Dr. Keith Ablow, a credentialed psychiatrist who does smug, trollish commentary at Fox News, was asked on the air this week to weigh in on the unrest in Ferguson. I'd embed the clip, but I've never been able to do that with any video from Fox -- I'm not sure why embedding at Blogger blogs is blocked, but maybe it's because Rupert Murdoch is still steamed about Google's market-share success relative to MySpace. In any case, here's what Ablow said, and yes, it's as offensive and patronizing as you'd expect:
Well, listen, I think as to the violence, you have to wonder whether among the explanations could be a kind of self-loathing, because people project their feelings outside of themselves. And if you think of kids, right, who feel like "Man, I did the wrong thing and I've been sent to my room," and then they bust the room up, they throw everything, that's a kind of analogy here, that the community, filled with a kind of feeling that they're not effective, that they wish that they could be doing better in life, maybe because they haven't been given enough full-time jobs, for example, are primed by leaders, the wrong leaders, to say, "You have justifiable rage." And it feels better to burn things down than to do any amount of introspection, like saying, "Hey, what's going on with our young men? Why is there a high rate of violence with our community? Why don't we have the kinds of jobs that we wish we did? Is it our leadership? Even our leadership in Washington. Is there leadership in the state house? Where is it?"
So, yes, we live in a society where it's no longer routine for white people to call black adult males "Boy," but a self-satisfied white commentator on the most influential cable news channel in America will look at protesters outraged at the killing of an unarmed black teenager by a white cop and compare them to kids who have been sent to their room.
And no, don't imagine that the reference to economic issues is an acknowledgment by Ablow of ongoing racial inequities -- every Fox viewer knows the meme Ablow is invoking here, which is that Obama is the president who really hates black people, because look at the employment numbers in the black community (never mind the fact that the economic crash didn't happen on Obama's watch, and the response to the crash in America, while inadequate, was better than in, say, the European Union, where there's plenty of persistent unemployment among non-black people).
Ablow's been asked a few times about real or imagined protests that turn violent, and he just makes stuff up and calls it the insight of a trained shrink. A couple of years ago, he told us that Obamacare would lead to riots, because, apparently, the cause of movements like Occupy Wall Street is fulsome government assistance:
... Ablow insisted that ObamaCare "takes control of your behavior in the way that a parent would of a child" with terrible psychological effects:
It absolutely infantilizes Americans because listen, even adolescents or younger kids -- they dream of the day when they're in charge of their own money. Why? Because we know that money has that significance... To treat the American public as though they are pre-adolescent slingshots them back that way psychologically so that they say to themselves, 'my decision-making capacity isn't so good.' ...What it does is deposits us back as children, when economically more than ever we need to be adult....
You think that Occupy Wall Street looked like a spectacle? Imagine tens of millions of adult children of Barack Obama deprived of their direction, of their monies, right? 99 weeks of unemployment, lots of food stamps, lots of bailouts… Guess what, when the piggy bank ain’t there, these are the people who’ll take to the streets with rocks. Trust me.
The unrest in September 2012 in response to the Innocence of Muslims video, including the Benghazi incident, was, according to Ablow, not the result of low self-esteem, not the result of protesters being treated like "pre-adolescent slingshot," but the result of some sort of non-specific insanity:
"To act in that fashion with murderous rage over a 17 minute film which is about free speech -- something we value in this country and have stood for and have died for -- isn't about practicing your religion, it's about not being well," said Ablow. "And if we have to define our enemies as not well, psychiatrically disordered, that confers a whole different level of risk in terms of what we are dealing with."
"They're not people, therefore, you can reason with because they are -- by definition then -- focused on a fixed and false belief system, when applied in this fashion, that people should die because they've been criticized," Ablow continued.
"If you’re not in your right mind, you can't weigh risks and benefits," Ablow said.
"Real insanity deprives people of their empathy for others. If these people are insane, you can't count on them to not blow themselves up, to not blow up your buildings and to not do other disastrous acts meant to destabilize everything we consider sane and civilized," Ablow concluded. "They're not just really upset, they're really not well."
These aren't even wrongheaded but well-intentioned analyses. They're just a bunch of psychiatry-esque assertions strung together for effect. But hey, it beats working, I guess.
I'll post the video later if I can find an embeddable version.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog
Embeddable version of the Fox & Friends video has been added here at C&L.