You’d think with my being on vacation and all that I’d be blogging up a storm. What I’ve really been doing is hanging out with Sweetie (who is back at work today), playing with the pups, lounging in the backyard, and catching up on some reading.
If you haven’t been to Violet’s lately, please go and read Feminists and the mystery of Sarah Palin and all the comments. Violet tries to wrap her head around the Palin-hate from the so-called Feminists.
But even weirder is what happens when you try to replace the myths with the truth. If you explain, “no, she didn’t charge rape victims,” your feminist interlocutor will come back with something else: “she’s abstinence-only!” No, you say, she’s not; and then the person comes back with, “she’s a creationist!” and so on. “She’s an uneducated moron!” Actually, Sarah Palin is not dumb at all, and based on her interviews and comments, I’d say she has a greater knowledge of evolution, global warming, and the Wisconsin glaciation in Alaska than the average citizen.
But after you’ve had a few of these myth-dispelling conversations, you start to realize that it doesn’t matter. These people don’t hate Palin because of the lies; the lies exist to justify the hate. That’s why they keep reaching and reaching for something else, until they finally get to “she winked on TV!” (And by the way: I’ve been winked at my whole life by my grandmother, aunts, and great-aunts. Who knew it was such a despicable act?)
Was it just about electing Obama? Were feminists simply willing to commit any slander necessary to elect the Chosen One? That’s a likely explanation, but here again: we’re talking about feminists. Feminists doing this — slandering a woman, and doing so in unmistakably sexist terms. After all, caricaturing Palin as a purity queen (Bible Spice, Sexy Puritan) is just the flip side of caricaturing her as a porn queen. As I’ve said before, it’s like the NAACP sponsoring a lynching. The mind boggles.
Even more mind-boggling are the attacks that don’t even bother with false claims about policy or beliefs, but just go straight for free-floating misogynistic rage. Ridiculing her hair, clothes, makeup, voice, body, womb. “Sarah Palin is a cunt” — good one! Calling her a bimbo — good one! Calling her a fucking whore — good one! Fantasizing about her being gang-raped — good one! And all this from feminists. Forget the NAACP sponsoring a lynching; this is like the NAACP ripping off their masks to reveal that they’ve been replaced by white supremacist pod people.
Awhile ago I came up with what I think is the most plausible explanation yet when I said:
Sarah Palin is the Designated Hate Receptacle for self-described feminists. They know they’re not supposed to hate other women, but they do anyway because their feminism is not quite as strong as their patriarchal brainwashing. Sarah Palin is the culture’s designated Hate Receptacle.
I’m not entirely satisfied with that, but it’s the best I can come up with. If we add to that the subconscious Obama resentment-transference, perhaps on a kind of sliding rheostat thing, we may be getting close to a solution.
What’s alarming is that the need for a female Hate Receptacle exists, even with feminists. But that would explain why Palin haters are so reluctant to give up hating her. It would explain why they’re so resistant to the truth. They don’t want to find out that the lies are lies; they don’t want to be disabused. They need a hate receptacle, and so they need Palin to be the sum of all things they fear.
It really is a must-read post, including the 487 comments (!), which finds people from all wings of the political spectrum speaking to each other, listening to each other, and opening each others eyes. Who knew it could be done?
To add more to my piled high must-read stack, though she was hardly aware of this when she did it, my pal Sarah sent me a pdf version of Violence by Slavoj Zizek. An intriguing read which takes a step (or two) back to examine the unrecognized violence that lives beneath, and which gives rise to, the violence that we witness . I’m about halfway through. Here are some snippets to chew on (and you will have to chew!):
From Chapter One: SOS Violence
And what if this is true in a much more radical way than may at first appear? What if the true evil of our societies is not their capitalist dynamics as such, but our attempts to extricate ourselves from them-all the while profiting-by carving out self-enclosed communal spaces, from “gated communities” to exclusive racial or religious groups? That is to say, is the point of The Village not precisely to demonstrate that today, a return to an authentic community in which speech still directly expresses true emotions-the village of the socialist utopia-is a fake which can only be staged as a spectacle for the very rich? The exemplary figures of evil today are not ordinary consumers who pollute the environment and live in a violent world of disintegrating social links, but those who, while fully engaged in creating conditions for such universal devastation and pollution, buy their way out of their own activity, living in gated communities, eating organic food, taking holidays in wildlife preserves, and so on.
The infertility of Cuarón’s film is about was diagnosed long ago by Friedrich Nietzche, when he perceived how Western civilization was moving in the direction of the Last Man, an apathetic creature with no great passion or commitment. Unable to dream, tired of his life, he takes no risks, seeking only comfort and security, an expression of tolerance with another: “A little poison now and then: that makes for pleasant dreams. And much poison at the end, for a pleasant death. They have their little pleasures for the day, and their little pleasures for the night, but they have a regard for health. ‘We have discovered happiness,’ say the Last Men, and they blink”
We from the First World find it more and more difficult even to imagine a public or universal cause for which one would be ready to sacrifice one’s life. Indeed, the split between First and Third World runs increasingly along the lines of an opposition between leading a long, satisfying life full of material and cultural wealth, and dedicating one’s life to some transcendent cause. Isn’t this the antagonism between what Nietzsche called “passive” and “active” nihilism? We in the West are the Last Men, immersed in stupid daily pleasures, while the Muslim radicals are ready to risk everything, engaged in the nihilist struggle up to the point of self-destruction. What is gradually disappearing in this opposition between those who are “in,” the Last Men who live in aseptic gated communities, and those who are “out,” are the good old middle classes. The “middle class is a luxury that capitalism can no longer afford.”
From Chapter Two: Fear Thy Neighbour As Thyself!
Hannah Arendt was right: these figures [Kaganovich, Stalin, Beria, Malenkov] were not personifications of sublime Byronesque demonic evil: the gap between their intimate experience and the horror of their acts was immense. The experience that we have of our lives from within, the story we tell ourselves about ourselves in order to account for what we are doing, is fundamentally a lie-the truth lies outside, in what we do.
From Chapter Three: ”A Blood-Dimmed Tide Is Loosed”
However, are the terrorist fundamentalists, be they Christian or Muslim, really fundamentalists in the authentic sense of the term? Do they really believe? What they lack is a feature that is easy to discern in all authentic fundamentalists, from Tibetan Buddhists to the Amish in the U.S.: the absence of resentment and envy, the deep indifference towards the non-believers’ way of life. If today’s so-called fundamentalists really believe they have found their way to truth, why should they feel threatened by non-believers, why should they envy them? When a Buddhist encounters a Western hedonist, he hardly condemns him. He just benevolently notes that the hedonist’s search for happiness is self-defeating. In contrast to true fundamentalists, the terrorist pseudo-fundamentalists are deeply bothered, intrigued, fascinated by the sinful life of the non-believers. One can feel that, in fighting the sinful Other, they are fighting their own temptation. These so-called Christian or Muslim fundamentalists are a disgrace to true fundamentalism.
It is here Yeats’s diagnosis falls short of the present predicament: the passionate intensity of a mob bears witness to a lack of true conviction. Deep in themselves, terrorist fundamentalists also lack true conviction – their violent outbursts are proof of it. How fragile the belief of a Muslim must be, if he feels threatened by a stupid caricature in a low-circulation Danish newspaper. The fundamentalist Islamic terror is not grounded in the terrorists’ conviction of their superiority and in their desire to safeguard their cultural-religious identity from the onslaught of global consumerist civilization. The problem with fundamentalists is not that we consider them inferior to us, but rather that they themselves secretly consider themselves inferior. This is why our condescending, politically correct assurances that we feel no superiority towards them only make them more furious and feed their resentment. The problem is not cultural difference (their effort to preserve their identity), but the opposite fact that the fundamentalists are already like us, that secretly they have already internalized our standards and measure themselves by them.
As I said, I’m not through with the book yet, but it is making me think, and I’m enjoying it in that “oh christ, why’d you make me think of that, but honestly that rings true” sort of way.
In the meantime, I’ve got to get out of here and go pick up Buddy from the vet (teeth cleaning). Be back soon.