OK, then perhaps a question
Posted to Poetry and Politics
by mot-juste on 2004-07-08 23:28:00
Why do they keep on calling F911 "a documentary" -- if it is, by many people's admission (and his own, it seems) a blunt propaganda job? Was Battleship Potemkin a documentary?
A curious detail re. the media, I think.
Now, on this article by Prager. I say it's 50/50 with a balance that's rather negative.
The first part (self-hatred, etc.) is badly done, it's a bunch of annoying "conservative" bullshit, that can be offered up only because when delivered as a monologue there's no threat of the said bullshit being immediately shoved back in the author's face. For example:
Did you ever notice that there are no Germans going around the world saying, or making movies about, how awful Germany is or has been? Given that Germany unleashed two world wars and invented industrialized genocide, why has there been no German Michael Moore?This is junk for two reasons: first, the fact that we may never have noticed such movies does not evidence that there are no such movies; it may be simply because such movies are not shown in the U.S. Moreover, most assuredly there are such movies and this kind of activity in general (consider the french left and Sartre in 50s, related to Algeria -- exactly the same stuff.) Non-american movies of that sort can sometimes be seen if you're in NYC or similar in arthouse cinemas, sort of thing, rather than played massively everywhere (they don't bring much money.) It is difficult to catch any "small-screen" foreign movie in the U.S., not only activist/political ones.
The Moor phenomenon is more prominent because it is anti-American, not because it's anti-establishment in general (there's tons of the latter -- in that respect Moor isn't unique at all; Prager just throws something facile at his readers instead of working out a plausible theory here.)
Belgium (and France, and Germany) are not the most powerful and active actors on the world's stage at the moment, so they simply do not have as many enemies as the U.S. The Moore phenomenon can be (and is) used as a powerful means of infowar, which is part of war if you will, and the U.S. is at war, whereas Belgium isn't. That's why Moore's so big, while his Belgian etc., counterparts are unknown. Add in here the US electoral politics (a flood of anti-Bush books., some of which were downright ridiculous, like Dr Frank's "psychological" screed that was discussed here a few days ago.)
"The answer, of course, is no."
1. "Of course" my ass. 2. Factually not true -- the real answer is yes (though not "of course"; it simply happens to be so.)
"Many on the American Left loathe America (they love the Constitution and their vision of what America could be) and have contempt for the average American. That is why most of the Left has such admiration for Michael Moore, who has said, among so much more, the following:"This is a bit incoherent (what's this parenthesis doing there? Do they or do they not "loathe America"? Unclear.) But at any rate, being critical of american policies is not "loathing America"; this suggestion is but another "conservative" shibboleth, propaganda for idiots. Who gave the conservatives the interpretational monopoly on what America is, and what consitutes the loathing thereof? A cheap shot.
There are no comparable self-haters in any other country
We've just discovered that there are. Now, how did we get to this "self" here? I dont' see how "hating" something automatically means hating the self. Did I miss some of Prager's previous argument? Nope. There was nothing to show that the left's criticisms are self-hatred in the preceding paragraphs (be he right or wrong, Chomsky as a political critic inveighing against Israel as a state doesn't mean that Chomsky who happens ethnically to be a Jew hates those who're (ethnically or religiously) Jews as Jews, it's simply not about Jews, the jew question is irrelevant here; be they right or wrong, American leftists inveighing against american policies do not target all other americans as americans.)
Here, Prager, via an unobtrusive sleight of hand, as it were, inserts what he wants you to believe, he simply insinuates in hope that you won't notice that his insinuations are fraudulent. Well, we've noticed, thus "self-hatred" my ass.
"This self-loathing on the part of Americans and Jews is all the more remarkable when you consider that leftists of every other group strongly affirm their national, cultural and ethnic identities. For example, while American and Jewish leftists ceaselessly attack America and Israel, black and Hispanic leftists ceaselessly defend blacks and Hispanics."
To repeat: "self-loathing" my ass. It is not the "self" that is loathed here. Furthermore, there's a piece of intellectual fraud here: for this statement to be logically correct, Prager would have to say either that "while American and Jewish leftists ceaselessly attack Americans and Jews, black and Hispanic leftists ceaselessly defend blacks and Hispanics" (but leftists do not attack americans and jews, so that wouldn't do) -- or, that "while American and Jewish leftists ceaselessly attack America and Israel, black and Hispanic leftists ceaselessly defend Nigeria (for example) and Spain" (which a. would not be true, and b. if it were true, it would not demonstrate what he tries to demonstrate.) As it is, his parallel is false, and the implied idea -- fraudulent.
The final thing that's disingenuous in his piece is the finale:
"There may be other explanations. But what is certain is that American self-hatred and Jewish self-hatred are unique phenomena that play a particularly destructive role in our world."There's nothing unique about it at all. They are more prominent, yes, but that's because America and Israel at the moment are two bones in the throat of some political players. Arabs seek to wipe out Israel (not Belgium), that's why they bitch and moan about Israel (not Belgium), same thing with the U.S.
All this stuff is sponsored and fomented by powerful players (the USSR in the past, Arabs now), not self-created by a bunch of leftist nitwits on the university campuses. Stalin did the same; it is simply external players' using internal politics for geopolitics' sakes -- playing their enemy's internal dissent (that happens to be left at the moment) against the country's establishment -- who is their real enemy; the left plays the role of the "fifth column" here, if you will. A horde of "useful idiots" -- those who are sincere, of course; which is not everyone (I can't imagine guys like Fiske or Pilger or Cockburn not knowing what they're doing: they're not kids; they are making a living at that, and it must be with full awareness that they manufacture their crass shit.)
Having said that, his "four explanations" --
" (...) these individuals' primary identity (...) leftists are psychologically adolescents (...) these value systems clash with leftist values. (...) many would rather identify with the haters than with the hated"are right on the money (though in general, I would also add, none of this is an exclusively left phenomenon :-).)
If he simply posted this part, he'd be just fine. As it is, he killed the potential impact of his article by framing a few intelligent paragraphs with gobs of phoney conservative drivel. Therefore he's not credible; just another paid-for conservative flunkey -- and not a particularly dextrous one at that; I think, Rush does a better job bs'ing and inflaming the low-brow among their constituency. Like someone here said about Hitchens's article, I expect better quality from those who do that kind of writing for money.