During the past year, Roberts and Alito have repeatedly abandoned the principle of stare decisis, and they have done so in a particularly insidious manner. In a series of very important decisions, they have cynically pretended to honor precedent while actually jettisoning those precedents one after another.Though that's more of a bait-and-switch, there was something about that inspired me to get my favorite psychology textbook off the shelf (I love it so much that it's one of the few books on the shelf behind my desk, along with Elements of Style and a massive QuickBooks primer),entitled Age of Propaganda: The everyday use and abuse of persuasion.
The tactic I had been thinking about (but had forgotten the name of) is the projection tactic. The scam is pretty simple: you simply accuse others of your own crimes. It seems too easy to be true, and yet it works beautifully. In four separate experiments exploring this phenomenon, the person making the accusation was always considered innocent, even when experimenters raised suspicions about the honesty of the accuser, presented evidence showing the accuser was actually performing the crime and even leveled the accusation after it was shown that the accuser had committed the crime.
These days, the projection tactic is being used at all levels of our government - Bush uses it just about every time he opens his mouth. He accuses other countries of violating the civil rights of its citizens even as he blatantly crosses Constitutional lines. He accuses anti-war activists of not supporting the troops even as he sends them into an amoral war with inadequate equipment, then brings them home to inadequate physical, mental and financial care. He accuses his opponents of being godless when he has made not a single presidential decision (okay, he increased AIDS-support funding to Africa - got to give him that) that answers the question "what would Jesus do?"
The next time Bush, Cheney or any of their henchmen open their traps, think really hard about whether the filth they're spewing reflects the actions of those they're accusing or, more likely, whether they're trying to distance themselves from their own heinous actions.