human behavior

Are Republicans crazy?

Posted in American Culture & Politics by humanb on September 26, 2009


Here’s a quote from an interesting post at Club Troppo on the seemingly “psychotic” collective behavior of nations and communities, as it relates to current American political culture:

Mainstream republicans are crazy – not all but many. And of those that are not, many have to cow tow to crazy people anyway.

The evidence presented includes beliefs such as creationism, the voluminous hate mail Obama receives, and the bizarre behavior of Tea Baggers.

Are mainstream Republicans crazy?  Of course not, and I’m a life-long Democrat and fervent Obama donor/supporter/voter/lover.

First a point on using the word “psychotic” to characterize Republicans…

As discussed in an earlier post in reference to schizophrenia, a psychosis is characterized by the presence of delusions – that is, distortions of belief. These beliefs are fixed and false according to what one’s culture holds to be true, and despite evidence to the contrary.

Republican Belief #1:  Obama was born in Kenya.

Obama was in fact born in Hawaii, as his birth certificate states and the local Hawaii paper announced at the time of his birth. However, there is a fake Kenyan birth certificate making the rounds through Republican circles. One could say that the persistent belief that Obama was born in Kenya constitutes a delusion, given the evidence to the contrary and given the great unlikelihood that a presidential candidate could deceive the press, the Department of Immigration, the state of Hawaii, and the Republican political establishment for the two-plus years he ran for president, before getting elected. But the Kenyan birth certificate throws a wrench in things, so this is more a case of people desperately wanting to believe the worst to justify their natural inclination to despise and distrust someone they consider in every way different from themselves. This isn’t psychosis. By the way, if you want a Kenyan birth certificate, go here.

UPDATE: TPM reports on a birther movement infomercial challenging Obama’s place of birth and the legitimacy of his presidency. It’s supposedly running in 7 southern states.

Republican Belief #2: Obama is the anti-Christ.

The belief in an anti-Christ is no more fantastical than the belief in a Christ or Messiah – a belief shared by millions of Christians as well as Jews (according to scripture anyway, though he has not materialized as yet in Jewish tradition). Christians are frequently inclined to believe that what is foretold in scripture will happen in their lifetimes, out of a natural desire to bear witness to great events. Someone has got to be the anti-Christ. Why not Obama? I mean it is quite odd – still – to see a half-African named Barack Hussein Obama as president and two little black girls in cornrows running around the White House grounds. I can scarcely believe it. So the persistent belief that Obama is the anti-Christ within the cultural context of fundamentalist Christianity is not a fixed, false belief. Thus, not a delusion. After all, there is no evidence to the contrary.

Republican Belief #3: Evolution is just a theory, carrying no more weight than creationism.

Evolution IS just a theory. Granted, it is the best one we’ve got, but still. The evidence we have largely supports this theory, but only so far, and short of making it fact. Carbon-dating however, indicates the world is much older than many fundamentalists insist, and is pretty strong evidence against creationist claims of a much younger earth.  But no one has yet produced evidence against the claim that God made animals and men as they exist today in a God-week. Animals now extinct may have similarly been made in such a fashion. More importantly, the belief in creationism is not false according to a culturally Christian background. Thus, not a delusion. (But just to be clear, I do believe in evolution.)

UPDATE: A new fossil skeleton has been found that further elucidates human origins.

UPDATE: The ladies of the View talk creationism.

Now the main point…

Many of the Republican beliefs currently in circulation and frequently contradicting themselves – Obama is a fascist, socialist, communist, Hitler, Muslim, welfare thug – are also not delusions. These are born, as so many extravagant minority views are – of mundane and very sane ignorance: ignorance of political history, of other cultures, of world affairs, and of evidence. Ignorance breeds suspicion and a reflexive distaste for the other. Obama is the very definition of “Other” to some white, small town, Christians, who know about as much about fascism, socialism and jihadism, as they know about Darwinism and carbon dating – which is to say, not much. Ignorance is the broth in which racism grows best. Once ignorance has generated beliefs couched in suspicion, distrust and prejudice, it is the natural human inclination to seek evidence of whatever reliability to confirm and reinforce those beliefs.

The problem with the Republican Party today is not that a significant number of its members are crazy – figuratively or by scientific definition. The Republican sickness is an intractable intellectual laziness, a chronic lack of intellectual curiosity, a cowardice to seek out or confront information that might challenge the most easily developed ideas. This last feature – cowardice – is not unique to Republicans. It’s universal.

So no, many Republicans are not crazy, but Republican politicians most certainly do cow tow to the crudest of ideas if the are espoused by the base. That’s purely an act of political survival. That’s human behavior.

P.S. More photos from the Tea Baggers D.C. protest here.

UPDATE: It’s come to this (hat tip to TPM). Psychosis is an inherently innocent – albeit potentially harmful – and treatable disease. The source of this kind of thinking, however, is a sinister and far more refractory affliction…

UPDATE: TPM reports that Newsmax has taken down the article, but TPM’s got the full text.

UPDATE: TPM is like a veritable goody bag of reports of Republican histrionics. Here’s the RNC Chairman, Michael Steele spreading his special words of wisdom.

UPDATE: Lindsey Graham weighs in to call the Birthers who claim Obama was not born in Hawaii “crazy”. Video here.

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One Response

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  1. mike rankin said, on November 10, 2009 at 1:42 am

    no comment

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