The disastrous “mirror accusation”
In our national news there is a constant attack and criticism towards justice and the press. There is talk, for example, of unjust persecution through lawfare (a term that intends to designate the subjection of “populist leaders” to judicial processes that are disqualified as arbitrary and in violation of their rights and guarantees) and the media.
The Judiciary and the press seem to be accused, basically, of being serial persecutors, forgetting that the Supreme Court has recognized in different rulings, quite logically, as common sense, experience and republican principles of government indicate, the central role that justice and journalism have precisely in investigating and punishing corruption , and thus prevent it.
Indeed, highlighting the transparency and honesty that must guide the activity of the members of the Judiciary (“Avocation Schiffrin” of 2004 and “Dean Dr. Peralta” of 2007), the CSJN has emphasized the international responsibility that the Argentine Republic has in the fight against this scourge, based on the Inter-American and UN Conventions against Corruption. (“López Romero” from 2016 and “Bastidas Ramírez” from 2020); and he has also affirmed that freedom of the press is a “means of controlling institutions and their men” (Dr. Fayt, “Costa”, 1987), “essential for shedding light on a phenomenon –corruption– that, evidently, it moves in the shadows and behind the back of the common citizen, who only bears its dire consequences.” (Dr. Vazquez, “Gesualdi”, 1996).
Those accusations, then, could be read in the key of “mirror accusation”, because history shows that the constant and unfounded attacks against the institutions of the State (in this case, justice) or others that are inherent to it (the press) are an effective method to make their behavior suspect, reduce their credibility, thus diminish their moral authority and, ultimately, undermine society’s confidence in them, either to weaken and conquer them or, in the worst case, to delegitimize and destroy them.
The “mirror accusation” can be defined as the strategy that consists of blaming the other for what one is planning to do, attributing to the future victims the evil that one seeks to prevent or remedy, in order to achieve acceptance of what the true perpetrators later plan to do. It is an attack disguised as a defense, which takes the form of a “denunciation” that anticipates the evil that is to come, which is why it has a double advantage.
On the one hand, leaves the victim of the accusation totally defenseless, because the response that can be improvised in the face of reproach is, from the start, cataloged as a simple reply from someone who has been discovered doing what was not appropriate. Consequently, everything that the victim of the accusation in the mirror can say has no value, weight or entity.
For another, the necessary process of prior demonization of those who are the targets of the accusation and the correlative victimization of those who arranged the entire accusatory device, allows the perpetrators to hide their true face and buy time, before the staging is discovered, to later carry out the acts attributed to the victims.
The classic example of this practice –although little analyzed in this specific aspect– is Nazism: Hitler first accused the Jewish people of being “the greatest instigator of German devastation”, and thus justified what later became the Holocaust. Another case, fifty years later, is that of Hutus and Tutsis, which degenerated into the infamous genocide in Rwanda, whose analysis led to the conceptualization and theorization of the “mirror accusation” with that name (Alison Des Forges, 1995).
However it may be, the indicated tragedies – unimaginable before they occurred – are the sample of the destructive potential that the use of this disastrous “tool” can have, which seems “manual” to get rid of certain obstacles – such as corruption, justice and journalism – and that is rarely circumscribed to the discursive field.
Let us renew, in the face of this, our democratic and republican commitment, which will be the only thing that will adequately guarantee both the common good and individual rights.