The Western cultural Stockholm Syndrome

Are US leftists, so enamoured of the supposed victims of racism, creating an antisemitic Stockholm Syndrome of “domestic terrorists”? Op-ed.

Howard Rotberg ,

Hamas terrorists in Gaza
Hamas terrorists in Gaza
Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

I spend a lot of time reading about and writing about worrisome cultural trends in what have traditionally been the liberal democracies of the West, including America, Canada, Australia, Israel and a weakening Europe.

I am saddened when I contemplate the extent to which our traditional free society has succumbed to:

1. an excessive tolerance of evil (which, in a book by the same name, I term “tolerism”);

2. a masochistic self-hatred, leading to threats to our fundamental liberties; and

3. ultimately a submission or surrender to what I call the Leftist-Islamist-Globalist alliance.

  • We make compromises in our freedoms to accommodate fascist collusion among leftist Democrats, big Tech censorship, our education and university systems, and media that blatantly ignores stories that challenge their bias.
  • We accept, even welcome, a totalitarian Islamist theocracy.
  • We tolerate attempts from offshore to terrorize us, to make us submit to their values, instead of defending ours.
  • We allow citizens of totalitarian states that regularly print anti-Semitic cartoons to dictate to us in our country not to print cartoons they find “offensive”.
  • I have had, as far back as 18 years ago, a lecture shouted down by “Islamofascists” who said I had no “right” to speak if I disagreed with their views, and our civil liberties groups were silent.
  • We cower in the face of threats that this policy or that policy may “inflame the Arab street” or Black Lives Matter.

Our tolerance and submission to Islamism has clearly paved the way for our tolerance and submission to Black Lives Matter, and the increasing number of violent domestic terrorists, who, despite media falsehoods, are predominantly on the left. As recently as last Saturday, the American city of Portland, Oregon was still seeing rioting in its streets.

We allow Big Tech censors to delete anything that offensive fascists say offends them. Our ideology of Tolerism combined with our ready adoption of the Stockholm Syndrome has laid down the path for large groups of our young people to respond to their alienation from a culture and economy that makes their prospects difficult by a great “transformation” or “re-set”.

Way back at the end of August, 2006, the media in America should have paid closer attention to the release by unnamed kidnappers in Gaza of a couple of journalists from Fox News, who had been held under terrifying conditions for two weeks. One of them was U.S.-born correspondent Steve Centanni. Upon release, he demonstrated the classic symptoms of someone suffering from “Stockholm Syndrome”.

This psychological syndrome was first identified in the early ‘70s.

It was in response to the odd reactions of 4 bank employees in Stockholm Sweden who were taken hostage for six days by two ex-convicts who threatened their lives, but at the same time showed them kindness at certain times. Surprisingly, the hostages strongly resisted the government’s attempts to rescue them, showing loyalty to their kidnappers. Even several months’ later, they did not blame their captors; on the contrary, two of the female hostages actually got engaged to two of the hostage-takers.

The bizarre nature of the reaction to being so traumatized by what we would consider dangerous criminals seemed similar in a number of kidnappings and hostage takings, but not of Israelis. Israelis do not submit and sympathize with the kidnappers. Israel will go to incredible lengths to have kidnapped soldiers returned, dead or alive, and will trade multiple Palestinian jailed criminals for each Israeli.

Psychologists in their study of the syndrome, look for several operative conditions that can create the strange reactions:

  • The hostage must believe that the captor is willing to kill.
  • The captor must mix in small kindnesses within the context of overall terror.
  • The hostage must be convinced that escape is impossible.
  • The hostage must have constant exposure to the captor’s ideology, and isolation from any other perspectives.

In these circumstances, psychologists posit that Stockholm Syndrome is a type of “survival” mechanism. They compare it to the dynamic in situations of abuse of women.

A hostage-taker, kidnapper or an abuser traumatizes a victim (who does not believe that she can escape, or truly can not) with a threat to the victim’s survival. The traumatized victim, who perceives isolation from outsiders who would normally provide protection, must now look to the hostage-taker or other abuser to meet those needs. If the hostage-taker or abuser shows the captive or victim some small kindness, the victim then must bond to the perceived positive side of the captor or abuser, denying (or dissociating) the side of the hostage taker or abuser that produced the terror.

