It is common to observe projection in campus and party politics, and in human affairs generally. “Projection” is a well-understood psychological mechanism in which a person or collective accuses another of doing what the accuser himself or itself is doing. “Psychological projection is a defense mechanism people subconsciously employ in order to cope with difficult feelings or emotions. Psychological projection involves projecting undesirable feelings or emotions onto someone else, rather than admitting to or dealing with the unwanted feelings.”
The classic example of Freudian projection is that of a woman who has been unfaithful to her husband but who accuses her husband of cheating on her. Another example of psychological projection is someone who feels a compulsion to steal things and then projects those feelings onto others. She might begin to fear that her purse is going to be stolen or that she is going to be shortchanged when she buys something.
Many highly entertaining examples of projection can be seen in recent party politics. Members of the Democrat Party and the mainstream media have accused President Trump being a potential dictator who would not honor an election which he had lost, and who would thus undermine the American electoral democracy. This from a party and media that refused to accept the 2016 election, and set about from the day of the inauguration to overturn the election and cancel the duly-elected president, most recently seen in the House impeachment of the president. Thus, the Democrat Party accuses the Republican president of not respecting the Constitution and election results, at exactly the same time as they reject the 2016 election winner.
Leading members of the Democrat Party have accused and continue to accuse President Trump of conspiring with a foreign power to interfere with the 2016 election, and to be similarly interfering with the upcoming 2020 election. No evidence has ever been adduced to support this assertion. But what has been proven beyond doubt is that the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee conspired with and paid for a foreign agent, the British spy Christopher Steele, who drew on Russian informants to invent “dirt” on candidate Trump. The uncorroborated Steele dossier was used by the FBI as justification to spy on the Trump campaign. The Democrats accuse the Republican president of colluding with foreign powers, while they not only collude but pay for those with whom they collude.
House Democrats have accused President Trump in an article of impeachment of “abuse of power,” an entirely partisan impeachment supported solely by Democrats, in a procedure that allowed President Trump no due process. None of the Democrat “fact witnesses” could identify any crime that the president has committed. The House Democrats could proceed because they were the majority, had the votes to impeach, and thus had the power notwithstanding the lack of due process and lack of evidence. So, in fact, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s criterion that a legitimate impeachment must be bipartisan, the House Democrats have accused the president of “abuse of power” when that is exactly what their partisan and contentless impeachment, in procedure and substance, has been.
During the House impeachment debates, multiple Democrat representatives, parroted by their media puppets, solemnly declared that “No one is above the law,” although the two articles of impeachment put forward by the Democrats did not specify any law that was broken or any crime committed by the president. But it was disorienting to hear members of the Democrat Party — the party of sanctuary cities, open borders, abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), providing taxpayer funding to illegal aliens for medical care and welfare, and legitimizing illegal aliens through issuing official certification, such as driver’s licenses — proclaim with great gravitas that “No one is above the law.” So, Democrat House members accuse, without evidence, the president of acting outside the law, while their proudly asserted policies on illegal aliens violate laws enacted by Congress! An impressive example of projecting your lawlessness on others.
Finally, in what would be a hilarious example if the issue were not so serious, the Democrat Party, which engaged in an unprecedented partisan impeachment of President Trump, is accusing the Republicans in the Senate of not approaching the impeachment trial of President Trump in an impartial manner. The superlatively partisan Democrat Party accuses the Republicans of being partisan. One does not know whether to laugh or cry.
