This is a section of
the Last Letter.
There is a reference
in this section to people who think fascism is lurking in a “basement.”
Then the following appears: (RR- M&L)
RR refers to Roger
M&L to the McNeil
Rosenblatt had made
a reference to “basements” as the place one would find fascists.
The point of this part
of the Last Letter is that fascism is more often found in the bright sunlight, parading its ego on the stage, completely blinded
by its self attribution of good faith, and therefore unable to see its self for what it is:
Later Garrison Keillor
introduced a new character on his show. A character who was always in the basement,
down in the darkness, a depressive, a loser, who was always jealous of Garrison’s success, a fellow student at Garrison’s
former high school.
The addition of this
character, who was uniformly dealt with in an unsympathetic manner, unlike his other creations, who was always by himself
never in any relationship with anyone else, the dialog was limited to Garrison himself, whose depression was attributed to
Garrison’s success, or at least contrasted with Garrison’s success, the darkness, all of this set this new character
off from the rest of the production.
Finally the character
was dropped and Garrison said on stage that he was dropping the character because of all the complaints he had received. He particularly cited the letters of complaint he had received from psychiatrists,
therapists, health care professionals who criticized the way he was portraying
depression and those who suffer from this malady.
have no doubt that Yvonne was certainly among, in the forefront, of those trying to persuade Garrison to drop the character.
I also strongly
suspect that the character originated when I criticized KQED, Yvonne, RR, and the M&L NewsHour, all of them for their
harassment of me, so long ago.
Fascism in Daily Life
Fascism is not a philosophy
of governance but a method of acquiring power. The fascist, in bad faith, manipulates symbols in order to persuade others,
the masses, solely to place himself and his party in control of the state. The rise of the mass media (e.g. radio) is thus
closely associated with the rise of fascism.
The fascist's manipulation
of symbols is not different in fact from any other symbol manipulation performed by others, save that the fascist's manipulations
are exclusively contrived to win for himself and his party political, state, control. This exclusive preoccupation with his
and his party's success is why we attribute bad faith to the fascist's manipulations.
This attribution of bad faith
is a function of the observer.
Every journalist knows that
there is no such thing as an "un-slanted" story. A verb and a noun must be selected to describe the first thing to be reported
in the first sentence of the lead paragraph. To the extent the reporter's selection is based on the calculation of the benefit
to his party views in winning power he is to that extent a fascist. At the time of the selection the reporter may not believe
he has slanted the story for this purpose and yet will none the less be thought to have acted in bad faith.
The fascist does not say, "here,
see, I now manipulate in bad faith." To the contrary, the fascist selects just those symbols that will be most convincing
to his audience. He seeks to have good faith attributed to him. Fascism may be regarded as an opportunistic virus in the body
politic, taking advantage of the hopes, dreams, and most especially the beliefs of the polity.
["Blow your cover" ‑‑‑
"I don't want to blow anyone's
"We choose our covers very
carefully." Jenna Leachman West Coast Weekend
No clearer statement by a fascist
artist could be given. The word cover implies concealment, a lie. (To have ones "cover blown," in spy novel jargon, is to
have the lie exposed.) Yet the artist may in good faith believe her `art' is for a just cause, just as the journalist may
believe he is telling "the truth." As noted above even a lie can, if good faith is imputed, be justified. It is
only the observer who, imputing
bad faith, can see fascism as fascism.
To those who think fascists
wear brown shirts and trousers with side stripes and substantial black boots it is no doubt a surprise to find a fascist dressed
in tie dyed blouse and tapered pants with delicate soft shoes. But this is just the sense in which Tony Brown talks of "Black
fascists" and others talk of feminist Nazis. Most people, (M r. L of the M & L Newshour for example?), think fascism is
lurking in some Bavarian forest. [One hears talk of Bavarian `painters.'] It is inconceivable to them that someone they know
and like, their "friends," might be fascists.
Indeed instantly upon the attribution
of good faith fascism disappears, and may become invisible to the fascist herself. This fear of unconscious infection by this
virus causes many to avoid symbol manipulations altogether. Hermits. Others manipulate symbols first one way then another
in a vain attempt not to become part of a recognizable pattern. American journalists who one day speak of the "homeless victim"
and the next deridingly refer to the suspect as a "transient," are an example of this strategy. Another strategy is to select
symbols specifically because they are not accepted, at least by the masses, thus avoiding any chance that one will be believed
or be successful.
At first this might seem a
promising solution. The teacher is an example of this type. The teacher introduces his audience to new ideas which because
they are not yet believed can not be manipulated by the fascist. Unfortunately, as soon as these new symbols are generally
accepted their manipulation, on a mass scale for purposes of acquiring power, becomes possible. For example to the extent
communists tried to introduce new ideas of economic administration they were to that extent distinguishable from fascists.
The fact that communism was
divergent from the way people actually live and therefore could never be generally accepted, only protected communists all
the more from fascism. But again, as with the teacher, as soon as communism was successful in acquiring state power, the new
teaching became the object of fascistic manipulation. This explains why the revolutionary Lenin is thought of differently
than Stalin. And even Stalin who killed more people than did Hitler is still distinguished from the fascists. However, after
the newness of communism faded, the subsequent leaders of the Soviet Union became, with the passage of time,
with the passage of good faith,
to be seen as coldly manipulating the state approved symbols, though they also
may have still thought of themselves as acting in good faith.
The American journalist's strategy
unfortunately is no more successful. First, even a random selection of symbols will on occasion match a fascist's manipulations.
Then too, who can say they can always separate their own party interests from all analysis? The reliance on the consensus
of the "journalistic family" for guidance in how to manipulate the symbols has the obvious defect that the fascist seeks out
just these generally accepted symbols.
Finally the American journalist's
strategy is most self defeating in avoiding fascism because the very kaleidoscopic view it presents so tears up the intellectual
landscape that the confusion and distortions in the mass understanding of events is fertile ground for fascistic manipulation.
The American media plows the field for the fascist. The bewildered population that one day is told government is spending
too much and the next too little, often by the same journalist, turns from one leader to the next in intellectual disarray,
happily accepting the simplest answers. The fact that the new leader has no philosophy doesn't matter to them as long as he
can manipulate the mass symbols.
