I wish I didn’t have to write about this. Alas, Dr. Richard Friedman, a man whose columns I usually respect, has offered the therapeutically correct view of terrorism in the New York Times this morning.
Unfortunately, it isn’t very good. He should have stuck with psychiatry.
It often happens that psychiatrists and other mental health professionals weigh in on issues of political import. They have every right to do so. And yet, one recalls that during the run-up to the Iraq War some psychiatrist suggested that G. W. Bush wanted to invade Iraq because he had an Oedipus complex.
There you had it, the Freudian philosopher’s stone. It explained everything, even G. W. Bush.
According to said psychiatrist, Bush felt a need to do what his father had failed to do. His father had failed to kill Saddam Hussein, so the son had to replace the father. Therefore, it was not about politics or weapons of mass destruction. We were watching a family psychodrama playing out on the world stage.
As for all those members of Congress who also voted for the war, did they have an Oedipus complex too?
And yet, if said psychiatrist knew anything about the standard application of the Oedipus complex he would have known that one might also argue that, if G. W. Bush did not want to invade Iraq, it could only have been because he was afraid of what his father would do if he tried to succeed where his father had failed.
The moral of the story is: the Oedipus complex does not tell you anything about how to conduct foreign policy. Reducing a complex foreign policy issue to ad hominem mental drool helps no one.
In this case one can only assume that the psychiatrist was trying to revive Freud’s reputation and to suggest that since psychoanalysis was clinically useless, it might be used to browbeat people into voting Democratic. Anyone who supported the war must have a psychosexual defect, and an unresolved Oedipus complex, to boot.
Now, Dr. Friedman is here to tell us that President Barack Hussein Obama should become Therapist in Chief (TIC). Friedman does not say it and does not intend to suggest it, but since Obama has failed miserably as Commander in Chief, perhaps TIC is all that is left.
The notion that Obama needs to become a cognitive therapy TIC is laughable. It is not his job. He has no training and no license to do so. The real problem is that Obama has been functioning more as Therapist in Chief than as Commander in Chief. He laid the groundwork for ISIS by withdrawing from Iraq, by mismanaging the Arab Spring and the Syrian war. He has failed to bring the fight to ISIS and has directed most of his contempt toward Israel. In truth, he policy has been based on the notion that we, as a nation, should get in touch with our Western guilt for having oppressed the disadvantaged peoples of the world.
Admittedly, Barack Hussein does not see himself as a cognitive therapist, but his moves are those of a Therapist in Chief.
Dr. Friedman gives the game away when he tells us how Obama should go about calming our frayed nerves:
Cognitive therapy identifies mistaken and distorted thoughts that generate distress, and then challenges and corrects them. What the president needs to say to all Americans — over and over — is that although terrible, unpredictable things have happened, the country is not in peril. Such attacks are incapable of destroying us or coming close to bringing down Western civilization.
He has to help us all realize that when we are in the grip of so-called emergency emotion — extreme fear and anxiety — we privilege our feeling over our thinking. And our estimation of the danger we face is exaggerated by our fear.
Compared with Europe or the Middle East, we are relatively geographically isolated, with tight borders and an immense, albeit imperfect, national security system. To believe, in the wake of a terrorist attack, that this will become an everyday phenomenon is a distorted way of thinking — one that will make us unnecessarily fearful and anxious.
As one might expect, when good New York psychiatrists try to isolate the reality of political situations they can do no better than to present a pile of leftist dogma.
The president has tried nothing if not to be nonplussed and unemotional when faced with terrorism. His supporters think that his aloofness bespeaks a higher wisdom, and not the fact that he is chickenshit.
Obama’s sense of reality is so completely skewed by his leftist ideology, ideology that has nothing to do with reality, that he cannot even call Islamic terrorism by its name. His emotions are completely detached from the reality of the situations on the ground. Obama is neither anxious nor fearful, but he is not angry either. He cannot bring himself to mobilize the nation against these forces. That is why Americans are anxious. They are looking to the president for presidential leadership and find a Therapist in Chief. If POTUS will not protect them, but believes that he must devote his time and trouble to climate change and gun control, all the while opening the borders to Muslim refugees, one has reason to be afraid.
