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The Shadow of Your Republican

November 19, 2015

Or, Scared of Their Own (Projected) Shadow?

Why is the general Republican response to the idea of admitting Syrian (and others fleeing ISIS dictatorship and violence) so extreme? Why are they being so irrational? Why are they reckless to the point of playing into the hands of our enemies? Why are they willing to be so inhumane, in the face of human suffering on a large scale?

And what does that say about them?

One way of answering is “forgive them father, for they know not what they do” tolerance. They certainly appear to be quite ignorant. A result is that they are subject to knee-jerk reaction.

Another is that Republican politicians seem always quick to exploit what they see as a political opportunity in a crisis into a media drama that they believe will gain votes. Certainly they have a consistent history of such an approach to politics in a democracy, and certainly it seems always to work, at least with their base. The examples of Mr. Trump and Gov. Pence (IN) immediately spring to mind.

Another is that they are so scared of something (actually ISIS and terrorism) that they panic.

All of the above are credible; but in keeping with the approach of this novel that I’m narrating, in this episode of fear-inspiring actions on the part of ISIS and Republicans, I’m going to point out again that extremes of behavior are markers of something psychological going on, indeed something psychopathological, and I’m going to hypothesize that what is going on in the Republican collective psyche is projection of their dark shadow traits onto an Other who is, in significant ways, much like themselves (but obviously much more violent, inhumane, and loathsome).

I.e., in Jungian terms, we all have traits in our unconscious that we are not aware of, but which are active in our personality and our behavior. Those traits constitute an inner “unknown,” our “shadow.” Some of those unrealized traits are positive! But some are so negative that, although we sense that they are “in there,” we dare not admit to ourselves that they are part of who we are. We blind ourselves to them. We think that we would have to reject ourselves (instead of dealing with them rationally, and thereby appropriating their charge of energy into beneficial traits and behaviors). But we must do something with that sickening, over-powering, energy, and so we cast it out—by assigning it to someone else and trying to cast that Other out of our reality. Often we become enraged at that Other, as our “enemy”; and sometimes that other person actually possesses those traits and actually is our enemy, but sometimes not. In either case, we become outraged and enraged. We act out.

I.e., in Jungian terms, we all have traits in our unconscious that we are not aware of, but which are active in our personality and our behavior. Those traits constitute an inner “unknown,” our “shadow.” Some of those traits are positive! But some are so negative that, although we sense that they are “in there,” we dare not admit to ourselves that they are part of who we are. We blind ourselves to them. We think that we would have to reject ourselves (instead of dealing with them rationally, and thereby appropriating their charge of energy into beneficial traits and behaviors). But we must do something with that sickening, over-powering, energy, and so we cast it out—by assigning it to someone else and trying to cast that Other out of our reality. Often we become enraged at that Other, as our “enemy”; and sometimes that other person actually possesses those traits and actually is our enemy, but sometimes not. In either case, we become outraged and enraged. We act out.

Here’s a personal illustration: I had a friend and colleague whom, in many ways, I found likeable and admirable. But when he was placed in a position of authority, he became rather dictatorial, which I found very troublesome. My response wasn’t horrendous, but I did begin to think of him not just as a wrongdoer but as something of a personal enemy.  I was enraged/outraged.  Fortunately, I came to realize that my response was extreme, and that he was like a mirror that showed me a tendency in myself that I considered very negative. I then dealt with myself rationally, soothed that sore spot, and converted that energy. I think I can say accurately that later, when I was in a position of much more authority, I was not dictatorial.

I’m going to think about Republicans (and in this case I’m lumping them together, since none seems to want to be an exception) as sensing negative traits of their own that they cannot—dare not—admit to themselves, or to us. They have already demonstrated a remarkable ability to project onto an ‘enemy” that does not actively possess those negative traits, is not dominated irrationally by those energies: for instance when they lie in such a way as to project their propensity for lying, onto Democrats (“You lie!”).

And now comes ISIS, an actual enemy who publically and strategically displays those negative

I’m going to think about Republicans (and in this case I’m lumping them together, since none seems to want to be an exception) as sensing negative traits of their own that they cannot—dare not—admit to themselves, or to us. They have already demonstrated a remarkable ability to project onto an ‘enemy” that does not actively possess those negative traits, is not dominated irrationally by those energies: for instance when they lie in such a way as to project their propensity for lying, onto Democrats (“You lie!”).

And now comes ISIS, an actual enemy who publically and strategically displays those negative traits, and it is easy for these Republicans to project their own shadow, not only onto ISIS, but onto the other Others, Muslim victims of ISIS.

This is tricky, but breathe well and stay tuned. We’ll see if this line of thinking makes some sense.

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