If it is said, "But if this
theory is true, then the theory predicts that there are more fascists in America
than we have identified." I say: that is right. You must not assume that because you do not attribute bad faith to the actor
that the actor is therefore not a fascist. Consider the mass media's acceptance of Pat Buchanan for example. The fact that
Perot has no complicated philosophy of government does not make symbol manipulation harder for him but much easier.
"A populist conservative ‑‑‑
that is what a fascist is." Guest on Crossfire (What depth of understanding!)
Others may say, ok we see that
fascism is a subjective evaluation and that we may share their ideas and be unaware of the fascism, let us accept that. We
understand the idea relating mass media symbol manipulation with the fascist's taking advantage of popular ideas, for the
purpose of gaining power, by lying. But if this is all true your theory still can not stand because if fails to explain why
fascism is almost exclusively a
phenomena of the right. You have said that the communists are distinguishable from fascists at least in their
early years when they were trying to bring their ideas into power. But symbol manipulation can be done by anyone, why is it
that the right is always where we find fascists?
I see by this question that
you still see fascism as a historical phenomena associated with a certain "Bavarian painter," not as the process of selection
If it is true that the fascist
selects symbols for their "instrumental" value, because of their hold over the popular imagination, then which symbols would
you select if you wanted to be a successful fascist? Just those symbols that were already accepted. And where are those symbols
located? On the right?
In the popular imagination
the "maintenance of order," the "preservation of traditional values," the "military," the "family," the "mother and father,"
particularly the "father," the "church," the "hearth and home," and especially the "nation and State," all are, in every country,
associated with the right wing party in that country.
But to the fascist this is
mere happenstance. Hitler was not interested in the preservation of "values" in terms of the integration of Jews into German
society that had been achieved over the previous century. The "value" of academic freedom was not to be preserved. The "family"
was to be subordinated to the party and then upon ascendancy, to the State, with the new leader as the National Father. There
was no room left in his conception of society for loyalty to "family."
The invocations to God
were not professions of faith but the use of another popular and therefore exploitable symbol. Upon ascendancy Hitler sought
to replace the various denominations with his own church. The "State" was only a symbol that was highly regarded in that country
with its history of central authoritarian rule over the previous century. There was no conservative philosophy of the limited
the labor movement was powerful, and socialist ideas had gained much popular support. The fascists were more than willing
to take advantage of this symbol as well. The Nazis were after all "socialist workers." Juan Peron was a creature of the labor
movement that was powerful and popular. Franco was "anti‑communist" but not at all interested in a market economy or
a democratic government. His attempts to associate himself with the popular church did not prevent him from arresting and
Fascists select the most powerful
symbols to persuade.
However, the liberal
American press and academics also select those things that they wish to identify as fascistic. The popular imagination is
thus directed to the most superficial evaluations. Many assume that if they are on the left, by definition they can not be
fascistic. But any of the above symbols can be manipulated by anyone.
The fact that one identifies
more fascists on the right than on the left may say more about ones prejudices than about the facts. It tells us to whom the
journalists and academics attribute good faith and to whom they attribute bad faith.
It is a mistake to see the
fascists as only evil hateful people in black boots. Or perhaps this is done to distance oneself from the discomfort of recognizing
the similarities between oneself and ones "friends" and ones "network family" and the fascists? Is that it? Fear of recognition?
Much more comfortable to distance oneself.
We have come to the last refuge,
the last hope of those trying to inoculate themselves against fascism. This last strategy is that one does not hate but loves.
One has many "friends" and is deeply attached to ones home, and values; god? We are happy we can't be fascists.
The fascists used symbols to
play on these feelings as well. After the war thousands of Germans stated they had been misled by Hitler. They testified that,
at least in the beginning, they had not seem the coming catastrophe. Repeated references were made to the movies, and what
they had read in the newspapers, and heard over the radio. Strength Through Joy!
Many described their understanding as a dream like state, as an hallucination.
But they were not believed.
The victors regarded this testimony as face saving lies. Bad faith was attributed to them. A moments reflection on history,
however, will reveal that any society has belief patters which are wildly different over time. But normally, centuries separate
these systems, they are never suddenly juxtaposed but gradually merged over generations. Popular beliefs are separated by
time as well as by geography. Imagine yourself in Germany:
A clear sunny day and many beautiful women showering down flowers on the big Mercedes Benz as it passes slowly. Many smiling
faces. The youth picnic. Jobs for every one! New highways and homes ! The community. "Good feelings." Love. Another powerful
“I am again calling
the Bay of Biscay . . . Leningrad . . . the Caucasus
front, the U‑boat sailors in the Atlantic." And the stations identified themselves and replied
We ask you, comrades,
to sing once more the lovely old Christmas carol Silent Night. . .
All stations will now join
us with this spontaneous greeting by comrades deep in the south, on the Black Sea.
Now they are already
singing in the Arctic Ocean off Finland,
and now we are switching in all the other stations, Leningrad, Stalingrad. And now France . . . Catane . . . Africa. And now they are all singing together: Sleep in heavenly peace. Sleep in heavenly peace.”
Wehrmacht Radio, Christmas
Saul Friedlander, Reflections
Mr. Friedlander comments that the song the Nazis chose for this occasion was "Not 'Deutschland, Deutschland
uber alles,' Not `Heute gehort uns Deutschland,' not the 'Horst Wessel Lied,' but the song of nostalgia, of home, of piety:
`Silent Night, Holy Night.' The universe of purity fuses with that religious
imagery, with the mythic candor that marks the beginnings of the world.
"By definition, for Nazism
looks backward, back to the lost premodern world, the archaic universe of before the deluge. Unlike Marxism, which reaches
out to the society of tomorrow. Liberalism, too, turns toward the future . . . For Nazism, however, the model of future society
is only a reflection of the past."
Yes, the past with all its
familiar symbols and associations.
So what are you saying? There
is no immunization from fascism?
Yes, now we understand. I think
we can dispense with fascism as a noun, for it is a process.
