Sunday, January 31, 2010

Three Year Olds

I've always used the analogy in my US and world history classes when trying to explain Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler in 1938. I always say: Think of Hitler as a three-year-old that sees a toy in a store and wants it. If Mommy says no he starts to cry loudly. This is to intimidate Mommy into the buying the store so she won't feel embarrassed in front of all the other Mommy's shopping there. Then the next time they're in the store he wants another toy and so on...
Appeasement is giving in to the child over and over again.

Lee Siegel today at The Beast has a corresponding post explaining this for Obama in handling the Toddlers in Congress.

A child operating behind the threat of a tantrum will begin by crying softly. (Leaking the threat of a filibuster to the press.) If the parent sticks to his guns and insists that the broccoli be eaten, then it is advantageous to escalate the cries into low, persistent shrieks. (Throw the ball to Fox.) If this meets with continued resistance, the low shrieks may then become outright screams. (Call in Sarah Palin and the specter of the death panels.) At this point, the child may even hope to attract “independents”: i.e. concerned neighbors or the police. And of course, if none of these tactics is successful, then physical gestures may be employed: first, pushing the plate away, then throwing the broccoli onto the floor, and finally full-scale assault on valuable objects: dishes, glasses, even favored toys (in order to demonstrate absolute commitment). A full-scale tantrum (filibuster) results when all three elements are combined—crying, screaming, throwing—for a substantial length of time, leading anxious, self-conscious parents to believe that they are a) severing the bond between them and their children (Obama’s fear of rejection); b) destroying them developmentally (Obama’s fear of not being a paragon of democracy); c) failing utterly as parents (Obama’s fear of, well, failure).

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