Letters to the Editor: Fear/rage messaging must stop now

To the Journal editor:

Those helping battered women know “grooming.” It’s a way of disarming another by slowly eroding their natural defenses. The process starts by stroking the women’s confidence. After gaining trust, abusive elements are added. When she gets upset, she is soothed and reassured. Over time, abusive behaviors come to feel normal; the woman’s defenses keep reducing. (1)

This process also works with groups. Hitler’s Jews were systematically nit picked, then verbally bashed, then falsely accused of harming the nation. Attacks on individual Jews, then groups, prepared for the ruthless extermination of about 6.000,000 European Jews in WWII.

“Grooming” affects members not in the target group. Most Germans would not have tolerated the mass murder of their neighbors until Jews had been dehumanized by social pressure from government, press and other groups.

A similar process was used in Rwanda. The Tutsi tribe was subjected to chronic disapproval and erosion of their rights. In 1994, after a fear campaign bordering on hysteria, more than one million Tutsi’s were murdered in about 100 days. Mostly by machete. Mostly by neighbors. (2)

So, let it be established that chronic lies, especially in a climate of exaggerated fear and anger, is not an innocent pass time. It is a road to unspeakable harm.

It was predictable that violence to conservative leaders would occur following the “severed head of Trump” debacle, and the nightly blood orgy of Hamlet in the park, where an unarmed “President Trump” is repeatedly stabbed by knife-wielding cowards.

And the audience cheered! What an indictment of our culture!! Incitement to violence is a profound attack on freedom of speech. If the shooting of Rep Scalise had not occurred, some other violent episode eventually would have.

Both liberal and conservative leaders have said both sides of the aisle need to dial down the rhetoric and work together. These soothing statements stroke false confidence and encourage the current pattern, (Grooming).

Until both conservative and progressive leaders acknowledge the harm to our culture from chronic false and fear/rage messaging, they are refusing to engage reality. Media examples are plentiful and could instruct. Until both sides hold self and other accountable, and actually practice respectful dialogue, we are still on a path to lethal violence.

There is hope. Engaging Truth can grow us through this storm.

1. Grooming: Abuse and Relationship, Michael Samsel, 2013.

2. Left to Tell, Immaculee Ilibagiza, Hay House, USA, 2006.

Lynn Hansen, LCSW (retired)