Fascism is taking place now,
as you read this sentence. It is not located in a geographical place, Bavaria, or lurking in a "basement" (R.R.‑M&L)
but can be felt in the muscles of your eyes as they are drawn across this page. It occurs as you select out what is meaningful
and evaluate it, even as you are reading this.
Your choice to be satisfied
with the way this sentence ends, or your choice to feel that is not quite right. How
and why you make these choices, the answer to these questions, is where you will find fascism. Of course, everyone invariably
attributes good faith to themselves, and their "friends." Do you see the problem?
Of the journalists I
Do the words " social control"
appear before you? What is your reaction? Do you attribute bad faith to the writer who put those words, " social control,"
in front of you, do you call him fascist? This choice, this process of selection and attribution, is fascism as process.
Do you arrange the public humiliation
of this writer my means of symbol manipulation on the mass media? (Radio?) Do you know those who did? Do you attribute good
faith to them because they are your "friends," because they are your "network family?" Do the symbols of job, career, friendship,
love merge into a good faith attribution?
Mr. President, you see the
problem, Sir, they too "believe." For them social control and human freedom are two separate disconnected ideas. They are
two wholly self contained seamless systems of thought: SYMBOLS. But real ideas are not so perfect. The habit of many peoples
around the world to intentionally place an imperfection in their work, a "mistake," to allow the evil spirit to escape may
have more truth than we know. The recognition of an imperfection in ones system of thought, a contradiction is a window, it
allows one to look out into other systems of thought, into the unknown, to question, to doubt.
These journalists are like
chimpanzees playing with a coin. On one side of the coin is human freedom and on the other social control. One of the dominant
males picks up the coin and tosses it up into the air. It comes down: human freedom. The chimpanzees are happy, they let out
a long chimpanzee laugh, "He, He, He, He, He." They hug each other and pick lice out of each other's coats. They strut around
their heads way back looking into the sky, "He, He, He, He, He," hands dragging on the ground.
Then a dominant female slips
forward and tosses the coin into the air: social control. There is panic. Lips are drawn back from the teeth. Males push each
other away and the females gather together, forearms drawn over the eyes. Loud cries of anger and aggression. Fascism !!!
What happened to human freedom? For them it simply disappeared.
"Doctor Wilson, when
will you men stop being so aggressive and violent?"
"Just as soon madam as
you women stop selecting the most aggressive and violent males to mate with."
Mr. President, I don't
think they quite have got it yet. They want to understand but can't quite get the point, "But what is the source then, of
this `process' fascism, where does it come from?" they are asking.
They don't understand
that it is sitting across from them at the highly polished cherry wood table as its manicured hand adjusts the pearl necklace
and picks up the sterling silver salad fork.
Its gold cufflinks brush
against the edge of that same table, and later glisten in the lights from the cars on the road as it holds the steering wheel
It exists in the feel
of the satin skin of the inner thigh, and the touch of lips.
And if they would just
close one eye they could see the tip of it.
“But when you go
talking about how to raise our babies. That's too personal, um‑hun,
don't be messing with
our families, not our babies, that's just too personal. Em‑hun.”
There is this fundamental
inarticulateness in the media and government, Mr. President. There is an inability to engage in a discussion, to use rhetoric.
But this defect is not the result of illiteracy or a lack of "education" but is the result of a fundamental inability to reflect
on human existence even at the most basic level. They live in an utterly fragmented and abstracted world of symbols.
After the riots, on Sunday
Morning, C.K. is talking to a reporter in Los Angeles. How far have race relations
come in America? The reporter holds up his hand and with the
index finger next his thumb says, "about this far." It is a visual thing. You see? Dumbly he looks into the camera forlornly
and then at his thumb and index finger, "about this far." Billions in technology, years of experience, an education the best
in the world and we have this, just this mute, looking at his thumb in the air, with this forlorn expression.
wrote Magister Ludi as a warning. He was warning the followers of the Way, the people of Der Steppenwolf, the people of the
magic theater, against leaving their country to live with the lotus eaters in the land of perfect symbols, (the glass beads).
Anita Hill before the
Judiciary Committee, for example, is described in terms of the visual image of this "Black Woman" and those "Old White Men."
The symbol of the domination of women by men, of Blacks by Whites. That the witness, this law school graduate, this former
attorney with the E. E. O. C., this law school professor, testified specifically that she was not claiming she was a victim
of sexual harassment is an inconvenient fact.
The symbol becomes the
bumper sticker, "I believe you Anita." You see, Mr. President, your affirmation again. Just what do they believe? That the
witness repeatedly asked the man to stop making lewd remarks? For no claim was made of physical force, or the use of the power
of the employer, e.g. pay, work load, assignment, promotion, in order to compel or "induce." The witness followed the man
on to other employment.
What is believed? That
sexual harassment is wrong? But this was not claimed. That lewd talk is wrong? But how will this social problem be stopped
if we do not take action? She says she stood up to him, repeatedly, and the talk stopped. But she is not satisfied. Why did
she not do more at the time? She said she wanted "tenure." What now is the meaning of the symbol? That women will place jobs
before honor? That she is a careerist?
We are told we should
understand and be sensitive to her situation. What if it was your daughter, sister, mother? I would say, `do as she did,'
stand up to him. File a complaint. Arrange to have a witness overhear. I would try and think `what would Bobby have done?'
Wear a wire? You know, f‑‑‑ `m. This would be my message. But what is the message that was sent? That women
are victims of circumstance? No, not even that, just the symbol, "Black Woman" and the "Old White Men."
Is this what is believed?
But whatever the facts of these issues, what concerns us here is the symbol manipulation, the visual of the "Black Women"
and the "Old White Men." That the difficulty women face in society and employment should be the subject of public discussion
is doubted by no one that I know, or have ever met. It is pure affectation for the radicals to claim
that only they in good
faith care about these issues. It is their attribution of good faith to themselves
that allows them to trump up a few incidents of bad manners into a constitutional question.
Such is the power of self attributed “good faith” to induce hallucinations.
It is a kind of drug.
But the Senate chose not to
be the forum for this discussion. The Senators concluded that the business of the Senate would not be changed by this discussion.
As the nominee was confirmed in any case this judgment was also confirmed. Many may argue that the "Old White Men" were wrong.
One may argue with them if one wishes, but this is not what was done.
