Demopaths and Dupes

This is a cross-post from Augean Stables which provides a fascinating insight into the mindset of many of the anti-Israel commenters on CiF that engage in demopathic discourse

Demopaths are people who use democratic language and invoke human rights only when it serves their interests, and not when it calls for self-criticism or self-restraint. Demopaths demand stringent levels of human “rights” but do not apply these basic standards for the “other” to their own behavior. The most lethal demopaths use democratic rights to destroy democracy.

Demopaths differ from civil-society free-riders; the latter enjoy more rights than they grant to others simply out of selfishness or laziness. Demopaths are fundamentally hostile to granting others’ rights, and secretly despise the values of civil society (which demands that they tolerate and respect others). Instead of coming along for the ride, they want to sink the boat.
Demopaths use the jargon of civil society and human rights to convince their targets. Through this progressive discourse, demopaths exploit on people eager to believe that civic values can resolve the problem. Sometimes demopaths are completely hostile to the cultures in which they live, and manipulate human rights as a Trojan horse to enter the city and sack it.
Demopathy is a zero-sum to negative-sum game. It pursues the destruction of the system (demopaths win and reestablish plunder-or-be-plundered aristocracy); in the process, it destroys the system’s very capacity to produce what made it attractive to plunder in the first place. Demopaths do not view opponents as members of a positive-sum collective, but as enemies to be destroyed. In its most virulent stages, demopathy is violently paranoid.
– Radical imbalance between their insistence on asserting their own rights, and their lack of interest in defending the rights of others.
– Moral rhetoric expressing great indignation when appealing for personal rights.
– Tendency to tell demonizing tales of the enemies (of “human rights”)
– Tendency to think in conspiratorial terms (they are conspirators themselves), and to project ill will onto opponents/enemies.
– Do minimal (required) work protecting the rights of others, especially opponents/enemies.

A demopathic organization would protest the media portraying its ethnic/religious affiliates as “terrorists” (inadmissible negative stereotyping), but would not protest the terrorist acts perpetrated by members of their ethnic/religious group (permissible wanton murder of civilians).
As long as civil society is healthy, demopaths stay hidden. Ever since the bombings in London, the number of demopaths revealed by the investigative energy of its own reporters or the brazenness of the demopaths themselves has risen substantially. Since most cases of demopathy must be approached carefully without pre-judging the evidence, we prefer to use these examples and leave the larger questions to each individual.
Bad Joke?
According to one version, the definition of chutzpah is when someone kills their parents and pleads to the court for mercy because he’s an orphan. The joking definition of a demopath, then might be the foreigner who applies for a loan from the agricultural department in a democratic country in order to buy a crop duster with outsized tanks. Although his intention is to spray poison on the local population, when his loan is refused because he is a foreigner with no obvious need for a crop duster, he accuses the agency of racist xenophobia. Is this an urban legend?


Demopaths believe that all interaction between people works according to the principle “rule or be ruled” – the dominating imperative. In order for me to prevent you from dominating me, I must dominate you first. This approach to others normally produces prime divider societies where the elite (aristocracy) use their power to dominate the masses. But civil society clips the wings of those who would use force to dominate others. In such conditions, people who refuse to give up the dominating imperative go underground and become demopaths, using all the freedom that civil societies offer to work for their destruction. Until recently, the attitude of civil societies has been to grandfather demopathic tendencies, assuming that the benefits of civic abundance will win over all but the most mean-spirited player.
Demopathic discourse mirrors that of human rights. Thus, it is often difficult to detect the difference. Because discerning demopaths means assessing motive, it requires personal judgment. Therefore, demopathy is best illustrated through examples. In the cases presented below, we invite you to comment on whether or not, in your opinion, the particular case reflects demopathy or sincere commitment to human rights.


The UK branch of Hizb ut Tahrir, an Islamic group outlawed in central Asia, constitutes a powerful example of a demopath group working within a Western civil society. The group and some of its members, after being banned from their home countries, found refuge in the UK where Hizb ut Tahrir has been operating as a legal organization for years. Its ideology vows to establish a worldwide caliphate where all religious practice would be regulated by Sharia Law. Websites connected to the group have been openly promoting Jihad, suicide bombers as martyrs, racism and anti-semitism.
SHEIKH BAKRI MOHAMMED the founder of the first UK branch of Hizb ut Tahrir, has regularly preached Jihad against the West and praised the 9/11 hijackers as “the magnificent 19″. When the UK government decided to deport him in the aftermath of the July 7 bombings, the radical Muslim, who was on welfare, cried foul and said that it was an injustice because his four wives and families would suffer (see also here). Here is a prime example of a demopath who has worked for a long time to undermine the values and principles of civil society and, when his own self-interest is threatened, invokes the principles of civil society in order to make his case and protect himself. Bakri Mohammed deserves the demopathic chutzpah award. The exiled cleric is still active on the internet.

