Monday, December 14, 2009

The Danger of Palin and Stanley Fish

A couple of great Palin articles. First up, a piece in the Milwaukee Examiner:

When people describe the danger of Sarah Palin, it's not about disagreement. Critics may not have even read her book, her articles or her biography. Some things are simply not allowed to be discussed...because of their inherent danger. Sarah Palin - her positions, political philosophy, career and work - is one of these innately dangerous things. And this kind of hatred and censorship has become accepted without question in much of the Western world.....

Liberal Bullies only want to destroy people who are fully willing to debate, but don't want to confront the real aggressors against and danger to freedom, tolerance and equality. Liberal Bullies are willing to lambaste our country that gives them freedom to disagree. However, their censure of dictatorships that murder and silence their own citizens is slow or nonexistant.

Liberal Bullies are willing to call America and Christianity tyrannical and oppressive. What of Uganda calling for the death penalty for homosexuality? What about Islamic theocrats such as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who stone homosexuals? Lobbying against paying for abortion with our tax dollars is described as a dangerous threat to the republic's democracy - as if the ProLife lobby means to turn America into a theocracy. Where is the outcry against actual theocracies that are currently (as opposed to in time past) oppressing and killing people in the name of religion?

Sexism (the elephant in the room, whose existence is the woman politician's unique and one-sided liabilty) and the misogyny woven into the fabric of our culture is the real problem.

This is so, because even women accept and act on the assumptions, expectations, prejudices and judgments prioritzed and programmed for them by the partriarchal vision. The vision is not empirical and, thus, defensible, provable and fair; it is invisible and unquestionable. This is a truism that captures all women in its web - liberals like Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi as well as conservatives like Sarah Palin.

Much of the ire and hatred they draw is virulent and unsubstantiated. This is not to say that there aren't reasons to disagree, rational reasons; but they are rarely ennumerated clearly and unemotionally. Too often women in politics who are dealing with the weighty issues are not challenged for the substance of their actions and philosophies, but are confronted with emotion about issues of little importance and value. Palin in a swimsuit is bad; her swimsuit pictures make her political prospects dubious. Obama in his swim trunks is described as asthtetically pleasing. He is the next coming of JFK:

In his recent book, The Audacity of Hope, Senator Obama concedes his deep misgivings about the possibility of a negative advertising campaign directed against him, a fate he has yet to experience.

But he can console himself that when it comes to having one's midriff on public display, he is in exalted political company. The New Year's Day beach photo of him in Hawaii draws inevitable comparisons with another similar photo taken of another telegenic Democrat - John F. Kennedy emerging from the sea to the delight of onlooking women.....

It is interesting that people have decided that all people must think alike, in order to call themselves liberal-progressive-democrats or conservative-republicans. It is natural to grow and develop. And people aren't seeds encoded to live pre-determined fates. Their brains grow and develop. After traumatic brain injury, they can teach their brains to go around downed pathways; they teach themselves to do and think and behave in ways they never had before - building new pathways in the great processing center that is the brain.

So, why is it that Sarah Palin is dangerous? Is it because people who don't agree with Sarah Palin think that people who like Sarah Palin; support her; or would vote for her, if she ran for office are easily led and will ignorantly absorb and repeat anything she says? If this is the case, then Sarah Palin isn't the danger; the human lemmings that are logically essential to this perspective are the societal danger.

If people are such sponges, then anyone with whom another disagrees is, necessarily, a potential danger. He can simply speak and change a person's mind. He can make any person do things he had no notion of doing before.

Human lemmings are 'true believers'. They live on both sides of the partisan line. They vomit 'talking points' in response to any question; they don't crack books about issues that are approached from angles they have decided they do not respect; and they 'hate' people who disagree with them.

Anyone who disagrees is 'dangerous', 'ignorant' and 'wrong'.

This may remind you of the settled science of Climate Change and the "apparent suggestions in emails between climate scientists at the University of East Anglia that they had prevented work they did not agree with from being included in [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - (the IPCC's)] fourth assessment report, which was published in 2007."

What is dangerous (to a democratic society and also to civil discourse) is the lack of tolerance and openness to different perspectives and supporting evidence offered to support or undermine popular claims. When did it become wrong to examine whether something is true?

The media and President Obama's administration are trying to pick targets for you - people for you to ignore, disdain, mock, distrust, fear...and hate. Don't they think that you can be trusted to make these judgments for yourself? Or did your judgment stop being sound after you voted them into office? Everyone knows Glenn Beck incites violence. Do you?

Everyone knows Sarah Palin is too dumb to find her way out of a paper bag. Then how is it that she was elected and governed as a mayor and then as a governor? This sounds like misogynistic sour grapes and the empty whining of educated derelicts. It is anonymous hate. Misogyny has infected this culture and when women challenge that restful virus, it bitterly erodes the images of these persons - women in politics - who are essential to democratic discourse. If you don't stand up against the claims that Sarah Palin is dangerous - not because of stoning anyone, or something actually dangerous can you be sure you or someone that you believe in won't be declared dangerous sometime soon?