Anita Hill did not go
to the steps of the Capitol and speak or hand out her notice. She did not nail a proclamation to the door. The Senators were
not engaged in a debate; rhetoric, and "rational" discourse were not employed. Rather a social situation was engineered. The
"Black Woman" was placed before the "Old White Men." A symbol was created.
By trick and device the Senate
was used. The Constitutional rights and prerogatives of the United States Senate were stolen. The Senate was brought into
disrepute. Disrepute not caused by the weight of superior argument but because of the use of a symbol. The Senator's arguments
for not holding public hearings were not examined, nor their decision challenged with just argument. You see the power of
the symbol (?), it crushes with its uncomprehending irrational weight. Fascism?
The witness since July
of 1991, when first contacted by the press, had chosen not to come forward with her claims. She chose not to issue a proclamation.
If she had the Senate may well have chosen to yield to her arguments for why she should be heard. In order to engineer the
symbol it was necessary to create the story in the mass media. That the witness was widely regarded as a liar did not matter
for the symbol manipulators, only the symbol was important. If one attributes good faith even lies can be justified.
Any of us may select out any
number of facts, and in good faith call them good or bad, as we "believe." But the process of fascistic selection always is
based on the calculation of mass manipulation of symbols, not the rational discussion of ideas. The mass media chose not to
cover the story, that they had known about since July. There was not "news" there. For one thing the witness declined to talk
to them, but there were others who were willing.
Someone in the Senate
chose over the expressed wishes of his constitutional peers, to over ride their decision. This person made this decision based
on the calculation that he and his party would receive some benefit. This individual could have chosen to
issue statements stating the
contentions of lewd talk. He could have done this and still protected the confidentiality of the witness who had declined
to come forward. He could have published pamphlets, quoted witnesses, used rhetoric, started a debate. But debate was not
what was wanted. The symbol was what was wanted.
This Senator chose to lie,
chose to violate the rules of the Senate. This violation alone was sufficient to attract the attention of the media. Now these
reporters had a "cover" to justify their participation in mass media symbol manipulation, about a story they admit they knew
about since July.
Imagine the supreme self confidence
of that Senator. We could draw up a psychological profile of that individual. His sense of moral superiority over his constitutional
peers may have resulted from his success in life. For example he might be so highly placed in society that he could make,
say, $50,000 in a single deal over the telephone. However, his sense of moral superiority might well come from his self identification
as a "VICTIM." In psychological terms "VICTIMS" are indistinguishable from supreme egoists. Both feel that the rules ought
not to apply to them.
For example the Nazis saw themselves
as "VICTIMS" and their constant talk of "super men" can easily be seen as the "VICTIM'S" attempt to compensate for his sense
of inadequacy. "Success" in life is not at all contradictory with self identification as a "VICTIM." Indeed the "VICTIM" may
well try harder to succeed in life just because of this self identification. The "VICTIM" may become a successful businessman,
and run for the Senate, may graduate from Yale and become a successful Marin County
"personal and business counselor," become a law school professor with "tenure," and yet still see themselves as the "VICTIM."
And if it is said, "But
now look at who is psychoanalyzing ! You said this was wrong." I argue on the contrary, I am not saying his acts are questioned
because of this psychological profile, not at all. His acts are wrong because he violated Senate rules. Why he violated the
rules is not at issue. He is not being criticized because he is a supreme egoist or because of his self identification as
a "VICTIM," the two are indistinguishable, but because he violated Senate rules. He leaked a confidential document, to one
boy reporter and to one girl reporter. That was a nice touch.
Now we have these elements
Mr. President: 1, the symbol designed to appeal to some simple mass understanding, 2, its manipulation in the mass media,
3, a calculation of party advantage in that particular manipulation for control of the state, 4, the absence of any interest
in creating doubt about either the symbol or the popular notions that the symbol satisfies in the public mind.
We have then, Mr. President,
all the elements necessary to satisfy the proposed definition of fascism, save, the last: bad faith. This element must be
attributed to the actor by the observer.
When I advised the Senate
of my opinions on your Constitutional powers as Commander in Chief, when I warned the Senate that the powers of the Executive
would be expanded, that the Senate would lose a Constitutional privilege, (immunity from Treason for giving aid and comfort
in time of war, along with every other citizen), upon a Declaration of War, I was widely labeled a fascist. 1 did not threaten
the Senate, much less defraud it in the mass media, I warned it. 1 averred then and now that the Senate had the power to confine
the army to base, to abolish it entirely if it wished; but not the Navy, which must be maintained. I said it could and can
establish any rules it likes for the Regulation and Government of the military.
At that time the symbol
was "the power" of Congress and the manipulation in the media was exclusively devoted to "the vote." The media was used for
partisan gain, to exploit the popular misconceptions of the Constitution.
Now here we have a case where
truly all the elements of the definition seem to have been met, yet, because the liberal journalists are friends of the boy
and girl reporters, and the various activists who defrauded the Senate, and of that Senator who is a liar, because they attribute
good faith to their symbol manipulation, no charge, or even thought of fascism exists.
The King Affair
The shock of recognition
may cause discomfort in some. The brighter ones may be thinking, `are we little Hitlers?' Others, may feel, `the argument
fails for its absurdity.'
But of course you are
not Hitlers. You do not want to engage in global war or exterminate the "inferior races." You are still thing historically
not in terms of process. Peron did not seek
military adventures outside
of his country, nor did Franco. Neither of them sought to exterminate races. After consolidation Franco sought to "eliminate"
his opposition as did Peron and his successors (over 10,000 in the `70s and `80s), but these policies have been seen before
The question is not are
you "Hitters" but whether your selection process and use of symbols in the mass media is fascistic?
Fascism can be traced
back to Roman times where the word originated. But what distinguishes fascism in our century is the mass manipulation of symbols
for state control. Military conquest is not an exclusive characteristic, nor is genocide unique to fascism. Stalin, the Turks,
Pol Pot, all have killed millions. Buddhists were exterminated in India,
and millions have been murdered by the Chinese in Tibet. Hitler's
industrial system of genocide was as new, as it was monstrous, but Mussolini, Peron, Franco are no less fascists.