DILPAZIER ASLAM is an English-born Pakistani Muslim hired as a journalist by the Manchester Guardian. In addition to his news articles, Aslam wrote an editorial using first person plural pronouns to speak about England and the English. He argues that, because ‘we’ (the English) have committed so many wrongs against ‘them’ (the Arabs, Muslims), ‘we’ cannot be surprised by ‘their’ understandable responses of rage and terrorism. See, “Today’s muslims aren’t prepared to ignore injustice“. So while, he was claiming to be an understanding outsider representing the oppressed minority’s views to his co-citizens, he was actually one of “them”, using the protection of the press, the right to freedom of speech, the right to respect – and even to a job – in order to slip a justification for Jihad, and an opportunity to chastise the West for the hatred and regressive revolution that he foments. Initially, after the discovery of Aslam’s concealed activities, the Guardian refused to fire him, saying the matter was “under review”. Eventually, when they did fire him, (not a consensual process though, one editor resigned) Aslam was outraged and invoked the principles of journalistic freedom, despite the fact that his Jihadi ideology rejects that value.
Sami Amin alArian is a Kuwait-born professor of computer sciences at the University of South Florida . An activist for the cause of Palestinian rights, he came under surveillance by the FBI, and has now been arraigned on several counts of supporting terrorist organizations at home, in the US, and abroad (especially in Israel).
(news report)

Al Arian invoked all the protections provided by the democratic US legal system and made an appeal to civil libertarians as the innocent victim of a paranoid witch-hunt. As a result, al Arian has received widespread support from human rights activists (see below, dupes of demopaths).
Read Here and Here.

The International Solidarity Movement is an advocacy movement that arose in the aftermath of the second Intifada, and supports the most irredentist Palestinian claims. It claims to be a non-violent organization dedicated to justice and human rights.
Yet ISM displays all of the characteristics of demopaths. On one hand, they object to and try to prevent what they label as inadmissible “collective punishment” Israel’s policy of destroying the houses of suicide bombers (property damage). But they do not object to the practice of suicide terrorism (mass murder), the most heinous kind of collective punishment. The demopathic quality of the discourse is particularly evident in the ISM patented slogan, “Resistance is not Terrorism.” The only possible subject of this slogan is suicide bombers targeting civilians. In other words, terror in the name of resistance is not terror – and this from a pacifist organization. Last spring (2005) ISMers made the argument that since all Israelis go into the army, all Israelis are legitimate military targets.
In order to be effective, demopaths must convince others that their human rights talk is sincere. Only when the Trojans believed that the horse was a “gift” acknowledging their strength, did they take it into their city. When demopaths succeed, a dysfunctional relationship emerges with sincere human-rights activists in an increasingly demonizing rhetoric – against the demopaths’ target – that seeks to influence public attitudes and eventually, policy.
There are several attitudes that predispose individuals to becoming dupes of demopathic discourse.
1. Liberal cognitive egocentrism – most everyone wants positive-sum solutions – prohibits people from imagining such malevolence.
2. Masochistic omnipotence syndrome – it’s our fault and if we can change, things will work out – makes people particularly susceptible to the wide-ranging accusations that demopaths level at western society.
3. Human Rights Complex– human rights violations are particularly reprehensible when they come from Western cultures – opens access to demopaths to participate in public moral discussion.
4. Fear of Ridicule: When “human rights” discourse trumps all other values, demopaths can establish their positions so powerfully, that people who begin to suspect foul play are afraid to discuss the issue for fear of being ostracized as a racist.
A joke runs that an American and a Russian were arguing over who had more freedom.. “I can stand in Washington and call the President of the United States an idiot and no one will arrest me,” claimed the American. “So can I,” responded the Soviet. Substitute Israel and Palestine. If you don’t get it, you’re prime bait for demopaths.
The more radical some people get, the more they enter the boundary between dupe and demopath. For a westerner born and bred in a civil society formally committed to human rights, the border seems to lie around the issue of how revolutionary their ideology. Some dupes truly believe they are working to help the cause of human rights and civil society Other Westerners, remorselessly hostile to their own culture, welcome the violence of its enemies and hope to foster a revolutionary upheaval that will rid the world of evil Western culture These destructive revolutionaries – poisonous, “hot-house” flowers – could only grow in the protected atmosphere created by civil society. The irony is that they militate to destroy the very conditions that allow them to flourish.
Distinguishing dupes from demopaths is a difficult and sometimes uncomfortable task. In most cases (even those cited above) different people can honestly disagree. Much depends on the degree of sincerity one attributes to any given person, as well has how far or short-sighted one thinks they may be (are they mean or stupid). We present several cases of what people might consider demopathic discourse below, and invite readers to make their own judgments as well as contribute other examples they feel are appropriate.
Korach: First Demopath in Recorded History?
In the book of Numbers, Korach, a Levite leader, seeks to lead a rebellion against the leadership that has taken the children of Israel out of Egypt and into the wilderness. He attacks Moses for not being sufficiently democratic:
“All the people are holy… Why do you lord it over us?”
Did he so accuse Moses because he meant it? (demotic utopian). Some rabbis hold to this reading, arguing that Korach was speaking of the original plan (before the Golden Calf and the 12 Spies), in which there was no internal hierarchy, all were priests.
Or, did he accuse Moses because he wanted to dupe a people with demotic ideals into following a new leadership into a counter-revolutionary hierarchy (a path so many revolutions have taken)? (demopath).
When one takes into account Korach’s association with Datan and Aviram, the case for demopathy strengthens. These two leaders attack Moses not for failing to bring the people of Israel to the land of milk and honey (and equality), but for taking them out of it: “You took us out of a land flowing with milk and honey (and hierarchy).” (Numbers, 16). (This is also a good definition of symbolic chutzpah).

