LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Human psychology and politics
Lately I've been fascinated by books on such topics as forensic psychology and of cognitive neuroscience. These books I refer to "The Wisdom of Psychopaths', by Dr. Kevin Dutton, "The Psychopath Whisperer ", by Dr. Kent Khiel, and "Consciousness and The Brain", by Stanislaus Deahane. All of these titles are geared towards the layman reader and readily available at the Downey Library.
I'm also fascinated by group psychology which probably fits under the category of sociology. I'm not certain. But particularly I am fascinated with the kind of things that people often talk about in the commentary section of this paper. Xenophobia, nationalism, even a kind of tribalism, it's all so fascinating!
Memes are another interesting thing that I find quite fascinating. For instance, according to Richard Dawkins the acclaimed and rightly respected biological evolutionist, author of "The Selfish Gene" and the "Greatest Show on Earth" (and now, I am paraphrasing ) a meme is a shared thought between groups of people and is biological in origin.
What am I leading up to you may ask? Well, I do have a point here about the fascinating comments by some of the Letter writers to your paper regarding their thoughts about everything from illegal immigration and Donald Trump's massive ego.
By nature we humans fear a lot things and I would imagine that things like xenophobia, nationalism, tribalism, sectarianism, ethnocentrism, and all of those fascinating "ism's including racism may be something deeply rooted in the primitive parts of the brain that goes back to the biological survival instincts of even pre-modern man such as homo erectus, homo halibus and not to leave out the Neanderthals, (though we bare no direct relationship to them there some suggestions in recent science journals of some relationship between them our direct ancestors ) , but I digress...
Another subject I have been interested in is recorded human history; Lately I have been taking advantage of the free educational DVD's at the library about ancient Rome, Greece,, the Crusades, the history of Islam, and all of these violent warmongering types like Visigoths, the Barbarians, the Vikings, the Celts and lest I forget to mention some of the classic Ken Burns historical documentaries about the American Revolution and the Civil War.
And what I think I have learned about human nature and psychology and even the reason why no one in this city or country thought me worthy of a home when I was homeless is most assuredly due to any and all of these human survival instincts that compels our distrust of interlopers or any who might covet what we have. It is though, a funny aside to note that maybe one of the most greedy and materialistic kind of people a "plutocrat" in the form of a Donald Trump is so appealing to middle class and working class people who have no realistic chance to be billionaires unless they win the Powerball, support him. It is indeed bizarre. Most like Trump because people assume that it takes some kind of genius to become one. No, then every rock star and super model in America is a genius. That would be quite a low bar indeed for genius. No Donald Trump is the product of old money. It doesn't hurt to be born a millionaire.
I also must point out the fact that there was a time when from California, to Texas was Mexico. For the interested reader, Ken Burns, "The West " might shed a light on this mystery for you.
The thing I notice about many people who have this lack of self awareness and self introspection or even basic knowledge not just of American history but even current events or events of the not so distant past, like the many wars and ethnic cleansing perpetuated by American support of violent military regimes in Latin America, is that their justifications for their paranoid notions about immigrants from Latin America and also their arguments that they are not really racist that they just demand people enter the country "legally ". It's just that these arguments are thinly veiled rascim put in clever statements. It is to be sure rather ironic and maybe, if you believe in such a thing, bad karma, that all of the things that were done historically to rob both Native Americans and Mexicans of their human right to live on this land, California and the like, as well as the most recent kinds of corporate corruption in big Agro companies putting small Latin farmers out of work, and the countless corrupt military governments that have been supported by US interests have caused this somewhat irrational and frenzied influx of desperate people trying to escape the hardships that we, America have created for them. For those who would argue that these desperate souls should wait for the slow pace of American bureaucracy when they are being starved or murdered I'd refer you to the slow pace of American bureaucracy in the case of the Veterans administration and all the vets who ever died waiting for medicine that they had a right to as humans, but particularly because of their service to our country. The rebuttals might accuse Obama singly, and though I would not deny his complicity, we cannot in the interest of being honest with ourselves ignore the backlog of Veterans that had something to do with George W. wars. The arguments made about waiting your turn patiently while rich Saudi's buy their way to the front of the line is as ludicrous as expecting a person on a kidney donor list to not feel some tinge of outrage at the rich guy who circumnavigates his insurance companies red tape by paying out of pocket.
The motto is, give us your tired, hungry and poor huddled masses yearning to be free. Not your rich guys from Europe the middle East and Asia. There is a little known fact that certain groups get ahead in the line just for being who they are and what they have which is money or political advantage like all Cubans refugees who because of long running rivalry between the US and Castro have a golden amnesty ticket that automatically forgives them when they reach our shores. Welcome all! I am a 4th generation Irish on my mother's side and 2nd generation Mexican on my father's side. And I say welcome. Not just because the Republic of China is working on becoming a nuclear super power with 100 million plus military personnel. Or that they are the worlds largest growing middle class with over a billion people. Who would have thought a communist country could best America at our game, Capitalism? Who would have thought 48 years ago when I was born that America would owe China money and that China would buy everything around them including the largest pork manufacturer in America?