In identity politics, projection can be seen in accusations across race lines. Black Lives Matter claims that white vigilantes and police are attacking innocent African Americans. “The Black Lives Matter Global Network is a chapter-based, member-led organization whose mission is to build local power and to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes” (emphasis added). But the sad facts of violence in Black communities are quite different from what is stated by Black Lives Matter. According to official FBI statistics, in 2013, of the 2,491 “Black or African American” people murdered, 189 were murdered by “whites,” 20 by “other,” 37 by “unknown,” and 2,245 by “Black or African American.” In other words, 90.12% of African Americans murdered were murdered by other African Americans. And while it is true that 189 African Americans were murdered by whites, 409 whites were murdered by African Americans. In cross-race murders, more than twice as many whites have been murdered as African Americans. Overall, 48% of all murders are committed by African Americans, more than three times what would be expected from African Americans’ 13% of the population. So Black Lives Matter is accusing white “vigilantes” and the government, presumably police, of crimes that are almost entirely committed by African Americans. Black Lives Matter is projecting onto others what in fact is happening within their own group.
In our universities, ideas deemed outmoded, such as academic achievement, merit, intellectual integrity, and excellence, have now been superseded by official policies of diversity, equality, and inclusion. The top priorities of universities, in student admissions, student financing, hiring of academic, non-academic, and administrative staff and leaders, is to include members of “underrepresented” categories, such as females, people of color (except East Asians), Hispanics, Native Americans or First Nations, the disabled, LGBT++, Muslims, poor, under-educated, and mentally unstable, while at the same time excluding members of undesirable, “overrepresented” categories, such as males, whites, East Asians, Christians and Jews, heterosexuals, able-bodied, middle and upper class, over-educated, and mentally stable. The rationale is that it is sexist not to include females, racist not to include people of color and indigenous people, Islamophobic not to include Muslims, homophobic and transphobic not to include LGBT++, oppressive not to include the poor, and discriminatory not to include the mentally unstable.
The position favored by advocates of diversity, equality, and inclusion, commonly under the general label of “social justice,” is that not including members of every category at levels at least equivalent to their presence in the general population is discriminatory. Anyone not in agreement is accused of being exclusionary, as well as sexist, racist, -phobic, etc. etc.
In this new dispensation, “virtue” is not in treating people as complex individuals, each with his or her own qualities, capacities, achievements, and potential, but rather in reducing people to certain superficial qualities according to their assignment in the gross census categories of race, gender, sexuality, and ethnicity. The key point here is that members of categories deemed to represent “victims” of our “oppressive” society are, in the views of university administrators, preferred, while members of other — deemed by administrators “oppressor” — categories are unworthy.
The result is that our “inclusive” universities include members of preferred — while excluding members of unworthy — categories, which they do by disregarding so-called “white supremacist” concepts such as achievement, merit, and potential. The administrators who accuse earlier administrators and society at large of being exclusionary are themselves exclusionary, refusing whites, men, Christians, Jews, and Asians. But in their eyes, that is a good thing because, they appear to believe, Asians and Jews have never suffered, never been excluded, and always been “privileged” oppressors.
African American, Hispanic, Asian (if any), Muslim, and LGBT++ student groups claim that they are excluded from university society, and their identity — nay, their very existence — is denied if their demands are not met in their entirety. What exactly are they demanding to facilitate their inclusion? They demand segregated African American, Hispanic, Muslim, LGBT++, and Asian eating, sleeping, and congregating facilities, plus separate celebration and graduation ceremonies, from which others, especially whites, would be excluded. Their version of “inclusion” is segregating themselves and excluding others, an impressive example of projecting on others exclusionary sentiments and actions.
Minority student groups claim that, if all of their demands are not met, they are being “silenced.” Yet if any professor or visiting speaker expresses opinions with which they might disagree, these student groups mobilize to block other students from attending, and/or enter themselves with the goal of disrupting the lectures or presentations and silencing the speaker. Once again, those who accuse others of silencing themselves take it as their right to silence others. They project on others their own motivations and actions.
What can we conclude from these cases of political projection? The answer, I think, is this: people in the fevered grip of an ideology — whether partisan, racial, or moralistic — are not very self-aware, and see in their appointed “enemies” the evil intentions that they themselves hold.
Philip Salzman is a Senior Research Fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.
Re-published from PJ Media.