Right Wingers Are Broken, Frightened Creatures - CIA Torture?

So I am reading this really interesting book titled The Authoritarians.
It is by a social scientist at the University of Manitoba, Bob Altemeyer, who has been studying Authoritarianism in Canada and the USA for about 40 years.

"Authoritarianism is something authoritarian followers and authoritarian leaders cook up between themselves. It happens when the followers submit too much to the leaders, trust them too much, and give them too much leeway to do whatever they want--which often is something undemocratic, tyrannical and brutal. In my day, authoritarian fascist and authoritarian communist dictatorships posed the biggest threats to democracies, and eventually lost to them in wars both hot and cold. But authoritarianism itself has not disappeared, and I'm going to present the case in this book that the greatest threat to American democracy today arises from a militant authoritarianism that has become a cancer upon the nation.

We know an awful lot about authoritarian followers. In one way or another, hundreds of social scientists have studied them since World War II. We have a pretty good idea of who they are, where they come from, and what makes them tick. By comparison, we know little about authoritarian leaders because we only recently started studying them. That may seem strange, but how hard is it to figure out why someone would like to have massive amounts of power? The psychological mystery has always been, why would someone prefer a dictatorship to freedom? So social scientists have focused on the followers, who are seen as the main, underlying problem."

As it turns out, he also had something to say in 2006 about a current item of news today - CIA Torture.

"If some day George W. Bush is indicted for authorizing torture, you can bet your bottom dollar the high RWAs will howl to the heavens in protest. It won’t matter how extensive the torture was, how cruel and sickening it was, how many years it went on, how many prisoners died, how devious Bush was in trying to evade America’s laws and traditional stand against torture, or how many treaties the U.S. broke. Such an indictment would grind right up against the core of authoritarian followers, and they won’t have it. Maybe they’ll even say, “The president was busy running the war. He didn’t really know. It was all done by Rumsfeld and others.”

This easy to read, fascinating book can be downloaded free from the author as a PDF here.

Why should you read this book?  I'll let the author tell you.

"But why should you even bother reading this book? I would offer three reasons.
First, if you are concerned about what has happened in America since a radical right-wing segment of the population began taking control of the government about a dozen years ago, I think you'll find a lot in this book that says your fears are well founded.
(check out this fulfilled prophecy!)
As many have pointed out, the Republic is once again passing through perilous times. The concept of a constitutional democracy has been under attack--and by the American government no less! The mid-term elections of 2006 give hope that the best values and traditions of the country will ultimately prevail. But it could prove a huge mistake to think that the enemies of freedom and equality have lost the war just because they were recently rebuffed at the polls. I’ll be very much surprised if their leaders don’t frame the setback as a test of the followers’ faith, causing them to redouble their efforts. They came so close to getting what they want, they’re not likely to pack up and go away without an all-out drive.

But even if their leaders cannot find an acceptable presidential candidate for 2008, even if authoritarians play a much diminished role in the next election, even if they temporarily fade from view, they will still be there, aching for a dictatorship that will force their views on everyone. And they will surely be energized again, as they were in 1994, if a new administration infuriates them while carrying out its mandate. The country is not out of danger.

The second reason I can offer for reading what follows is that it is not chock full of opinions, but experimental evidence. Liberals have stereotypes about conservatives, and conservatives have stereotypes about liberals. Moderates have stereotypes about both.
Anyone who has watched, or been a liberal arguing with a conservative (or vice versa) knows that personal opinion and rhetoric can be had a penny a pound. But arguing never seems to get anywhere. Whereas if you set up a fair and square experiment in which people can act nobly, fairly, and with integrity, and you find that most of one group does, and most of another group does not, that’s a fact, not an opinion. And if you keep finding the same thing experiment after experiment, and other people do too, then that’s a body of facts that demands attention.

Some people, we have seen to our dismay, don’t care a hoot what scientific investigation reveals; but most people do. If the data were fairly gathered and we let them do the talking, we should be on a higher plane than the current, “Sez you!”

The last reason why you might be interested in the hereafter is that you might want more than just facts about authoritarians, but understanding and insight into why they act the way they do.
Which is often mind-boggling.
How can they revere those who gave their lives defending freedom and then support moves to take that freedom away?
How can they go on believing things that have been disproved over and over again, and disbelieve things that are well established?
How can they think they are the best people in the world, when so much of what they do ought to show them they are not?
Why do their leaders so often turn out to be crooks and hypocrites?
Why are both the followers and the leaders so aggressive that hostility is practically their trademark?
By the time you have finished this book, I think you will understand the reasons. All of this, and much more, fit into place once you see what research has uncovered going on in authoritarian minds."

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