And if you (and your government) come to think that you have lost the ability to think for yourselves, you may give away your liberty (and ability to make decisions and to express yourself) over to another's judgment. You will be paving the way to suppression of your very precious ideas. The freedom to your rights as you know them may become part of history - a distant, colorless memory.

"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty." - Thomas Jefferson

Very good, applause all around.

Next, remember Stanley Fish, the New York Times guy who gave a "Going Rogue" a fair review? Well, he's got a follow-up column here:

The largely negative responses to my account of Sarah Palin’s “Going Rogue” fall into four groups: (1) those who reject my distinction between biography, a genre tied to the requirement of factual accuracy, and autobiography, a genre dedicated to communicating another kind of truth; (2) those, like Caravaggio82, who reason that since the book “was ghost written pure and simple,” it could not possibly convey Palin’s “authentic voice”; (3) those who fault me for not speaking to Palin’s positions on creationism and the “birthers,” and thereby “helping to promote her” (Howie); and (4) those who were offended by my having referred to a sales clerk at the Strand book store as “a bright young thing.”

The distinction between biography and autobiography is really quite simple: the terms mark the difference between the effort of one person to get the details of another person’s life straight and the effort of one person to have her say about the kind of life she has led. In the writing of biography objectivity is both the goal and the standard for the biographer who stands at a distance from his subject. Autobiographers by definition have no distance from their subjects; they are in the business of expressing and revealing themselves, and while objectivity is often something they claim, failing to make good on that claim will not be regarded as fatal as it would be for a biographer. Instead it will be regarded as another piece of information about the personality whose portrait is being painted in words. To put in the simplest terms, a biographer is saying, “This is the way it was”; an autobiographer is saying, “This is the way I saw it and remember it.”

This does not mean that I “endorse the idea that lying is acceptable in an autobiography” (John K. Wilson) or that I am urging that we take what Sarah Palin “says at face value” (M.J.M.) or that I regard “deliberate factual inaccuracies” as “higher truths” (Lou) or that I don’t “think that facts matter at all” (skeptonomist). I am just observing that the truth or falsity of an autobiographer’s assertions is not the main focus of a reader’s interest because the autobiographer’s claim on our attention resides elsewhere — in the vividness and energy with which a significant life is being recalled. (If it were discovered that St. Augustine never stole those pears, would we throw his Confessions away or downgrade the book?) The fact that others would recall the life differently and accuse the writer of “factual inaccuracies” is certainly to be noted, but we do not expect an autobiographer to respond by pleading guilty and confessing that her ex-husband or his opponent in the primary had it right.

But isn’t this all irrelevant anyway if, as John Frum declares, “Mrs. Palin didn’t write the book”?............

Her name is on it because, no matter how many of the words are literally hers, she is its presiding spirit. We must assume that, like a director who reviews the work of his editor, she had the right of approval at every moment and could have said (probably did say), “No, that’s not what I had in mind” or “Yes, that captures my sentiments and recollections entirely.”

”Law and Order” creator Dick Wolf could not possibly supervise, never mind write, every script churned out by his production company, and yet TV critics have no hesitation in saying about a particular episode that it conveys Wolf’s usual message or embodies his vision of society. In his new book, “The Audacity to Win,” David Plouffe, campaign adviser to Barack Obama, recalls that when Obama decided to write his famous “race” speech, he said, “I know what I want to say,” and that he would call the speechwriter “and give him some initial guidance.” The rest is history and everyone refers to the speech as Obama’s. In the same way, “Going Rogue” is Sarah Palin’s book, for good or ill.

If I may mix metaphors, the issue of ghost writing is a red herring, a point made inadvertently by those posters who both deny Palin the title of author and excoriate her for her lies. If she didn’t write the book, she can’t be lying in it, and if she can be called either a liar or a truth-teller, she wrote the book.

In saying this I am not, as a number of posters asserted, affirming and promoting her agenda. Connie Boyd complains that I have “written a love note to [Palin] in the New York Times,” and she asks, “Do you have a sense of responsibility left?” I have a sense of responsibility to the column I sat down to write, not to the columns some readers wanted me to write or thought I had in fact written.........

To the charge that I displayed sexism when I called a book store employee a “bright young thing,” I respond by answering “yes” to the question posed by Sarah: “Would you have referred to a bright young male clerk as a thing?” Been there, done that. Bright-young-thingness is gender neutral; it refers to the eagerness, innocence and energy in the faces of young people at the start of what they are sure is going to be a glorious adventure. Long ago, I was a bright young thing myself....


Go drop Stanley a nice comment. Sounds like he gets enough of the other kind:)

P.S. I should mention that it appears that KTUU has a second video of Palin's Elmendorf book signing up here.

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