Monday, February 06, 2006

Kicking The Dog

Transference is a phenomenon in psychology characterized by unconscious redirection of feelings of one person to another. For instance, one could mistrust somebody because he resembles an ex-spouse in manners, voice or external appearance; or be overly compliant to someone who resembles a childhood friend. Everyone does it to some degree. The a-hole who curses at everyone in traffic for the most trivial traffic infractions, yet does not have the guts to tell his wife he hates her food.

It is what I call the "kick the dog" syndrome. Your boss yelled at you today and since you could not or would not respond, you came home and kicked the dog. The problem is, your wife's food still sucks, you still hate your boss and now you have made an enemy of your dog. Sucks to be you.

This is the Arab/Muslim world in a nutshell.

The despotic leaders who are heavily armed by the United States tolerate absolutely no criticism whatsoever. People are frustrated by high unemployment, filthy environments, crowded living areas, oppressive corruption, a rigid tribal class system that keeps the rich rich and the poor really really poor and so many other things. The cultures share the common trait of rigid authoritarian hierarchies, both within the personal and public spheres. And there is nowhere to vent. That is, until some no-name newspaper in Denmark prints an offensive cartoon of the prophet Mohamed and the dictators see a good opportunity for their people to blow off some steam and to direct it outside their country.

This entire overblown incident is not a debate between religious tolerance and free speech. It has nothing to do with Islam. It has nothing to do with European racism. It is a sympton of the ticking time bomb that are the Arab and Muslim worlds. You can only oppress people so long until they explode. It's like a teapot. If you don't remove the lid once it starts boiling, the entire kettle is going to explode and destroy your kitchen.

My recent trip to Egypt was both enlightening and disturbing. In a discussion with one of my cousins, we were talking about the horrid state of affairs in the country and she told me that the standard blame game is to blame America. Although I am no apologist for the U.S. and its disastrous foreign policy in the region, I told her that I cannot accept that America could be the cause of everything wrong in Egypt. Where is the personal responsibility? But that is the government line. It has to be since it is a crime to defame the country. Seriously, it is and critics of the government have been thrown in jail for it. So, keep quiet, blame America and Israel, and accept no personal responsibility whatsoever because to say sorry or admit a mistake is to show weakness. And that is quite typical in Arab culture in general.

This is the problem. Read anything in psychology about character-disordered people who cannot accept that they ever do anything wrong. Read about transference among passive aggressive people and you will understand why Muslims are making a big stink about nothing. Yes, the cartoon was offensive, yes it's insensitive, but if you keep denying that the Holocaust happened, why should anyone respect your sensitivities?

Show respect to others and they will return it to you.


At 11:14 AM, February 06, 2006 , Blogger Chris said...

Interesting. Near as I can tell, I'm pretty sure I agree with you.

Don't you think, though, that quite a bit of it is simple diversion? Their government, seeing that the people are angry, direct that anger to an outside target, thus insuring that for the time being the people won't notice what the government's doing?

Oh, wait. That's us. Sorry.

At 11:38 AM, February 06, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...


Welcome! You are 100% on point and, yes, that is exactly what is going on here. It seems that all governments use the same playbook. The Prince by Machiavelli.

At 12:06 PM, February 06, 2006 , Blogger bombsoverbaghdad said...

I dunno. I agree mostly, but disagree some. In many ways, when it comes to the actual thinking of people in that region, I figure you know better than me.

I thought the cartoons were offensive and in poor taste. Still, what upset me was the way the media seized on the "why didn't the Muslim's protest on 9-11" line. That's insane to me.

Regarding the transferring phenonmenon, if your nation is under occupation from foreigners, you will get more upset when foreigners are seemingly rubbing that fact in your face. For example, a black cop could kill a black kid and people won't protest. But don't let that cop be white!!!! It's deeper than the cartoons, of course. But when you look at the Middle East, you see that most of the countries are run by American or Euro puppets. Can you blame the people for getting mad when the Euros pile on with a silly cartoon???

