The proposed building of a mosque and community center near the World Trade Center seems to be the most recent fiasco prompting GOP hardliners to flaunt their hypocritical natures. My favorite example so far was the zinger Newt Gingrich let rip on Fox News. Gingrich suggested that the Muslims proposing the center where “radical Islamists” and went on to compare their protected expression of religion to Nazi’s planting signs next to the Holocaust museum in D.C.
On his Web site, Gingrich has a page devoted to “Religious Liberty.” The page suggests that non-religious folk us academia and government to curtail religious expression. It also states that Newt is on the offensive, “mobilizing people of faith” to protect their religious freedoms. This seems to be at odds with his stance against the mosque. Unless, of course, Gingrich is only interested in mobilizing people of the Christian faith, although “Christians” are never named specifically on the site. So why would Gingrich be so interested in curtailing Muslim rights while promoting Christian rights? My guess is he gets off on the misfortunes of those he sees as hailing from a rival group, a phenomenon known as schadenfreude.
Smith, Powell, Combs and Schurtz (2009) who study schadenfreude extensively, would probably agree with my observation. They note that schadenfreude comes from at least three conditions. Gaining from the misfortunes of others is one. It is also evident when one’s in-group succeeds due to the failures of rival outgroup, especially for high-identifiers like Newt. Another applicable source is when misfortune befalls an envied person. I would guess that all three sources are at work here. It is hard to say if sadistic emotions or a political/religious agenda motivates Newt to hypocrisy. My guess is that Newt is simply a closet Sadomasochist whose mouth can’t seem to stay closed. Still, I really shouldn’t be surprised when politicians speak from both sides of their mouths. Actually, I don’t think I am surprised, just stunned when their hypocrisy is expressed so blatantly and transparently.