Sydney M. Williams
Thought of the Day
“Mob Psychology – ‘The End Justifies the Means’”March 28, 2012
Ochlocracy is a Greek word that means a rule by the general populous (democracy) that has been infiltrated with demagoguery: passion supersedes reason. In English, we know it as mob rule.
Often, mob movements are relatively harmless. Examples might be something as simple as football fans cheering for their team, or college students marching for some specific cause. But at times these types of activities get out of hand, as happened during the Vietnam era, when anti-war protestors led by the SDS, occupied buildings, destroyed property and disrupted classes. The Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968, when police bloodied rioters, proved to be another example.
History is replete with examples of mobs exerting control from the Salem witch trials to Jeanne D’Arc to Adolph Hitler. In 1692 Salem, young girls began acting strangely, claiming to have seen the Devil personified in some of the women of the village. Following kangaroo-like trials, at least twenty of the women were hung or pressed to death. Jeanne D’Arc, a young peasant girl, led French armies to several victories during the One Hundred Years War. Captured she was handed over to the British, and then burned at the stake by the pro-English Bishop of Beauvais, in 1431.
Following World War I, the Allies demanded reparations of Germany that proved impossible to pay. Economic turmoil, including a period of hyper inflation, led to rising nationalism Out of those ashes rose Adolph Hitler whose manifesto would seem to have been read by Saul Alinsky. Hitler radicalized the masses by demonizing Jews, bankers, foreigners and members of the nobility. It was his way of demonstrating solidarity with millions of men and women following the ignominy of defeat and years of deprivation. He did so in a manner anticipating the “Rules” that Mr. Alinsky would lay out thirty-five years later.
In a piece posted Sunday by Victor Davis Hanson, he notes that it was a fear of “democratically sanctioned madness” that lay behind our tripartite government formed in 1789, and it was why property qualifications were initially required for voting. They were checks on the possibility of mob rule. In a perfect world, an independent and politically indifferent press would allay the fear of mob rule; but with mainstream media biased toward Democrats, and ‘Talk Radio’ generally backing Republicans, the flames of hysteria have been fanned, not doused. Social media surely will play an expanding role. Facebook, with 800 million users, can exert enormous influence, the size of which nobody now knows, but frightening in its potential.
The Occupy Wall Street Movement thrives on mob psychology, while the Tea Party Movement does to a lesser extent. It can be seen in the emotional response of both, and the manner in which the participants conduct themselves. Both march and chant slogans. But Tea Partiers are relatively orderly, respecting property, leaving their sites clear of garbage, while Occupiers destroy property, defecate in doorsteps and on cars, and leave trails of debris. They are almost studiously obnoxious.
“The role of the President,” as Mr. Hanson wrote, “is to rein in the mob, not unleash it.” But that is not Mr. Obama’s way. In the immediate aftermath of the shooting of Arizonan Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords last July, liberals saw the incident as proof that angry white Tea Partiers were behind the shooting. President Obama reminded the nation of a need for civility: “It’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.” But it turned out that the angry speech had all been on the side of the liberal media. The deranged gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, had no ideology. The killing spree was that of a lone madman.
Mr. Obama knows how to arouse his base. He spoke out notoriously before knowing the facts in the incident involving Cambridge police sergeant James Crowley and Harvard Professor, Henry Lewis Gates, Jr. three years ago and later had to eat crow with an invitation to both to share a beer at the White House – as forced a photo-op as most of us have seen. When Rush Limbaugh crudely used the term “slut” to characterize Sandra Fluke, the President jumped to her defense, telephoning her to say that such invectives were not representative of the environment in which he wished to raise his two daughters.
But he chose to overlook even worse language when Bill Maher called Fox News’ Laura Ingraham a slut and, worse, referred to Sarah Palin as a c—t, or when David Letterman suggested that Ms. Palin’s 14-year old daughter had sex in the Yankee dugout. In fact, he accepted a million dollar donation from Mr. Maher, and agreed to have Mrs. Obama appear on Mr. Letterman’s show.
The shooting of Trayvon Martin on February 26 in Sanford, Florida was an enormous tragedy, but as awful as that personal tragedy was, the response by the media and camera-chasing politicians has been worse – violating the rights of the accused with invectives more common in Afghanistan. Despite the fact that details of the case have not been made public (“There’s not enough information,” said Governor Rick Scott on Monday.), that has not stopped publicity-seeking hounds like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Spike Lee from proselytizing to their flocks of the racist views of the killer. Nor has it stopped the President from looking upon this killing has another opportunity. “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.”
Juan Williams addresses the issue in today’s Wall Street Journal: “While civil rights leaders have raised their voices to speak out against this one tragedy. Few if any will do the same thing about the larger tragedy of daily carnage that is black-on-black crime in America.” For example, thirteen black teenagers have been murdered in Chicago, since the Trayvon story broke; they have received very little press and have gone unmentioned by the White House.
What we do know is that young Mr. Martin was seventeen, six foot-two and had dropped out of school. The neighborhood was racially mixed. Mr. Zimmerman, despite his German name, is half Hispanic; he was authorized to patrol and to carry a weapon. Exactly what happened and what led to that tragic loss of life, at this time remains unknown. Fanning the flames of hatred has created the semblance of an old-time lynch mob.
Mr. Obama came to Washington promising to heal a nation divided by two unpopular wars and a President whom many Democrats felt “stole” the election in 2000. Instead, what he has done is drive a wedge, further expanding the divide. He is a master organizer, rallying his Party with his race-baiting, demonizing “fat-cat” bankers and “greedy insurers,” while his real target are those who believe in the creed of personal freedom. His goal, it seems certain, is a form of European socialism that treats its leaders well, but ultimately condemns its people to impoverished lives.
Saul Alinsky’s most oft quoted rule is: “Pick a target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Mr. Obama has learned his lessons well.