2:19 PM

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