A few weeks ago CNN correspondent Jim Accosta was booed, shouted at, cursed and told he was not welcome at a rally where Donald Trump was appearing. Later when the national anthem and Pledge of Allegiance took place, many of the same people expressed surprise that Accosta sang and placed his hand over his heart for the pledge just like they did. They were all Americans but the crowd had been conditioned to believe that a member of the mainstream media could not be patriotic.
A quick review from last time:
- like-minded people naturally gravitate toward each other and then mimic each other more and more until they form their own group-think;
- without checks and balances, this mutual affirmation grows into an attitude of self-righteousness;
- a group like this is actually driven by fear – fear of being weak or powerless;
- the group incestuously reinforces its own truth while also confirming to itself the dangers of outsiders. I say incestuous because there is not much that is normal or healthy for a group of people who have their opinions formed within their own ‘family’ and refuse to be open to outside thought;
- when a group reaches this stage they are not so much interested in truth as they are in getting their way and that is where we begin to find the term ‘mob’ to be more fitting;
- a mob can be literal or figurative, organized or disorganized, but it is always angry, close-minded and heartlessly aggressive.
The challenging thing about mobs is that they don’t think or act rationally. They simply believe they are right – so right that their primary goal is to fix perceived problems – and the end justifies using any means. They look for an opponent to fight but, failing that, they turn to an easier prey – a scapegoat. A scapegoat is a vent for group anger and the violence toward it is only a diversion from the ultimate battle. Scapegoats suffer excruciatingly nevertheless.
The classic example is pre-World War 2 Germany. As I recall my history, the presenting problem was that the country had deep economic and psychological scars from the Great War and when an insignificant leader of a right-wing political movement came on the scene a surprising number of normal, peaceful people listened to him. They found scapegoats: Jews, homosexuals, non-whites, etc. to help themselves act on their anger and fear.
In our culture it could be Muslims, Christians, homosexuals, immigrants, gangs, environmentalists, right-wingers, left-wingers, the press, the President, the Prime Minister, the French, the English, or… choose your own scapegoat.
What is frightening is that mobs who target scapegoats are absolutely, blindly convinced of their own goodness and the worth of their holy crusade.
People familiar with the Bible will know that the ancient Hebrews symbolically heaped punishment on a literal, innocent goat. They will also know that centuries later Jesus would be treated as the ultimate innocent scapegoat.
So where do mimics and mobs leave us today? And by us I mean you and me.
Well, I believe that an accusing mob mentality is very dangerous so let’s begin next time with the biblical word that is used to describe a false accuser or adversary – the word is satanas. Satan.