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I must respectfully rebut your disagreement

Reader comment on item: Denying Islam's Role in Terror: Explaining the Denial
in response to reader comment: Good points, but I disagree with your conclusion

Submitted by Martin H. Katchen (United States), Mar 16, 2013 at 00:58

The Slate article does an excellent job of summarizing conservative objections to the idea of brainwashing. But they do so without offering a shred of evidence from the behavioral sciences. Gut level and philosophical disagreements are not a substitute for hard scientific evidence. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, "There they go again".

We find ourselves attempting to categorically deny the existence of thought reform and end up like many in our armed services, attempting to minimize or deny the presence of PTSD in our servicemen. Because thought reform works by inducing the same sorts of stresses that create PTSD.

And let me reassure you. We do not have to forgive offenses that were committed while brainwashed. The Nazis were brainwashed and we did not let them off the hook. Nor were we shy about deprogramming German prisoners of war that we had in our custody , the Geneva Convention notwithstanding. Denazification, we called it. Whether we agree to allow people to claim diminished capacity for acts they committed while brainwashed, like any other crime depends on the severity of the act, the degree of cooperation offered after capture (can we deprogram or counterbrainwash the person) and the value of that cooperation, the same as with any other prosecutorial discretion (which as it turned out was how we handled our Korean War POWs and why we took our time bringing them home by ship, where psychologists like Edgar Schein, Robert Jay Lifton and Margaret Singer could interview them in depth and deprogram them. before they said the wrong things to the papers at a time when Joe Mc Carthy was saying the Army was infested with Communists).

I did not cite people like Benjamin Zaablocki just to prove my point. I cited his article "Misunderstanding Brainwashing" so that people on this blog would hopefully read his article as well as my comment. thought reform (to use the actual translation of the Chinese Communist term) is not used to induct people into cults. It's used to keep them in cults and to deepen their faith, which basically sums up Zablocki's point.

A classic and ongoing example of a thought reforming environment is an UNWRA Palestinian refugee camp. Palestinian "refugees" are kept behind barbed wire, in structured environments,, apparently based on whatever village they came from and indoctrinated by the UN in the idea that someday they will return to the land the Jews "stole" from them. They are of course, given little or no help in pursuing any alternatives in resettlement or getting on with their lives. But terrorist organizations, be they PFLP, Al Fatah or Hamas are free to recruit amongst them and take the indoctrination to higher levels, often to the level of suicide bombing. In these camps, the only real way to honor or prestige is as a terrorist guerilla fighter. (And this is funded by taxpayer's money). This is classic totalitarian brainwashing. And of course Pakistan's ISI learned from this when it developed the Taleban in the Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan and nurtured it until the Taleban took on a life of it's own.

If we are still troubled by the idea of thought reform as a yardstick for looking at Islamism, we need to look harder at why we are troubled b y it.

Submitting....

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