- There have been many attempts made, by both the legal
and mental health communities, to define "insanity." But it seems
to me that that term can be most succinctly defined as: "a disconnection
from reality." And the severity of any individual's insanity is a
function of the degree of that person's disconnection from reality.
- That definition, of course, is entirely dependent on
how "reality" is defined. From the point of view of the state,
"reality" is whatever the shapers of public opinion say it is.
Anyone who disagrees with the voices of authority is, therefore, insane.
From that perspective, people such as, for instance, yours truly, are completely
- But if we base our definition on a relatively objective
reality, then most of the people that I know are, without question, insane.
Most of my relatives are insane. Most of my friends are insane. Most of
the people that I work with are insane. Damn near everyone in the country
is at least mildly insane. A very large majority are moderately to severely
insane. And according to polls, at least a third are stark raving mad.
- These people hold beliefs that are clearly delusional÷that
have absolutely no connection to reality. And they persist in holding these
beliefs even when not a shred of evidence can be produced to support them.
And no, I'm not talking about people who believe in UFOs, reincarnation,
and the Loch Ness Monster. And I'm also not talking about people who believe
in some supreme spiritual entity.
- I'm talking about people who believe that 'weapons of
mass destruction' have been uncovered in Iraq . . . who believe that 'weapons
of mass destruction' were used against our troops over there . . . who
even believe that 'weapons of mass destruction' is something other than
a arbitrary term cooked up recently by Uncle Sam to describe weapons systems
possessed by our 'enemies,' regardless of the actual destructive capability
of those systems.
- The functionally insane also believe that Iraqis were
among the hijackers who allegedly commandeered the planes on September
11, 2001. It is difficult to fathom, but these people are so crazed that
they have actually taken the government's already fanciful conspiracy theory,
which is itself totally disconnected from reality, and they have made it
even more ludicrous by adding some Iraqis to the mix. I'm betting that
a few years down the road these same people will also believe that there
were a couple of Liberians on one of the planes, as well as an Iranian
guy, a couple of North Koreans, a Syrian, and perhaps a Cuban or two. Maybe
even a French couple.
- It's the damnedest thing, but in addition to holding
these bizarre beliefs, these people can't even seem to see the walls going
up. Perhaps that is the silver lining in being completely insane: when
you are that thoroughly disconnected from reality, you don't even know
that you are living in an asylum.
- And so it is that we see the functionally insane behaving
as though they still live outside the walls .. as though nothing has changed
in their lives . . . as though their children haven't been stripped of
any sort of meaningful future. You see these people everywhere, walking
around without a care in the world, discussing who should have won the
last American Idol, who the newest Bachelor should choose as his soul mate,
whether a professional bodybuilder would make a better or worse governor
than a professional wrestler, and whether Dr. Phil gives better relationship
advice than Dr. Laura.
- The beliefs of the functionally insane are not, by definition,
based on objective facts, so it can be quite frustrating trying to communicate
with one of them on anything other than a superficial level. Fully documented
facts will either be dismissed out-of-hand or explained away using the
exact same verbiage that spills from the cable 'news' programs÷as
though these people's minds are mere tape-recorders, rather than tools
for analysis. It is not uncommon for the most severely insane to greet
inconvenient facts with a practiced look that seems to say, more or less:
"What are you÷some kind of an idiot? Obviously you don't watch
Fox News, 'cause if you did, we wouldn't need to have this conversation!"
- One of the more bizarre ideas that seems to have recently
taken root in the minds of the functionally insane is that the question
of whether the Bush administration lied to the American people during the
selling of the Iraq war hinges entirely on a mere 16 words inserted into
the State of the Union Address÷overlooking the rather obvious fact
that every official on the Bush team knowingly and quite deliberately lied
pretty much every time they stepped up to the plate to offer some imaginary
justification for the war.
- Another strange belief that has taken hold is that if
Team Bush÷at the very time that the media had actually called them
on one lie out of thousands, and at the very time that the congressional
9ö11 committee had released a heavily whitewashed but still damaging
report, and at the very time that U.S. troop morale had sunk to levels
that could soon see the American people reintroduced to the term "fragging"÷suddenly
announces that a band of its great and noble warriors have slain the sons
of the evil one, then it must be true.
- About the only thing that seems to be required for a
fallacious fact to take root in the minds of the functionally insane is
for a known liar in Washington and/or the media to have authoritatively
uttered it. It matters not if the fallacious fact is later retracted and/or
completely discredited. It matters not if the fallacious fact represents
a brazen rewriting of history just weeks after that history was recorded.