It is interesting that we see the Stockholm Syndrome at work in tolerist countries like Sweden and America, but not so much in Israel, where citizens have a clearer understanding of who are friends and who are enemies. It is a syndrome more likely among the Left and less likely among conservatives.

Are American leftists, so enamoured of the supposed victims of racism, in danger of creating a Stockholm Syndrome of “domestic terrorists”.

Did the summer riots by Black Lives Matter and Antifa increase American votes for the leftist Democrats in an act of fear and submission to BLM? Do Americans, faced with collusion between media, entertainers, educators and other opinion leaders, now live in a type of Stockholm Syndrome of fear of black criminals exacerbated by the defunding of police protection and the emphasis on Critical Race Theory and identity politics? Does this create a massive transfer of power from mainstream America to fringe groups and Black activists and their Islamist allies?

It is a syndrome that promotes anti-Semitism as a way to deal with insecurities by blaming others. And who is most often identified for blame but that group – the Jews- who are most often targetted in history.

In a February 27th story in the New York Times by Norimitsu Onishi, “France Blames U.S. Ideas for Societal Woes”, we learn that French politicians, intellectuals and journalists now warn that progressive American ideas on race, gender and post-colonialism, and the “woke” and cancel cultures and identity politics are passing to, and contaminating, European culture.

This is quite a change from a few years ago, when Americans complained about the Leftist-Islamist-Globalist nature of such countries as France and held up American fundamental constitutional values as bulwarks against excessive “wokeness”.

The victims of Stockholm Syndrome come to see the world from the perspective of the (hostage taker or) abuser, losing touch with their own perspective, which is unimportant or even counter-productive to their survival. Is American survival at stake with the movement to placate Blacks with all sorts of special benefits. Does the media see the world through the perspective of Black Lives Matter reverse discrimination leading to a type of worship and submission to Black criminals like George Floyd?

And so we understand the comments immediately made by hostage victim Steve Centanni of Fox News, as the kidnappers handed him over to Palestinian Authority security officers, who in turn called a news conference with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh present. It was reported that the captors forced the captives to convert to Islam at gunpoint. In addition, the kidnappers released a statement, warning “all infidels against visiting Palestine. Any infidel who comes to Palestine will be killed unless he converts to Islam.”

Said Centanni: “I want to thank everybody. I am happy to be here. I hope that this never scares a single journalist away from coming to Gaza to cover the story because the Palestinian people are very beautiful and kind hearted. (emphasis added) The world needs to know more about them. Don’t be discouraged … We were forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint. Don’t get me wrong here. I have the highest respect for Islam, and I learned a lot of good things about it, but it was something we felt we had to do because they had the guns, and we didn’t know what the hell was going on.”

Centanni said that during his capture, he was held at times face down in a dark garage, tied up in painful positions, and that he and the other captives were force at gunpoint to make statements, including that they had converted to Islam.

(It is to be noted that if indeed one does convert to Islam, it is considered a capital offence by many Muslims for that convert to later leave Islam for another religion.)

Since it is clear that Mr. Centanni was suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, we can ask how many other Americans and other westerners might be suffering from it, caused either by international terrorism or domestic terrorism, after years of having Islamist terror, and now Atifia/BLM terror brought into their living rooms as they watch the nightly news.

What is the effect of watching last summer the violently destruction by Antifa and BLM in many large cities, while the police and Democratic politicians stood down on the issue?

How do people feel when leftists threaten to “defund” the police that protect their families and property, and immediately release criminals with no bail, so that the citizenry fears re-offenders? Are the BLM and Antifa the heirs of the tactics used by the Islamists confident that Americans will purge their fears by an up-dated form of Stockholm Syndrome, embracing the values of the domestic terrorists?

And in an age where Omar and Tlaib and Warnock and Farrakhan make common cause with Islamist Israel-haters and where John Kerry holds private meetings with the Iranian enemy, and President Biden and his family take financial benefits from China, is the West reacting with abnormal psychology?

We are starting to see in America less concern for leftist and Islamist violent protests than for something called “domestic terrorism” even though the members of “white nationalist” organizations are actually few, despite the undue emphasis on them given by Democrat-supporing media.. Acts of terror, not just from foreigners but from domestic sources are far more prevalent from leftist groups and Islamists than from the “right wingers” that leftist Democrats seem to obsess about. Recall that on January 6th in Washington, the only deaths were Trump supporters and rational minds understand that the hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters were 99% peaceful and the few Antifa supporters were predominantly violent, but you would never know that from the press.

So what is to be done?

What should be the agenda to deal with this cultural Stockholm Syndrome, which threatens to morally and literally disarm the West in the face of Islamist aggression and terrorism and anti-racist Racists who are the main proponents of domestic terrorism?

Understanding the elements of the disease, then, gives us the elements of the treatment.

1. We must start treating the problem, like the Israelis do (or ought to) as an existential threat. Then, understanding that our very existence as free societies is at stake, will allow us to take the serious measures necessary to ascertain that we shall survive and that our liberties shall flourish. For example, we must understand that when we give in to Islamist intimidation not to publish a certain cartoon, the issue is not about the cartoon at all.

The issue is whether we can survive as a free society, in which we tolerate and encourage a free exchange of ideas. Those who agree with me must take the lead in impressing on our society, our elites, and our culture that a perceived threat to our survival is the very first step to the development of Cultural Stockholm Syndrome, and that therefore we must demonstrate our strength and determination to protect every freedom.

We do not do that today. If we sacrifice one pro-Israel author one day, and one newspaper cartoonist the next, we are teaching our society that survival of our freedoms is threatened. If we dig in, and protect every single freedom from every single threat, our people will understand that our survival is not threatened. That is the first step.

2. The second step is to disengage from the receipt of “small kindnesses” from terrorists and their state sponsors. Do not allow terrorist-sponsoring countries to endow university chairs or programs. Do not allow them to be treated with the dignity that we should reserve for our friends. Do not send our representatives to a U.N. committee on human rights that is chaired by Syria.

3. The third step is to address the perceived inability to escape. We, in the West, can escape terrorism, both Islamist and BLM domestic terrorism; but we had better get smarter about it. We must understand that Israel is the world leader in stopping terrorism on their airplanes and how they stopped the daily suicide bombings that were afflicting them in late 2001 and early 2002. But technology is only half the story: The Israeli sense of patriotism and social resilience and cultural values are preconditions to stopping the cultural Stockholm Syndrome. If we “virtue-signal” with our tolerance for evil, that tolerance will soon become empathy and that empathy will soon become submission.

Acts to promote a Stockholm Syndrome are only useful against the weak, not the strong. A strong West, willing to engage with the better Arab regimes that are willing to trade and otherwise engage with Israel, such as the UAE, Morocco, Bahrain, and Sudan, will demonstrate strength and resolve which is culturally more respected in the Arab world than weak leaders like Presidents Carter and Obama and now Biden.

Start understanding that we need anti-terrorist walls, both literal and figurative. Let’s ditch the “political correctness” and understand who we have to fear and who we do not have to fear. Let’s smarten up our immigration policies; if we fail to exercise better discretion in allowing certain young Muslim men or Mexican drug criminals into our country then we as a society indeed have “no escape”, and the Stockholm Syndrome will flourish. President Biden’s opening up of all walls and immigration controls and favours to illegal aliens will promote the culture of fear and submission that is an existential threat.

There is no “discrimination” or “prejudice” if we restrict immigration from a group where an undue portion of that group not only disdains our freedoms, but holds vile views about establishing a Muslim caliphate and how that will impact “infidels” or “dhimmis”. (Understand the actual views held by certain Muslim populations; for example, in an extensive survey taken of British Muslims, 45% believe that 9/11 was an American or Israeli conspiracy, almost 25% believe that the 7/7 attacks in London were justified by British policies concerning Iraq and Afghanistan, a similar 25% believe that Britain is not their country, and 30% would rather live under Shariah law than the great British legal system.

And 28% hope that Britain will eventually become a Muslim fundamentalist nation, and 78% advocate punishment for anyone displaying cartoons offensive to Islam.)

4. The fourth step involves identifying organizations where the terrorist ideology runs rampant and dissenting opinions are minimized. Unfortunately this has begun to happen in many Universities, where to be pro-Israel is to risk epithets such as “Zionist-racist” or “supporter of apartheid” and even risks violence. In addition we have some very hostile media outlets.

