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I’ve been thinking about the “fatal flaw” in US culture and Andrew Sullivan “found it”

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Here is an interesting excerpt from his 9/14 Atlantic monthly column that seems to get it now:

Not Racism; Projection

A reader offers this psychological interpretation of the more ad hominem tea-party protestors:

A common meme on the left is that racism is driving the hatred of Obama. I think the root is deeper and scarier: it is shadow projection.

Our ego wants to believe we are wonderful, and so cannot tolerate evidence to theObama-jokercontrary. Consider America. As good as we are, we have a dark side and our actions often have dark consequences. We are large and cast a large shadow. If we were a more mature people we would simply own our dark side, integrate it into part of our self knowledge, and act accordingly. However American mythology says that we are the good country, and to maintain that the pure version of that belief, we are willfully ignorant of our faults. In the minds of many “patriotic” Americans, we have no dark side. Unwilling to own our dark side, we project our shadow onto others.

The Cold War gave us a long period as “the good country” as the Soviet Union gave us a steady (and objectively evil) force onto which we could project our shadow. After the fall of communism we finally found Saddam Hussein to play that role, which clouded our perceptions of the real Saddam (and again, he was objectively evil). Since the Iraq war we’ve looked for a new target onto which to project our shadow. Perennial candidates China, North Korea, and Iran don’t quite suit our needs, and “the terrorists” finally wore thin. I have wondered who our next victim would be. Now we know.

It is Obama.

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2009/09/15 at 06:11

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