And it matters not if belief in the fallacious fact requires belief in
a whole host of other fallacious facts that are internally inconsistent
and completely lacking in logic.
- Never mind, for example, that it is extremely unlikely
that the Hussein brothers would be holed up in a Kurdish stronghold, where
they are, according to Team Bush, universally despised. Never mind that
it is equally unlikely that the pair would be holed up, together, in an
unsecured location with no means of escape. Never mind as well that it
is very unlikely that, between the two of them, they had just a single
guard. Never mind that it is unlikely that the two would seek refuge in
the home of a man who apparently sometimes claimed to be a relative, but
actually was not. And never mind that that home has already been bulldozed,
thus destroying all evidence of what happened there.
- Never mind as well that neither Hussein brother was known
to wear a full beard. That new look, according to U.S. officials, was part
of their disguises. And that is a reasonable enough claim, I suppose, but
is it also reasonable to assume that the two have been on a three-month
feeding frenzy in order to pack on some extra pounds, also as part of their
disguises? And never mind, I should add here, that the corpse identified
as Uday appears to be sporting a beard that was created with a black magic
marker. And never mind that we are left to conclude that the extra weight
and facial hair enabled the two to live unrecognized in enemy territory,
but will not prevent their corpses from being identified by the Iraqi people.
- Never mind that officials at the scene of the firefight
initially said that the recovered bodies were too badly damaged to be visually
identified, which would be expected given the firepower that was unleashed
upon them, but which was, nonetheless, directly contradicted by the release
of the photos. And never mind that while Team Bush claims that captured
Iraqi officials have positively identified the bodies, those same alleged
officials have never been paraded before the Iraqi people, or the American
people, despite claims that such displays are necessary to reassure everyone
that the old regime is no longer in charge.
- Never mind that no attempt was made to take the Hussein
brothers alive, despite the fact that the real Uday and Kusai would be
invaluable intelligence assets, since they presumably know where all the
bodies are buried, and where all the mythical WMDs are hidden, and where
all the fugitive Baathists, including their father, are in hiding. And
never mind that live prisoners would have been far more convincing than
photographic images of mutilated corpses. And never mind that it is decidedly
more difficult to pass off a live impersonator than it is to falsely identify
an altered corpse.
- And never mind, finally, that there is something seriously
wrong with the claim that it took 200 or more of Rummy's best fighting
men÷armed with state-of-the-art missiles, grenades and guns, and
accompanied by the world's most deadly helicopters, airplanes and tanks÷several
hours and millions of dollars worth of munitions to defeat an enemy force
of two able-bodied adults, one disabled adult and one young teenager, armed
only with AK-47s and pinned down in what could hardly be described (and
yet still was) as a fortified location.
- Never mind all of that because the Bushmen do not lie,
so if they claim to have slain a couple of dragons, then it must be true.
And if they claim that doing so marked a major turning point in 'post-war'
operations, then that must be true as well. Clearly, we are winning the
War on Terr'ism. America is standing tall.
- Never mind that nothing has really changed in Iraq. The
'diehard resistance' will continue to fight÷indefinitely. U.S. troops
will continue to die. Troop morale will continue to plummet as it becomes
ever more apparent to our soldiers that they have put their lives on the
line and lost a part of their souls to serve not as liberators, but as
- In the asylum, it is now firmly ingrained in the national
psyche that the Sons of Saddam are dead÷and that is cause for joyous
celebration. This is not the time for doubts about what is in that congressional
report on 9ö11. Nor about whether the Bushettes lied to sell their
war. And pay no attention to those distracting little stories that sometimes
pop up, usually only briefly, in the news. Who cares, for example, that
some Brit whistleblower decided to kill himself? Or that Bush's nominee
to head the Navy also decided to kill himself? Or that Guantanamo is morphing
from a concentration camp into a death camp? Or that someone shot a councilman
in council chambers despite elaborate post-9ö11 security measures?
Or that the gunman was then picked off in a crowd by an uncannily accurate
plainclothes officer who just happened to be on hand and who was able to
immediately assess the chaotic situation and know within seconds exactly
what to do?
- In the asylum, none of that matters because nothing is
real unless our masters tell us that it is, and then it only remains real
until it becomes necessary to render a new reality. And the functionally
insane nod their heads in agreement, their eyes never betraying a hint
of confusion over the ever-shifting reality being created for them.
- And the walls, meanwhile, get a little bit higher. Can
you see them yet?
- David McGowan is the author of "Derailing Democracy"
and "Understand the F-Word: American Fascism and the Politics of Illusion."
- The Center for an Informed America