On the personal level, transferring feelings is a mutha. I used to do that big time in my early 20s. I feel like I'm conscious of it nowadays, so I feel like I'm pretty balanced.

At 12:32 PM, February 06, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

I totally understand why they got mad about the cartoons - in Islam that is beyond offensive. But so is denying the Holocaust to Jews, so where is that outrage? It can't be one way respect.

The Europeans are petty fuckers and the fact that their papers re-printed the cartoons to rub it in only confirms they are racist. That isn't news. The response, however, is totally out of scale. It's not that there shouldn't be any response. But it should be focused in a way that improves things. Torching embassies does nothing. The only remotely sensible response has been the boycott of Danish goods. If only they would boycott McDonalds too. :-)

At the end of the day, those Muslims still live in horrible countries with failing economies and torching embassies, yelling obscenities and cursing the West will do nothing to change that. The society has to change.

At 1:01 PM, February 06, 2006 , Blogger bombsoverbaghdad said...

Jews don't need to riot about Holocaust denial. Israel just destroys an apartment building full of people, or, better yet, builds a wall to fence in a race. What the hell is that???

I agree the response is waaaaay out of scale. It's taken on a life of it's own. But was the riot in LA in 92 out of scale to a individual beating?? I think it's about who has power. Riots are the response of the unheard--that's nearly universal. Rich people wonder why riots break out in ghettos. It's frustration with the power structure.

You say that the society needs to change, and I agree, but how can it without violent revoluions? How could Egyptians topple Mubarak when he's got secret police daring anyone to make a move?? Do you think non-violence would work???

At 2:52 PM, February 06, 2006 , Blogger jj said...

The cartoons are just an excuse to show their displeasure by protesting against the west.

Quran in the toilet at Gitmo = rioting

Offensive religious cartoon = rioting

Any excuse will do. They have little power and are so oppressed they blow up over little things.

As you said dictators see a good opportunity for their people to blow off some steam and to direct it outside their country.

Lastly, burning embassies, yelling obscenities and rioting over a cartoon portrays Muslims just the way Bush wants Americans to see them. Violent Religious fanatics.

At 3:06 PM, February 06, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...


We don't disagree on this issue. Egyptians will ultimately topple Mubarak violently. It's just a matter of time. If the other Arab countries went after their own leaders instead of the Danish embassy, their efforts might actually be useful. I would respect that. Instead of kicking the dog, kick the boss.

JJ - you are spot on. The American press has given this issue way more attention than it deserves because it reinforces the stereotypes.

At 3:07 PM, February 06, 2006 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good one!

At 9:11 AM, February 07, 2006 , Blogger Ripama said...

A reasoned commentary. One part especially struck a chord. The common theme that their problems are a result of US foreign policy.

Until about 2 years ago I never understood how US foreign policy would have anything to do with "the average man in the street."

As luck would have it, I was at a family reunion and met a distant cousin who works in the State Department. I don't think she does anything significant except travel, wine and dine; greet and meet with their counterparts around the world. Any important work they simply agree to travel, wine and dine; greet and meet with their counterparts at a future date. Everybody is happy. If things get sticky they blame DoD, the CIA or INS. Problem solved, they make plans to travel, wine and dine; greet and meet with their counterparts.

At 9:15 AM, February 07, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

Welcome Ripama. Everyone and every group plays the diversion game unfortunately, including government agencies. Human nature is so predictable no matter how enlightened and advanced we think we are.

At 3:19 PM, February 07, 2006 , Blogger Reign of Reason said...

I agree with you point II, but the other part of the puzzle is religion.

These folks are stuck in a terrible social/economic situation which is the perfect place for these clerics to come along and sell them the snake-oil that is Islam.

At 3:21 PM, February 07, 2006 , Blogger Reign of Reason said...


With nothing better to believe in, they buy into the farce that they are god's chosen and have a corner on truth... and that they are the defenders of that truth and his word.

