Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Santorums and the Bully's Defense: Rick and Karen Play the Victim Card

by Nomad
Victimhood and the Messiah-Complex
I saw this interesting video clip at The Raw Story.
Here’s the background information to the clip. At  a question-and-answer event in South Carolina for mothers, “Moms Matter 2012″ Rick and Karen Santorum alleged that the gay community has been attempting to vilify her husband by portraying him as a gay-hating religious bigot.

Nothing could be further from the truth, Karen Santorum declared to the friendly audience. She took the microphone to defend her husband who meanwhile wore his best victim expression.
“As Rick’s wife, I have known him and loved him for 23 years,” she said. “I think it’s very sad what the gay activists have done out there. They vilify him. It is so wrong. He loves them. What he has simply said is marriage shouldn’t happen.”
It’s all very confused in Karen Santorum’s mind, it seems. She somehow managed to twist things around a great deal. Very conveniently.
“As far as hating, it’s very unfortunate that has happened. A lot of it is backyard bullying, where people will come up to us and they’ll say something. And we’ll ask them to give us an example, and they can’t even provide one example as to why they took the position they took.”
Santorum then told the audience that he was “doing what I’m called to do, which is to love everyone and accept everybody.” A revealing choice of words, even if the statement means a big fat zero in the light of all of the other things he has said. I found the phrase “what I am called to do” particularly compelling. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand by Whom he believes he has been called. 

It would not be the first time a politician has had what they call a Messiah-complex. As a matter of fact, it’s pretty much a standard psychoses of modern political leadership. Let’s see what it entails:
We all have a "messiah complex" dwelling deep within. But not everyone becomes completely possessed and grandiosely inflated by it. The desire to redeem and "save the world," when kept in check, can be a very positive force in life, motivating us to do good and to leave the world a better place--if only infinitesimally--than when we came into it.
Doesn’t sound so evil, now does it?
Many religions share this archetypal concept of Messiah, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Much like the archetypal notion of God, identifying oneself as God or Messiah is a disastrous form of ego-inflation. Such inflation is a grandiose narcissistic defense against profound feelings of inferiority and powerlessness. The wounded ego, with its debilitating, neurotic feelings of guilt, badness, shame, emptiness, unworthiness and helplessness falls prey to the equally neurotic (or psychotic) compensatory spiritual pride the ancient Greeks called hubris, providing self-righteous justification for evil deeds.
Ok, that makes me a bit woozy and perhaps that’s unfair. Santorum probably doesn’t deserve to join the ranks of Hitler, or Bin Laden or Charles Manson, Jim Jones or David Koresh. At least not yet.

The Bully's Defense
Still, try as I might, I personally find it hard to see Santorum as a victim of backyard bullying- or anything except his own outspoken reglio-egocentricity. (Take that, pretentious phrase hunters!) 
You see this type of thing a lot. After making outrageous remarks or doing something unacceptable, illegal or anti-social, it comes as shock to these people when they are eventually called upon to explain themselves or to accept responsibility for their actions. Undoubtedly, it's just not a comfortable feeling and so they apply the Bully's defense. Suddenly it's all about their OWN victimhood. This line of rationalization doesn't need to make sense, as long as it is portrayed convincingly enough to fool a few people. 

I didn't find it convincing when Sarah Palin tried to claim her victimhood after the Gifford shooting (and a hundred times before and since.) In another post, we saw how Clarence Thomas effectively used this method to thwart any opposition to his nomination to the Supreme Court. Herman Cain attempted it when alleged sexually harassed victims kept popping up like gophers. When it was discovered that his favorite hunting lodge used a racially divisive word (the n-word) as its name, Rick Perry blamed the media for the controversy.