Said’s Orientalism
In this seminal book, Said claims that Western scholarship should be held to the most stringent standards of non-projection. Any detection of “difference,” especially negative comparisons, is a form of racism. In his work on the Arab-Israeli conflict, however, one finds no evidence that Said attempts to encourage Arabs to reconsider their negative projections onto Israel. On the contrary, he elaborates on all the most stereotyped and negative images provided by Arab culture of Israeli behavior and motivations, thus engaging (when it was to his advantage) in the same behavior he forbade the West.

Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent
Chomsky holds the Western press to a rigorous standard, which then enables him to argue that it essentially “manufactures consent” with propaganda not information. In the course of his extended and radical critique of the Western press, he ends up trusting non-Western sources more, even though these sources come from countries where “consent” is coerced, and where the media are openly dedicated to propaganda. See, for example, his writings on the genocide on Cambodia (and see also here). This contradiction appears also in Chomsky’s moral universe, where he inflates the crimes of the West out of all proportion, and explains the violence of our enemies as justified anger. A case in point was his reaction to 9-11. Thus Chomsky offers a classic demopathic discourse: invoke the moral values of civil society to attack civil society, give genuinely oppressive regimes and movements a free ride to break all those rules. The question then, is, does Chomsky know what he’s doing and genuinely seek to destroy the only culture in the world that would tolerate a critic like him? Or does he genuinely think he’s contributing to the betterment of human rights around the world?

Jimmy Carter

The former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner has a sterling reputation as a man of peace and deep concern for human rights around the world. His Carter Center sponsors research and activism around the world. And yet, perhaps in an excess of HRC, Carter has made some truly astonishing statements that both praise ruthless dictators like Kim Il Sung, and attack the United States in such harsh turns that Muslim media enthusiastically quote him. Does he think that this praise is somehow going to win over enemies of the very values that he espouses? Does he think that by attacking the US in such harsh terms he encourages self-criticism on the other side?

Ken Livingstone
Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London, represents a case of someone who uses the most virulent demopathic discourse, explaining and justifying suicide terrorism, blaming the West for the hate-mongering of the Muslim and Arab world, and demonizing anyone who disagrees with him. He welcomed Islamist cleric Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, a known jihadist, to London. Does he realize what he’s doing? Is his hatred of Israel and his own political culture so profound that he can see no flaws in the opposition, no good in his own traditions?

Robert Fisk
UK Journalist whose articles are striklingly anti-Israel and in many cases anti-Western. He does not apply the moral indignation he applies to Israel and America to any other country and leaves many times muslims and palestinians off the moral hook (see here).

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