Dennis Prager / May 10, 2011

How Leftism Poisoned a Psychiatrist’s Mind

If your sister were among the nearly 3,000 people murdered in the World Trade Center on 9/11, how would you react to Osama Bin Laden’s death? More specifically, if you were to write an opinion piece on the subject for a major newspaper, what would you most want to communicate?

One would think that anyone who had lost a loved one on 9/11 would write about bin Laden’s guilt, about evil and about experiencing some degree of moral and emotional satisfaction that the loved one’s murderer had been killed by American forces.

But not Robert Klitzman, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University. He had other, more pressing, things to say.

If your sister were among the nearly 3,000 people murdered in the World Trade Center on 9/11, how would you react to Osama Bin Laden’s death? More specifically, if you were to write an opinion piece on the subject for a major newspaper, what would you most want to communicate?

One would think that anyone who had lost a loved one on 9/11 would write about bin Laden’s guilt, about evil and about experiencing some degree of moral and emotional satisfaction that the loved one’s murderer had been killed by American forces.

But not Robert Klitzman, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University. He had other, more pressing, things to say.

Two days after bin Laden was killed, Klitzman wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times reflecting on his sister Karen’s death on 9/11. While acknowledging that bin Laden “more than anyone else had caused my sister’s death” and noting that he is “glad” that bin Laden “was now at the bottom of the sea,” Klitzman directed his rage and blame elsewhere.

The main focus of his passion was to blame the United States for arousing the hatred of Muslims (including those who murdered his sister) and for arousing the hatred of “the rest of the world” as well.

Klitzman writes: “When the members of Al Qaeda attacked on 9/11, Americans wondered, ‘Why do they hate us so much?’ Many here believe they dislike us for our ‘freedom,’ but I think otherwise.

"There are lessons we have not yet learned. I feel Karen would share my concerns that underlying forces of greed and hate persevere. American imperialism, corporate avarice, abuses of our power abroad and our historical support of corrupt dictators like Hosni Mubarak have created an abhorrence of us that, unfortunately, persists. We need to recognize how the rest of the world sees us, and figure out how to change that. Until we do that, more Osama bin Ladens will arise, and more innocent people like my sister will die.”

In the course of my lifetime, I have read surely many thousands of columns. And as I read those with which I differ as often as I do those with which I agree, many have annoyed, some even angered me.

But I do not recall reading a column that I considered as reprehensible as Klitzman’s. What other word can describe a brother using the killing of his sister’s murderer to badmouth America and hold it ultimately responsible for her death?

Asking what America did to elicit the hatred of Muslim terrorists is morally equivalent to asking what Jews did to arouse Nazi hatred, what blacks did to cause whites to lynch them, what Ukrainians did to arouse Stalin’s hatred or what Tibetans did to incite China’s hateful treatment of them.

We would dismiss such questions out of hand. Why, then, do we not similarly regard “What did America do to arouse Islamist mass-murdering hatred leading to 9/11?”

The answer is Leftist ideology.

I suspect that Klitzman is a morally better man than his thesis suggests. But at some point, perhaps in college, he assimilated the leftist worldview with the dogmatic but meaningless phrases that appeared in his column: “underlying forces of greed and hate,” “American imperialism,” “corporate avarice” and “abuses of our power abroad.”

Most people who hold left-wing views when they are young abandon those views as they get older and wiser. But for those who never abandon leftism, the dogma is so powerful, it functions as a fundamentalist – secular – religion. Just as the Orthodox Jew, the evangelical Christian and the traditionalist Catholic views the world through his respective religion’s eyes, so the leftist views the world and everything in it through leftist eyes.

That is how a man whose profession is dedicated to the elimination of psychological pain through the study of the infinitely complex human mind and psyche can have such a simplistic and morally convoluted view of America that he uses his sister’s murder as an occasion to reflect on the evil – of America.

One more example of how leftism makes decent people do indecent things.

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