And how does the estimable psychiatrist know the extent of the danger we face? Does he understand nuclear arms treaties with Iran? Does he know whether or not there will be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East? Does he understand that ISIS controls territory the size of Indiana and has used it effectively to launch terrorist attacks around the world? Does he understand that hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Muslims are invading Europe? And that they have no real intention of assimilating? Does he know how many Muslims are already in places like France and Germany? Does he believe that they pose a threat to European and Western civilization? And, does he recall September 11,2001? Would he say that we need not worry about such things because fewer people were killed in the World Trade Center than were killed in automobile accidents and drug overdoses? How much damage can a few little airplanes do to the life of a city and a nation?
And then he should ask himself: How many Muslims are there in the world today? How many of them sympathize with ISIS? If the number is in the hundreds of millions, as should be obvious to everyone, what would the psychiatrist recommend: cognitive therapy for everyone and Prozac drips?
It’s true that we are more protected geographically than Europe or even Israel. But when Dr. Friedman says that ISIS is not an existential threat, he must surely know that President Obama also said that ISIS was not an existential threat to America. And that he said it at around the time when he assured the nation that we were not going to see any more terrorist attacks.
Note also that the term “existential threat” is almost always used, in today’s political parlance, to refer to the threat against Israel. We will remark in passing that Israel’s existence is even more threatened because our Therapist in Chief decided to make nice with the mullahs, to give them over a hundred billion dollars to advance their terrorist aims and to put them on a glide path to nuclear weapons.
If Europe is seriously threatened or even overrun by Muslims do you really think that that will have no impact on America? Let’s not be completely naïve? What about foreign trade, business investment, family members and our common culture?
All of this being the case, we need a president who grasps the political realities, both national and international, and who can provide leadership for the nation. The American people are anxious because they see a cipher in the White House. They see him surrounded by people who are weak and pusillanimous, who cannot even name their enemy, who call off most bombing runs for fear of hurting the environment or a few civilian truck drivers, and who think that the real issue is how to take away everyone’s guns. Or else, as I suggested yestrerday, in reaction to the San Bernardino terrorist attack, the The New York Times editorialized in favor of unilateral disarmament.
Given the nature of our leadership and of the inability of important psychiatrists to have even the most elementary grasp of the problem, Americans have every right to be afraid.
True enough, they ought not to panic and go to the opposite extreme by electing someone who talks tough but has no relevant political experience. But, if the choice is between a tough talking real estate developer and a therapist in chief, who would you choose?
Unfortunately, Dr. Friedman falls prey to the lure of absurd analogies. He compares the terrorist attack in San Bernardino to the massacre perpetrated by Anders Breivik in Norway a few years ago:
Consider the response of the Norwegians to the murderous rampage of Anders Behring Breivik, the far-right extremist who, in 2011, massacred 77 people.
In a memorial service in Oslo two days after the tragedy, Jens Stoltenberg, then the prime minister of Norway, said: “We are still shocked by what has happened, but we will never give up our values. Our response is more democracy, more openness and more humanity.”
That’s the kind of message one would hope to hear from our political leaders in the aftermath of terror and loss — a sober acknowledgment of shock and sorrow along with a reassertion of our core values. That creates a perspective in which we can experience the trauma without being engulfed or defined by it.
We would be fools to insist on being unafraid in the presence of threat. But we cannot allow fear to rule — or ruin — our lives.
Note that for the leftist mind, the only true danger comes from far right extremists.
Of course, Dr. Friedman should have compared Obama’s reaction to that of the president of France, as I have done over and over again on this blog. One suspects that he does not read this blog… pity that. It would have saved him a lot of errors.
And then there is Norway, which is, dare I say, an American protectorate, and which, like its neighbor Sweden has been allowing itself to be invaded by Muslims, in the name of openness and multiculturalism. Norwegians are not afraid, but they also do not care if their mothers and daughters and wives are raped by Muslim immigrants.
Norway is not quite up there with Sweden when it comes to the prevalence of rape—rape of local girls by Muslims—but it is close. And let’s recall that in Norway as in Sweden, the locals are willing to go easy on the rapists because they believe that the Muslims come from a different culture.
It’s a way to be open and democratic, I suspect, but those who abhor rape culture ought to take seriously the fact that the Norwegians and the Swedes are sacrificing their daughters to the prophet of Islam. It’s a type of openness, if you like, but it's also human sacrifice. Do you think that their failure to crack down on Muslim rapists is anything but craven submission? Do you think that we ought to follow their example over here?
Vive la France!