Cultural Anthropomorphism — The term anthropomorphism is used to denote the assignation of human characteristics and values to non-human, inanimate and even spiritual objects.
For example, we routinely refer to pets as our ‘babies’ or ‘children.’ Some people name their cars or computers. We almost always assign to God human-like characteristics and values. By doing so, we attempt to create a ‘human’ relationship that come with a certain set of expectations on our part. We elevate our pets to ‘love’ and depend on us in the same way a human child loves us. We ‘love’ our machines and they in return ‘perform’ for us. We imagine God as a wise old man, dispensing ‘mercy’ and ‘forgiveness’ in the same way we do.
In all these cases, anthropomorphous behavior is designed to foster emotional bonds and intimate relationships. We need the objects of our anthropomorphous behavior to be less distant and detached from us. We want to see them as we see ourselves, sharing similar environments, characteristics and values. The objects of our anthropomorphous behavior have traits and values like our own. Thus, when there is a ‘close relationship,’ we can forgive any missteps or bad behavior because we are in effect, forgiving ourselves.
Anthropomorphism is essentially a special sort of psychological projection where we project our own characteristics onto a variety of special objects in our lives.
One of the many negative aspects of the left’s multicultural dogma is that it fosters a kind ‘cultural’ anthropomorphism that lures those of us in the West into thinking that dysfunctional cultures and societies where political repression is a way of life are ‘like us”, when in fact they are wholly alien. In short, there are Middle Eastern cultures that don’t think like us or share our values which we have anthropomorphized into thinking are “like us”.
As talk about coexisting with an Iranian nuclear bomb escalates, we have to ask whether proponents of coexistence are engaging in the most dangerous kind of anthropomorphous behavior.
Facts on the ground show that the Iranian and Arab regimes some of the most repressive and cruel in history. They could not be more unlike the western democracies. Western societies are predicated on the notion that everyone, irrespective of race, creed or gender are endowed with equal rights. Middle Eastern regimes regimes have a deeply embedded caste system that makes non-Muslims and women second-class citizens. These groups are at best tolerated. More often than not, they are persecuted. The notion of equality between Muslims and non-Muslims is simply incomprehensible to most citizens of those nations. Can we really live with leaders of nations for whom the notion of equality is unacceptable?
Many on the Left say that–in the interests of “peace”–the West must to live with the reality of a nuclear Iran, as if that nation and the Arab nations in the region were just other Western nations. But the left is engaging in suicidally anthropomorphous behavior, assigning to some nations qualities and values similar to our own and expecting a similar kind of behavior.
Can we really live with the consequences of a nuclear Iran? Can we trust a nation where the ”Religious Police’ are all-powerful and can abuse at will — anyone they deem insufficiently obedient to the Quran?
Or should we consider the differences: in Saudi Arabia, the muttawa allowed 14 girls to burn to death in a school fire rather than permit them to escape unveiled; an Iranian judge ordered a child executed because she ‘talked back’ to him. Should we consider the cultural practice of ‘honor killings’ that pervades that part of the world relevant when calculating the “normal” behavior of a regime with a nuclear bomb?
For last decade, the Iranians and the Arab regimes like Iraq under Saddam, and Syria under the Assads, have mastered the finer points of negotiation by intimidation. Keenly aware of the west’s distaste for active confrontation, these regimes know that we prefer compromise rather than conflict. They have no problem issuing escalating threats and promises of violence if their terms are not met.
Like Chamberlain in prewar Europe, America and European nations acquiesce in a hope born of unconscious anthropomorphism provides that projects our values onto the Iranians and Arab world. We are conciliate with ever-growing haste because we need to believe that each new Iranian or Arab threat will be the last. Of course, that is never the case.
The Iranians and Arabs have come to the realization that they can intimidate us without fear of repercussion or consequence.
Our values are very different from theirs. In western societies, a leader’s strength is measured by character and respect for a free and democratic society. By contrast in the Iranian and Arab world, strength and credibility are measured by the ability to instill fear, unleash violence and to kill.
The left turns a blind eye to the Iranian reality, but can we really afford to ignore or pretend indifference to nuclear weapons in the hands of regimes that openly call for our destruction or subjugation and for whom the aforementioned behaviors are a matter of course?
One of Nazi Germany’s most notorious excesses was the Lebensborn, a program that deliberately bred blond, blue eyed, ‘perfect’ Aryan babies. Women were carefully selected as Aryan ‘breeders’ and men (most often recruited from the SS or Gestapo) were specifically chosen to inseminate these women. The idea was to produce genetically engineered children– ‘perfect’ Aryans — Supermen. Those ‘perfect’ Aryans were to be the future leaders of a ‘perfect’ Aryan nation.
In Middle East today, there is a similar kind of project, designed to produce the ‘perfect Muslim’ — another kind of Superman. Educational programs, media and religious institutions are all engaged in teaching young Muslims that by virtue of their existence, they are superior. We widely acknowledge the power of mere 30-second television commercials change behavior, yet seem to think regimes that extensively use media, schools and religious instruction to teach racism, hate and bigotry to a population from an early age will have no effect. Even a ripped-off copy of Mickey Mouse has been used to encourage martyrdom and spread psychopathy.
Culture can affect behavior. In WWII occupied Paris, a call went out from the main mosque in that city asking Muslims to shelter Jewish children from the Nazis. Parisian Muslims answered the call and thousands of lives were saved. Can we expect a similar kind of behavior today from the Parisian youths who kidnapped and murdered Ilan Halimi because he was a Jew? Can we live in a world where nuclear weapons are in the hands of this today’s Supermen and their calls to ‘slaughter the Jews!’ and promise to ‘finish what Hitler started?
While most cultures try to overcome sense of failure and shame by exerting huge efforts to correct the deficiencies that led to that failure, in shame cultures the remedy is to suppress the success of others, because the success of the ‘other’ only deepens the sense of humiliation, failure and rage. In the Middle East, pride is regained not by excelling or achieving, but rather, by destroying any contrast to humiliating failure. Only when the source of success is no longer visible will humiliation cease to exist. In the Middle East the role of the ‘other’ has been played by Israel. For decades, the Arab world and then Iran, under the mullahs, have declared their intent to destroy Israel. Only then, will their ‘pride’ be regained.
In this psychological atmosphere, Iranian or Arab nuclear weapons cannot be understood in Western terms of ‘parity’ or ‘military equality.’ Iranian or Arab bombs are acquired for far more sinister reasons. In the Middle East, every time despotic regimes acquired new armaments, they were used. That was true in 1948, 1956, 1967 and in 1973. Only by unquestioning acceptance of cultural anthropomorphism can one believe things would be any different in 2007.
In June of 2006, the Iranian Defense Minister stated that his nation would use nuclear weapons if threatened. He declined to clarify his definition of ‘threat.’ In 2001, ‘moderate’ ruling cleric Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani called on Muslim nations to use nuclear weapons against Israel. An attack would annihilate that nation while only causing ‘damage’ to the ummah.
If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in it’s possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world.
The question isn’t really whether or not we can live with an Iranian bomb, but rather, who may die because of an Iranian bomb.
The projection of our own values and the desire to live in peace onto Iran and the Arab world has made some in the West completely deaf to the meaning of Rafsanjani’s words and blind to the behavior bent on making them a reality.
The West’s cultural anthropomorphism and its suicidal psychological projection may indeed make Rafsanjani’s prayers prophetic.
Sigmund, Carl and Alfred is the pseudonym adopted by a blogger in North Carolina. He is so busy, he needed three identities. He is a political behavioral analyst, specializing in predicting the behavior of ‘really crazy people.’