The manipulation of symbols
is unavoidable. It is true that, for example, auto manufacturers may manipulate mass media symbols in order to take advantage
of the public's gullibility and convince them to purchase the advertised products. The fact that they do not want to raise
any doubts in their audience doesn't make their symbol manipulation fascistic. These advertisers are not seeking state control.
The ‑rise of fascism
in our century is a technique, a means, for gaining state control, it is not a set of policies or crimes.
The repeated broadcast
of "the beating" tape, (for that is what the mass media called it from the first), was never once interrupted with a frame
by frame analysis. Repeated assertions were made that other "police officers" had viewed the tape and were unanimous that
the "four White police officers" were unprofessional. But these alleged experts were never presented on the mass media. Not
until the fires were burning did anyone interview the defense or defense experts for the other side.
No graphics of the hour
long chase were ever presented. No interviews with the other motorists and pedestrians whose lives had been put at risk were
reported. There was no discussion of the problem of drunk drivers or the rules relating to the ramming of a fleeing suspect's
car. No officers were interviewed about how it feels to chase a drunk driver for an hour and the risk to the officers involved.
What goes through your head? Does the adrenaline affect your judgment?
No officers or legal
experts were interviewed to discuss if 26
there is a difference in law
between an "unprofessional" and a "criminal" use of the night stick. There is. Indeed none of those who now decry the verdict
or who before the trial had already found the "four White police officers" guilty of a crime has yet told us which of the
"56" uses of the night stick, in "81" seconds, were lawful, unprofessional, subject to a civil suit, or criminal.
But all of these examples are
either too small, too big, too complicated, for the simple symbol manipulation of the mass media: hence the association of
the mass media with fascism. For it is in the simple symbol manipulation of the mass media that fascism finds its home.
Just making these points
exposes one to the charge that one does not understand the "real" issues.
Its like a child who
has been starved for so long . . . like you see in the photos of a famine. The ribs sticking out. And then this child is placed
at a buffet and there is all this food. A whole table of different foods. But he doesn't know what to eat. It has been so
long, you see. So he thinks should I eat the red foods, then the green ones, you know, should he choose by color? Or by smell?
Texture? He doesn't know.
( She makes me so irritated.
OK, you tell me, what
are the "real" issues?
"THE BLACK VICTIM" and the
"four White police officers." This visual became the symbol. This symbol was placed, literally placed, next to the symbol
of civil rights demonstrators being beaten thirty years ago. These are totally closed systems not subject to doubt, (symbols),
and the mass media manipulators had no interest in creating any doubt about this symbol.
That Mr. King was not a civil
rights demonstrator but a drunken motorist who was resisting arrest, had done so for over an hour, was still doing so even
after repeated blows, did not in any way change this symbol. A symbol is a symbol precisely because it is not challenged.
Does anyone claim that all of the "56" blows in "81" seconds were criminal? The mass media manipulators never tell us. Were
20 criminal, 20 unprofessional and giving rise to civil action, 10 unprofessional but lawful, and 6 lawful, or is it just
the opposite ?
There is no exclusionary
rule for the use of the night stick. A 27
reasonable juror need not be
a "racist" to find that the first 20 blows were lawful. Reasonable jurors might well disagree whether the next 10 were unprofessional
or even criminal. When the suspect gets up again the use of the night stick becomes lawful, once again, even if the prior
ten were found to be criminal.
For example, the officers may
well not have realized that one or more of their number had delivered criminal blows, but their right to have their repeated
orders, "stay down," obeyed, can not be doubted. If one is hit illegally by an officer does one have a right to take law into
ones own hands and as Senator Bradley has advised "elbow them right back?" [We will return to this.] This social policy might
lead to a more disciplined police force, but more likely it will lead to anarchy. Which is what we got.
The suspect's new legal status
as a victim of a crime did not relieve him of his duty and obligation to obey the prior given lawful order of the police,
"stay down." The jurors were not asked to give an opinion if the blows were unprofessional, only if they were criminal. One
officer had already been fired as the union contract permitted this. The other three "White police officers" had been suspended
without pay. The jurors could well have thought that the officers had acted badly, but not with evil intent, which is what
is required in criminal law.
The lawyers no doubt will object,
and say that intent is implied by the reasonable and predictable consequences of ones acts. Officers flailing away with their
night sticks will in law be presumed to have intended the criminal act. Yet this is why before the trial, indeed for hundreds
of years, citizens have arranged their courts so as not to be judged by lawyers. The citizens do not trust the "legal mind"
for justice. It's too cold.
The average layman, for example,
if he shows up late at his place of employment may be reprimanded, his pay may be docked, he may even be fired. But a lawyer
who shows up late may be held in contempt of court and sent to jail. The average layman does not hold to so tight a use of
the criminal law. An officer who "looses his cool" may make the juror angry but the juror may well overlook one, five, even
twenty extra strokes of the night sticks, if he finds the officers were "provoked."
In the end they did not continue
to hit the suspect. They stopped, eventually. They did not use deadly force but rather the night stick their employer, the
people, had given them presumably for just this purpose. They did not connect electrical wires to his
genitals as is done in some
countries, run him over with their cars, take him in hand cuffs to be beaten further. The defense made a plausible connection
between the use of the night sticks and the facts of the situation, resisting arrest.
Officers who were present but
not charged, testified that the "four White police officers" had used too much force. Yet these officers did not come forward
at the time. Is this because they also were fearful of the suspect who was resisting arrest?
The media reported after the
verdict that the defense had been "allowed" to show the tape frame by frame. Were these reporters implying that the defense
should not have been "allowed" access to all the physical evidence? If so they should have said so before the verdict, in
fact before the "crime." The truth is that these media light weights do not have any theory about how trials should be conducted.
This is what is wrong
with American journalism. They enjoy a good living, the comforts of their society, but decline to take responsibility for
it. "The defense was allowed to show the tape
frame by frame." Those shysters!
Not, "The defense showed the tape frame by frame." The media manipulators did not want to show the tape frame by frame and
identify the criminal blows, because for them it was a symbol, not evidence. As soon as a verdict comes down with which they
disagree they run for cover and attribute bad faith to the jury, the courts, society, not withstanding the fact that we, and
the media, are presumed to have accepted the rules.
