Why did Menninger mention this particular sin? In a way, the answer addresses his foundational question, “whatever became of sin?”.
The lie about the Lusitania was a sin. But so what? The lie was politically correct.
On the horizontal axis, the “disposition” that made this politically correct act possible was “the psychology of collusion”. The legal system rewarded the ones who perpetrated this politically correct action. The lawessential burdened the citizens with war.
Thomas Sowell has pointed out in many of his writings that this – above all – accounts for the failure of the American experiment: Progressive politicians have not paid for the consequences of their politically correct (but sinful) actions.
On the vertical axis, the consciencelacking of political “self-anointedness” (also see Thomas Sowell’s works) made the politically correct deception possible. The thinkgroup of Progressive expertise put the deception into context. President Wilson and his highly educated cohorts were convinced that they could “save democracy” by autocratic means, such as willful deception and propaganda.
The symbolic order that is Progressivism was already yielding social constructions one hundred years ago. Wilson came to power 40 years after Lincoln had defended the Union. Wilson was the servant of the subsequent Union-god, a god that would establish itself as sovereign without “establishing a religion”.
In the same way, the air-god Enlil, ruled over Nippur through both palace and temple. There was no separation between state and church. Enlil defined the symbolic order, just as Wilson’s Union-god does today.