Monday, July 26, 2010

Menace and Moral Inversion


Hockney: You guys don't have a fucking leg to stand on.

Detective: You think so, tough guy? I could put you in Queens on the night of the hijacking.

Hockney: Really? I live in Queens. Did you put that together yourself, Einstein? What do you got, a team of monkeys working around the clock on this?

For me the dumbest moments in politics call up this bit from The Usual Suspects, in which Kevin Pollak's character, the con Todd Hockney, marvels at the ineptitude of his NYPD interrogators. With the Tea Party nonsense, the simian reference is especially apt: the drooling viciousness with which this entirely id-driven movement is expressed reminds me of some of the more colorful chimpanzee attacks. The tribal perception of encroachment outrages an organic sense of entitlement. If I don't get my birthday cake, you don't get your face.

The Tea Party rallies are a mirror image of the antiwar protests of 2002-2004. The movement that opposed Bush was a diverse and confused congee of the aggrieved, and it was garnished with enough hateful crazy to call into question the wholesomeness of the whole. Our present political moment has seen the NAACP pass a resolution calling on the Tea Party to repudiate racism, and precisely on pitch, Mark Williams, a bombastic radio personality acting (no longer) as the national spokesman of Tea Party Express, responded with this hallmark of the genre:
We are dealing with people [the NAACP] who are professional race-baiters who make a very good living off this kind of thing. They make more money off of race than any slave trader, ever. It's time groups like the NAACP went to the trash heap of history where they belong along with all the other vile, racist groups that emerged in our history.

[emphasis mine]

This is interesting to readers of this blog because it's a mode of moral inversion which is marshaled routinely by Israel and Jew-haters. Consider the worldwide polyphony of claims that Jews, Israelis and Zionists deploy the Holocaust to deflect attention from Israeli crimes, to profit personally, and to maintain generally a kind of moral dominion. One of its leitmotifs is the Arab and Muslim idée fixe of the West's sanctification of the Holocaust, which for example led to Tehran's Hamshahri newspaper staging an International Holocaust Cartoon Competition in retaliation for the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons. Another example, closer to home, is Norman Finkelstein's notion of a "Holocaust Industry" extorting blood money and bankrolling Israeli imperialism.

Williams' claim that the NAACP is made up of race-hucksters who have profited more than any slave-driver has the same sleazy, vicious goal: to transmogrify the victim into a worse version of the oppressor. Antagonists, who range from uninterested in racism to actively racist, raise a facade of outrage at civil or human rights abuses and stage attacks from behind it on groups they wish to re-victimize. The stratagem is to pose alternately as victims and victims' advocates, defrock the moral legatees of historical crimes and refocus the opprobrium of decent people onto them.

Addendum: Back in May, Mark Williams referred to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer as "a Jewish Uncle Tom who would have turned rat on Anne Frank."

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