The Clare Spark Blog

June 24, 2015

Hate speech, revisited

John Gast: American Progress, 1872

John Gast: American Progress, 1872

I have written many times about “hate speech” tracing its origins to the liberal establishment which had several big reasons to institutionalize the demand for politeness: 1. The ideological impulse to explain the rise of Nazism/race riots to rabble-rousing new mass media (https://clarespark.com/2015/05/16/what-is-hate-speech-and-where-did-the-notion-come-from/); 2. The belief that speech creates reality (derived from Plato and the social democrats who suppressed material explanations for social conflict; 3. The notion originating with internationalists that conflicts can be resolved with better communication (and the warring parties subjected to “neutral” mediation on behalf of the ethical state/UN, of course).

It is a common error on the Right to attribute the notion of hate speech (a.k.a. political correctness) to communists hiding under every bed and in every college classroom. What most fail to do is to face squarely the history of expansion in the United States, performed at the expense of Amerindians, slaves and Mexicans. Patriotism in the interests of national unity or Manifest Destiny is the preferred alternative, even if, in some quarters, the Civil War is still raging, with some Midwestern and Southern whites holding on  to the symbols associated with the good old lost cause.

Here is the irony of attributing hate speech and PC to the Reds. It was mostly New Leftist professors who, with anti-imperialist zeal inspired by the 60s-70s antiwar movement, invented “whiteness studies,” in the process failing to follow the lead of the Old Left that made class the category that mattered most to the revolution. You would think that such careful analysts writing in the tradition of Marx would have foregrounded the objective study of class, but no, they followed Lenin and Woodrow Wilson in the spirit of internationalism, ignoring the fictional categories of “race” and “ethnicity.” (See https://clarespark.com/2011/03/26/race-class-and-gender/ and https://clarespark.com/2014/06/07/marx-vs-lenin/, but even Alexander Saxton, my dissertation director, a proudly unreconstructed Stalinist, yielded to his contemporaries in promoting “whiteness studies,” as if all white people either all had the identical economic interests, or were hopelessly and permanently racist. (Saxton was especially disappointed in the white working class, apparently.)

KKK

This has put me, the director of the Yankee Doodle Society, in a quandary. In the late 1970s and 1980s, the composer Joseph Byrd and I reconstructed antebellum American popular music in the sentimental tradition, using the original lyrics, without expunging the N word. We produced one recording for a local company (Takoma), focusing mostly on Stephen Foster, Henry Clay Work, and George Root, but then got a corporate and then several government grants to produce not only the music of these and other composers agreeable to the middle class, but also we reconstructed the cultural context of such music. We ended up with a set of six-sided LPs and a mammoth 10 and a half-hour documentary played on Pacifica Radio in Los Angeles three times, all unexpurgated, unlike recent reconstructions of Stephen Foster that simply erase the “hate speech.”

The music by itself was distributed by Musical Heritage Society for ten years, and during that time, I got an offer from a Neo-Confederate distributor who would have been willing to cut us in on the profits. I never answered his letter.

The fact is that further distribution of these materials, which are unique and brilliantly performed by top musicians and actors, could lead to abuse by racist groups. As long as I can’t control the context, I hesitate to release them, for minority groups in this country have enough to contend with, without further insults dredged up from the American past.

hate-speech2

What would you do in my place? I am sitting on several boxes of recordings that should be heard, but not by irredentists of any stripe or locale.

Iwantmydaddy

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May 16, 2015

What is hate speech and where did the notion come from?

Demo after Gabrielle Gifford shooting

Demo after Gabrielle Gifford shooting

Google and Facebook are supposedly enlisting the public’s help in removing “racist” screeds from their websites, according to an article in The Times of Israel (http://www.timesofisrael.com/google-and-facebook-need-your-help-to-police-online-hate/.)

At first glance, this may seem like a good idea, but there is a latent subtext that I find disturbing, for there is no consensus regarding what constitutes “hate speech” but more, the notion harkens back to a discredited (social democratic-“liberal”) notion that Hitler prevailed because of his superior grasp of “propaganda.” (See https://clarespark.com/2009/06/04/modernity-and-mass-death/, especially the discussion of a conference at UCLA arguing that “propaganda kills.”

That notion was advanced by the Frankfurt School philosophers, the “critical theorists/cultural Marxists” in league with New Deal social psychologists who were appalled by the advent of mass media and the all-too-gullible mobs it aroused. What they left out was the history leading up to the victory of the Third Reich over its conservative nationalist opponents (initially in coalition with Nazis). “The People” were asses, as classicists had ever averred (see https://clarespark.com/2009/08/24/the-people-is-an-ass-or-a-herd/).

