Interesting analogy by Alan Bisport in the American Politics Journal this weekend. Bisport compares America to “a family that has been repeatedly brutalized by a drunk.” 

They think, like the abused wife: “let them steal the presidency, they’ll be good after that; let them plot a war for oil and then look for the provocation, then they’ll stop; let them create their Shadow Government and hold secret meetings with corporate cronies to plot national policy, and then they will be content; let them ignore the Constitution and abuse the Bill of Rights, and that will hold them; let them tap our phones and eavesdrop on our e-mails and insult our friends and alienate the rest of the world, and then they will see the error of their ways; let them have their war, their shock and awe, their murder of civilians and babies, and they will stop, they will be good….”

This is a troubling analogy, but it would explain a lot. The strong global outpouring of anti-Bush opinion, like the police berating the abusive husband, may have caused the American people, the abused wife, to close ranks to protect this threat to their beloved family. It is an irony and a tragedy that abused family members often become complicit in the violence they are suffering in the misguided belief that they are somehow to blame for the behaviour of the abuser. Follow through the analogy, and you’ll come to the ‘I’ word, and a lot of suffering and perhaps some permanent damage. Just thinking about this makes me shudder.

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  1. The Raven says:

    Nice analogy, and it might apply to some cases. My bet is that the more prevalent reason for any changes in support numbers would be the numbers of American KIAs, MIAs, and wounded. As our own death and injury tolls mount, cognitive dissonance and justification issues are going to make people want to rationalize their attitudes about all this, and I’d say few people are inclined to draw a big red felt marker circle around all those names and label them “wasted,” “meaningless,” and “wrong.” The alternative is to gradually add a reason or two on the “justified” ledger, which over the course of a few days doesn’t do a lot, but over the long haul leads to a change in opinion through self-persuasion mechanisms. – R.

  2. Dave Pollard says:

    If you say so, Doctor ;-)When does war fatigue start to offset that?

  3. Raven has part of the answer. When the body bags start piling up, it tends to get people’s attention. Everybody thinks “It can’t happen to this family” until it does. The longer the war drags on, the less popular it will get.But we Americans don’t really start paying attention until it hits us in the pocketbook. Which it will. Soon and hard. Bush’s impending economic train wreck will be, as the Phantom of the Opera said, “…a disaster beyond your imagination.”

  4. The analogy is a very good one – especially in light of recent articles pointing out how Bush, in many ways, exhibits the behaviour expected of a “dry drunk” — one who no longer drinks alcohol, but has not actually recovered from the addictive behaviour or personality. A “dry drunk” simply replaces the alcohol with a another addiction – one that is more socially acceptable and is frequently viewed as “harmless”. In Bush’s case, that role seems to be filled by his religon.I’d like to note here that this is in no way an indictment of Christianity – ANY religion can be used in the same way – it is not the content of the religon that matters, but the way that it becomes a substitute “crutch” that the “dry drunk” uses to cope, in the same way in which s/he had previously used alcohol, and their dependence on the religion, while not backed by the same physical addiction that helps drive alcohol and other drug addictions, the dry drunk is frequently unable to function without the emotional and mental boost that they get from processing everything through the religious filter.While his public justifications for this war and other aspects of his presidency that have been of great concern have not included religous arguments, reports of his private behaviour, his beliefs and his actions indicate that religion has played a significant role in what he chooses to do, why he does it and how important he considers it.

  5. Rayne says:

    Kriselda, you’re on to it, but I think the drug of choice here is power — a highly addictive substance. Religion is only the delivery system.

  6. Bingo, Rayne – I think you’ve got it there. I was having a hard time putting my finger on it directly, but you’ve nailed it there. Thank you!

  7. Adrian says:

    Read an interesting piece awhile back by a Croatian writer discussing the way war in the former Yugoslavia became the means for reinscribing traditional gender roles along with a whole set of atavistic behaviors. (this can be found at http://www.newint.org/issue270/oasis.htm, if anyone’s interested).The brave soldiers (whose actions weren’t too closely inquired into); the adoring and loyal women; the authority of religion and the state…etc. And of course, as Rayne pointed out recently, we’ve already seen conservative voices glamorizing war because it “toughens up” Americans with regards to casualties. The other day, too, I read a blog post by a Catholic conservative who was lauding war as a tool for making men. More generally, the kind of cultural unity (and strongly defined hierarchical roles) for which conservatives yearn is impossible without war; it requires an enemy.

  8. Rayne says:

    Yeesh…Adrian, you’re scaring me badly. The people who lose most in reinscriptions of gender roles are women. The Taliban is a classic example, but then that’s exactly where the right-wing in the US would like us to be. Submissive, subservient, compliant God (and man) fearing women with no intellect or wherewithal to question anything, mere vessels for children and sources of cheap labor within the confines of home. Demoted to handmaidens from esteemed partners.There may be an extreme of positions at work within the Catholic church even now, though. The sermon I heard at this weekend’s mass at a Franciscan church was stridently anti-war. Interesting.

  9. Adrian says:

    Ack, didn’t mean to come off all scary-sounding — I’m chagrined. Just thinking about the relation of war to conservative nostalgia, the kind you see in, for example, Gertrude Himmelfarb’s “Looking Into the Abyss” and any number of op-eds by George Will, Irving Kristol, Charles Krauthammer or Charles Murray. Guessing England circa 1870 is more the model here than the Taliban, but of course that’s not exactly reassuring either. :)

  10. Dave Pollard says:

    I think we’ll have to make ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ compulsory reading in this part of the blogosphere.

  11. Rayne says:

    Adrian: it’s not a far walk from 1870 to modern Taliban for the women affected. Corsets, segregated seating, escorted by men, unable to be published or heard in their own name (George Sand comes to mind), married off at the command of their father; the only difference being the corset replaced by a burkha. Ever really talked with a female graduate of Bob Jones University (where interracial couples are still only just being accepted)? 1870 is alive and well in parts of the US; Kristol et al only make it more popular. Terrifying.Dave: “The Handmaid’s Tale” is one of the scariest horror stories I ever read. Absolutely, it should be read.

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