Like sands through an hour glass so are the myths that there was once an America where no one ever had to lock their doors, people reluctantly had sex purely for the sake of procreation, real men and sophisicated women should smoke cigarettes, and anyone that shook their hips to the music of Chuck Berry was damned to hell. A pulp novel called Peyton Place peeled away some of the veneer, Beyond ‘Peyton Place’
Next month marks the 50th anniversary of publication of Grace Metalious’s Peyton Place, one of the most notorious novels of its time. The book exposed the petty, sordid, and urgently erotic hidden life of a small town. A best seller of precedent-setting proportions, it was also widely disparaged by the literati of the 1950s, who saw it as little more than a prurient diversion.
Like poverty, racism, and gender inequality illegitimate children, unwed mothers didn’t exists in the 50’s. Our national capacity for denial hasn’t really diminished all that much.
The trunk story climaxes when young Allison MacKenzie finally breaches her mother’s carefully tended facade of respectability to expose a festering secret: Her mother never married, and Allison is illegitimate.
The shame of it all no wonder that 3 million people snapped up a copy when first issued in paperback. Well maybe times have changed a little, arch christian conservatives Dick Cheney and Phyllis Schlafly, members of the its all nurture school of thought each managed to raise gay children and one has to make a little effort to find anyone that cares. On the other hand a president manipulates the country into war getting tens of thousands killed and some folks not only defend him, but get foaming at the mouth angry that anyone might question the sanity of it all. The social status of unwed mothers seems a quaint concept by comparison.
An institute in Germany has unearthed a Nazi bible ordered by Adolf Hitler to replace the old and new testaments expunged of all references to Jews.
Hitler’s race theorists even rewrote the 10 commandments and added two more for good measure in the book called ’German with God’ which was – alongside Hitler’ s autobiography – meant to be required reading in every home in his Third Reich.
Thou shalt not kill, coveting one’s neighbour’s wife, thou shalt not steal and all other others were scrapped by a regime that stole, murdered and plundered its way across the world.
Hitler admired the ceremony and majesty of the church – he admitted as much in Mein Kampf – but hated its teachings which had no place in his vision of Germanic supermen ruling lesser races devoid of ‘outdated’ concepts such as mercy and love.
But he knew the power of the church in Germany and even he could not banish it overnight. He was even forced to abandon the systematic murder of the handicapped and insane before the war when outspoken bishops began to speak against it.
Instead his plan was to gradually ‘Nazify’ the church beginning with a theological centre he set up in 1939 to rewrite the Holy Bible. He appointed lackey professors to work on a thoroughly Nazi version that would remove all references to Jews and all compassion.
I do not mean this to a direct comparison, but as I’m not blinded by the idolatry that seems to possess much of conservatism I can’t help but be reminded of this administration’s attempt’s to write a narrative of events that are contrary to the facts, Reign of Error
Consider, for example, Condoleezza Rice’s response a few months ago, when pressed to explain why the administration always links the Iraq war to 9/11. She admitted that Saddam, “as far as we know, did not order Sept. 11, may not have even known of Sept. 11.” (Notice how her statement, while literally true, nonetheless seems to imply both that it’s still possible that Saddam ordered 9/11, and that he probably did know about it.) “But,” she went on, “that’s a very narrow definition of what caused Sept. 11.”
Meanwhile, apparatchiks in the media spread disinformation. It’s hard to imagine what the world looks like to the large number of Americans who get their news by watching Fox and listening to Rush Limbaugh, but I get a pretty good sense from my mailbag.
Many of my correspondents are living in a world in which the economy is better than it ever was under Bill Clinton, newly released documents show that Saddam really was in cahoots with Osama, and the discovery of some decayed 1980’s-vintage chemical munitions vindicates everything the administration said about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. (Hyping of the munitions find may partly explain why public belief that Saddam had W.M.D. has made a comeback.)
Some of my correspondents have even picked up on claims, mostly disseminated on right-wing blogs, that the Bush administration actually did a heck of a job after Katrina.
Krugman ends with a quote from George Orwell, “a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past,”
I’m not against calling terrorists names, on the contrary the people that fly airliners into office buildings and beheaded Daniel Pearl deserve some name calling. The problem seems to be that the president and the right-wing blogs have slipped in the intellectually lazy habit of calling anyone in the middle-east that is not one hundred percent supportive of Bush’s foreign policy ( Bush may not have an actual foreign policy) as an Islamo-fascist. My impression was this was a kind of marketing term, conservative shorthand for Muslims that have a totalitarian bent. Juan Cole takes a look at the term’s current usage and how it relates in the conflict between Lebanon and Israel, Bush, Islamic Fascism and the Christians of Jounieh
Fascism is not even a very good description of the ideology of most Muslim fundamentalists. Most fascism in the Middle East has been secular in character, as with Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party. Fascism involves extreme nationalism and most often racism. Muslim fundamentalist movements reject the nation-state as their primary loyalty and reject race as a basis for political action or social discrimination. Fascists exalt the state above individual rights or the rule of law. Muslim fundamentalists exalt Islamic law above the utilitarian interests of the state. Fascism exalts youth and a master race above the old and the “inferior” races. Muslim fundamentalists would never speak this way.
I’m not in lock step with everything that professor Cole writes, but he does make an important point. Conservatives do control the national narrative; if our attitudes and the policies based on those attitudes are not defined correctly then we end up fighting the wrong people or end up fighting solely in terms of an outdated traditional nation-state conflict. Both of these directions would be wrong. At least wrong to people who think that our ability to inflict death and suffering should be directed at the right target.
I am sure you’ve heard a number of tall
tales, myths and legends about Mr. Soze
I can assure you gentlemen, most of them
Who’s Keyser Soze?
Judging by the sudden change in mood, I
am sure the rest of your associates can
tell you, Mr. Kint. I have come with an
offer directly from Mr. Soze. An order
from the screenplay The Usual Suspects by Christopher McQuarrie