Periodically, America experiences episodes of mass, hysterical contagion.
What is “hysterical contagion”? A sociologist explains it as the spread of symptoms of an illness among a group, absent any physiological disease. It provides a way of coping with a situation that cannot be handled with the usual coping mechanism.
For example, in 1983, girls in the West Bank fell ill, one after the other. Soon, all the schools and finally the entire community was engulfed, affected with the same symptoms. Arab doctors implicated the Israelis. But of course. The Israeli Occupation had poisoned the girls by gas to reduce their fertility. When real doctors arrived on the scene to examine the neurotics; the girls were pronounced physically healthy.
The frenzied behavior known as mass hysteria or hysterical contagion is well documented. The Trump-Russia “collusion,” “obstruction of justice” probe qualifies, with an exception: This particular form of mass madness involves not physical symptoms such as those observed in the West Bank, but a meme, a story-line. Rumors for which no evidence can possibly be adduced are recounted as facts. Naturally licit behavior—such as diplomacy with Russia—is criminalized by a Federal Government that has enough laws on the books to indicts each one of us, if it so desired.
Indeed, the Establishment and opposition elites have poisoned the country’s collective consciousness. However, it’s the emotional pitch with which the Trump-Russia collusion group-think is delivered, day in and day out, that has gripped and inflamed irrational, febrile minds.
What sociology terms “a collective preoccupation” is fueled by organizational- and communication networks. Friendship networks and work organizations (think government departments infested with like-minded individuals) serve as nodes in a system that transmits faulty signals across the synapses of a collective, damaged brain.
The political storyline du jour is manufactured by America’s gilded elites. To this, DC operative Karl Rove confessed during the era of Bush II: “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.”
When you’re the most powerful entity in the world, as the US government certainly is—you get to manufacture your own parallel universe with its unique rules of evidence and standards of proof. What’s more, as the mightiest rule-maker, you can coerce other earthlings into “sharing” your alternate reality. Or else.
The manufacturing of Fake News by the Deep State, circa 2017, is of a piece with the anatomy of the ramp-up to war in Iraq, in 2003. (Chronicled in achingly painful detail in Broad Sides: One Woman’s Clash With A Corrupt Culture.) Except that back then, Republicans, joined by diabolical Democrats like Hillary Clinton, played a lead role in dreaming up Homer Simpson’s Third Dimension.
Conscripted into America’s reality, Iraqis paid the price of this terrible American concoction. Hundreds of thousands of them were displaced and killed due to “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” …
— Ilana Mercer (@IlanaMercer) November 19, 2017