Juan Williams breached PC, group-think protocol by giving voice to a personal feeling, which is the fear of Muslims on airplanes. This is not an irrational fear. While the percentage of Muslims who will be threats on airplanes is small, the percentage of mass murderers who board airplanes and happen to be Muslims is large.
Normal people understood what Williams said. Leftists intentionally misconstrued him — and then one of them said something more, and it’s a something that, to me, reveals a lot about the true nature of statism.
The “something more” that emanated from the Left after Williams violated the PC shibboleth was this statement from Vivian Schiller, the CEO at NPR:
After the firing, Schiller said publicly that whatever feelings Williams had about Muslims should be between him and “his psychiatrist or his publicist — take your pick.”
It took me a while to figure out why that remark was so awful, and the “so awful” part doesn’t have to do with the fact that it’s demeaning or unprofessional. It was a little trip down memory lane that made me realize what was so terrible about it.
Walk back with me in time. It’s sometime in 1970. The Soviet Union is still a completely committed Communist nation. As a completely committed Communist nation, it is also a complete totalitarian nation, which means that it must exert total control over any citizens who dare to challenge its hegemony. (I bet some of you have figured out where I’m going with this one.) One of the ways the Soviet Union controlled dissidents, whether they dissented because of religion, political beliefs, homosexuality, or whatever else made them challenge the statist monolith, was to send them to psychiatrists for “reeducation“.
For those too young to remember those times, you have to appreciate that psychiatry in America and psychiatry in the Soviet Union were two vastly different things. In the Soviet Union, psychiatry wasn’t about voluntary commercial relationships between an individual and a doctor, with the latter helping a person break a bad habit, find greater happiness, control anxiety, make personal relationships richer, or whatever else got a person thinking a psychiatrist might be a good thing.
In the Soviet Union, psychiatry existed to support the state. Psychiatrists used the new science of the mind, not to educate people, but to mentally coerce them into singing the state tune, so that they would abandon their dissenting ways forever. Or, sometimes, they just tortured them with mind games:
In the Soviet Union, psychiatry was used for punitive purposes. Psychiatric hospitals were used by the authorities as prisons in order to isolate hundreds or thousands of political prisoners from the rest of society, discredit their ideas, and break them physically and mentally; as such they are considered a form of torture. This method was also employed against religious prisoners, including especially well-educated atheists who converted to a religion; in such cases their religious faith was determined to be a form of mental illness that needed to be cured.
So, when the head of NPR lashes out at someone for deviating from Leftist orthodoxy by suggesting psychiatry, that’s a significantly more creepy and unguarded response than its superficial snark and immaturity would seem to imply.
UPDATE: Turns out I’m not the only one thinking along these lines.
UPDATE II: Garry Hamilton reminds me that psychiatry in America hasn’t been that innocuous either.