Monthly Archives: June 2019
In Defense of Naomi Wolf
I’m someone who still considers himself a populist, a classical liberal who should be able to find a home on the far left of the political spectrum. As my writing and public comments have made all too clear, what passes for the “left” these days is anathema to me. Their “inclusiveness” doesn’t include civil libertarians or genuine reformers.
Naomi Wolf is one of those rare, truly liberal voices left in America, with any kind of public platform. She’s also one of the few prominent people from the “left” who praised and promoted my book Survival of the Richest, which should logically have been of great interest to real liberals everywhere.
In May of this year, Naomi Wolf was interviewed by Matthew Sweet on BBC Radio, to promote her latest book, Outrages: Sex, Censorship, and the Criminalization of Love. During the course of the interview, host Sweet abruptly confronted her about the meaning of the nineteenth century legal term “death recorded,” a term she quite reasonably believed meant that a particular prisoner had been executed. Inexplicably, apparently it actually meant the opposite.
In what I consider to be a shameful display of unprofessionalism, Sweet sandbagged Wolf with his own research into the term. I certainly would expect anyone interviewing me to confront me about any mistakes or alleged mistakes beforehand, instead of springing it on me during a live broadcast. Sweet was able to pull up articles and Old Bailey prison records, so clearly he had done some real work on the subject.
What would cause a radio host to delve deeply into a term like this remains an intriguing question. When writing about sentences and executions of those charged with sexual offenses in previous centuries, few logical people would assume that “death recorded” somehow referred to those whose lives were spared. I know I would have made the same mistake Naomi Wolf did. Was Matthew Sweet so educated on this subject that he was privy to something that both Wolf and her editors at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt weren’t? If this was really a point of common knowledge, how did her publisher overlook it?
Sweet had the details at hand when he sprung this on Wolf, declaring that the term referred to “a category that was created in 1823 that allowed judges to abstain from pronouncing a sentence of death on any capital convict whom they considered to be a fit subject for pardon. I don’t think any of the executions you’ve identified here actually happened.”
To her credit, Naomi Wolf handled this about as graciously as anyone could have. I doubt very seriously that I could have showed such class in that kind of situation. Refraining from criticizing Sweet for his heavy-handed bit of “gotcha” journalism, she tweeted out that she would be reviewing “all of the sodomy convictions on Twitter in real time so people can see for themselves what the sentences were and what became of each of these people.”
Wolf’s publisher adeptly attempted to shift the blame squarely on her with the following statement: “While HMH employs professional editors, copyeditors, and proofreaders for each book project, we rely ultimately on authors for the integrity of their research and fact-checking. Despite this unfortunate error we believe the overall thesis of the book Outrages still holds. We are discussing corrections with the author.” I think that an author with Naomi Wolf’s pedigree, with New York Times bestsellers and countless mainstream media appearances on her resume, deserved a bit more respect, and a much stronger defense, than that.
The American edition of Outrages has yet to be released, as it was pulled by the publisher in order to make necessary corrections. In a recent appearance at New York’s Strand bookstore, Wolf explained, “I had read death recorded as meaning death recorded The death penalty was the law of the land until 1861, [but] I misunderstood the phrase. Sweet pointed out an 1823 act that allowed judges to report a death without actually sentencing the person to death.”
Then Wolf, for the first time publicly, politely gave her rebuttal to Sweet. “There’s questions about his definitions. Some people disagree. Some things he said in the interview I don’t agree with. The bottom line is that he did me a favor by identifying a misreading that I corrected.” Wolf noted that “There’s been a lot of coverage on these two inaccuracies, and there have been inaccuracies in the coverage as well.” She specifically cited oft-reported quotes about her “long awkward silence” after Sweet showed her a newspaper clipping, which he obviously had prior to the interview, to buttress his argument.
“The internet interpreted that as my humiliation, my shocked horror,” Wolf stated. “In fact, I was pausing because his newspaper clipping had anomalies where the ages of the youths and the trial dates were different. I was pausing because I was trying to understand what those anomalies were.” She is also utilizing the research of three noted scholars on historical sentencing for sodomy offenses, which may well contradict Sweet’s claim that Wolf’s description of “several dozen executions” for sodomy was incorrect.
