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Friday, October 22, 2010

Are We Suffering From A Case of Mass Cognitive Dissonance?

Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by simultaneously holding conflicting ideas. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance. They do this by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and actions.  Dissonance is also reduced by justifying, blaming, and denying. It is one of the most influential and extensively studied theories in social psychology.

On October 10th the Associated Press reported; “Cambridge will close its schools for one Muslim holiday each year beginning next year. The school will close for Eid al-Fitr or Eid al-Adha, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice. Which day schools are closed will depend on the holiday that falls in the school year. If both days fall within the school calendar, the district will close for one of the day.”

The report continues; “Cambridge School Committee member Marc McGovern, who pushed for the policy, says people should avoid what he calls hysteria and the stereotype of Muslims as terrorists. He says Cambridge schools close for some Christian and Jewish holidays and Muslims should be treated the same. Cambridge School Superintendent Jeffrey Young says the city’s Muslim population appears to be growing.”

I know of no public school districts in this nation that honor Jewish, Buddhist, Hindi, or Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox religious holy days. These religions account for over 60% of the U.S. population, while the Muslims account for about 2%. Has our cultural relativism gone too far?

One of the most dangerous and growing in influence in the United States is the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). “We are similar to a Muslim NAACP,” says the CAIR, Ibrahim Hooper. The group says that its mission is “to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.”

Robert Spencer writes in; “Law enforcement officials all over the country have received sensitivity training from CAIR, and—up until October 2008, when the FBI belatedly and tentatively cut off cooperative efforts—the organization has been a key partner in the FBI’s attempts to reach out to Muslim communities in the United States. The mainstream media routinely seek CAIR out for a moderate Muslim perspective, despite the fact that led to the FBI’s decision to finally cut its ties to the group: CAIR was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), which was once the largest Islamic charity in the United States but has been shut down for funneling charitable contributions to the jihad terrorist group Hamas.”

“In June 2007, federal prosecutors named CAIR as a participant in what the New York Sun called “an alleged criminal conspiracy to support a Palestinian Arab terrorist group, Hamas.” This was when CAIR was first designated an unindicted co-conspirator for its support for the Holy Land Foundation. The federal prosecution document described CAIR as a present or past member of “the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee and/or its organizations.” The Muslim Brotherhood is the parent organization of both Hamas and al Qaeda.”

“That came as no surprise to counterterrorism expert Steve Emerson, who has called CAIR “a radical fundamentalist front group for Hamas.” And Steven Pomerantz, the FBI’s former chief of counterterrorism, stated long before the feds named the group an unindicted co-conspirator, “CAIR, its leaders and its activities effectively give aid to international terrorist groups.”

“Another former FBI counterterrorism chief, John P. O’Neill Sr., died on 9/11 in the World Trade Center. His family has named CAIR in a lawsuit as having “been part of the criminal conspiracy of radical Islamic terrorism” responsible for the Sept. 11 atrocities.”

Spencer continues; “CAIR was founded in 1994 by Nihad Awad and Omar Ahmad. Awad had been the president of the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP) and Ahmad its public relations director. The IAP, which was shut down by the government in 2005 for funding terrorism, was founded in 1981 by a Hamas operative, Mousa Abu Marzook. Marzook currently heads Hamas’ “political bureau” and is engaged in negotiations with Fatah in hopes of forming a Palestinian unity government. In the course of these negotiations, Hamas reaffirmed its refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist—which is tantamount to vowing its total destruction.”

“According to a report dated Aug. 14, 2001, from the Immigration and Naturalization Services, the IAP was dedicated to “publishing and distributing HAMAS communiqu├ęs printed on IAP letterhead, as well as other written documentation to include the HAMAS charter and glory records, which are tributes to HAMAS’ violent ‘successes.’” The same report also stated that IAP had received “approximately $490,000 from Marzook during the period in which Marzook held his admitted role as a HAMAS leader.”

“Emerson said that the IAP was Hamas’ “primary voice in the United States,” and another former chief of the FBI’s counterterrorism department, Oliver Revell, called the IAP “a front organization for Hamas that engages in propaganda for Islamic militants.” Nihad Awad stated in 1994 at Barry University in Florida: “I’m in support of the Hamas movement.” However, in the summer of 2006, Awad came under pressure for this in connection with his support for the campaign of Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison, who that November became the nation’s first Muslim congressman. Awad disavowed Hamas at that time.”

“Arguably, Awad and Ahmad left the IAP for CAIR because they had renounced the IAP’s view of Islam and jihad and had become moderates. If they did, however, they evidently still had some trouble distinguishing moderates from extremists, as the arrest records of some former CAIR officials show.” You can read Spencer’s full article by clicking here.

