Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Sarah Palin conundrum

These people don’t hate Palin because of the lies; the lies exist to justify the hate.

As everyone knows, Sarah Palin announced last week that she was resigning her position as Governor of Alaska. Some pundits speculated that this meant that she was "clearing the decks" for a run at the Presidency in 2012, but I tend to agree with Mark Steyn that she's not going to be running for public office herself anymore. As Steyn says, "Occam's Razor leaves us with: Who needs this?"

The news that she'd consulted with Rudy Guiliani just before making her announcement makes me think that she has in mind more of a future like his - he doesn't have to put up with the insane garbage that now comes with "serving the public", and yet he's a respected, influential voice. Why shouldn't she do that? She'd be free to make money, free from the myriad ankle-biters who have all the leisure in the world to set mantraps every two inches and maliciously attack her family at no risk to themselves.

One of the most interesting attempts to analyze the insanity that overtook the Left when they saw Sarah Palin is at Reclusive Leftist, because the writer approaches it from the perspective of a leftist and feminist. She freely confesses that the subject of Palin Hatred is opaque to her, despite her very intelligent attempts to extract the truth from those who have given in to it.
Of course, the first answer you’ll get if you ask feminists why they hate Sarah Palin is that “it’s because she ____” — and then fill in the blank with the lie of choice: made rape victims pay for their own kits, is against contraception or sex ed, believes in abstinence-only, thinks the dinosaurs were here 4000 years ago, doesn’t believe in global warming, doesn’t believe in evolution, is stupid and can’t read, etc., etc., etc., etc.

But none of those things is true. None of them.
The first problem is that the haters have a fantasy figure in their minds. But if this were all, it could be remedied with the facts. After all, we're not talking about illiterates or people in isolated communities with no access to information. They're educated, even highly educated, in metropolitan centers with 24/7 news available everwhere.
But even weirder is what happens when you try to replace the myths with the truth. If you explain, “no, she didn’t charge rape victims,” your feminist interlocutor will come back with something else: “she’s abstinence-only!” No, you say, she’s not; and then the person comes back with, “she’s a creationist!” and so on. “She’s an uneducated moron!” Actually, Sarah Palin is not dumb at all, and based on her interviews and comments, I’d say she has a greater knowledge of evolution, global warming, and the Wisconsin glaciation in Alaska than the average citizen.

But after you’ve had a few of these myth-dispelling conversations, you start to realize that it doesn’t matter. These people don’t hate Palin because of the lies; the lies exist to justify the hate. That’s why they keep reaching and reaching for something else, until they finally get to “she winked on TV!” (And by the way: I’ve been winked at my whole life by my grandmother, aunts, and great-aunts. Who knew it was such a despicable act?)

That, I think, is the crux of the matter: The lies exist to justify the hate.

Much of the rest of the post (and the very interesting comments that follow) try to find an explanation for this phenomenon. Her discussion is very well thought-out and honest, and I think is full of insight, but as she's not a Christian, naturally I would have to say that she misses an essential component in the puzzle. That is the matter of Evil.

Even without a Christian belief, she comes very close to taking a Christian position when she writes
When I first started investigating Palin, I was very relieved to discover that she’s not nearly as nutty as she might be, given that she’s a Christian. I was pleased to learn that she’s not one of those fundies who thinks wives have to submit or that Adam and Eve rode on dinosaurs. She’s not into that whacked-out purity or abstinence-only stuff. That’s good. It’s good that she’s not a nutjob. So…why aren’t other feminists also happy that she’s not a nutjob? Why do they, in fact, spread lies to make her seem worse than she is?
This reminded me immediately of this passage from C.S. Lewis's "Mere Christianity":
Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one's first feeling, "Thank God, even they aren't quite so bad as that," or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally, we shall insist on seeing everything--God and our friends and ourselves included--as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.
This is what the fanatical Palin-haters gave themselves over to, and seemingly without reluctance. A few (a very few) of the comments that follow the blog post are from people who fell for the lies and now realize it. They are properly chagrined to admit that in the rush of the moment, pumped full of hysteria and panic that ALL was at stake, they joined the lynch mob. Now they realize that they were used and have returned to sanity. But many others defiantly continue to live the lie, vigorously repelling any contradictory evidence.

As I said, the Reclusive Leftist does a good job revisiting the anti-Palin smears, except for one area - the fury, the rage, that was poured upon Sarah Palin's children and upon herself for being their mother. Maybe it's just as well. Maybe the subject is just too dark and treacherous for anyone without strong spiritual armour to approach without danger. (Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.) I know that this is one area that one cannot discuss unless one gives credence to the existence of Evil. If there is any Evil in the world, we saw it there. The rage teetering into insanity - behind the blog posts and articles, I could see the hands of the women who typed the words; their fingers were curved and pointed like talons, venting their fury on keyboards because they could not sink their nails into the flesh of children.

Where did this murderous hatred come from? Because it is so inexplicable, I think it came from a spiritual source - a hatred of God. The scene was almost too perfectly constructed - I might even think that God himself had arranged it, the way an expert cinematographer can arrange light and shadow, colour and perspective to direct the viewer's eyes and provoke a desired reaction.