“I don’t feel humiliated but I’m grateful for the correction. I feel great responsibility and humility about this history.” Naomi Wolf declared. “The history of the freedom to love is everybody’s fight…. I do feel a great sense of responsibility for getting it right. We’re in a time of spin and fake news, endless lies from people who are not supposed to be lying to us, like press secretaries and politicians. Journalism is losing its ability to correct itself, as I saw with so many stories not correct about this. It’s my job.”
Arguing for gay rights is hardly an issue I’ve spent much time researching or writing about. But this story is about disrespecting an author who granted an interview in good faith. Of course, criticism is fine and should be welcomed by every writer. But this was about a completely understandable misinterpretation of a hardly common historical term, and how a journalist attempted to discredit a best-selling author’s book in the middle of a live interview. Certainly Matthew Sweet is a lot better known than he was before talking with Naomi Wolf.
A caveat here; Naomi Wolf has published my work on her Daily Clout web site. She wrote a nice blurb for Survival of the Richest, and told me she didn’t understand why it hadn’t made the front page of the New York Times Book Review. So, yes, I am prejudiced. Having spoken with Naomi, she’s just as nice as I thought she was. I admire her work, and her courage in going against the prevailing authoritarian mindset of the politically correct present-day American left.
I know Naomi Wolf will bounce back- she really already has. I just wanted to express my support for her, for whatever that’s worth.
America- Dumb, Dumber, and Dumbest
I’m taking the gloves completely off here. I’ve inferred that Americans collectively are pretty gullible and naive. I’ve invoked comparisons to Mike Judge’s movie Idiocracy. But it’s time to simply tell it like it is: the majority of present-day Americans are stupid beyond belief.
This doesn’t include all the increasing number of “awake” people out there, but it certainly does include the newly coined “woke” folk, who seem to be sleeping more soundly than the average American dupe. Ironically, a lot of these “woke” Americans are “mad as hell” but their anger is focused exclusively on Donald Trump. They figure if they can just get him to go away, things will be back to normal. “Normal” being the kind of nonstop corruption I wrote about in Hidden History.
My bleak assessment has some scientific evidence to back it up. Even mainstream sources report that IQ scores all over the world have been dropping for decades. Some estimates put the IQ drop at about 7 points for each subsequent generation born after 1975. These studies were centered in Norway, or other parts of the western world. My guess is that the average American IQ, if anything, has decreased more sharply than that.
There are plenty of factors here. The increased consumption of processed foods, poisonous preservatives, GMO products, and the constant stress everyone is subjected to by the modern world have all contributed. Insipid and offensive films and television shows, dishonest state-run media, and wrong-headed public school systems were even more crucial in dumbing down the populace. Nonstop propaganda- really brainwashing- has turned many Americans into unthinking, unquestioning sheep who lack both empathy and a moral compass.
Consider all that Americans have permitted over just the last thirty years. They fell for the “invasion” of Kuwait nonsense, and were ready to send their children to die in a place they wouldn’t have been able to locate on a map the week before. They parroted the mainstream media line about Saddam Hussein being a “brutal” madman, when they previously wouldn’t have been able to identify him. They fell for the “babies in incubators” line from the crying young girl, and didn’t blink when she was exposed as the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador lobbying for war.
Enough Americans bought Bill Clinton’s obsequious “I feel your pain” charade to elect him president twice. They ignored the growing body count and the outrageous corruption that began in Arkansas during his tenure as governor, as studiously as the fawning mainstream media did.
We crossed one of those important moral lines in the sand when the majority of Americans stood by silently as armored tanks demolished a home (smeared continuously in the media as a “compound”) and poured deadly gas banned by the Geneva Convention inside, killing civilians that included a large number of children. What happened at Waco should have garnered impeachment charges against Bill Clinton, with criminal charges to follow. Instead, the inventor of identity politics was re-elected, and continued to garner almost 100 percent support from Hollywood.
Americans accepted the ridiculous magical fertilizer bomb theory at Oklahoma City, and cheered when patsy Timothy McVeigh was executed in record time. They swallowed the “JFK Jr. was reckless” accidental death theory in 1999, and no one exposed the truth about this latest Kennedy assassination until I investigated and wrote about it in Hidden History.