In a democracy we are
the sovereign. If the police are poorly trained or regulated it is as much the fault of the journalists as anyone. If the
court failed to follow the rules of evidence and criminal procedure the journalists should have told us so. The journalist
do no one any favors by taking the position that they owe no loyalty to anything. They too are members of this society and
have the same obligation to foster understanding of the complexities of our law as any judge.
The journalist reported the
testimony of the officer who testified against the other three in the most disparaging terms. This officer stated he had not
"kicked" the suspect, as charged, but had "stomped" on him. The young reporters thought this comical. Yet a review of the
tape clearly show this officer putting the sole of his shoe on the suspect, who was then prone for the third time. The officer
said he wanted to make sure the suspect stayed down this time, the third time, and did not try to
The officers use of the
non genteel "stomped" was meant to communicate to the jury that he had done more than just "stepped" on the suspect. He had
wanted to convey to the suspect in as urgent a fashion as he could, that the suspect should not again, as he had done twice
before, get up, but should "stay down!" Far from being comical this officer's testimony was supported by the tape for next
he testified that he stepped over the suspect and blocked the night stick of another officer who was preparing to strike yet
The jury may well have
assumed that if even this officer was to be charged with the others then clearly these men were charged with a crime due to
a very close reading of the law indeed. This officer's testimony that he thought too many blows had been struck may not have
inclined the jury to think the others criminal so much as to believe that if this defendant was charged then they should be
skeptical of the other charges as well.
What ever the "truth"
of the facts in the trial of the "four White police officers" may be what is of interest to us here is the manipulation of
symbols in the mass media. The mass media did not present both sides of "the beating" because it was not subject to analysis.
For the manipulators it was a symbol.
Don't Blame the Victim
The very fact that to
engage in this discussion is suspect explains the inarticulateness of our society. The symbol is a symbol just because it
is unexamined. And it is no good to say that we haven't had "tiiiime" or enough space. These limitations argue for greater
care in ones symbol selection and manipulation not less care. There was time to repeatedly broadcast "the beating" tape. Is
the manipulation done to cause the reader or viewer to question, to search for deeper meanings, or to confirm the manipulator's
own party views?
Whether one has three
minutes or thirty minutes the issue is the same. To show the weeping face of the "mother" whose children have been taken away
form her for one and a half minutes, then to show the social worker's supervisor for another one and a half minutes may be
fair but the time spent on each isn't going to be the criterion. That story exists in a whole social context, the least of
which is not the popular understanding and reaction.
The simplistic approach
taken by the media is the main
reason that the public
discussion is so limited. For the media to say it has no obligation to support a public policy that requires the children
of drug addicts be taken away is to simply fragment the social consensus. For liberal reporters to say that there should be
more drug treatment programs, or that government should do a better job of keeping drugs out of society, in no way supports
the anarchic intellectual environment it has created.
The mass media is communicating
with a largely illiterate population that has been turned out by our schools. For the media to claim that it is not a "propaganda"
tool of the state misses the point that the media is shaping the society. It has no choice. It has multiple obligations the
first of which is to recognize that the symbols it uses are not of equal kind. A complex social situation with mountains of
sociological research and volumes of political and philosophical arguments, all of which are unknown to their mass audience,
are not proportional to the anguished face of the grief stricken mother.
Or consider how the social
policy regarding Medicare was changed due to the symbol of a Congressman being rocked in his car by a group, a small group,
of protesters. It is very easy for the manipulators to claim that the politicians should "stand up" to their symbol manipulation,
it is more difficult for them to bring balance and perspective to their own use of symbols, especially when they all agree
with each other in their "objective" happy "network family." The manipulation of these various symbols before the mass audience,
taking into account these reactions to these very different symbols, is what communication is all about. Know your audience.
The repeated assertion of the
media that its audience is "smarter than that," or "smarter than they are given credit for," etc. far from giving one confidence
merely confirms what has been suspected. The media manipulators put less weight on the reaction of the audience to its symbols
than they should: Oh, they will figure it out. A kind of absent minded approach the results of which we see in the smoke over
Los Angeles. I am reminded of the flew Yorker cartoon of the owner saying to her
dog, "Ralph, you are such a good boy. Do you want to go to the park? I'll get your leash, Ralph." And what the dog hears is
"Ralph, bla bla bla, park, bla bla bla, Ralph."
The people of Los
Angeles have been shown crying out for "justice" including the Mayor at the beginning of the riots.
Justice is a symbol whose meaning can be fixed as in the phrase, "Blacks get no justice," or there is not "justice in California
courts, anyway not Semi
Valley courts." But is it justice when a mother uses crack? That, to use Gilder's
arresting phrase, "fatherless boys with knives" should hang out around liqueur stores? Or that they should be fatherless?
That children arrive at school not knowing the shape circle or the color purple? Are the mothers and fathers of these children
just? Justice does not exist in courts but in the ethos of the society. Laws are not "justice," but one, and only one, attempt
by society to secure justice, in society. Justice has a broader, and far more profound meaning than the media manipulators
allow. Why are they so narrow? Why do they apply their scrutiny so selectively? Party prejudice?
Which is the greater
injustice, that once down and in substantial compliance the suspect continues to be hit with night sticks, or that over forty
people are killed, and a billion dollars in property is destroyed? Will the symbol manipulators spend the same amount of time
examining the rioters and their "injustice" as they spent examining the injustice of "the beating?"
"Pow, pow, pow, pow,
pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow,
pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow,pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow,
pow, pow, pow, pow, pow,
United States Senator Bradley
United States Senate
(While the fires were
still burning. At a time of crisis we
look to our leaders.
We hope for words of guidance.)
Who are the political, religious,
social leaders of south central L.A.? Will they be held to the same scrutiny as
the society that employed the "four White police officers?" Or, if not, will the manipulators depict these "community leaders"
in a sympathetic light? One may choose any symbols and manipulate them as one likes, but the issue is why did the media show
only one side to "the beating" and the verdict, and the police, and the courts?
Why not show the police in a sympathetic light? Will the media ask if the "community" of south central L.A.
is just? Perhaps the verdict was unjust but then perhaps the "community" of south central L.A.
is unjust. If one wishes to take up a critical perspective why apply it only to the institutions of the society but never
apply this critical gaze to the "communities" that make
up this society?
We have symbols within symbols.
Let us take this letter as an example Mr. President. The first symbol was your affirmation, "1 believe," which was initially
praised for its insightfulness. In subsequent pages the original symbol was fragmented with a bewildering array of examples.
(Yes, this is too long, but then, you have to read it don't you. If you want to stay in the know.) It has been argued that
a symbol is a closed system not subject to challenge. That as soon as it is it no longer is a symbol. Yet we must use symbols
to create doubt, to cause the reader to look more deeply. Contradiction?
The words in this sentence
each have definitions. To establish a meaning these definitions must be fixed, the words become symbols. But the context of
the words is important. A sentence can be construed first one way then another. As these new meanings are applied the symbol
is changed, it no longer is closed.
For the Mayor of Los Angeles
to decry the lack of "justice" he must fix the meaning of the word and it becomes a symbol. As soon as he is challenged the
symbol breaks down into the various possible meanings. To the extent we allow only one meaning to attach we have a symbol.
The world is infinitely more complex than can be captured in any sentence, save possibly the sentence, 1 love you.
To the extent that we narrow
our world down to just one meaning we miss out on the possibility of greater truth. For example the rule of symbol selection,
"don't blame the victim," fails to capture the fact that the status of victim should not exempt one from all criticism. What
would you do if you saw red police lights in your rear view mirror? What to think about a professor who puts pubic hairs in
What is being said when
we say the death penalty is wrong? We are saying to the friends and family of the murdered that their desire for vengeance
is wrong. It is a criticism of them. We are not "blaming" them for being victims but we are saying that their rage goes too
far. We can not say in any final sense that they are unjust, only that, just or unjust as it may be, we do not "believe" that
the state should kill those whom we can imprison. There are multiple meanings and obligations. The Mayor of L.A. was not interested
in discussing the varied meanings of justice on the night of the riot, only one.
For example, your use of the Horton
controversy in the campaign was said to have been 1, a symbol, "The Black
Criminal," 2, in the mass media,
3, for political gain, 4, exclusively, with no intention to convey the complexity of the symbol. In your case bad faith was
applied to you. You were accused of "playing the race card." Which is itself a symbol which I do not fully understand but
which I note is only applied to conservatives, for liberals can shamelessly refer to race, as in "the four White police officers,"
with no "race card" symbol attached. For example, that Senator Gore also thought the Horton controversy significant is an
inconvenient fact for the liberals.
That Democrats and Republicans
in the State Legislature of the State of Massachusetts alike denounced the Governor's
decision to support the strange bureaucratic logic of the Bureau of Prisons, i.e. "in order to control the prisoners, we have
to let them out," is another inconvenient fact.
That Mr. Horton was Black was
for me a detail. That he was a convicted murderer on a life sentence, out on furlough, committing a new series of crimes,
including kidnapping, torture, battery, assault, burglary, and rape, because of a policy designed to help the Massachusetts
Prison bureaucrats make their job of controlling their inmate population easier, was for me symbolic of the failure of our
liberal society to screw itself up to face that difficult issue of: Social Control.
Again we all manipulate symbols.
And if we are running for president we must use the mass media, hopefully for our party's gain. However, as to the fourth
element, the duty to take these symbols and manipulate them so as to show their varied meaning, to cause the audience to ponder,
new meanings, it is clear your campaign failed to do this.
As was seen so many times before
in the Reagan presidency your campaign advisers steered away from an elaboration of the issues raised. The "professional"
campaign advisers will at this point complain that a campaign is not an educational institution. This is typical of the anti
intellectual environment of America. Presumably the symbol
was selected because it showed the candidate's competitive advantages in the best light. As it is no more difficult to place
a multidimensional symbol before the public than a unidimensional symbol the rotation of the multidimensional shows the candidate's
Far from being less competitive,
the use and rotation of multidimensional symbols not only shows the public additional meanings, which is "educational," but
the work that went into creating the symbol in the mass media yields higher returns. A compounding breakthrough is achieved
as each new rotation in the
light of the mass media, shows
additional strengths, the audience's opinions are changed. The complaint by some politicians that the other side has "stolen"
an issue is ludicrous. Their idea has not been "stolen" but accepted. This is the point of democracy.
I do not attribute bad faith
to your campaign dropping the other implications raised by the criticism of the faulty logic, "in order to control the prisoners,
we have to let them out." Far from it. You were forced to give up the possibility of exploiting the other issues and their
implications for other policies in schools, workfare, ect. The liberal media environment would not allow this discussion.
I would not want what
has happened to one local scribbler to happen to you, Mr. President. This scribbler who wrote a few letters suggesting there
ought to be a more thoughtful discussion of the social view of control, was labeled a fascist, his privacy was invaded, the
champions of free speech at KQED set him upon. KQED subjected him to what amounts to psychological torture.
"Who was that conservative
essayist . . .? You know the one who wrote that essay about that Republican woman? His name began with a ‘C or a K,'
a `C' or a`K?' . . . . what was his name?" "Fake Jesus Christs!"
West Coast Weekend
In this poisonous environment
your campaign did well to move on to other issues. It is a pity Mr. Horton wasn't White. For I suspect that the media manipulators
used his "blackness" as a "cover" in order to prevent a public discussion of the symbolic policy, "in order to control the
prisoners, we have to let them out." There was no possibility of discussing social control. If society will not tolerate this
discussion about a convicted murderer is it likely you would have been permitted to discuss issues of control in schools,
housing projects, streets, etc.?
This is the great disadvantage
the Republicans face. The mass media manipulators in the movies, TV, the radio, and print
are for the most part, liberals. The conservatives in general have failed to cultivate relations with these manipulators:
the artists, writers, actors, directors, singers, as well as journalists. The boorish Republicans fail to recognize their
power and the importance of engaging them in conversation.
The riots did start because
of the Mayor's condemnation of the verdict and his use of the symbol justice, our path to the riot had been started long before.
The media's symbolic manipulation of "the beating" tape also was not the main cause. The verdict itself was not the primary
There are waves of meaning
which echo out from each, of these, but the social ethos does not result from any one of them. The riots started with the
inability of this society to examine itself, because the symbol manipulators use the mass media to limit the public discussion.
They do so thinking they are acting in good faith.
It will seem unfair that DPM,
who was wrongly criticized for the last word in this phrase, for nearly two decades, will now be criticized for the first,
but at least now the criticism will be accurate.
Senator Moynihan was wrongly
accused of "neglect" because there has not been a more tireless supporter and advocate for government aid to our less well
off citizens. The Senator did not mean we should be neglectful in any material way. What he was referring to was the condition
of race relations. The government had by then corrected the legal defects in our society that had blocked the movement of
Black Americans into the larger society. He had foreseen the creation of the Black middle class, the success of those talented
Black Americans who had for so long been frustrated by our vexatious society.
However, he had also foreseen
the difficulties faced by those who for non legal reasons were to be frustrated by the demands of an advanced industrial society.
In the sixties, for example, there was a new wave of immigration from the South and those most recently arrived would, like
all new immigrants have to learn a new life. This would take time. Then too there was the poverty of those whom American society
had kept out for so long. Their work to develop a new life also would take time.
But as noted earlier, even
a teacher's best efforts to bring into being new ideas can be turned into simple symbols for manipulation by the mass media.
And this is what happened to Senator Moynihan's Benign Neglect. Like all good things it was taken too far.
Benign Neglect became
"don't blame the victim."
Any criticism of anyone
the media and society had officially approved
as a victim was forbidden.
Mr. Hooks, of the N.A.A.C.P., states that a decision was made long ago in the civil rights movement not to balance criticism,
but to focus on White Society. The symbol of injustice to Black Americans was not to be rotated in the mass media to show
the varied meaning of injustice, and especially not to show Black American's injustices. It was an "instrumental" decision.
(We will forgo our analysis.) But the result is clear for all to see:
"Blacks don't hate anyone."
U. S. Representative
Clearly Representative Waters
is lost in a day dream, she is out of touch, though she too thinks she is acting in good faith. The rioters were not listening
to Senator Bradley or the Mayor of L. A. There are spheres of, knowledge. In their circle of friends for a generation attitudes
and understandings have been formed. There are waves of meaning that come from many sources. The absence of critical perspective
in the mass media is both a cause and a reflection of deeper social attitudes.
Benign Neglect, Mr. President,
to put it into the vernacular is , "Let's leave these people alone for now, we screwed them around long enough."
It is the silence of
regret, sorrow, and remorse.
But this silence, for all of
its good faith, none the less can, and has lead to all sorts of mischief.
Again imagine yourself in Nazi
Germany. The Jewish woman from across the hall comes to your door. She has a pot with some utensils. She says she and her
family are ordered to move tomorrow to the "new Jewish quarter." You are Germans, you have lived separate lives. You have
visited. You have taken your children to the playground together. She wants you to have these things she can not put in her
suitcases. She looks at you. You are "friends." There is a look. Her eyes ask, will it be all right?
This is devastating. You think
it is wrong. You may even have campaigned against Hitler. Voted for the other party. But what can you do? Also there is embarrassment,
an uncomfortable situation. The mass media does not recognize this injustice. Society is silent. When do any of us know when
to take up arms? When to fight? We are all citizens of Weimar. We each depend
on our community, the bonds of affection, intellectual honesty, we trust in good faith. Will it be all right?
Our situation is different?
What is happening in the inner
cities is a kind of Holocaust.
Silence isn't going to help. Conservatives, having badly bungled the civil rights issue were not in a position to say anything.
First they failed to explain their theory that the market economy would naturally correct the racial imbalance. But this policy
was mistaken, for the imbalance was not caused by the market economy but by government decree. Then they failed to appreciate
the uses of (real) Affirmative Action to accelerate the correction. A thoroughly botched job.
So we kept silent. Not my problem.
It is an embarrassment. We wish the problem would go away. We trust that someone will intervene. All that is required is for
good men to keep quiet.
The comparison to Nazi Germany
is over drawn. Yet there are similarities. What does one do when, in substantial compliance, one continues to be beaten by
the police? What can any of us do? We are citizens of Weimar. We trust? We hope
that the community will come to our aid.
In Mr. King's case people came
forward. One officer intervened and stopped the beating, the only one to do so, though he too was charged. Others testified.
One officer was fired, the only one who could be fired. The others were suspended without pay. Charges were filed. A trial,
according to the law, was held. But the mass media did not regard any of this in a favorable light. They chose to turn "the
beating" into a symbol: "see the black man being beaten." Later it was a "travesty" of "justice" and this too became a symbol
for manipulation in the mass media. To what effect we saw. The media manipulators are standing outside our society, looking
in. Social understanding of complexity is someone else's responsibility. They are silent.
That local scribbler I told
you about earlier, was taken to KQED's studio not so he could be introduced. Not even so the radicals at KQED could argue
with him. They wanted to show that they could control his life. That they could physically manipulate him. They wanted to
demonstrate their mastery over him. The fact that he did not know what was happening to him made it all the better. His privacy.
was invaded. Psychologically tortured.
Many at P.B.S. and the Corporation
for Public Broadcasting and KQED are familiar with the facts. But they do not come forward. They know it was wrong, but they
wish the problem would go away. It is an embarrassing situation for them. And there you are. They attribute to themselves
and their "friends" in their "network family" good faith. They are silent.
They are convinced that they
are in the right. They, as you said Sir, "believe." That's all there is to it. Weimar.
Eleanor Holmes Norton?
What shall be the order
of the child, and what shall be the manner of his work?
Judges, XII1, 12
Very truly yours;
"The real University,
he said, has no specific location. It owns no property, pays no salaries and receives no material dues. The real University
is a state of mind. It is that great heritage of rational thought that has been brought down to us through the centuries and
which does not exist at any specific location. It's a state of mind which is regenerated throughout the centuries by a body
of people who traditionally carry the title of professor, but even that title is not part of the real University. The real
University is nothing less than the continuing body of reason itself."
‑‑‑ Robert M. Pirsig,
and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance