Thursday, July 15, 2004

Rethinking groupthink

Barbara Ehrenreich says in her column in the New York Times today that we shouldn't be surprised by the Senate Intelligence Committee's conclusion that "groupthink" -- which she notes is as American as apple pie and prisoner abuse -- was the reason for the war in Iraq:

Our standardized-test-driven schools reward the right answer, not the unsettling question. Our corporate culture prides itself on individualism, but it's the "team player" with the fixed smile who gets to be employee of the month. In our political culture, the most crushing rebuke is to call someone "out of step with the American people." Zip your lips, is the universal message, and get with the program.
After noting the shunning of various whistleblowers related to U.S. foreign policy, she ends by quoting political scientist Fred Alford on the issue:

"We need to understand in this `land of the free and home of the brave' that most people are scared to death. About 50 percent of all whistle-blowers lose their jobs, about half of those lose their homes, and half of those people lose their families."

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