We must go back to Plato’s Phaedo to find a classical example of such nonsense, for according to Plato (a favorite of the liberal left), the “Body” was the site of illusions, particularly the passions that favored the senses that foolishly identified “the truth”, with speech. So ordinary people (including women and slaves—the lower orders) could not be trusted to lead the Republic, blabbermouths that they are, for as New Deal social psychologist Dr. Henry A. Murray insisted, the People are “not trained to rule.”

It was a hard, long slog to achieve such (arguably limited) free speech as we enjoy now. Beware of efforts to give too much weight to rhetoric over other socioeconomic institutional factors. What is needed is better, more widely disseminated history and political science, not more censorship.

Left-liberal propaganda poster

Left-liberal propaganda poster

June 23, 2013

The origins of political correctness

Glitterati crushing The People

Glitterati crushing The People

I asked Facebook friends where they thought “political correctness” came from, and I was referred to three authors: William Lind, Roger Kimball, and Diana West. I am in sharp disagreement with their work, which is all too reminiscent of the John Birch Society, “paleoconservatism,”  and the most paranoid populism. (The second in this sequence is https://clarespark.com/2013/06/30/the-origins-of-political-correctness-2/. A must-read on the origins of “cultural Marxism” is found here: https://clarespark.com/2013/07/31/the-nefarious-cultural-marxists/.)

In fact, it was the moderate conservatives, who then called themselves the Progressives, who imposed speech rules in academe. Their sources were the Counter-Enlightenment German Romantics, who invented the fields of cultural anthropology, comparative literature, and popularized the notions of national and racial character, also Zeitgeist (the mythical “spirit of the age”). These were all collectivist, organicist notions directed against the “atomizing” forces of modernity, including “capitalism,” science and technology, mass literacy and mass numeracy, the emancipation of Western European Jewry, the rise of the modern woman, the self-organizing of former slaves in America, and the growing labor movement. Ultimately, the pseudo-progressive target was equality under the rule of law, most importantly as embodied in the American Constitution, including its Amendments.

It should not be surprising that modern conspiracy theorists, emboldened by the internet and social media, have pinned rules forbidding “hate speech” on powerful, omnipotent ‘Jews’ on the lam from Hitler (i.e., “cultural Marxism” as brought by the Frankfurt School critical theorists). What these refugees accomplished was continuous with the German Enlightenment and its mystical, German Idealist notions that were demonstrably protofascist, and indebted the Hegelian notion of “the ethical state.”. The importance of language and images in the constituting of a deceptive “reality” (to be “deconstructed”)  stems from German Idealism.

Before the bad demonic Frankfurters arrived, moderate conservatives everywhere during the Industrial Revolution had already figured out that religion could keep the working masses in line, hence such movements as Christian Socialism (in Britain) or the Social Gospel (in America) were in place, and formed the matrix of the progressive movement, which was always elitist, manipulative, and “pragmatic” whether it was in its initial anticommunist phase, or its anti-imperialist New Left phase. Voltaire, while preaching freethought in his anonymous works, advocated religion to keep the lower orders in line. He didn’t like Jews either. Religion, for Voltaire and for his successors, was purely instrumental: i.e., it was not grounded in a system of ethics, but as a means to an end: social cohesion and political stability. The search for truth, the Head and Heart of the Enlightenment, was off limits to these “freethinkers.”

https://clarespark.com/2009/08/25/t-w-adorno-and-his-funny-idea-of-genuine-liberalism/

https://clarespark.com/2009/06/04/modernity-and-mass-death/

https://clarespark.com/2010/07/18/white-elite-enabling-of-black-power/ (this quotes conferences from 1968, showing the buying off of black power advocates with separatist black studies programs)

https://clarespark.com/2009/12/12/switching-the-enlightenment-corporatist-liberalism-and-the-revision-of-american-history/ (This is about the “culturalist” turn in history ca. 1939, before the “cultural Marxists” established themselves in academe. It was carried out by social psychologists close to the New Deal.)

https://clarespark.com/2011/03/28/index-to-multiculturalism-blogs/ (especially https://clarespark.com/2010/10/18/the-dialectic-of-multiculturalism-helvetius-herder-fichte/, and https://clarespark.com/2010/07/20/german-romantic-predecessors-to-multiculturalism/.)

