LIONEL PODCAST: Pharisaical Self-Righteousness in the Hillary Clinton Camp

It’s a mental illness. An inability and refusal to confront and address the obvious. Hillary Clinton lost. Donald Trump won. In the few weeks Obama has taken every side on every position.  Russia did, Russia didn’t.  Hillary was robbed, Hillary screwed up.  I failed, I was a success.  I have brought hope, there is no hope.  Everything is wonderful, everything sucks.  The FBI is right, the FBI is wrong.  

Hegel is very impressed.  But he’s still waiting for the synthesis.

I’ve been trying to grasp the essential mindset of those who are so viscerally opposed to Trump and his supporters that they seem willing to do anything to express their loathing for them.  Just what is the common factor?  What makes this different from the normal partisanship?

There is no need for modern psychoanalysis.  It can be easily described in an old and well used term: self-righteousness. Pharisaical self-righteousness.  The concept has gone quite out of style, but the phenomenon is very much alive and very well.  Acquaintance with the pharisaical personality has vanished as worldly unfamiliarity with the gospels has grown.  It’s a regrettable gap in our educational system. Lest I frighten the horses with god talk, there is no need for theology to grasp the moral principle under consideration. Relax.

Perhaps this pharisaism can best be seen in Hillary Clinton.  I could multiply examples, but one will suffice.  When, with her insider friends, and with their obvious approval, she called a large portion of Trump supporters “deplorables”, any biblically or even classically literate person would have immediately caught the clear echoes of the saying of the Pharisees, “this rabble is accursed, that knows not the law”.  Here is the dripping contempt, the superiority, the snobbery, the loathing of the little people by those who regard themselves as intrinsically better than others.

Unfortunately this inner rot has spread far beyond Mrs Clinton.  Millennials have been taught since infancy that they are the best, the coolest, and in the words of one young woman, the most moral generation.  Their self deception seems complete.  For all their self supposed ethicality, they do not hesitate to indulge in open displays of spite, rancor and revenge.  Their treatment of Bocelli in this matter is reprehensible, but they do not notice.  They think nothing of depriving this man of his living and his self esteem. He must submit to their will or be given the yellow badge of the outcast.  Their self indulgent weeping and hysterics show a depth of self regard and self pity that I think has not existed before or to this extent.  The attack on the electoral college electors showed this same infantile ignorance of the reasons for the law and the glorification of self interest.  Who threatens another with death for any reason other than an immediate threat to the lives of oneself or one’s family?  Yet these threats are now commonplace over matters of opinion about political traditions, though the threats are unserious and the people making them are cowards who hide behind email.

The most telling example of this self righteousness is the gross misuse of the name Hitler.  Clearly the person Hitler achieved a notoriety for evil that surpasses all others.  Comparing someone to Hitler is the ultimate in moral distancing.  Because Hitler is seen as literally almost infinitely evil, then I, who am not like him, must be at the other end of an infinite scale, and therefore, pretty good, in my own eyes. By calling someone Hitler I don a mantle of self constructed virtue.  Other epithets that end in “ist” or “phobic” serve a similar function.  But the use of “Hitler” is truly the final solution.  It is the personal and moral eradication of someone for whom my disapproval has turned to righteous loathing, to execration, to delation.  I have no problem in wishing them dead.

I know of no solution for this phenomenon.  It is.  Short of some unlikely outbreak of humility we must patiently await the slow ministration of bitter experience to drive this puerile sentiment out of this generation.  The lessons will be painful for all. Perhaps the millennials will obtain grace to at least not pass this odious trait on to their children, if they can spare the time from their own moral preening to bear them.  Yet I must not be overly hard on the millennials.  They came by their self righteousness honestly.  It is their parents and grandparents, my generation, who must ask themselves, “what have we done?”

%d bloggers like this: