- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Vulgar history

“Somebody make it stop. This incessant fixation on [Adolf] Hitler’s sexuality, on his alleged perversity. I think it’s fair to say that the very apex of cultural stupidity in our era is the compulsive conjunction of Hitler and sex. …

“Isn’t it obvious by now what this is about? Our need to prove that Hitler was not ‘normal,’ thus not like us, normal human nature thereby exculpated from producing a Hitler. It fills a need to reassure ourselves there is no Hitler potential in human potential. We’re off the hook. But despite the obviousness of it, it just doesn’t stop. … There is even a school of Freudian ‘psycho-historians’ who view Hitler’s putatively half-empty scrotal sack as the root cause of his murderous character, his sexuality, and his anti-Semitism. …

“There’s no excuse now for this incessant dwelling on Hitler’s sexuality, as if it tells us anything about the true nature of his evil. No, all the obsession can tell us about is the way the culture as a whole exhibits a refusal to face the profundity and complexity of evil and instead - with some honorable exceptions - prefers to escape responsibility for Hitler and the Holocaust by blaming it all on ludicrously unserious and ahistorical sexual mythologies, and the Freudian-influenced notion that all behavior has a sexual explanation at heart.”

-Ron Rosenbaum, writing on “Everything You Need to Know About Hitler’s ‘Missing’ Testicle,” on Nov. 28 at Slate.com

The left’s celebrity

“The past couple of weeks had been a giddy time. Since her book ‘The Shock Doctrine’ was published last year, [Naomi] Klein, now 38, has become the most visible and influential figure on the American left - what Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky were 30 years ago.

“She speaks every few days, all over the world, and hundreds of people turn up to hear her. They visit her Web site and subscribe to her newsletter and send her passionate fan mail. She has become an icon´s icon: Radiohead and Laurie Anderson promote her books to their fans; John Cusack´s comedy ‘War, Inc.’ was inspired by her reporting from Baghdad. The Mexican film director Alfonso Cuaron felt so strongly about ‘The Shock Doctrine’ that he made a short promotional film about it for free.

“Now, suddenly, she was in demand everywhere. The economic crisis had looked at first like a textbook enactment of her ‘shock doctrine’ theory, and everyone wanted her to go on TV and explain it.”

-Larissa MacFarquhar, writing on “Outside Agitator,” in the Dec. 8 issue of the New Yorker

Capital case

“[Niall] Ferguson´s claims about British imperialism aren´t merely nostalgia; he has a serious argument to make about the role of empires in the expansion of global capital. For Ferguson, the British Empire was largely a force for good. ‘No organization in history has done more to promote the free movement of goods, capital, and labor than the British Empire in the 19th century and early 20th centuries,’ he wrote in his 2003 book, ‘Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World.’

“Ferguson says that the United States is the rightful heir to Britain´s role as a tribune of ‘Anglobalization,’ but remains an ‘empire in denial.’ (Ferguson supported the Iraq war, but has criticized the occupation.) Not surprisingly, such notions earned Ferguson the scorn of the postcolonial studies crowd.”

-Matthew Price, writing on “The Only Way Is Down,” in the Nov. 20 edition of the National newspaper in Abu Dhabi

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