A Case of Race Based Stockholm Syndrome

“So, I consider myself a proud modern American progressive, and I think that’s the kind of philosophy and practice that we need to bring back to American politics.”

~ Hillary Clinton, Democratic debate, July 23, 2007

Why do African-Americans vote Democratic en masse? Why do they turn to progressivism in such a lock-step manner when it is historically responsible for their demotion to second class citizens? One theory that may have some currency is that the growth and encroachment of progressive government under both Republicans and Democrats has led to a case of Stockholm Syndrome on a national scale. There are certainly strong similarities. This syndrome is defined as:

“An extraordinary phenomenon in which a hostage begins to identify with and grow sympathetic to their captor. Named for an episode that occurred in Stockholm in August, 1973 when an armed Swedish robber took some bank workers captive, held them for six days and stole their hearts.”

Patty Hearst and Elizabeth Smart both formed emotional bonds with their captors.

The website Counseling Resource says:

“Every syndrome has symptoms or behaviors, and Stockholm Syndrome is no exception. While a clear-cut list has not been established due to varying opinions by researchers and experts, several of these features will be present:

  • Positive feelings by the victim toward the abuser/controller
  • Negative feelings by the victim toward family, friends, or authorities trying to rescue/support them or win their release
  • Support of the abuser’s reasons and behaviors
  • Positive feelings by the abuser toward the victim
  • Supportive behaviors by the victim, at times helping the abuser
  • Inability to engage in behaviors that may assist in their release or detachment

It has been found that four situations or conditions are present that serve as a foundation for the development of Stockholm Syndrome. These four situations can be found in hostage, severe abuse, and abusive relationships:

  • The presence of a perceived threat to one’s physical or psychological survival and the belief that the abuser would carry out the threat

  • The presence of a perceived small kindness from the abuser to the victim

  • Isolation from perspectives other than those of the abuser

  • The perceived inability to escape the situation

Compare these conditions to the message to minorities propagated by contemporary progressives like Hillary Clinton.

Progressivism impacts every race but a particularly insidious aspect of this issue in the African-American community is that the genesis of segregation and racism is a feature of progressivism, not conservatism.

In May of 2006, Damon Root at Reason noted:

“…the Progressive Era was also a time of vicious, state-sponsored racism. In fact, from the standpoint of African-American history, the Progressive Era qualifies as arguably the single worst period since Emancipation. The wholesale disfranchisement of Southern black voters occurred during these years, as did the rise and triumph of Jim Crow. Furthermore, as the Westminster College historian David W. Southern notes in his recent book, The Progressive Era and Race: Reform and Reaction, 1900–1917, the very worst of it—disfranchisement, segregation, race baiting, lynching—“went hand-in-hand with the most advanced forms of southern progressivism.” Racism was the norm, not the exception, among the very crusaders romanticized by today’s activist left.

…race-based pseudoscience that dominated educated opinion at the turn of the 20th century. “At college,” Southern notes, “budding progressives not only read exposés of capitalistic barons and attacks on laissez-faire economics by muckraking journalists, they also read racist tracts that drew on the latest anthropology, biology, psychology, sociology, eugenics, and medical science.”

Popular titles included Charles Carroll’s The Negro a Beast (1900) and R.W. Shufeldt’s The Negro, a Menace to American Civilization (1907). One bestseller, Madison Grant’s The Passing of the Great Race (1916), discussed the concept of “race suicide,” the theory that inferior races were out-breeding their betters. President Theodore Roosevelt was one of many Progressives captivated by this notion: He opposed voting rights for African-American men, which were guaranteed by the 15th amendment, on the grounds that the black race was still in its adolescence.

…As for reconciling white supremacy with egalitarian democracy, keep in mind that when a racist Progressive championed “the working man,” “the common man,” or “the people,” he typically prefixed the silent adjective white.”

Woodrow Wilson, a progressive icon, segregated the military and civil service. Venerated as a great president, Wilson was actually a horrid man and avowed racist:

“Woodrow Wilson, whose Progressive presidential legacy includes the Federal Reserve System, a federal loan program for farmers, and an eight-hour workday for railroad employees, segregated the federal bureaucracy in Washington, D.C. “I have recently spent several days in Washington,” the black leader Booker T. Washington wrote during Wilson’s first term, “and I have never seen the colored people so discouraged and bitter as they are at the present time.”

Our citizens have been bombarded with examples of a presumed inability engage in anything without the presence of government. One can’t go to school without a government backed student loan, one can’t build a house without a building permit, one can’t have a business without a license and a TIN (tax number), one can’t build on one’s own land without an environmental impact study, government can take private land as if it was their own (Eminent Domain), etc. Even in cases where it seems benign, government is ever-present – driver and hunting licenses, car tags, park entrance “fees”. The ubiquity of this oppressive presence creates an environment of helplessness and morbidity. National rigor mortis sets in when people lose confidence that anything that they do doesn’t matter – and they are constantly bombarded by imagery and rhetoric designed to create that very insidious perspective.

Politicians are to blame for creating this false premise in an effort to show their constituents “why you need me” during election cycles. In an attempt to curry enough favor to win elections, the individual message of “you need me to protect and provide for you” has mutated into a collective message of “you need the government to protect and provide for you”. Both Parties seem to be saying, “Your government loves you and you should love it back – don’t worry about that freedom thing, I’ll take care of you”.

Since the mechanism that the mind uses to survive the situation can ultimately cause a loss of normal livelihood for the survivor of such traumatic situations, the only cure is to give the patient a measured dose of reality and help them understand that they can stand on their own two feet, that they can define the terms of their existence and it is not determined by their captor or abuser.

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