Monday, February 11, 2008

On Demonization VI: In the End, You Are What You Hate

This is the sixth and -- no doubt mercifully -- the last in a series of posts whose table of contents may be found here, and it assumes you have read all of its predecessors beginning here.

Now I'll try not to take to long on my last point for this post. It has to do with something that athletes and other successful people understand, something I've tried hard to explain to my kids. Your subconscious doesn't work logically -- it works in images. And the concept of negation -- which is to say, the word "not" -- is a purely logical concept.

What this means is that if your subconscious goes to work shaping you into that which you visualize -- even if you're visualizing it because you don't want to be that way. Athletes know what the difference is between the players who consistently come through in the clutch and the people who don't. Put a come-through guy on the free-throw line with no time on the clock and his team a point down, and he'll be saying to himself, "Gimme that ball so I can win this game." Give a choker the ball in the same situation and he'll stand there staring at the rim and saying, "Dear God don't let me miss." And most of the time (assuming the player has good free-throw skills to begin with), the player's subconscious obligingly arranges the result he has visualized. ...continue reading...

This effect is far more serious when you get into human relationships. Haven't you ever seen a guy who hated his father, who spent all his childhood swearing, "I'll never be like that bastard" -- and now everybody who knows him says, "He's just like his old man"? Philippians 4:8 urges us to think about the honorable and the admirable, because God knows that you conform to what you fill your mind with.

Have you seen what happened to Michelle Malkin? A couple of years ago she was on my blogroll. She had a good sense of humor and an interesting point of view. But she loved to do one thing in particular: she loved to point how examples of how hateful the Left was. And the more she talked about how hate-filled the Left was, the harsher and harsher her tone got, and the more her tone when she talked about the Left started to take on the unmistakable timbre of hate, until the point came when I could no longer stomach it and removed her from the blogroll. Meanwhile, what kind of audience is she attracting? Ask Helen. (And if you think Michelle's decline is merely a figment of my own imagination, ask She Who Must Be Obeyed what she thinks.)


So here is the supreme irony.

Because hate makes you stupid, it makes you imagine your enemy as being more evil than he actually is. Then, because hate turns you into what you hate, it turns you into what you have imagined him to be. And thus the end result is that there is somebody who is the monster you have made your enemy out to be -- but that monster isn't your enemy.

It's you.

And that's why I urge people not to resort to demonization. Paul Krugman's abuse of Bush isn't going to do Bush very much damage. But Krugman himself? Alas, I fear for him.


There's much more to say on the topic of demonization, but I think it's time to stop for a while and catch our breath. The comments are now open for business...release the hounds!

This completes, for now, the series of posts on the rhetorical tactic of demonization. My somewhat awestruck congratulations on your having stuck it out all the way to the end.


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