https://clarespark.com/2012/01/21/the-persistence-of-white-racism/

https://clarespark.com/2012/12/18/blogs-on-mental-health/

https://clarespark.com/2013/03/18/babel-vs-sinai/ (mentions political correctness as the mode preferred by “Babel” not “Sinai”)

(to be continued)

September 27, 2012

Index to blogs on hate speech

Young Chris Stevens

The revelation today (by Bret Baier of FNC) that the murder of Chris Stevens, the American Ambassador to Libya, along with three other Americans, was not a spontaneous mob response to a video entitled “The Innocence of Muslims”, but was almost immediately understood as an episode in the war on terror, has provoked an absurd response from one Democratic Party ally, Simon Rosenberg, who defended Susan Rice’s appearance on five Sunday talk shows blaming the murders on the video.

It is my suspicion that Fox and others will miss the point of the line perpetrated by the Obama administration (including Hillary Clinton), who have equivocated on the First Amendment by slamming the ugly and mendacious video, apologizing for its very existence. I have seen the same type of argument coming from cultural nationalist minorities since the 1970s: that “positive images” of their groups will advance their interests, and that negative images are responsible for “prejudice” and “institutional racism.”

Such an argument reminds me of the hegemonic liberal line following WW2, that it was Nazi propaganda that moved the normally stolid and sensible German people to follow Hitler. Why was this claim put forth? We needed Western Germany as a buffer against the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Such a diplomatic position may explain why antisemitism is not taught in the schools, while “racism” is roundly denounced, to the point where any black nationalist movement gets a pass as an understandable response to generations of persecution.

This absurd claim purporting to explain Hitler’s bond with the German people is at the bottom of the more recent multicultural taboo on negative images and hate speech.  Its source in intellectual history is German Idealist epistemology that privileges stories and visual symbols over class coalitions, class interests, mistakes of leaders (i.e., appeasement, etc.)

Here are just a few of the many blogs that I have written on threats to the First Amendment. I worry that the term “Islamophobia” will take the place of rational analysis of divisions between radical Islamists (jihadists) and those Muslims who have adopted the chief tenets of the civilized West and the Enlightenment.  If Obama is re-elected, I fully expect new rules forbidding debates over the political direction of countries in the Middle East and in the Third World in general. Such rules would be defended as partaking of “internationalism” as opposed to proto-fascism in America, pinned of course on the Right and on any teachers and professors who stray from the established discourse on foreign policy.

https://clarespark.com/2015/06/24/hate-speech-revisited/

https://clarespark.com/2012/09/25/thought-police-on-fox/

https://clarespark.com/2012/09/23/homeland-and-the-idea-of-the-fifth-column/

https://clarespark.com/2012/09/22/materialist-history-and-the-idea-of-progress/

https://clarespark.com/2011/05/26/who-is-a-racist-now/

https://clarespark.com/2010/07/18/white-elite-enabling-of-black-power/

https://clarespark.com/2009/06/04/modernity-and-mass-death/

August 30, 2012

Political hate speech in the media

The theme of this blog is that  Communism is not interchangeable with Nazism, or with Fascism, or with Social Democracy. Nor is the Republican Party to be labeled “Nazi.”

Our understanding is conducted solely by means of the word: anyone who falsifies it betrays public society. It is the only tool by which we communicate our wishes and our thoughts; it is our soul’s interpreter: if we lack that, we can no longer hold together; we can no longer know each other. When words deceive us, it breaks all intercourse and loosens the bonds of our polity.”Montaigne

A word on context.  I have noticed among comments posted by various segments of “the Right” or “liberal Left” alike that all too often their anger is expressed in imprecise comparisons with forms of government that were specific to the interwar period. These political types cannot be transferred to current-day American politics willy-nilly. It is a crime against the truth.

Nazism was specific to Germany and its ambiguous, humiliating defeat after the Great War. Hitler appealed to a broad constituency, arguing that the German Volk or “people’s community” was supreme. To attain that long-lost glory supposedly limned by Tacitus in his Germania, Jews would have to be removed and Slavs enslaved in the Nazi drive for Lebensraum.  The result was a “modernizing” racial state, with some continuities with the welfare statism of Bismarck and with the social democratic Weimar Republic. The Nazi  turn toward the archaic and the medieval was a blow against the Enlightenment as practiced by Western Europeans and America. The uses of “science” for military purposes or for “racial hygiene” should not be marshaled as proof that Nazism was the non plus ultra of modernity. Nazism was reactionary and anti-modern. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Teutoburg_Forest.)  Nazism was distinct from either Mussolini’s Fascism or Franco’s Clerical-fascism, though all three authoritarian governments were directed against the labor movement or any other form of lower-class radicalism. (I have not mentioned anarcho-syndicalism, a target both of Franco and the Soviet Union during the Spanish Civil War.)

