Our first look at the Kardman bully triangle, in our last piece, detailed the Republican conspirators (conspiracy theorists, cultists) as self-identified victims, and their extreme passion and irrationality also works hourly on every platform and from every microphone available, to paint the Democrats as persecutors. This paint-by-number political theatre sadly, is not a game like paint-ball. The poisoned words, beliefs, and acts of insurrection (Jan. 6, 2021) are neither erasable nor can they be tolerated in a state that calls itself a democracy. Furthermore, any attempt, however lame as depicted in the last piece, to bring the two sides to a common table, through what in family therapy would be termed mediation, is so ephemeral, ethereal, and even quixotic, as to disqualify as a credible political agenda. The best and most idealistic intentions of Biden and his administration to work “across the aisle” are already running into predictable roadblocks on the size of the COVID Recovery bill.
The phrase, “words matter,” has been bandied about profusely since trump rode down the escalator to announce his candidacy in 2015. Nevertheless, five years have passed and, the words chosen and weaponized into grenades (not merely bullets) by the ex-president and his millions of cult members, have left a political landscape littered with, from trump himself, some 20,000 documented and curated lies. It is the appetite for those lies, the false emboldening of his cult by those lies, and the dangerous consumption of the implications of those lies among the 74 million voters who cast ballots for trump that continues to impale the Democrats, and the political structure, as well as the American culture on the horns of a dilemma. An army of 74 million, not all of whom believe all of his lies, nevertheless, is a political force, armed with millions of funds from supportive donors, who themselves either believe the lies, or tolerate them, in order to facilitate an agenda that seems to cohere with trump’s style and actions.
How can the country, (including the media, the academe, the churches, the corporations, the military, the civil service, the justice system, and the behemoth that is the U.S. government) together, even begin to mount a “truth-campaign” that will penetrate the wall of denial, resistance, hubris, and what some would call outright psychosis, in the political sense. (In a junior high definition of neurosis from a physical education instructor I heard once, a neurotic builds castles in the sky, whereas a psychotic moves into his castles.) A mere line drawing of psychological trends much more complex, that description clearly applies to the trump’s cults enmeshment in their conviction that trump has come to be their saviour, from the hordes of blood-drinking satanic pedophiles. Not only is their depiction of the Democrats a monstrous projection, of their own worst and most dark unconscious; their individual and collective readiness to acknowledge their projection, is, so far, totally out of reach. If there were time, and if there were a professional therapist, it would take several sessions to break down the wall of intransigence that separates them from their ownership of their projections.
Parents too often, hurl projections of inferiority, insecurity, angst, and especially those fears of being “found out” for their insecurity, at their children. In a fit of temper, a piercing epithet, “You’re no good just like your father!” can and will come screaming from a larynx of a nearly rabid and frustrated parent. And the piercing goes right into the indelible memory bank, along with the fine details of the time and place of its utterance. The moment is never fully excised from the child’s memory, and any long-term attempts to detoxify the wound usually need forgiveness, treatment, sometimes sharing with a partner, and perhaps even prayer. In the personal life, however, these wounds are likely to be ameliorated with time, work and the gift of the mining of the strength and insight they bring.
Given that a good 40% of the American body politic is linked to, if not saturated by, the lies, the victim-mind-and-heart-set, and the false belief that trump alone can and will rescue them from their completely imaginary and incomprehensible and ethereal danger, even Pizzagate is still considered a real event, whereas the Parkland and Sandy Hook shootings are staged flags, by their hated enemies.
How does the body politic excise this psychic, emotional, ideological, and propaganda-feeding tumor?
The depth of dependence on the tumor if extreme. It is as if, like a person sick with real cancer, whom before he would even treat such a patient, Bernie Segal, oncologist, would ask, “What do you need with this cancer?” And where do we find the equivalent of a Bernie Segal, oncologist, to ask these people:
v “What need does this cancer fill in your lives?”
v Are your lives so desperate, empty, angry, alienated, isolated, separated that you are determined to leave an indelible signature, through verbal, physical, emotional, character-assassinating, racially-motivated violence?
v What is it that you hate about yourselves that you have to project onto others?
v What evil monster, of a political and a psychic dimension, has so inflicted pain on your person that only protracted vindictiveness will assuage your hate?
v What kind of battle-field do you conceive your fight needs in order to destroy your perceived enemy?
v What lengths do you intend to pursue in order to meet the profound needs that seem to be animating your hate?
v When did you begin to believe that violence, from your hands, is your only and best weapon to tear the national house down?
v What kind of letter would you leave for your parents, children, friends, colleagues, to explain your total commitment to this vexatious campaign?
v Is this campaign similar to a suicide plan by an individual who has reached the end of his rope?
v If your actions were being perpetrated against you, what would you say to those doing the perpetrating?
v Do you know the meaning of the word, nihilism?
v Do you know the meaning of the word, fascism?
v Do you believe that the Third Reich made a positive contribution to the world’s people?
v Do you believe that your groups are committed to actions emulating the Third Reich?
v If you were a Jew or a Moslem, and these acts and words were being directed directly at you, what would you do or say to those committing or uttering those act/words, respectively?
v Is there any hint of a theology or spiritual component to your self-righteous anger, intensity, passion and unleashed terror?
