Brain Dropping #37
The German word for it is ‘schadenfreude’ – the joy of seeing someone else suffer. It is a detestable form of gratification borne out of a lack of empathy. How else could you describe the heartlessness of the Republican goons for their treatment of Central American children, particularly of Hondurans seeking asylum in the U.S. to escape brutality and murder. And isn’t it a case of schadenfreude when our leaders like Obama celebrate the killing, without due process, of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki and his sixteen year old son? “Look what a tough son-of-a-bitch I am!” is Obama’s implied message to the Republican loonies who consider him a chickenshit. It amounts to murder for the joy of ego gratification. Schadenfreude, the absence of empathy, is in the air when black children are denied their birthright for a decent place to live and an education, or when businessmen support laws against panhandling and the homeless sleeping in doorways in an effort to “clean up our streets.” How did the writer Anatole France put it? “The law in all its majesty makes it a crime for both the rich and poor to steal bread and to sleep under bridges.”
From schadenfreude comes moral paralysis – the anomie of denial, the breakdown of the social bond between the individual and the human community leaving the gap to be filled by propaganda promulgated in the compliant media by the power elite. The celebratory atmosphere during “Shock and Awe,” in the opening attack of the Iraq war, is schadenfreude over the edge and into the abyss of depravity. In the same black hole lie our drone attacks against wedding parties and other innocent people suspected of being terrorists. Listen to the infamous recordings of the machine gunners, joyfully whooping it up, in the Apache helicopter gun ship that mowed down innocent reporters and others in Baghdad in 2007 – and then murdered the people who came to their rescue. It is the twisted spirit of schadenfreude, the diabolical joy in seeing others suffer.