Adolph Wissel’s farm family

Communism was not supposed to happen in a backward country (Russia), but the Bolshevik coup, taking advantage of the military situation on the Eastern Front in 1917 (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Brest-Litovsk, especially “Background”), amazed the world as 1/6 of the land mass of planet Earth would now advertise itself as a “workers’ state.” Its early phase celebrated modernity and was believed by its adherents to be the fulfillment of the Enlightenment and the liberation of the individual. As a result American writers and intellectuals were excited by the Soviet vanguard, and many were won over to some form of radicalism, especially after the Great Depression hit the U.S., in spite of the socialist realist protocols administered to Soviet artists and fellow travelers in the 1930s.  (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist_Realism, also  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhdanov_Doctrine.) Socialist realism and Nazi art both idealized the People.

Notwithstanding the twists and turns of the Comintern line, the Soviet Union prided itself on its freedom from racialism and all forms of nationalism/imperialism, lauding in its place “proletarian internationalism.” There were supporters of both Lenin and Woodrow Wilson in the post-WW1 period.

Social Democracy was an aristocratic response to the rise of the industrial bourgeoisie and the Frankenstein monster Adam Smith & Co. had spawned. Its chief proponents in Europe were Disraeli, Christian Socialists, Bismarck, and Pope Leo XIII (author of Rerum Novarum). Together, they offered a competing notion of Enlightenment to the rabble-rousers of the anti-clerical French Enlightenment. Historians identify their ideology and its chief lights “the moderate men,” believers in the creed of “progressivism.” In America, the early progressives might be Mugwumps, then radical advocates of a “cooperative Commonwealth.”  As shown elsewhere on this website, social psychologists allied with the Roosevelt administration did not hesitate to deploy German or Nazi methods in managing the “masses” they held responsible for supporting Hitler.  (See https://clarespark.com/2010/04/18/links-to-nazi-sykewar-american-style/.)

The progressives offered their own version of racism, while professing to be anti-racists. Multiculturalism was a defense by crypto-nativist Americans to the looming threat of “proletarian internationalism” and could be seen as early as 1916, in articles by Randolph Bourne and Horace Kallen. Ethnicity now trumped “class” as the preferred method for sorting out people and appealing to their political interests. The hyphenated-American made his entrance to the stage of U.S. history and is currently consigned to separatist ethnic studies programs, tilted to social democracy, now called “the Left.”

The Republican Party lopped off its radical branch during Reconstruction, thence to be the party of industry and finance. Because Popular Front Communists insisted that the Republican Party was composed of Nazis, in contrast to their ultra-democratic selves (the “true” anti-fascists, e.g. the Abraham Lincoln Battalion), Democrats and CP fellow travelers alike have fastened that hateful term (Nazis) on Republicans (and Trotskyists, the anti-Stalinist Left). Even so, Progressivism was bipartisan in nature, with many Republicans (e.g. the Theodore Roosevelt administration) supporting a “new nationalism” with a safety net, support for unions, and a “living Constitution.” But more pertinent to today’s Republicans is the move of “socially responsible capitalists” switching to Keynesian economics in 1942, as they formed the Committee For Economic Development and bolstered the ranks of progressivism (see https://clarespark.com/2010/06/19/committee-for-economic-development-and-its-sociologists/). The Democratic Party thus became the party of a certain kind of rich person, who ostentatiously show their love for “the Common Man,”while simultaneously shopping with Saudi Royals and perusing luxury magazines such as Du Jour (illustrated above). The frugal housewife went out, while the revolt against “Puritanism” flourished in both mass culture and high culture.

A Big Mess. Because of the intellectual backwardness of American journalism we have a confusing political vocabulary, accompanied by ignorant slugfests. Books like Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism gained a large following on the populist Right with its indictment of “the nanny state” seen as fascist or proto-fascist. Meanwhile, the field of American Studies, following the anti-American Soviet or even Nazi line to a “T” has taught millions of students that the U.S. is genocidal, imperialist, patriarchal, racist, and ecocidal. Above all, Communists and Nazis could agree that America is in the dirty paws of “finance capital” and hedge-fund managers, the generic JEW. (See praise of the new movie Arbitrage in the upscale magazine illustrated above.)

While in graduate school, I noted that graduate students in the U.S. field were fixated on American colonialism and “inequality.” We were a hopelessly class-ridden society given to narcissism and slaughter. The grad students in the U.S. field did not generally study European history, let alone the lead up to the world wars or the interwar period, while antisemitism was not a legitimate field of study.  It was not until David Wyman and Deborah Lipstadt gave a talk at UCLA in 1986 that I became aware that the Holocaust was known to the West before 1945 and the liberation of the death camps. (It is one of my contentions in this blog that the shameful neglect of the many forms in which antisemitism appears may explain the big mess in political taxonomy that we now face–a mess that announces itself in the furious comments that appear in any and all websites and newspapers across the political spectrum.)

What has happened to our political culture? Can we no longer inform the public that there is an entirely different strategy for wealth creation in  the Democratic and Republican parties as currently constituted; that Keynesian economics are different from supply-side economics, and should be calmly described without cursing out the opposition?

For a related essay by  Ron Radosh in dialogue with David Dreier, see http://hnn.us/articles/how-left-wing-look-americas-heroes-reveals-its-own-ignorance?utm_source=HNN+Newsletter&utm_campaign=39c2ec2f9b-Roundup_Top_10_8_31_128_30_2012&utm_medium=email.

August 26, 2012

Democratic Party talking points 2012

Pro-Andrew Jackson cartoon

[Read this along with https://clarespark.com/2012/06/26/aaron-sorkins-scottish-blood/. Sorkin’s HBO series The Newsroom (now complete) will preview Democrat talking points, without missing a beat.]

The Yankee Doodle Society is a 501©3 organization, and its purpose is education, not polemicizing for one party or the other. Nevertheless it is not unscholarly to note the ideology informing the talking points of the Democratic Party.  I start with my own list, then add several messages submitted by Facebook friends.

Clare (off the top of her head): [From NPR:] Voter fraud a bogus issue invented by the pigs (or as Aaron Sorkin calls them, “the American Taliban”) to negate minority voting

The War on Women/women’s health

Romney is waging war on the poor through clever evasion of income taxes [NPR interview with Nicolas Shaxon]

R wants to harm students and teachers

R is destroying Medicare and Social Security

FB friend: it’s all bush’s fault… the other guys want to return to the same failed policies that led us to the brink of disaster…mitt is out of touch with the voters.. flip floppers.. mormons are weird(unless of course they are senate majority leaders)… republicans want to lower taxes on the rich and raise them for the middle class…people who oppose obama must be racist… they will destroy medicare as we know it…. mitt’s a felon… mitt didnt pay his taxes for 10 years.. mitt likes to fire people… mitt is a job exporter… mitt and bain are tax cheats…ryan has dangerous randian notions… republicans are greedy and unfeeling , democrats are kind and generous…. republican party is the party of the rich, corrupted by evil corporations… we’ve created 4.4 million jobs since bo took office, more than george w or reagan did in recoveries(really false btw).”

FB friend Mike Murray: War on Women, White Privilege, Fat cats, Fair Share. On a local note, something I find absolutely fascinating.  The state of Minnesota would, per the language of the proposed amendment, provide a free photo ID for every eligible voter, as a photo ID would be required to vote.  Taxpayers would pay for this, of course, so it wouldn’t be “free,” yet this is somehow evidence of a war on the poor?

FB friend Randy Davidson: “Obama’s Pet Peeves: The Constitution, Congress,The Supreme Court, The separation of powers, Thomas Paine, Israel, Alexis de Tocqueville, Capitalism, Oil companies (even though he accepted more money from them than any other Presidential candidate in history), Thomas Jefferson, The free market, Private jets (with the exception of Air Force One, Pelosi One and Soros One), Hayek, Chevy Suburbans and Cadillac Escalades (with the exception of those used by Rap Stars and the Presidential motorcade – where is that fleet of Chevy Volts the White house ordered?), Montesquieu, Doctors (he accused them of unecessary amputation among other things, although he’s okay with late-term/partial-birth abortion), The private sector, Banks (see oil companies). Ironic afterthought: Although Barack Obama is a rabid anti-colonialist, he does in many ways bear a striking resemblance to the late King George III.” [Added by anon. FB friend: England… Arizona…Fox News… Health insurance industry.]

