Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Naomi Wolf is Neither Shocking Nor True

Oh no!

Just When I Thought I Was Out..They pulled me back in...

Just when I thought I was done for the day... I read the papers..

I have been getting a lot of great responses from thoughtful, passionate, and insightful people who support OWS on this blog. They were wooing me over without knowing it, to at least support the OWS protests.

But then I read the news and got irritated all over again.

I was irritated when I read blog pieces about the destruction of books in the removal of protestors from parks. Except the books weren't destroyed (at least not entirely), no laws were broken, no one was mishandled, and the protestors were given PLENTY of warning, the removals were peaceful, and they knew the risks. I deleted that blog entry though out of respect for the intelligent people and friends/former teachers involved.

I was irritated when I saw people making the ridiculous claim that people were being allowed to camp out to shop for Black Friday but not for OWS. This is ridiculous on two fronts. First, the two things are not related. Second, people were not "occupying" camp outs for months in front of stores. Third, the OWS has been let camp out for weeks and months. This was just stupid and represents why I get irritated with OWS. They are looking for a fight and they are looking in the wrong places. Its like watching a little kid play baseball. Whiff! Swing and a miss! Basketball. Air....ball.... I want them to hit the ball, make it in the basket. I really do. But sometimes I think they're not even really trying or they're not focused enough to hit anything (as a group not as individuals).

I was irritated to all hell when I read this piece by Naomi Wolf: which she appropriately titles "The Shocking Truth About the Crackdown on Occupy." I say appropriately because its neither shocking nor true. Thus, I'm being ironic.

I was irritated by her irresponsible journalism on several fronts (and frankly surprised to see The Guardian publish such rubbish). Again, she like OWS, is seeing what she wants to see, finding what she finds, and not bothering to acknowledge reality, facts, or to direct her frustrations appropriately.  My response to her article, shared with me by an avid OWS supporter, was that her calls for reform were fine, but her rhetoric was completely over the top and loaded with unjustified conspiracy theories.  Problems with her argument included logic, reason, and practicality. And facts.

But of course she said what some people wanted to hear, what some people fear is true, and so it was treated briefly as if it were true.

One of her problems was treating the world the way a freshman in college might (despite being a published well-known author and feminist writing for The Guardian): she blamed on an interlinked vast conspiracy between The Government, The Media, The Corporations, The Congress. The Police. Do I really have to spell out the obvious evidence that none of these entities function well as a streamlined, coherent, top-to-bottom interlinked agency? "Congress" is to blame? Can you be a little more specific than that? Isn't there legislation being considered that attempts to improve at least some of the problems? The Government? Is she saying President Obama is part of a New World Order personally ordering the police to brutalize protestors in a coordinated effort to "crackdown" on a movement he has lent warm support to. Really?

So then came better responses than mine and things like this, Corey Robin's response, and, even better, Joshua Holland's response, which I highly recommend for further thinking on these issues. Naomi Wolf came along and fanned fires that weren't there and I think a lot of this is going on in relation to this movement. I am delighted that people are energized and passionate and want to do something and talk about things on raise awareness on certain things. But it doesn't help when it is vague, misdirected, and untrue.

She makes hugely unsupported, factually erroneous, fan-flaming claims (coordinated crackdown effort, level of DHS involvement, publication of a story on alternet that was never published, back-door shadowy police conspiracies) that are riotous. If she were writing an essay for a college composition course she would fail the essay or the course or both. But instead she got international attention and support from The Guardian - no trivial thing in the world of journalism. I have no problem with the publication of dissenting opinions; I have problem with the publication in a respectable newspaper of an article claiming truth and facts regarding things that are neither.

I would hope we would be more suspicious in the future about the idea that anything is "coordinated". First because its unlikely, second because its impractical, third because there's no particular evidence, but fourth, and this is what really gets me - perspectives like this that claim to have insider knowledge and insights and special information about conspiracies - they show no particular understanding of the psychology and politics of power.

So ultimately, whiff! Air.... ball. The critique, the light shed on policies, actions, philosophies, and procedure, goes nowhere. Way to drop the ball...

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