Even the infamous Bernie Madoff, after masterminding a $65 billion Ponzi scheme, told reporters that he detested being called evil. Later in prison he reportedly said, “F--- my victims. I carried them for twenty years, and now I’m doing 150 years.” He carried them by looting their savings, of course.
According to a fascinating article in New York Magazine:
“It was a nightmare for me,” he told investigators, using the word over and over, as if he were the real victim. “
The mentality of victimization, not to mention a disdain for the “MSM.” as most of them refer to the media, is something that seems to run pretty strong in conservative circles these days. The entire movement seems to see itself as put-upon and subject to conspiracies coming from all sides, and when something bad happens to the likes of Sarah Palin it’s viewed as evidence of some conspiracy against her when in reality it’s usually just the media repeating exactly what she said.
They appear to be telling us that it's unfair when people react negatively to their remarks. And a lot of people appear to be persuaded by that kind of manipulation. 
I suppose it’s a variation on victim blaming which “occurs when the victim of a crime, an accident, or any type of abusive maltreatment are held entirely or partially responsible for the transgressions committed against them.” That phrase became familiar to us when it was used in courts to describe the ill-ltreatment of rape victims by defensive attorneys who sought to put the responsibility for the attack on the woman, instead of the actual alleged perpetrator.
It shouldn’t surprise anybody that this type of manipulation has become more and more common in the conservative camps. Just look at the history of the term. William Ryan coined the phrase in his 1971 book Blaming the Victim. In this book, Ryan describes victim blaming as an ideology used to justify racism and social injustice against black people in the United States. At the time it came out, his book was considered "a devastating critique of the mindset that causes us to blame the poor for their poverty and the powerless for their powerlessness" That’s pretty standard stuff among the true Right Wing Republicans, except now it's not black people, it's gay people.

Entitlement is My Authority
There’s another angle to Santorum’s use of the Bully's Defense. At the heart of it is a sense of unassailable entitlement. 
Being white, being rich, being outwardly religious, especially Christian, being married with children are all factors which, in the conservative mind, gives them the right and the moral authority not merely to decide how the rest of the population should live but also the right to claim that any questioning or reaction or objection is an attempt to “villify” them. It’s like saying “How dare you question my authority in this matter! Don't you know who I am and what I represent?”
In Santorum’s mind, he is entitled to make as many outrageous, often bigoted or inflammatory remarks as he likes, based on nothing more than this imaginary authority.
Take a look at this quote from his book, It Takes a Family. In a way, it's a key to understanding what Santorum is really all about.
“The elementary error of relativism becomes clear when we look at multiculturalism. Sometime in the 1980s, universities began to champion the importance of “diversity” as a central educational value.”
Multiculturalism, according to Santorum, is a late invention by the liberal academics that infested universities in the 1980s. Like his phony intellectual argument against separation of Church and State (which was based on a lie), here too Santorum uses a misstatement to confuse the history. He seems to be muddling the education of multiculturalism with the concept itself. 
It is true that multicultural education was a reflection of the new awareness brought about by the civil rights movements in the 1960s. Black minorities, women’s rights and gay liberation movements all demanded an equal voice and representation in society and that education was a suitable place to start. Take the women’s rights movement as an example:
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the women's rights movement joined this push for education reform. Women's rights groups challenged inequities in employment and educational opportunities as well as income, identifying education as a primary contributing factor in institutionalized and systemic sexism. Feminist scholars and other women activists, like groups of color before them, insisted on curricula more inclusive of their histories and experiences. They challenged the discrepancy low number of female administrators relative to the percentage of female teachers.
While the historical roots of multicultural education date from the civil rights movements of various historically oppressed groups, the concept of cultural diversity and tolerance for it has been an integral part of the American scene, nearly from its inception. It is a globally shared idea and is based on mutual respect and a keen sense of equality. It is one of the best things that the United States has to offer the world.

