Jewish World Review March 8, 2002 / 24 Adar, 5762

Drs. Michael A. Glueck & Robert J. Cihak

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Diagnosis: Delusional -- THE gods must think we're crazy. At a time when we're at war with more enemies than we can count - at a time when most of the world seems quite content to spew their venom upon us - we have more Americans speaking out for the bad guys and the critics than for us and our military. How did so many people get so turned around? And why on earth do we find ourselves taking them so seriously?

Clearly, it's time for the mute, mum and weak majority (notice we didn't say, "silent") to start standing up to the miasmic minority. But what to say? You can never argue the delusional out of their delusions; you can't reason with those who scorn reason. But there's some dandy other stuff you can do.

Here's the plan.

First, we make like engineers and "disaggregate the algorithm."

We start with two basic categories: foreign and domestic.

Now, who hates us, foreign-wise? The Islamic world, which, when not extolling suicide bombers and assorted other terrorists, finds the time to call us brutal, arrogant and a few hundred epithets that may or may not translate all that well from Arabic. What to say? How about, "Well, if you're going to criticize us, mind if we criticize you?" Let's talk about stoning and flogging adulterers, keeping women locked up in the Middle Ages, banning all religions save your own, and reinstituting slavery. For starters.

Now for the Europeans. Seems they're upset about the treatment of our guests at Guantanamo (in the Afghan lock-ups, prisoners have been asking their guards how they can get transferred to Gitmo). Also they've been hiccupping over our simplistic worldviews, deplorable penchant for unilaterialism (read here, self-defense) and general lack of "consultation."

Recommended response: "Hey, Europe. We'd like to ask you a question. We can phrase this question in two different ways. The polite phrasing is, "What do you offer?" The less polite version: "What do we need you for?"

As for the rest of the world, maybe it's time we recognized that we have very few real and steady friends: England, Canada, Australia, Israel (most times), and Turkey - a far better friend to us than we've been to them.

Using modern terminologies, we may divide the remaining non-Axis-of-Evil nations into two categories - relationships and hook-ups - and treat them accordingly.

Now on to the domestics. Three species here.

First, of course, the media. Yes, they're in a hyper-competitive business, and the scandals, atrocities and friendly-fire incidents that don't happen rarely make the news. And yes, they're liberal - far more liberal than most Americans. But the real problem goes deeper. It's the notion that the media, alone among the professions, have no responsibilities save to themselves. Doctors, at least, vow to place their patients' welfare before their own. Lawyers ditto, and many of them still do. They are judged by their real-world impacts, not by the purity of their intentions. But, the media cavil, we best serve society by reporting "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."

OK, we reply. When do you intend to start doing it?

Now on to the professional America-haters, the Blame America First crowd, the radical-cause ambulance chasers, the Hollywood and literary glitterati, the professoriat. How to explain them? Russell Christopher, M.D., a California psychiatrist, says, "There is a phenomenon called 'identification transference,' whereby a person takes on the views of the aggressor when stressed." Perhaps. But these folks have been at it for decades, and maybe an alternative explanation might also work.

People need to feel right about themselves. Not just good - right. Morally right. For some people, hating America provides an inexhaustible source of unearned moral stature. They can't be right unless their country is wrong, always and forever wrong: an attitude empowered by the quaint notion that dissent is somehow automatically morally superior to consent, and refusal to participate a greater good than support. Sadly, there is much in this country to criticize. We're far from perfect, and in many ways the intensity of our self-scrutiny stands as a badge of our virtue. But there comes a time when some overweening emergency takes precedence.

So perhaps it's best to just answer them, "Is that the best you can do?" And then, perhaps, to remind them that the rest of the world doesn't exactly seem to be celebrating diversity these days; that your desire to live and a terrorist's desire to kill you is not a difference of opinion; and that, whatever else it may be, the Constitution is not a suicide pact.

Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D., of Newport Beach, Calif., writes on medical, legal, disability and mental health reform. Robert J. Cihak, M.D., of Aberdeen, Wash., is president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Both JWR contributors are Harvard trained diagnostic radiologists who write numerous commentaries and articles for newspapers, newsletters, magazines and journals nationally and internationally. Comment by clicking here.


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© 2001, Michael A. Glueck & Robert J. Cihak