Monthly Archives: September 2010

Reasons Behind The Need To Portray Obama As Anti-American

Newt Gingrich’s recent comments alleging that Obama’s is driven by “Kenyan anti-colonial” attitudes, when combined with increasingly bizarre statements from Tea Party candidates, suggest something that isn’t apparent on the surface:  That we’re witnessing the “last gasp” of a dying, descending set of attitudes and values regarding individual and public policy, including what it is to be an American.

I think these kinds of statements reflect growing desperation about sweeping changes in our society.  That is, the country is steadily shifting towards a diverse population, and acceptance of that diversity.  And, towards growing recognition of the need to serve the larger common good; that we’re all in the same boat in this globalized world, and we will stand or fall together, as President Obama recently stated.

But it just doesn’t look like that shift is happening at present, because the period we’re living through is one of a growing but temporary backlash against those changes, from  people who view them with fears and a sense of loss.  They should be understood, but not condoned or excused.

A good illustration of the reactionary thinking in response to steadily growing social change is the essay that Gingrich based his comments on – A Forbes cover story on “How Obama Thinks” by Dinesh D’Souza.  A Columbia Journalism Review article by Ryan Chittum calls it a “…shameful piece on Obama as the ‘Other,’” and “The worst kind of smear journalism.”

Chittum writes, “How Obama Thinks” is a gross piece of innuendo—a fact-twisting, error-laden piece of paranoia.  Forbes for some reason gives Dinesh D’Souza the cover and lots of space to froth about the notion popular in the right-wing fever swamps that Obama is an “other”; that he doesn’t think like “an American,” that his actions benefit foreigners rather than Amurricans. It’s too kind to call this innuendo. It’s far too overt for that.

D’Souza’s distortions and lies are clearly designed to make Obama appear to be anti-American, and anti-white; someone different from “us” who’s bent on carrying out the African tribal mission of his father (whom he met one time, briefly, at age 10). Chittum’s analysis and dissection of D’Souza’s story is worth reading. Here’s the full article from the Columbia Journalism Review.

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Why Some Believe Obama is a Muslim – New Research

Here’s some interesting new research from a study of the psychology behind smear campaigns, led by Michigan State.  It  examined the rising numbers of people who believe the falsehood that President Obama is a Muslim.  The findings indicate that people are more likely to accept  such false representations, both consciously and unconsciously, when they are reminded of ways in which Obama is different from them — whether from racial, social class or other differences, according to Spee Kosloff and his colleagues from several other universities, who conducted the study.

“Careless or biased media outlets are largely responsible for the propagation of these falsehoods, which catch on like wildfire,” said Kosloff.  ”And then social differences can motivate acceptance of these lies.”

“When people are unsatisfied with the president — whether it’s the way he’s handling the economy, health care or Afghanistan — our research suggests that this only fuels their readiness to accept untrue rumors,” Kosloff said.  ”As his job rating goes down, suggesting that people feel like he’s not ideologically on their side, we see an increase in this irrational belief that he’s a Muslim,” he added. “Unfortunately, in America, many people dislike Muslims so they’ll label Obama as Muslim when they feel different from him.”

The findings are reported in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.  The acceptance of falsehoods is particularly relevant because a Pew Research Center poll in August  found that 18 percent of Americans believe Obama is a Muslim — up from 11 percent in March 2009 — even though he’s a practicing Christian.

A complete summary of the research is available in Science Daily.

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Reboot and Remix Your Life for Greater Health – Part 2

After rebooting your life, it’s time for a remix.

In Part 1 of this post I wrote that the reality of life today includes much confusion, uncertainty, and confused emotions about pursuing success and wellbeing. In fact, our tumultuous, changing world spurs actions that often undermine rather than support psychological health. That’s visible in the dysfunction and unhappiness emerging from the choices, decisions and overall way of life of many people, today.

Based on current research and new thinking about resiliency and psychological health, I suggested three practices for “rebooting” your life in today’s environment: Self-awareness (“Wake Up”); envisioning your life circumstances with out-of-the-box perspectives (“Lose Your Mind”); and actions that support positive growth rather than stagnation (“Push The Envelope”).

In Part 2 I propose that you combine “rebooting” your life in those ways with a life “remix.” That is, create an intent to activate six important dimensions of your life, each with a new, clear purpose. The “remix” reflects the holistic reality that everything you do in each “part” of your life affects and is affected by every other “part.” A life “remix” in the dimensions I describe below helps you evolve in healthy, proactive ways. And the latter is a necessity for positive, resilient living within this fluid and uncertain world that we now inhabit.

The Six Dimensions:

Here’s what you do:

• Formulate specific new goals for each of the following six interconnected dimensions of life. Each should be modest; that is, realistic and able to be achieved within a reasonable time-frame that you specify and commit to.

• Then, describe some specific actions you can begin taking right now that support each of the goals.

The six dimensions are: Continue reading

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For A Healthy Life In Today’s World: Reboot and Remix – Part 1

There’s an old saying that if you want to see into your future, just look into a mirror. That is, how you live your life each day — through your choices, your values and behavior — shapes and determines who you will be in the future.

Many people today don’t like what they see when they look into that mirror. Especially when so much feels out of control: Economic decline with no end in sight; social and political changes that can feel frightening, even threatening; career uncertainty; relationships unraveling under stress; climate disasters, both man-made and natural. All of these events impact your mental health and overall well being, as research and survey data show: Emotional, physical and social symptoms are rising, such depression and anxiety, obesity, demagoguery from media personalities like Glen Beck, emotional disturbance in the workplace…the list goes on.

All of that can make you feel frozen in today’s world. How can you find a psychologically healthy path into the future, in the midst of such confusion and turmoil? And, within a cultural and political environment that feeds self-serving, shortsighted behavior?

I’ve been addressing the impact of living in our new world upon people’s emotional health on my posts for this blog, Progressive Impact.  In this post, I suggest three ways to “reboot” you life in positive ways, within today’s unpredictable, interdependent and often scary world.

Wake Up!

Common lore is that it’s harmful to wake up a person who’s sleepwalking, but that’s not true. And when you’re sleepwalking in your life, Continue reading

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