Apparently Santorum did not fully understand the phrase in The Declaration of Independence “all men are created equal.” It doesn’t say that Christian values (or even family values) make any citizen a higher rank or more privileged. It doesn’t attempt to distinguish family values from any other set of values. That, it may be assumed, was a matter not for governments, but for the Church. This historical document is all inclusive and not, therefore a matter for Santorum or a religious minority to debate. In their wisdom, our founding fathers realized that there should be no national religion and that the country would be large enough to tolerate diversity. The original immigrants came to the New World to escape from intolerance and many modern-day immigrants still come for that reason. 

Oh Lord, Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
Rick Santorum would like us to believe that he has been misrepresented by vicious axe-grinding gay activists and that his opinions are not really an attack on the gay minority. He claims that this is only a legal-political discussion and no offense was meant. He claims:  
“The problem is that some see this political policy difference as a personal assault.”
That line of defense would, perhaps, be more credible had, in other interviews, Santorum not gone further than merely expressing his policy views on gay marriage. He is also on record as saying that he did not have a problem with homosexuals, but "a problem with homosexual acts.” That’s like saying “I have nothing against black people except when they do those negro things” or “I have nothing against Jews except when they behave excessively Jewish.” 
See how easy it is to misunderstand him?

If an openly gay politician, charged with representing all of his or her constituents, announced that he was not really against heterosexuality but only against heterosexual acts, who wouldn’t take it personally? What is Santorum actually saying anyway? Is homosexuality acceptable as long as it remains theoretical and not practically unexpressed. Although Marcus Bachmann, wife husband of the former candidate, Michele Bachmann, made nearly the same statement, it is hardly a political policy difference, as Rick Santorum claims. And it is hardly a reassuring way of thinking for a wannabe president of a diverse and tolerant society.

Whether it’s by design or by ignorance, Santorum also has made some fairly indefensible leaps in logic when speaking about homosexuality. Here is a comment he made back in April 2003 with regards to Catholic priests sexually abusing children:
“In this case, what we’re talking about, basically, is priests who were having sexual relations with post-pubescent men. We’re not talking about priests with 3-year-olds, or 5-year-olds. We’re talking about a basic homosexual relationship. Which, again, according to the world view sense is a perfectly fine relationship as long as it’s consensual between people. If you view the world that way, and you say that’s fine, you would assume that you would see more of it.”
Most people I know wouldn't define a basic homosexual relationship as a sex act with same-sex minors. And Santorum's remarks are factually incorrect. The BBC has this article about investigators probing some 300 cases of alleged sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy in a Belgium scandal:
Peter Adriaenssens said cases of abuse, mostly involving minors, had been found in nearly every diocese, and 13 alleged victims had committed suicide. Two-thirds of victims were boys but 100 girls also suffered, he said.  
In a wide-ranging report released by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. researchers found that sexual orientation, specifically gayness, was not the cause of child sexual abuse by priests. 
The investigators labeled the majority of abusing priests 'generalists,' or indiscriminate offenders," as opposed to offenders with exclusive sexual preferences. "Very few of them were driven by a pathological attraction to a type of child and instead what we see is priest abusers are very much like sex offenders in the general population and many of them regress to the abuse of minors in certain time periods,"  [Karen Terry, the lead investigator from John Jay College]  said. "What we also see is opportunities for them to abuse really played a critical role in who they chose to abuse."
Santorum's attempt to blame all adult homosexual relationships for the sexual abuse of children and minors by Catholic priests is beyond simple ignorance. It is a foul deception and an insult to the victims.  It's really a mystery why he feels it is his personal duty to drag the whole country into his personal crusade against gay citizens. If Santorum has been vilified by gay activists that he has only himself to blame. 
It is the price he must pay for trying to equate the molestation of children to consensual sex between adults. It is the price he must pay for trying to play upon every long-feared stereotype against the gay community.

