Ground Zero Mosque: Red Herring and the Dangers of Projection
In Clinical Psychology circles, projection is understood to be the ego’s second strongest bastion of self-defense after denial. It entails a threat-induced attribution of its own emotions to another entity, regardless of the threat’s validity. Its manifestation betrays such a precariously low level of mental health that the ego feels no compunction in conflating unrelated concepts to formulate a worldview fitting to its own biases.
Such an ego will spread misinformation to undermine the other entity’s credibility in the eyes of said entity’s circle of influence, making others believe the lies and mistrust the facts. From the rumors in the schoolyard, to the mother who blamed a black man for the deaths of sons she killed herself, to the adviser who questioned the patriotism of those who rightly accused him and his boss of constitutional malfeasance, projection is the ego’s most powerful weapon against rational thought, and the kind of red herring that leaves the worst damage in its wake.
From this perspective, those of us who wish to engage in meaningful debate about the pros and cons of building the Park51 Inter-Faith Center are disheartened by the campaign of misinformation unleashed by extreme elements of the GOP, the Tea Party, and Judeo-Christian faiths. A campaign to misrepresent the project as a “Ground-Zero Mosque.”
We are disheartened because, although the project aims to build a 13-floor community center with a prayer room on the top floor, the media continue to cover those who deceitfully insist that the building will be a mosque. We are disheartened because, although the project aims to build two blocks away from the Freedom Tower site, the media continue to cover those who deceitfully insist that this project will be built at 9/11’s ground zero.
Most of all, we are disheartened because, although preventing the building of the center would constitute a violation in principle of the First Amendment's right to worship, the media continue to cover those who deceitfully insist that any attempt to dispel their campaign of misinformation is a violation in principle of their First Amendment right to free speech.
The world is watching. It’s seeing what should be a constructive debate among informed citizens deteriorating into a national projection of our own fears and paranoia, led by those consumed by their own xenophobic hatred.
Are we a free-thinking nation, or followers of the deranged?