Tea Party “Patriots” as True Believers

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“…For many people, the will to believe at times overrides the ability to think critically about the evidence for and against a belief...”

Tea Party “Patriots” are a strange lot.  They are zealots.  The Pink Flamingo does not appreciate zealots nor “true believers”.  It’s not that I don’t appreciate a zealot’s passion for a subject, it’s just that zealots and true believers look at the world through rose colored glasses and blinders.

They don’t see the forest for the trees.  Their eyes are on the prize and nothing else.  It is a sad situation.  I know, I’ve been there and done that.  It’s fun when one’s zealotry is based on the 1975 and 1976 Cincinnati Reds and the abject belief that Johnny Bench is going to hit one out and be the World Series Hero.  That’s a good, fun kind of zealotry, full of sweetness and light, making up for the disasters of the debacle with those vile Oakland A’s in 1972 when they broke my heart.

My mother’s brother-in-law, who is still passionate about his long lost Brooklyn Dodgers once told me you were never a true baseball fan until you pick a player his first week in the Majors.  You follow him his entire career, all the way through to the Hall of Fame.  Then, baseball will never, ever be the same.  The day My Man Johnny became immortal, I understood what Skip was telling me.  Baseball has never been the same.

There is no more zealotry for me.  I am no longer a “true believer” about anything but my faith.  In my faith I am not a zealot.  I don’t need to be.  I am confident enough in what I believe not to be a zealot.

One definition of “zealot” is extremist, crank, bigot, a fanatic.  The original zealots were a member of a radical, warlike, ardently patriotic group of Jews in Judea, particularly prominent from a.d. 69 to 81, advocating the violent overthrow of Roman rule and vigorously resisting the efforts of the Romans and their supporters to heathenize the Jews.”

The problem with the original zealots was the fact that they met a tragic end:

“…After the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple in AD 70, 960 Zealots under the lead of Elazar ben Yair took refuge by capturing the Roman fortress of Masada and taking no prisoners. Rome sent the Tenth Legion to retake the stronghold, but it failed for three years. It is estimated that they took over 1,000 casualties in the process. The Zealots held the fortress even after the Romans invented new types of siege engines. Finally, in the third year of the siege, 73, The Romans completed a massive earthwork siege ramp up one face of the mountain on which Masada sat. This allowed them to bring the full strength of their siege to bear and penetrate the walls, a feat impossible before due to the topography of the mountain itself. When the Romans stormed in to capture the Zealots, they found that the fighters and their families had all committed suicide…”

The Pink Flamingo is practical enough to ask just how their deaths at Masada helped anyone other than as a Pyrrhic victory?

As far as “true believers” did you know it is considered a psychological disorder?

Wikipedia

True believer syndrome is real!

“...It is possible that those suffering from true-believer syndrome simply do not believe that the weight of the evidence before them revealing fraud is sufficient to overpower the weight of all those many cases of supportive evidence from the past. The fact that the supportive evidence was largely supplied by the same person exposed as a fraud is suppressed. There is always the hope that no matter how many frauds are exposed, at least one of the experiences might have been genuine. No one can prove that all psychic “miracles” have been frauds; therefore, the true believer may well reason that he or she is justified in keeping hope alive. Such thinking is not completely illogical, though it may seem pathological to the one admitting the fraud.

It does not seem as easy to explain why the true believer continues to believe in, that is, trust the psychic once he has admitted his deception. Trusting someone who reveals he is a liar and a fraud seems irrational, and such a person must appear so to the hoaxer. Some true believers may well be mad, but some may be deceiving themselves by assuming that it is possible that a person can have psychic powers without knowing it. One could disbelieve in one’s psychic ability, yet still actually possess paranormal powers. Just as there are people who think they have psychic powers but don’t really have any such powers, there may be people who have psychic powers but think they don’t….”

Even more fascinating is the following statement:

“…Hoffer also seemed to think that true believers want to give up all personal responsibility for their beliefs and actions. They want to be free of the burden of freedom….”

A  “true believer” is defined as “…One who is deeply, sometimes fanatically devoted to a cause, organization, or person…”

The great paradox here is that tea party “patriots” consider themselves almost fanatical “true believers”.   It makes perfectly clear sense that they protest far too much about freedom and liberty.  They’ve given theirs up for the group.  Eric Hoffer wrote the book on the subject.

“…Hoffer argues that all mass movements such as fascism, communism, and religion spread by promising a glorious future. To be successful, these mass movements need the adherents to be willing to sacrifice themselves and others for the future goals. To do so, mass movements need to glorify the past and devalue the present. Mass movements appeal to frustrated people who are dissatisfied with their current state, but are capable of a strong belief in the future. As well, mass movements appeal to people who want to escape a flawed self by creating an imaginary self and joining a collective whole. Some categories of people who may be attracted to mass movements include poor people, misfits, and people who feel thwarted in their endeavors. Hoffer quotes extensively from leaders of the Nazi and communist parties in the early part of the 20th Century, to demonstrate, among other things, that they were competing for adherents from the same pool of people predisposed to support mass movements. Despite the two parties’ fierce antagonism, they were more likely to gain recruits from their opposing party than from moderates with no affiliation to either.

The book also explores the behavior of mass movements once they become established (or leave the “active phase”). With their collapse of a communal framework people can no longer defeat the feelings of insecurity and uncertainty by belonging to a compact whole. If the isolated individual lacks vast opportunities for personal advancement, development of talents, and action (such as those found on a frontier), he will seek substitutes. These substitutes would be pride instead of self-confidence, memberships in a collective whole like a mass movement, absolute certainty instead of understanding….”

This does not speak well for those who have been assimilated into the tea parties as true believers.  They remind The Pink Flamingo of the Borg.  If they cannot take over those with whom they come into contact, they seek to destroy them.  Good leaders like Lindsey Graham, Dr. Tom Coburn, and John McCain come to mind when thinking about their “He who must be destroyed” list.

They have no rational bases for what they do, ergo, they must do it with more fanaticism.  They never bother looking to see what has been tried before, what works and what doesn’t.  There is a distinct lack of wisdom on their part.

It is sad.  There are so many good people who could truly do some good, but they don’t know how.  As true believers they lack the capacity to learn from the mistakes of others.

Perhaps that is the great tragedy about them.  When they become “true believers” the very individuals who are so determined to reinstate liberty and individualism in a nation they feel no longer has such rights, become part of a collective and surrender their own.

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