Taken as a whole, a detached observer might conclude that the Democratic Party is waging “total war” on their challengers for the presidency.  This is nothing new for the Democrats. As I showed in prior blogs, Claude Bowers laid out his program here: https://clarespark.com/2011/12/10/before-saul-alinsky-rules-for-democratic-politicians/. But see also the “progressive” appropriation of German/Nazi methods of mind management here: https://clarespark.com/2010/04/18/links-to-nazi-sykewar-american-style/.

These tried and true propaganda techniques were not once brought out in my graduate school education (not at Harvard, not at UCLA), nor have I seen an article or a book that identified them with a critical eye. We should all be asking, “why not”?

January 15, 2011

Healing, Trauma, Mystery

Jared Loughner's backyard shrine

I have closely followed the media coverage of the Tucson massacre and listened intently to the President’s speech at the U. of Arizona. Much praise was heard throughout the punditry for his message of healing (including Fox News!), and though he separated uncivil speech from the actions of the (unnamed) “shooter,” still his message was received as “spiritual” and gave a sense of closure to many listeners (probably the press who longed to move on). (Meanwhile, many of my Facebook friends viewed the event as a campaign speech and a circus.) The point is that the President fortified his centrist credentials in the eyes of many.

    If you have followed my blogs on this website, you will know that I have been verbally apoplectic over the notion that “moderation” can “heal” irreconcilable conflicts, whether they are within ourselves or out in the world. The word “trauma” was rarely heard over the air waves or in the blogosphere this week, though clearly the numerous victims were traumatized, and though faith may help some of the victims and their families “heal”, I remain skeptical. Wounds may heal. Irreparable losses and deficiencies in families or in our political actions may not, notwithstanding the promises of professional “healers.”*  In my view, conflicts can often be managed; sometimes they are not manageable.

     There is now talk of “toning down” the more raucous talk-radio hosts: Obama warned us not to “turn on each other.” I’m all for that as a civilized person and opponent of all forms of demonization, since the Devil is not a character who inhabits my psyche or anywhere else in my belief system. But I wonder about the social function that the “haters” perform in society in helping others vent their rage, rage that has many possible causes: coming back from war, endless bullying in school without intervention from the authorities, horrible incidents in childhood and a general lack of knowledgeable, responsible parenting. I have written endlessly here, too, of my opposition to apocalyptic thinking that is so typical of demagogues–no matter where they stand on the political spectrum. The constant invocation of irreversible environmental changes, for instance, is a form of terror, and one can only speculate about how such talk distorts our political culture. In the case of “climate change,” propaganda can be so extreme that a pause to consider scientific evidence pro and con is forestalled because we become invested in one outcome or the other, just to defend ourselves against the worst case scenario. The alternative to either idealizing the effects of technical progress or of turning back to an imagined  Golden Age is the intensive labor of investigation and hard thought.

   I have also written about “mystery”–another concept invoked by the President last week, when he said we would never understand what the shooter was feeling (or words to that effect). The notion of limited human understanding is sometimes appropriate, but more often comes with a strong attachment to those religions that emphasize the weakness of the human sensorium, and the limited understanding that will be repaired in paradise or the underworld for the deserving (Plato speaking through Socrates!). Actually, we know quite a bit about mental illnesses of the extreme forms, and there are treatments available for such sufferers, while pathbreaking research proceeds apace and needs our support. In my view, the President missed an opportunity when he did not name Jared Loughner and his parents as victims in the massacre, for he could have opened a national discussion of social policy in the various states regarding treatment or institutionalization of the hopelessly mentally ill, including the shame attached to all kinds of emotional problems. Indeed, it is widely held that only (sex-obsessed, carnal, worldly) Jews believe in or practice psychoanalysis and related therapies. We don’t give enough weight to the power of antisemitism itself to induce what historian Richard Hofstadter called “the paranoid style.”

   To sum up: the rift in our country was not created by the language used or abused by politicians and pundits. Two economic philosophies face one another and only empirical investigation of the most stringent kind will support the arguments of either the proponents of progressivism or the proponents of libertarianism/laissez-faire/the self-regulated free market. Let us hope that our country eschews the demagogic comforts of conceptions like “healing” the permanently traumatized, and that we adhere to the most precise and rigorous investigations–no holds barred– of what ails us.

*Recommended reading: Herman Melville’s The Confidence Man (1857), the scene in which the Invalid Titan confronts and strikes the Herb Doctor. There is no doubt where Melville stood on the permanence of trauma, nor is there any doubt that his family resented his suffering and inconsolability.

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