On September 11, 2001, we crossed a line that will be very difficult to step back from. Up until that point, no steel frame high rise had ever collapsed from fire. On that day, three did- including Building 7, which was not struck by any aircraft. Since then, no building has. A magical day indeed, and one which exposed the new collective stupidity of Americans, as they stared transfixed at their television screens, as military “expert” after military “expert” told them that the “terrorists” had done this, and nothing would ever be the same.
The majority of Americans accepted that nineteen crazed Arabs, who admittedly were not qualified to fly planes, executed this terrorist plot flawlessly, led by the new bogeyman, Osama Bin Laden, from his secretive cave lair. The odious, unconstitutional Patriot Act was quickly passed, with virtually no opposition from any public figure, and the unconstitutional Homeland Security Department was created. “Free speech zones” became all the rage, without a peep of protest outside the world of “conspiracy theorists.”
Before 9/11, the majority of Americans accepted the results of the dubious 2000 presidential election, which featured the first widespread mention of “hanging chads” and suggestions of voter fraud. I exposed the long history of American electoral corruption in Hidden History. The ballot box lost any significance it had long ago. Even if they counted the votes honestly, no honest candidates are ever permitted to run for president in either “opposing” party. As Huey Long said before they killed him, you have a choice between Tweedledee and Tweedledum.
Dubya Bush, despite severe deficiencies as a politician, was elected twice by the American people. He continued to dismantle what some of us call America 1.0, a job Bill Clinton did yeoman work on. Unbridled illegal crossings from the southern border, expanded Visa worker programs, unprecedented corporate greed, and the further weakening of unions contributed to a glaring disparity of wealth, lowered wages and decreased benefits for the poor and working class.
The election of Barack Obama represented a politically correct coronation. Bill Clinton’s “feel your pain” mantra found full fruition in the election of a half-black man with little personal history and monumental secrecy surrounding his past. Obama’s election first exposed the now massive cultural gap in the country. Half of America was ecstatic to see someone who wasn’t white elected as president, for no other reason than the fact he wasn’t white. Any criticism of Obama, who continued the dastardly nonstop war, corporate welfare policies of his predecessors, was instantly branded as “racist.”
Obama infuriated that segment of the population who bought into Donald Trump’s populist rhetoric. Many independents like myself were attracted to Trump’s often revolutionary comments as well. Obviously, over halfway through his first term, Trump has further divided the country, and become a lightning rod for all political discourse. The same people that loved Obama for being nonwhite and nothing else, despise Donald Trump because he seems so much like the old white guys who used to run this country.
This is merely a sampling of the tyranny Americans have permitted, just in recent times. I could have mentioned the ultimate corporate giveaway, when despite 95 percent of them opposing it in every poll, the biggest banks- those dubbed “too big to fail” by our state-run media, were bailed out by taxpayers after the 2008 economic crisis. If the banks want to be bailed out again, Americans will stand by politely. There will be no yellow jackets in the streets of America 2.0.
A movement like Brexit would not be possible in America, because a majority of our citizens still buy into the collective narrative, that there are no conspiracies, and our leaders are basically decent people with good intentions. Iceland threw their bankers in jail. I have tried to get Americans to even understand the counterfeit nature of our criminal fractional banking system, but most just don’t care.
I live in one of the richest counties in the country. Our roads are Third World quality, and our power grids are a joke. Power goes out here in a mild wind or simple rainfall. Many members of Congress drive the same roads I do, and yet they do nothing to upgrade them. Our infrastructure has not effectively been updated since the Eisenhower years. At least Trump talked about that, but again nothing has been done. Blame it on “partisan politics.” That’s what our state-run media does.
It’s not pleasant to call people stupid. After all, you wind up essentially calling yourself superior, and sounding elitist. But what else can you say about people who bought into the state-sanctioned, mainstream media driven “Russian collusion” conspiracy theory? The same Americans who can’t accept that 9/11 was an “inside job” believe that “the Russians” somehow “hacked” our election and denied us all the wonderful opportunity a Hillary Clinton presidency would have represented.
We’ve known the facts about the lack of intellect in our country for quite a while. All those “person in the street” interviews, done by everyone from Jay Leno to “conspiracy theorist” Mark Dice, demonstrate all too clearly just how ignorant the average American is. Many Americans seem to revel in their stupidity.
If Mike Judge’s film Idiocracy is now seen as an unfortunate prophecy, what does the huge popularity of the movie Dumb and Dumber demonstrate?