Friday, December 9, 2011

Jews, asians and climate scientists

"One can do anything to those Goyim.
Our people crucified their Christ
on the cross, and we do a great
business on his birthday...."
I've my regular column with the ABC today, 'Out with the caricatures!'

I'm looking into a common stereotype: of conspiratorial, weak, canny manipulators, preying on simple, hard-working folk.

It's a caricature that appears regularly in public and private conflict, and stems partly from a desperate need for certainty.  A sample:
In public debate and private conversation, they are a simple psychological defence mechanism, which takes the place of thought and sympathetic imagination. Our purported enemies are not wise or thoughtful – they must be selfish calculators, hopelessly out-of-touch, or using scholarship to climb some dubious ladder of opportunity. They do not struggle valiantly to live well – they must be a comfortable, perhaps effete elite. It cannot be that they are creatures of ambivalent feeling and ambiguous thought – they must be straightforwardly malicious, devious, obsessive. 
Why the 'must'? Because it is, above all, a desperate longing for certainty: certain values, certain ideals, and certain enemies. This is a worldview of those uncomfortable with doubt, who prefer false sureness to true insecurity. Hence the trope of the noble, practical, muscular hero, relying on 'know how' instead of cerebral abstractions; this is someone who just 'knows'. This is someone with simple answers, and few questions; the myth of one's own, spontaneous rectitude. It is no coincidence that this often goes hand-in-hand with dogmatic religion. 
Of course we all have moments of delusion, particularly when we have invested – psychologically or monetarily – in some institution or labour: political parties, careers, academic theories, for example. But some individuals and communities transform this mechanism into a modus operandi, and make themselves more, not less, vulnerable as they do. Nothing invites coercion like the scent of bad faith.
(Cartoon: German Propaganda Archive)

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