Accordingly, without challenging freedom of opinion and expression, we cannot allow our people to hear mostly incitement from both international and domestic terrorists. We must ask the media to exercise some self-censorship and some responsibility when it appears that they are acting as shills for terrorist ideologies. Constant exposure to anti-liberal threats and ideology is the fourth of the dangers that increase the chance of further Stockholm Syndromes.

It is all rather too much when one tabulates the type of photographs run by our newspapers during the Israel-Hezbollah war. Picture after picture appeared of grieving Lebanese civilians but there was no context that they in fact were supporters of the terrorist group Hezbollah or the families of Hezbollah fighters, or in fact had acquiesced in the placement of rocket launchers in their neighborhood. One photo showed two beautiful young women in hijavs, grieving at their husband’s funerals. How many just looked at the photograph, as opposed to reading the full caption that made it clear that their husbands were Hezbollah “militants” – that is, the men who fire rockets into Israeli neighborhoods and kill both Jews and fellow Arabs.

Out of some misguided notion that we must always identify who is the underdog and then stick up for them, we allow ourselves to be manipulated by a rather sophisticated PR campaign that runs in tandem with the violence of any terrorist campaign. The alliance of bad actors justified by “intersectionality” must be exposed as a first step in freeing us from much disinformation.

When big corporations ally themselves with Leftist thugs, we call that “fascism”. Note that major corporations like Microsoft, Apple and Amazon have donated to BLM, and leftist political and civil rights organizations. Books are now banned by Amazon for “incorrect” opinions, which equates to Nazi book burning. Our young people get the message. Young women are losing their places as athletes to “transgendered” males, which cements the notion that all traditional values are under attack.

What started in Israel doesn’t stop there:

A Reuters photographer “doctored” photographs on his computer; Palestinians filmed fake encounters with Israeli military; “staged” funerals carried live men masquerading as dead men to try to substantiate inflated death tolls. The American media obsessed about the police officer who knelt down on the neck of the drugged out George Floyd but have no interest in finding out the name of the police officer who shot the woman in the January 6th Capitol building riot?

The more the media continues its complicity with the so-called “plight” of the Palestinians rather than calling for responsibility in educating their children for peace instead of educating their children to hate, then the more we in the west will be isolated from any other perspective than the terrorist ideology. Trump understood that, but the anti-Semites in the Biden administration do not.

Every cause of the Stockholm Syndrome must be examined and must be overcome by our culture.

Such a syndrome has now passed from our Islamist terrorist enemies to our Black power BLM rioters who successfully used the death of a hardened career criminal and drug addict who fathered 5 children that he didn’t support, to promote yet another cause of the cultural Stockholm Syndrome - one where whites must feel guilty for acts of their great-grandparents and Blacks can avoid personal responsibility for their actions.

The cultural sickness of cancel culture, cultural relativism, intersectionality and critical race theory, is now recognized and opposed by many in France, who oppose the very nature of multiculturalism. Even Macron, who in the first years of his administration was little concerned with such matters, last June jumped into the discussion by blaming the universities for encouraging the “ethnicization of the social question” and “breaking the republic in two.

French thinkers have identified a problem beyond the cultural Stockholm Syndrome: Professor Francois Cusset of Paris Nanterre University, is reported by the Onishi article in the New York Times, to believe that the perceived new American influence reveals an establishment unable to deal with the cultural change we are now seeing. He argues: “It’s the sign of a small, frightened republic declining, provincializing, but which in the past and to this day believes in its universal mission and which thus seeks those responsible for its decline.” We Jews shudder when we hear that some people are looking for others to “blame”.

As Dennis Prager has recently pointed out, if you disagree with the woke, cancel culture mob, you can lose your career, opportunities, friends and family. This virtue-signalling mob has no understanding of what syndromes they are creating in political culture. n lose your careerfamily—and the left never forgive

Understanding what we are suffering from is the first step in seeking a treatment. Hopefully this explanation of how our response to both international and domestic terrorism aids the deadly cultural Stockholm Syndrome is useful. Let us start treating the culture for the cancer that is attacking it, before it becomes terminal.

Howard Rotberg is the founding publisher of Canada’s sole conservative values and pro-Israel publishing house, Mantua Books ( He is the author of Tolerism: The Ideology Revealed; The Second Catastrophe: A Novel about a Book and its Author, and most recently The Ideological Path to Submission ... and what we can do about it..