What could be worse? A pissed-off people with "righteousness" on their side... Great, just great.

At 11:17 AM, February 08, 2006 , Blogger mrsleep said...

RoR, the Christian Right in America, with a strong sense of entitlement.

At 3:16 PM, February 08, 2006 , Blogger mrsleep said...

Mr Sleep has changed the name of his Blog to RED IS DEAD. I am redirecting or diverted my disdain, and pissoffidness to my Blog, and renamed it.

Dawgonit is dead.

Stop deficit spending now. Whatever it takes. How's that for a fucking liberal viewpoint?

Sorry II off topic. I also apologize for my language, I just used a Silver Bullet.

At 5:26 PM, February 08, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

Funny how the Arab governments are using a Danish cartoon to distract from their incompetence and the American media is using the Muslim response to distract from real issues in America.

At 5:42 PM, February 08, 2006 , Blogger mrsleep said...

Who woulda thunk it was the Dane's to piss them off. It kind of makes me feel proud, given the fact that my Dad's Mom, was born in Denmark, about 107 years ago. She was a tiny old Grandma but feisty, and lived to the ripe old age of 104!!!

At 8:54 AM, February 09, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

I bet most people don't even know where Denmark is on the map.

At 9:23 AM, February 09, 2006 , Blogger Chris said...

Sadly, you're right. Most people probably have a vague notion that Denmark is probably in Europe somewhere... (My wife is from Austria. I'm surprised how many times I have to explain that Austria is in Europe, they speak German there, and no, there are no kangaroos in Austria.) But, to be fair, my knowledge of African geography is woeful indeed.

Methinks our esteemed Mr. Bush probably does a gleeful little jig every time he hears a sentence that doesn't have mention NSA, wiretaps, Iraq or the words "possible indictment." The administration is doing everything they can to distract us. It makes me wonder what ELSE they're hiding behind their backs this time...

Off topic - this is probably the most adult conversation I've read in the blogosphere yet. Kudos to everyone for holding an intelligent conversation without petty sniping!

At 10:38 AM, February 09, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...


There aren't kangaroos in Austria? :-)

After much trial and error, all the commenters on here have found a collective of people who share the same respect for intelligent dialogue, even if we don't always agree on things. We are lucky. I highly recommend all of their blogs for interesting stuff. I will check out your blog this weekend.

I hope you will join in on the future discussions.

At 3:08 PM, February 09, 2006 , Blogger mrsleep said...

Chris, yeah, II was effective in clearing out the riff raff.

At 10:13 AM, February 10, 2006 , Anonymous Rocket Scientist said...

Very well put.
This said, some thoughts are in order.
1. There have been numerous depictions of the prophet Mohamed in Muslim and European Christian cultures. These date back to the 1300's and continue through this century.
2. All of these depictions have been on display for some time now, in books, churches, cartoons and the like. Some of said depictions are even more offensive than the current ones in the subject fiasco; e.g., Mohamed tortured in Hell. However, these triggered no reaction from the Muslim side. The question then becomes: why now?
3. In my view, the publicized violent reaction is an "invited" one. You see, before the cartoons (BC), the US was the big Satan. Now, after the cartoons (AC), Europe too is another big Satan. Instead of torching US embassies, now European embassies are being torched. It may very well be that Muslim history will be identified by BC and AC, as BCE and AD in the Christian history. Who benefits from this invited violence?
4. Who is behind advertising these cartoons in the Muslim world? How many of the uneducated illiterate people you see on your TV, engaging in the violence, have access to the internet or even read local, let alone European, papers?
5. The violence, in my view, was not spontaneous, and, certainly, it was not initiated by those clowns, called leaders, in the Muslim world. In my view, those clowns / leaders do not typically solicit violent demonstrations in fear that those could very well turn and crush them.
6. Religion is now being used as a weapon of war. Those using that weapon believe they can control outcomes. They are dead wrong. They are the stupid ones.

The Panzer Commander.

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