San Francisco Anti-War Rally, October 27, 2007
The single aspect of these protests that is the most confusing is that the protesters span a wide spectrum of emotional positions. Some are hyper-passive, beg for peace, and do everything they can to show they're morally benign. Others are filled with rage and violent feelings, and want to wreak retribution on their ideological opponents. Disconcertingly, there are very few people in the middle, and those who are exhibit both attitudes simultaneously.
If psychologists were to analyze this anti-war rally as a whole, they might conclude that it exhibits what has come to be called "passive-aggressive syndrome," in which a veneer of passivity hides an underlying hostility.
A casual observer at these events ends up getting emotional whiplash, jerking back and forth between love and hate, flaccidity and fury, nonviolence and menace. Without a consistent façade, the whole thing devolves into ideological incoherence.
On this page I'll present the three different psychological approaches: PASSIVE messages are displayed on the left side; AGGRESSIVE messages on the right side; and self-contained PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE messages in the center.
Get ready for a cognitive roller-coaster!
A classic passive-aggressive message. I especially like the "etc." at the end,
implying that the political vengefulness of these "peaceful loving people" is without limits.
(Interesting historical footnote:
"Passive-aggressive behavior" was first identified and named as a psychological trait during WWII,
and was initially used to describe soldiers who "resisted the war"
by failing to follow orders properly or promptly. So "supporting war resistors [sic]"
is the prototypical passive-aggressive attitude.)
An interesting example of passive-agressiveness:
He's saying that he wants the world to become a better place (a passive approach),
but he phrases it in an obscene way ("unfuck") to purposely fluster the reader (an aggressive attitude).
Denying agency to the terrorists, in a backhanded way.
After a while, though, everything became pretty much undilutedly "agressive":
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