The map is not the terrain.
Students of the human psyche understand that people navigate this dangerous and confusing reality with the help of mental maps. These maps are constructed from memories, learned information, and a vast set of assumptions and beliefs.
No person is immune from the tyranny of the mental map. We all have one; indeed, we begin creating our maps from the minute we draw our first breath outside the womb.
But the map is not the terrain. Every cartographer, no matter how diligent, will miss some essential wrinkle of the landscape, will misinterpret some key geographic feature. The more errors and false assumptions in our map, the more in danger we are of running aground.
So when confronted by human behavior that seems irrational or insane, it pays to ask: What inner map could have led this person so wildly off course?
In 2014, in Waukesha, Wisconsin, two 12-year-old girls ambushed their friend in a wooded area and stabbed her 19 times. Subsequent interrogations by authorities revealed that the assailants were obsessed with a fictional character called the “Slender Man.”
The legend of the Slender Man began as harmless creative writing exercise on a horror fiction website in 2009, but quickly grew and spread throughout the Web into what can only be described as an insidious meme that some people began to actually believe.
From the outside, the attack seemed unprovoked and insane. But for the girls who meticulously plotted and attempted the murder of their friend, it made all too-much sense. Their inner map included — was dominated by — the belief that Slender Man was real and demanded their friend’s blood.
Their inner map was bright and clear, and led them to their inevitable and grisly destination.
Or consider: From 1400 to 1700 tens of thousands of accused witches (mostly women) were put to death in Europe and North America. The inner maps of the inquisitors were dominated by the Devil and his allies, dangers to the community that needed rooting out at any cost.
But their map was not the terrain; the witches they saw in their mind did not exist in reality, and so countless innocents perished in flames.
(Some modern scholars have posited that the Medieval witch craze can be partially explained through ergot poisoning. Ergot is a fungus that grows on rye and other grain crops and produces hallucinations and delusions when consumed. But that is a scapegoat, an attempt to find an outside cause for a horror that can only come from within.)
And now, in 2017, a gunman opened fire on Congressional Republicans at baseball practice in suburban Virginia. A mere glance at the attacker’s social media posts reveals much about James Hodgkinson’s inner map. As he saw the world, President Donald Trump is a tyrant, and his allies in Congress are intent on killing millions of people through their health care and environmental policies.
For Hodgkinson, Republicans were an existential threat to the planet itself. What could he be, then, if not a hero for eliminating this threat?
The pundits he watched and listened to; the publications he read and absorbed; the politicians he admired; all helped Hodgkinson draw this tragically inaccurate map, a map that showed Trump and Republicans as the source of all evil in the world.
In the days before his rampage, Hodgkinson’s preferred presidential candidate Bernie Sanders spoke at The People’s Summit in Chicago, calling President Trump, “worst and most dangerous president in the history of our country.” In Central Park this summer, audiences have nightly witnessed Trump being massacred in effigy during a production of Julius Caesar to sate the blood lust of New York’s liberal elite.
Opponents of President Trump have labeled themselves #Resistance. Hillary Clinton herself and Democrat elected officials at every level of government have joined this “resistance.”
But what does “resistance” mean against a constitutionally-sanctioned, democratically-elected President? It must by definition mean extra-constitutional and undemocratic aims and methods, up to, and including, violence.
The leaders of the Left — politicians, pundits, the activists — did not pull the trigger that day in Virginia when a Congressman Scalise only narrowly escaped death. But they damn sure helped draw the map of the lunatic who did, the map that plotted Hodgkinson’s journey from Illinois to Alexandria and made him believe that Trump and Republicans are traitors and that assassination was necessary to save the country.
Witches. Slender Man. Trump as Russian agent. All delusions, with one big difference — the last is currently believed by millions of enraged liberals, including virtually everyone in the media, Democratic leadership and their allies in the Deep State.
Pray for our President.