It’s not new. In the late 1970s, former Miss Oklahoma beauty pageant winner, and gay rights opponent, Anita Bryant, temporarily made a name for herself by issuing the same kinds of ill-conceived fearmonging arguments as Santorum.
"If gays are granted rights, next we'll have to give rights to prostitutes and to people who sleep with St. Bernards and to nail biters."
Like Bryant, Santorum has previously warned that allowing same-sex marriage could pave the way for the legitimacy of “man on dog” or “man on child” relationships. (Unlike Bryant, however, he seems to have recognized that prostitutes and nail-biters already have equal rights.) 

Santorum the Firm Believer
Additionally, when speaking about the then-pending U.S. Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas, which challenged a Texas sodomy law, Santorum said that sodomy laws properly exist to prevent acts which "undermine the basic tenets of our society and the family." 

The definition and enforcement of this law was always the major problem because- among other things- heterosexuals enjoy the privacy of their bedrooms as much as homosexuals do. Even though many of these laws target both heterosexual and homosexual acts, they are often selectively enforced only against homosexuals. This alone created constitutional problems. The definition of sodomy was also much too vague and the term “unnatural” left too much room for bias. In any case, by 2002, 36 of the 50 states had repealed all sodomy laws or had them overturned by court rulings. The remaining laws regarding the act were later invalidated by this 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision. 
In response to this decision, Santorum stated:
"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything."
So where are the nail-biting floozies with the St Bernards? In same interview he was quoted as saying:
It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn't exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution.
There is also no mention of any right to marriage but nobody is attempting to blame liberal judges for that. The reason for no mention of privacy in the Constiution, as Director of Public Policy for the American Liberty Foundation, Harry Browne observes, is simple:
The Constitution also doesn't include the right to buy products from foreigners, or to have children, or to read a book, or even to eat food to survive.
How could the Constitution have overlooked such basic human rights?
Because the Constitution isn't about what people can do; it's about what government can do.
The Constitution was created to spell out the limited rights or powers given to the federal government. And it was clearly understood that the government had no powers that weren't authorized in the Constitution.
Using the Nine and Tenth Amendments in the Bill of RightsBrowne makes a pretty good case against Santorum's nonsense about no provision on privacy. It's worth a look.
Thus, although the highest court in the nation has established legal policy, Santorum continues to argue the matter. Why shouldn’t any minority see that as a personal assault? 
Later when his remarks created more controversy, he back-peddled, saying, 
"I am a firm believer that all are equal under the Constitution. My comments should not be construed in any way as a statement on individual lifestyles."
You liberals are too being too sensitive, that's all. Well, that's what he'd like us to believe. 
However, as we have seen, he is not a believer in equality in any way, shape or form, no matter how he would like to spin it. 

One Easy Answer to Difficult Questions
There is another example of intellectual dishonesty that Santorum’s wife tries to promote in the clip. Contrary to what she would like to claim, objections to Santorum’s views are not at all limited to gay activists groups and not even limited to civil rights organizations. Of course there are plenty of those but there also been a bi-partisan “thumbs-down” for Santorum’s viewpoint. 

Former Governor of Vermont Howard Dean, objected to Santorum’s remarks saying "gay-bashing is not a legitimate public policy discussion; it is immoral" and called upon him to resign from his post as Republican Conference chairman. Similarly, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle commented that remarks from Santorum were "out of step with our country's respect for tolerance"
And criticism to these remarks are not limited according to party lines. Republicans Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins Senators from Maine, Lincoln Chafee, Republicans governor and senator of Rhode Island and Oregon Senator, Gordon H. Smith have all voiced concern about his statements. Even John McCain of Arizona remarked, in his usual lily-livered style, that he thought Santorum,” may have been inartful in the way that he described it."

He does find some support with conservative Christian groups. Surprised? The group Concerned Women for America, stated that Santorum was "exactly right." Criticism, they claimed, was merely an attack by the "gay thought police". 

That inate bullying instinct suddenly re-surfaces in his supporters. Vice President for Communications at the conservative Family Research Council Genevieve Wood declared, "I think the Republican party would do well to follow Senator Santorum if they want to see pro-family voters show up on Election Day." This time they don't want to bully the gay minority. They are trying to bully the entire Republican party.

