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Jewish World Review July 29, 2003 / 29 Tamuz, 5763

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Like I'm psychologically disturbed | Liberal denial about all things conservative has passed the bizarre and arrived at the absurd.

The American Psychological Association's Psychological Bulletin has published a study of why conservatives are the way they are. The study was conducted by four researchers, who, according to a press release from the University of California at Berkeley's (UCB) media relations office, "culled through 50 years of research literature about the psychology of conservatism." (Two of the researchers are professors at UCB, which apparently remains imprisoned in '60s dysfunctionality.) The researchers conclude that conservatives suffer from a disease or malady that makes them think the way they do.

"At the core of political conservatism," says the press release about the study, "is the resistance to change and a tolerance for inequality." Well, yes, conservatives are resistant to change for the sake of change, believing that certain ideas about life, relationships and morality are true for all time regardless of the times.

Some of the common psychological factors linked to political conservatism, according to the study, include fear and aggression; dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity; uncertainty avoidance; need for cognitive closure; and terror management.

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On this last point, the researchers wrote that post-9/11 many conservatives "appear to shun and even punish outsiders and those who threaten the status of cherished world views." Conservatives would like to do more than punish "outsiders" if they come to our nation in order to do harm to us who are inside. They would like to keep them from getting here in the first place and arrest or expel those who make it through with plans to kill us.

Most conservatives welcome "outsiders" so long as they are seeking to become insiders - that is, Americans - and not to undermine our way of life.

A second "key dimension of conservatism," says the UCB press release about the study, is "an endorsement of inequality, a view reflected in the Indian caste system, South African apartheid and the conservative, segregationist politics of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.)."

Get it? Conservatism equals racism, xenophobia and all sorts of other unappealing traits. In case the point is not clear, the press release says the researchers put some familiar faces on those they consider to be conservative icons: "Hitler, Mussolini and former President Ronald Reagan were individuals, but all were right-wing conservatives because they preached a return to an idealized past and condoned inequality in some form." The authors commented in a published reply to the article that "talk show host Rush Limbaugh can be described the same way."

The researchers must have missed the name of Hitler's political party, the National Socialists (emphasis mine). There is nothing "conservative" about his beliefs. Eliminating the unwanted is a liberal position, as in abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. That some of the world's greatest modern tyrants are linked to Reagan and Limbaugh tells us much about the political leanings of the authors.

What amazes about this "research" is the incredible bias against anything regarded as conservative. There is the presumption that no conservative idea is even worth considering and that to be conservative is to be psychologically disturbed. These guys seem to think conservatism is a dormant affliction, ready to break out into a plague at any moment.

This is a view held by most liberals, although they express it in different ways. Anyone who does not subscribe to the liberal catechism is, by definition, flawed and sick and something to be "studied," like Joseph Mengele "studied" Jews, Gypsies and twins for his own twisted and demented purposes.

I suppose conservatives can take some solace in the study's conclusion that while conservatives are less "integratively complex" than others, said one researcher, "it doesn't mean that they're simple-minded." No, but anyone who would study conservatism as if it were a social disease is simple-minded. Who's funding all this research?

The only advantage I see from this study is that it might result in the finding that conservatism is a disability. If that happens, maybe I'll be able to park in the handicapped spaces at the mall.

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JWR contributor Cal Thomas is the author of, among others, The Wit and Wisdom of Cal Thomas Comment by clicking here.

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