The blame for something is most likely to be misplaced when someone jumps to conclusions without thinking things through. This is more likely to happen if someone never learns to think things through in the first place. People are not born knowing how to think things through they have to lean it based on what they are taught from their parents or whoever raises them. If their parents never learn how to think things through they can’t teach it to their children.
The blame for problems is often misplaced if the proper place for blame is those with more political power. There is a long history of this because if you blame those in political power they may punish you. An old example of this is when the Romans persecuted the early Christians and they needed someone to blame so the blame shifted to the Jews. This was done because it was safer. In Jesus’ time supposedly he was a Jew and so were his followers so it doesn’t make sense that they were responsible for his death and the history says that it was the Romans that finally crucified him, however if they openly blamed the Romans they knew they would also be persecuted.
This is also common when a parent abuses a child, for example if a father abuses a son and is constantly complaining about blacks or Jews or some other group that he may dislike the some may learn early on that if he wants to receive positive feedback from his father he should also blame the same group. If this works to obtain positive feedback and it is repeated often enough then the boy will believe it. In this case the boy’s prejudices will be developed as a way to obtain positive feedback instead of as a result of rational thought. If this starts early it may develop into a pattern. This is often the way many prejudices start. Once someone starts thinking this way they often react more to emotions and less to reason and they become much more difficult to deal with for other people. If you look closely I think you may find that many of the most widely spread prejudices are the result of indoctrination and abuse that people receive as a child. When Hitler was abused as a child he couldn’t strike out at his father who he learned to respect but was often told that the Jews were to blame. He didn’t become an anti Semite until he was older but as a child the abuse made him very angry and he looked for someone to blame and he also developed a desire to avoid the abuse by becoming the one with the power. Many violent people start this way. They get the impression that the world is full of abusers and victims and they try to avoid being the victim by holding power over others and become the abusers.
It is very common for leaders to use misplaced blame to manipulate the public and divide them amongst themselves. One common example is the conflict among workers that often sets some workers against others. This is a very old tactic, when the dominate belief was that blacks were inferior the business leaders often claimed the blacks were the ones taking away jobs now they often blame it on illegal immigrants. The irony is that a close look will indicate that illegal aliens are guilty mostly of being born in the wrong country. The discussion about free trade is being dominated by the corporations in the press. What they rarely if ever mention is that they are in favor of equal trade but opposed to equal rights to a safe environment or worker rights. This results in a lot of misplaced blame.
Demagogues often use emotions to exaggerate prejudices and redirect the blame for any problems that may be occurring at any given time. They use this method to keep the crowd under their control. The biggest threat from demagogues isn’t the one you recognize from people like Hitler and Manson but the threat the people don’t recognize from those they admire and respect. This is why the public needs to do a better job keeping their leaders accountable. In order to catch misplaced blame it may be important to rethink some of the basics that may have been put above reproach. If these basics were accurate in the first place then they will hold up to thorough accurate scrutiny.
This was first posted on tripod on 9/22/09