In the video clip we hear Rick Santorum speak with a righteous air. It must  be extremely impressive to the gullible. But the very things he says with such solemn authority are the very statements one has to consider even more carefully.

Santorum's views on same-sex marriage do not reflect the
national view.
“Marriage has existed before governments existed. Marriage has existed since the beginning of time. It’s how we were meant to be.”  
The argument that long-established traditions must be maintained was once made for slavery- which had also existed prior to governments and the beginning of time- and yet, wisdom and tolerance and a common sense of humanity demanded their abolition and have moved our leaders to take an enlightened examination of this institution. This excuse had kept women from voting, and it kept schools segregated. In fact, all of the great reforms to society by the civil rights movements have all been opposed using exactly the same argument. What Santorum represents isn't merely an attack on gay minorities- and that's bad enough- but on the civil rights reforms for all minorities that took place in the 1960s and before. 

“The reason governments include marriage in their laws is because we need to encourage what is best for mothers and father and children.” 
The question is, of course, who decides what is best and based on what criteria. Supported by his collection of well-organized and politically powerful Christian Right Wing groups, (whose narrow views seem to represent a smaller and smaller number of American voters) Candidate Rick Santorum, of course, can always fall back on the easy answer to those difficult questions that diversity presents to our society. 
"Elect me," he seems to be telling people," and I will take this decision- all of the difficult decisions- out of your hands, out of the hands of all citizens.. I will decide for everybody. It's what I have been called  to do.”

A Tiny Fringe
Finally, I will close this post with related news. 
Last week, Santorum received an endorsement from a collection of evangelist organizations after about 150 influential Christian conservative leaders met at a ranch outside of Houston, Texas. Organizers included Gary Bauer, president of American Values in Washington, and Donald Wildmon, founder of the American Family Association of Tupelo, Mississippi, Perkins said. Also attending was Richard Land, president of the Nashville, Tennessee-based Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
A few days ago, a 6th Circuit Appellate panel in Cincinnati began hearing arguments last week from the president of the American Family Association of Michigan, Gary Glenn and three Michigan ministers, who are suing Eric Holder and the Department of Justice to overturn the expansion of federal hate crimes protections.
In February of 2011, Glenn and the ministers, filed a lawsuit to overturn a federal hate crime law, claiming the law was trying to promote "thought crimes" and “eradicate religious beliefs opposing the homosexual agenda.”

The law was passed passed by Congress in 2009 and protects a variety of minorities who have had reason to fear hate-motivated attacks. According to Jillian Redfeild of
It carves out criminal penalties for anyone who attempts to or “willfully causes bodily injury” to a person and “is motivated by prejudice based on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim.
Early in 2010, Gary Glenn spoke out on the anti-bullying bill before the state of Michigan legislature. He argued that
the sole purpose of this law is to criminalize the Bible and use the threat of federal prosecutions and long jail sentences to silence Christians from expressing their Biblically-based religious belief that homosexual conduct is a sin.
The bill, in fact was roundly condemned on all sides. According to some critics, because of pressure by conservative religious groups, the final law managed "to protect school bullies instead of those they victimize. It accomplishes this impressive feat by allowing students, teachers, and other school employees to claim that 'a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction” justifies their harassment.'" As one source states:
In an emotional speech on the Senate floor, Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer accused her colleagues of creating a blueprint for consequence-free bullying. “As passed today,” said Whitmer, “bullying kids is okay if a student, parent, teacher or school employee can come up with a moral or religious reason for doing it.”
Evangelists, like Glenn, were equally dissatisfied. He called the bill an attack on religious liberty. It would seem that what he and so many other religious supporters of Rick Santorum really desire is a license to bully and a sanction to hate. He stated:
‘It just makes the point all the more that public policy in this state should not be driven or dictated by such a tiny fringe minority of society." 
The irony seems to have escaped him. 

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