Naturally, however, such questions would likely only enflame the hard-core insurrectionists…and they would be unlikely to hear them.
And so, as the world grapples with a rapidly mutating pandemic, a race to produce and to inject vaccines into enough arms to generate herd immunity, and the millions whose lives have been ripped from under them strive to stay alive, to find work, to feed their families, and to stay healthy, there are many, including this scribe, who consider the actions of the insurrectionists to be among the most self-centred, narcissistic, vengeful and self-sabotaging and blatantly immature series of actions to have emerged in the last have century.
However, any words or thoughts that can be described as “parental” (and the last sentence certainly qualifies) are less than helpful. What the insurrectionists need, and what the political/legal culture will offer, could well be two different things. Charging, sentencing, imprisoning and potentially further exacerbating the contempt and dissociation of these people, even from themselves, might well spell even further revenge. A protracted, profoundly and diligently designed re-training educational curriculum could go a long way to shifting the attitudes, beliefs, prospects, and relationships (all of which are seriously damaged now!) of many of these people. The nation, collectively, wants its own revenge. And it also wants to find a method by and through which it can go forward without morphing into an armed camp against its own people. And there is a strong and easily discernible mountain of evidence that, when American considers itself ‘under attack’ it rises up into epic actions, programs, budgets, staff super-structures and highly sophisticated ‘deterrent’ technologies.
Prick the skin of the American political culture, (and that skin has been pierced, bloodied, and even murdered and shoved into suicide)and there is a predictable, and not necessarily measured and effective response. Behemoth edifices of intelligence, siloed off from other equally monstrous pyramids of intelligence, tend, first of all, under attack, to ‘protect’ the turf of the silo. Whereas, the sharing of intelligence, in both formal and informal channels, without perhaps the inflated budgets that then get siloed, offers the potential of a very different response.
Bureaucracies, however, hire, train, and then breed professionals to operate within the boundaries and frameworks of that bureaucracy. There has likely never been an administration more siloed, and thereby enemy-defined, and enemy-driven, operating on a zero-sum premise, than the U.S. administration that has just, thankfully, come to an end. And yet, it really has not been silenced. It is certainly not dead. And the cultists, including too many elected Republicans, are still clinging to the envisioned promise of another Greek-like epic and thereby historic event, the rise from the ashes of the Phoenix, trump.
Messianism, the notion that a messiah is an integral and essential component of the religion of the United States, has a long history. A complete history can be found in Karen Armstrong’s, A History of God, (Random House, 1993). A brief summary starts as far back as The Great Awakening in New England in the 1730’s. Jonathan Edwards fueled a frenzy of born-again conversions and ascribed responsibility to God who “was moving the people in a marvelous and miraculous manner…These intensely emotional reversal have continued to be characteristic of religious revival in America. It was a new birth, attended by violent convulsions of pain and effort, a new version of the Western struggle with God…The violent swings of emotion, the manic elation and profound despair, show that many of the less privileged people of America found it difficult to keep their balance when they had dealing with ‘God.’…It was Edwards and his colleagues who led Americans of the lower classes to take their first steps toward revolution. Messianism* was essential to Edward’s religion: human effort would hasten the coming of God’s Kingdom, which was attainable and imminent in the New World. The Awakening itself…made people believe that the process of redemption described in the Bible had already begun. God was firmly committed to the project….In the New World of America, God would ..be able to contemplate his own perfections on earth. The New England would be a ‘city on the hill,’ a light unto the Gentiles, ‘shining with a reflection of the glory of Jehovah risen upon it, which shall be attractive and ravishing to all. (From Alan Heimart, Religion and the American Mind, From the Great Awakening to the Revolution, Cambridge, Mass., 1968, p. 43, in Armstrong’s A History of God, pp.323-324-325)
It is not surprising that 1776, the numbers and the cry would help to sign the events of January 6 at the Capitol. However, like so many other symbols, images, metaphors and narratives lifted from scripture, there is little supporting evidence to link the holy book and its contents with acts of insurrection. Their deployment doubtless helped to fuel the American revolution, at a time when the stoic, and staid, and mystical Brits were considered the fundamental reason and culture (monarchy) from which the Americans were revolting.
If and when religion, and the enflamed passions of many of its most desperate and perhaps misguided recruits, is manipulated into an instrument for insurrection, hate, bigotry, anarchy and blatant racism, it has lost its way. There is no justification for any lame attempt to capture and to display a distorted Christian faith, even its minimalist and distorted words, as a psychedelic potion for hateful anarchic motivations.
*Messianism is the belief in the advent of a messiah who acts as a savior or liberator of a group of people: human effort would hasten the coming of God’s Kingdom, which was attainable and imminent in the New World