It was no accident that Palin and her family ARE Christians. As one of the commenters wrote, a similar family standing behind a Democratic candidate would not have provoked the same reaction. The political bona fides of the Democratic family would have reassured the viewers that this was a "safe" Christianity - a tame Christianity, that would know its place and not interfere. But a Republican Christian family was a different thing; this was Christianity red in tooth and claw, and the Left knew it for an enemy. And if there were any doubt, there was the evidence of the youngest child - a Down's Syndrome baby. Everyone knew what the existence of that child meant - the fact that he was alive at all was a testimony to the fact that these people really believed and were willing to suffer for their faith.

Wearing a cross around the neck, referring to God and Jesus in speeches, quoting the Bible - these are all insolent provocations to the easily-provoked anti-Christians. But a vulnerable baby is too much. This stirs up too many memories and associations, and the anti-Christian left reacted with fury, as if by merely bringing him into existence, God had arrogantly intruded into their private lives and challenged them.

G.K. Chesterton, in "The Everlasting Man", wrote about how even our subconscious will turn traitor and let in the intruder God:
...every Catholic child has learned from pictures, and even every Protestant child from stories, this incredible combination of contrasted ideas as one of the very first impressions on his mind. It is not merely a theological difference. It is a psychological difference which can outlast any theologies. It really is, as that sort of scientist loves to say about anything, incurable. Any agnostic or atheist whose childhood has known a real Christmas has ever afterwards, whether he likes it or not, an association in his mind between two ideas that most of mankind must regard as remote from each other; the idea of a baby and the idea of unknown strength that sustains the stars. His instincts and imagination can still connect them, when his reason can no longer see the need of the connection; for him there will always be some savour of religion about the mere picture of a mother and a baby; some hint of mercy and softening about the mere mention of the dreadful name of God. But the two ideas are not naturally or necessarily combined. They would not be necessarily combined for an ancient Greek or a Chinaman, even for Aristotle or Confucius. It is no more inevitable to connect God with an infant than to connect gravitation with a kitten. It has been created in our minds by Christmas because we are Christians; because we are psychological Christians even when we are not theological ones. In other words, this combination of ideas has emphatically, in the much disputed phrase, altered human nature. There is really difference between the man who knows it and the man who does not.
I really think that this is why the rage was so furious and unforgiving; because they felt God ambushing them when they thought they were safe. All the carefully constructed walls to keep Him out failed; it must have felt like a dirty trick, when He got in with a tactic so old.


Blogger Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Dr. Mabuse,

Another excellent post. Thanks for such cogent analysis.

1:17 am  
Blogger Matthew said...

From a secular perspective, the Palin hatred reminds me on Emanuel Goldstein and the five minute hate. Orwell truly was a clever man.

As a Christian, you can't help but notice the corrosive effect that hate as a habit has yourself, let alone on others.

Which is why manners are so important. They shape our habits and so shape ourselves.

8:05 am  
Anonymous Foxwood said...

The right needs to learn to fight. The left plays the dirty game.

8:51 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you serious? If you want to see visceral hatred directed at a politician's children, read this Vancouver Sun article . I've looked at the Free Republic blog and the quotes the Sun pulled are by no means the worst. The same types of comments can be found at other conservative blogs such as Ace of Spades. For Foxwood to claim that only the left plays dirty is sheer denial.

1:12 pm  
Anonymous BillB said...

I dont't know the Free Republic blog. However, if the vitriol expressed in the comment string was totally out of line with respect to any previous comment string, I would suspect astroturfers for the comments. There is a blog on a legal issue that I follow. You can always tell when the astroturfers show up; the quality of the comments degrades. When the astroturing first started some of the commenters actually were coming from the network of the company that was considered the problem. Currently they try to come from other sites.

Just a thought anonymous.


2:58 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's one possibility, BillB, but Dr. Mabuse and Foxwood can't have it both ways. They've just called lefists "dirty" and "haters" based on some comments left on a blog. Were those commenters astro-turfing too?

7:52 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

On the contrary, I was not referring to comments left on a blog, I was referring to actual blog posts. And more than that, articles and interviews by "professional" opinion-givers. This is much worse than simple anonymous venting. Mark Steyn wrote a few years ago that he'd always received anti-Semitic emails and before that, letters, during his career as a journalist, but a few years ago he noticed a change. Before, the scurrilous comments were always anonymous; now, people boldly signed their own names. Anti-Semitism had become a respectable hate once more, and people no longer felt the need to hide it. The anti-Christian hatred exposed by the Sarah Palin case is the same - people can and do feel safe saying such things, so they do, and they have no shame about it. Like the public anti-Semitism, it's a sign of our societies degeneration back into barbarism.

9:27 am  
Blogger OhioProf_1 said...

According to the Vancouver Sun article, the Free Republic blog post itself contained racial slurs.

The thread was accompanied by a photo of Michelle Obama speaking to Malia that featured the caption, "To entertain her daughter, Michelle Obama loves to make monkey sounds."

9:09 am  
Blogger Charles said...

Up until this January, we also had frequent sightings of "Bush Derangement Syndrome," by people who hated President Bush with an unbridled passion and who hated anything he did just because it was he who did it.

On the other hand, there are also many on the conservative side of things who refuse to let go of such ideas as President Obama not being a natural-born US citizen. Anything he does is suspect, not on its merits, but because he is for it.

There are plentiful idiots on both sides - even so, the Left seems more prone to unrelenting (and snobbish) opposition to conservative people and ideas.

10:48 am  

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