by digby

Valtin at Daily Kos writes:

This story reports on an extraordinary 2004 article by a Harvard lecturer and former Chief of Neuropsychiatry at Guantanamo Bay, which made the shocking claim that "hard-core zealots" had "brains that are structurally and functionally different from us." Furthermore, the article stated, 100,000 "zealots" within the Muslim body politic would have to be eliminated, the way "malignant [cancer] cells" are removed from a healthy body.

The author of the article, "Terrorism - The Underlying Causes," in the Winter/Spring 2004 issue of the Intelligencer, Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies (PDF), house organ for the American Federation of Intelligence Officers (AFIO), was William Henry Anderson, M.D. Anderson's piece received a stinging protest letter to the editor from psychologist and military ethics expert, Jean Maria Arrigo, but I'm not aware of any other complaint regarding this racist, fascistic article in the pages of a major intelligence services journal.


The article starts out as a bloviating howler. Anderson quotes Sun Tzu, recapitulates the Aristotlean causal categories, and fulminates about "credulous enablers" and "useful idiots" that sabotage U.S. efforts to mount an effective defense against its enemies. Anderson regrets that the enablers and idiots will be with us for a long time, as they represent unfortunate but necessary aspects of human nature.

It is only when we get to the "zealots" that we, supposedly, enter new territory. The zealots are "a pathological departure" from "human nature" (emphasis added to quote below).

No, the zealots are another kind of person. They may be thought of as cells of a social body that have undergone malignant change.

Let us consider terrorism with an analogy from medicine -- that of terrorism as a cancer. There are about 1.4 billion Muslims in the world. Embedded withing this healthy body are, perhaps, 100,000 people who are eager and active in pursuit of the goal of killing us. Just as successful treatment of cancer requires killing of the malignant cells, we will need to kill this small minority, since we have no evidence that they can be induced to change their minds.

(Keep in mind that this is someone who was the head neuropsychiatrist at Guantanamo.)

I'm sure you can hear the obvious echoes in that passage. Valtin spells it out:

Anderson's scientific racism calls to mind the similarly medicalized racism of the Nazis, as psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton described it over 20 years ago. In his book, The Nazi Doctors, Lifton quoted Nazi doctor Fritz Klein, in words not too different from Harvard lecturer and Massachusetts General Hospital Senior Psychiatrist Anderson:

Of course I am a doctor and I want to preserve life. And out of respect for human life, I would remove a gangrenous appendix from a diseased body. The Jew is the gangrenous appendix in the body of mankind.

There's so much of this stuff out there that we are forced to just accept because we aren't allowed to look in the rear view mirror. It's there in the record, but it's going unaddressed. It's scary prospect that people such as he were in such high positions, whether it's at Harvard or Guantanamo. I guess we'll have to let the historians put it in perspective and it isn't going to be pretty when they do.

And, naturally, the conservatives are using everything people sort of know and feel about all this, having absorbed it over time, and projecting that the Democrats are the fascists. It's brilliantly diabolical.