Andrew McCarthy, in his book, “The Grand Jihad”, writes extensively about CAIR and their connections to radical Islamic terrorist groups. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor who convicted the notorious “Blind Sheikh” and other jihadists for waging a terrorist war that included the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing, has linked CAIR to Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Al-Qaradawi is the influential Islamist who, is the mastermind of the Muslim Brotherhood’s plan for the establishment of Sharia law in the United States.

One of my favorite books is Herman Wouk's The Winds of War. This one of my favorites books not only for its accuracy in its narrative of events in Europe leading to World War II but also for the characters Wouk portrayed through the book and its sequel “War and Remembrance”.  If you are not familiar with War and Remembrance here is a brief synopsis of the story.

In the late 1930s, world politics begin to head in a dangerous direction. In Europe, Germany expands and rearms and proceeds to annex several border countries into the Reich. Meanwhile, Italy attempts to establish a Fascist Colonial Empire under Mussolini while the Empire of Japan stands ready for a major war with China. Enter the Henry family, headed by career naval officer Victor "Pug" Henry. "Winds of War" thus follows the exploits of Pug and his children, all of which are set against the backdrop of world events leading up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941

Wouk crafted his characters with great care and painted them in the context of the beliefs and sentiments of the times. One of the main characters is Aaron Jastrow (Played by John Houseman in the 1983 ABC’s mini-series). As the story begins Jastrow, a secular Jew, is living in a villa in Sienna, Italy with his niece and assistant Natalie. Jastrow, an academic and intellectual, is an author of the book “The Jews Jesus” and is working on his new book about Emperor Constantine. He is so totally involved in his writings and intellectual pursuits he ignores the growing dangers around him in Mussolini’s fascist Italy and the Hitler’s rise to power in Germany. He believes that these dictators will be brought to heel by the western powers and the League of Nations.

As the story progresses and the dictators gain more and more power in Europe Natalie attempts to convince Jastrow to return to the United States. Jastrow continually ignores her and believes that due to his prominence as an author and historian he will be immune to the winds of intolerance that are brewing in Europe. Each chapter in Wouk’s book narrates a new development in the lead up to World War II. By the time Hitler invades Poland Natalie is convinced that there will be a global war and Italy will be on the side on the NAZIs. She again urges Aaron to pack up, give up his lease on the villa and return to his homeland, the United States. Jastrow continues to believe that the Italian, unlike the Germans, are tolerant people and they will be safe in Italy. The Jastrow character is a prime example cognitive dissonance.

Wouk, a decorated naval officer serving in the Pacific and a Jew, wrote his book, not only to dramatize the events leading to WWII, but also to illustrate the prevailing beliefs of many Americans, especially Jews, in the 1930s. This can be translated today to the way we are accepting the slow erosion of our society by the influence of organizations such as CAIR. Just look at the recent events surrounding the termination of Juan Williams, a Fox News contributor, by National Public Radio for his comments regarding his fears of boarding a plane with people dressed in Muslim garb. This termination was demanded by CAIR.

Eventually Natalie convinces Jastrow to leave Italy, but due to his immigration status and a foul up by the State Department he cannot get a passport. This leads to his being treated as an internee and he is shuttled from place to place until he finally arrives at the NAZI concentration camp of Theresienstadt. This is portrayed in Wouk’s sequel War and Remembrance.

In the ABC mini-series of the same name Jastrow is now portrayed by Sir John Gielgud. Even at Theresienstadt Jastrow is not convinced of the NAZI intents for his future as a part of the “Final Solution” and he tries to gain a position of prominence among the Jewish elders of the camp. Finally when he is severely beaten by a NAZI officer for refusing to participate in the phony beautification project does he realize he has been wrong and turns to God, a God he has denied his entire life. He now becomes a Jew.

The story draws to a close in one of the most dramatic episodes ever shown on the TV screen. The NAZIs finally evacuate all of the camp prisoners to Poland and the extermination camp at Auschwitz.  Jastrow, along with the elders of the camp, are given preference during the transit to Auschwitz by allowing them seats in the passenger cars and not packed into the cattle cars with the rest of the prisoners. Each elder has a badge denoting their prominence, along with a yellow Star of David sewn on their coat.

Upon arrival at the selection station at Auschwitz the prisoners are separated into two lines. One line containing the able bodied are turned to the right and admitted into the camp, and those who were sent to the left were sent to the gas chambers. When the elders realized they were being sent to the left they protested that they were people of “prominence” and should be sent to the right and into the camp. Their protests were met with a rifle but to the mouth and they were sent left into the gas chambers. Their cognitive dissonance was finally revealed.

I cite this story because I believe it to be the most dramatic example of political cognitive dissonance I can think of. How long will it take us to realize that organizations like CAIR are mere first steps in the institution of radical Islam and Sharia Law in the United States? We better wake up soon or we will be following in the footsteps of Aaron Jastrow.

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