Understanding Bush Derangement Syndrome
It has been among the great curiosities of the last several years is the extent to which otherwise relatively sane people (and the left, also) have gone completely and utterly bananas in their ascribing to George Bush all kinds of demonic intentions and plans. I could understand and disagree with the non-interventionist critique of invading Afghanistan, and even the pragmatic objections to the Iraq War (which would have been much stronger if anyone had realized how badly Bush would screw it up). But when you here otherwise non-tinfoil hat sorts talking about Bush is going to cancel the 2008 elections, for example, or the entire cult that has developed around theories that Bush either actively caused or passively allowed the 9/11 attacks to take place--well, you have to start wondering what's in the water that these people are drinking.
A person I know who spends a lot of time teaching college students suggested an interesting explanation for this recently which just happens to collide with a book that I am currently reading: Mary Beth Norton's In the Devil's Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692. I'm not done reading it, but she has a new twist on what provoked the Salem Witch Trials.
Many of those who were participants, either as "victims" of the witches, or the witches themselves, were refugees from the Maine frontier, driven back into Massachusetts by a series of ferocious Indian wars. Norton argues that unlike other witchcraft trials of the period, where judges were a lot less willing to accept "spectral evidence," and a lot more willing to give accused witches the benefit of the doubt, many of the participants were dealing with traumatic consequences of the loss of community, and of enormous fear of attack. That the Indians were regarded as Satan worshippers throughout this period made it very easy to see the loss of the Maine frontier as having Satanic overtones.
Anyway, it strikes me that perhaps what we are seeing with the more bizarre theories that are floating about is a modern version of this same problem. George Bush, as much as the left hates him, isn't going to drag any feminists off in the dead of night to be beheaded. He isn't going to be imposing sharia law. Even those with the most liberal politics have to admit, if rational, that if George Bush got his way without restraint, America would still be a far nicer place to be a feminist, homosexual, or atheist, than any Muslim nation. Social conservatives just aren't that scary compared to even "moderate" Islam. Any rational liberal or leftist would look at the enemies that we are fighting, and be scared to death of them.
For those Maine frontier refugees, the enemy "out there" was far more ferocious, far more dangerous, than anyone within their own society. Especially among those who started the Salem hysteria (a bunch of teenaged and younger girls), the enemy that they really feared, and with good reason, was not an enemy that they could do anything about. They were powerless, and they were not warriors. They could do something about people closer at hand, and who were not going to kill and mutilate them--people like Rev. George Burroughs.
I think we are seeing something similar today: liberals have always regarded our military as a necessary evil, and the left hasn't even admitted "necessary." The only tools to fight the Islamofascist enemy are those that the left end of America has never identified with in any way. Like those terrified girls, it is easier for the left to redirect its fear onto a target that is closer, and less dangerous--and most importantly, that they can do something about. George Bush doesn't require an unrelenting battle to unseat--just an election.