Take that communism! Another "Ism" to be sure. Didn't see that comin'! Or did we? Some of us who were paying attention did see. The golden epiphanous moment had to be the day I read that George W., in all his wisdom decided to give China a super computer, I guess as a token of our friendship. And the very thing now they use hack the NSA. Such irony.( I highly recommend the "Snowden Files" for those of you incredulous people who are convinced about American perfection. )
I argue, we may one day need those illegal immigrants to fill the void in our military man and woman power. It is 3 million, more or less, military personnel that the US currently has.' Thanks George. Your in Texas now playing golf, as oblivious as ever.'
The scrutiny given to the immigrant who senselessly killed that lovely young woman in San Francisco is clearly exaggerated. What would have been the reaction if she had been murdered by a Caucasian born and bread here in the good old US. Not racism! Wrong! There are so many home grown rapists and murderers to choose from. Just go to your local Megan's Law website and have a better look at your natural born citizen neighbors.
All of this intolerance is most definitely attributable to the points I made earlier about primitive survival instinct. It may have been extremely helpful in the days of raiding Neanderthal's looking to cannibalize homo-halibus, or even as a serf living in a world of warmongering, slaving and plundering Barbarians, Visigoths, Vikings and the like. But now in a time when mankind has a Hydrogen bomb that could wipe out the world a million times over, that primitive survival instinct is actually a detriment to our survival. We must be a world of inclusion. We must wipe out poverty, corporate greed, and political corruption in all parties of Congress. We must stop pushing imperialism and Free trade in countries that are too poor to pay for natural water resources that have patented by American corporations (see; Peru on Wiki). We must demand politicians be transparent with their special interest money (bribes) and have laws that demand the ethical behavior of corporate America in foreign countries.
And that point I make is to those who feel suffocated by a people and culture they don't identify with. You have to look at the reasons why people rush here. It's partly the myth of the American dream, yes myth, (it is steadfastly becoming mythology because of the plutocrats and the ever shrinking middle class), and in part because we have pushed these immigrants into our country from countless failed policies. It's really nothing to do with the border not being contained. Happy and contented people who not being starved and murdered don't care to leave their happy homes. The real trick is protecting our border is not. To those who complain about drug cartels, I would suggest that there would be little supply without demand. We have to look at the reasons people heroin for instance. First, I would suggest that the biggest drug pushers in America are Doctor prescribing Opiate freely because they are encouraged by financial gain from top pharma companies. Then, when the guy with the slipped disc can no longer obtain legally the opiate he was prescribed, he turns to the black market ( I mean you can't just go to the grocery to get it, right?) and then to heroin, which is cheaper. The problem is people tend to forget the most simple but profound cliché, "the devil is in the details". We are a nation of people who don't want to know "details" and prefer tidbits of generalisms that can be laid out for us by a more witty charming overly-hairsprayed and handsome talk show host like news anchor man.
Donald Trump appeals to a lot people's basic instincts. He is absolutely the wrong person to have a dialogue with world leaders. Should he scream in the face of Vladimir Putrin, the modern equivalent of a Machiavellian type with a Napoleon complex, or threaten the already paranoid Kim Jong Un, well, you all can be quite impressed with the most spectacular Fireworks display ever. World War III.
The underlying problem in American politics today is the ironic fact that Americans really don't know anything if they listen to the news media that comes from TV. It's all professional talking heads, and gory video picks from viewers who would rather get a picture a man running around frantically with his hair on fire and send to the media who will be sure play, rather than finding a fire extinguisher to put the poor bloak out of his misery. Horrific blood curdling crime scenes followed by the cute puppy of the month and some useless statistical factoids about how a Mediterranean diet might cure cancer, muppets, dog and pony shows, the cute of the week, a chiropractor who thinks he's an orthopedic surgeon giving the wrong advice to , the caution tape around a mummified corpse, the latest care chase interrupting regular programming, and not forget the mindless blatherings from the local bimbette weather girl. While the middle class work their fingers to bone for some boss who will ultimately cheat them of their pensions, like my grandfather who worked as tool and die maker for a plastics company who declared bankruptcy to get out of paying their employees what they earned,( kind of like the Enron scandal), (the library has a great copy of the DVD about that). It is the wealthy who dominate this country and control the policies either through political office or greasing the palms of the politicians with special interest monies, ( which is just another word for bribe). And yet it is mostly the middle class and the poor who serve in our armed forces.
It is not a mystery why people in America support policies that hurt them. The responsibility lies at the feet of the media who are not adhering to the principles of true journalism. And a people who may in part be too consumed by economic survival to care to pay attention. A democracy requires not just upon registered voters to participate in the process once in awhile, it depends on a free press and a well informed citizen, and even possibly revolution of some kind perhaps not violent to round up the criminals in Congress who are not doing their job rightly, morally and justly. Corruption in Congress is not new. For this point I recommend the DVD documentary by Ken Burns about the Congress, at the library. Your resource for free knowledge and the very institution George W. Bush unsuccessfully tried to destroy while in office. Obviously Yale has a low bar for some of their past alumni and clearly were not big readers. But I digress again.