Saturday, July 11, 2020

For the American Literary Historical Society

Witch Hunts' Relevance

     Confabulation sounds accurate in considering our present era’s use of the term, “Witch Hunt.” Except confabulation’s definition - the replacement of a gap in a person's memory by a falsification that he or she believes to be true - doesn’t exactly fit. Because filling in memory with what one believes to be true, at the very least, implies honest mistakenness. The discrepancy being America’s public forums have long been primed, as in cultivated, as a means of obfuscation rather than confrontations with inaccuracies. 
     Whereas obfuscation - the action of making something obscure, unclear, or unintelligible - was how our president used "witch hunt,” as a tool, for fraying perceptions. Handling imagery so that whatever flies. There was even a Sean Hannity Show episode, years back, featuring Republican polling strategist Frank Lundtz, demonstrating, before a studio audience, how the truth doesn’t matter when enough of the public believes otherwise. Well? Polls are for guaging what people understand, however encircled by the narrowest of explanations. 
     A witch hunt is an exacerbation that soundbittenly neglects due, diligent, circumspection. And has always been part of the framing and stigmatizing of Americans’ public opinions. Such that, despite fervent polishing, loyalty’s tarnished when an above the law manner abuses patriotism’s role of common cause. In fact, blaming dissatisfaction as "all liberals fault" is a narrowcastingly broad stroke but all in good sport when winning's everything. Cult of Personality
     After all, History’s Cold Cases have never, ever, really been retried. When what’s gotten away with has to be rendered virtually legitimate, for countries, to, even halfway, face themselves? Gambling’s just bandaging something broken that never set. Having President Jackson’s war with indigenous American landholders equated with almost outright righteousness, result’s from arrogance rules. Immorally superseding God’s legitimate desire to forgive. No? Yes, if all participation is nothing but going along, to get along conformity. As if adhering to a Politburo’s rubber stamp? Scary? Another facet of witch hunt’s meaning is persecution without impartial judgement. Rendering a once visible empathetic future, forgone, for not facing the past. 
     The packaged personality has been with us so long, generations lose the ability to distinguish between levels of complete to dubious sincerity. Public perspective, encased by indifferent celebrity, is smoothed over such that “perfect” and every other adjective thrown at the consumptive public’s portrayed genuinely. Shelving suspicion as not just labelled perspective, honest doubt or wonder, but a matters of taste. And yes, but not but, that’s opinion.
     When what’s meant can’t be considerately perceived as denial, the very ideal of perception can be ridiculed as contrary to patriotic loyalty. Becoming not just trapped inside Plato’s, narrow minded, Cave, but consumed by the sport, and arrogance, team politics represents. The accusation of fake, only, if ever, quantified through sound bites that wear down all explanation into likewise frivolousness. Popularizing the concept people think comprehensively without the benefit of exercising their minds through reading or, perhaps even, listening over the perpetual mental hum. Instead mesmerized by the imagery of concentrated concern. 
     The first Tuesday following the November 2016 American Presidential Election, I recorded myself reading from my, personally regarded, competent parody of The Cold War. The business of literature, so far, having missed fathoming the necessity for crossing misunderstood cultural barriers. Because, for one possible reason, or excuse, against sound advice, I wouldn't change the novel's title The Hammer and Cycle Messenger Service. Because people aren't expected to discern that the title, as a sound bite, is against totalitarianism. Because despite contrary claims about the present mattering most, history's now within the second. And trying to provide the real story is what history’s all about. Political polemics aren’t novels and The Hammer and Cycle isn’t a polemic. Though one theme advocates fully functioning capitalism is socialist. While what has gotten away from the mass of ideologically bound, exploited narrowness, is knowing the schism, separating the points of view, block everyone's heads from getting around economics’ evolution. 
     So I filmed myself reading that second Tuesday night of November 2016. Beside the front doorstep of the decades deceased pre-Presidential legal councillor for the newly elected Chief Executive of our United States. Roy Cohn. Was my choice to read there due to their alliance in the Trump family’s avoiding facing repercussions for blocking African-Americans from living in their New York City buildings? Something like that is a personal concern. The home I was raised in became an African-American funeral home the year, the consistently re-elected, racist, Lake County, Florida Sheriff Willis V. McCall was finally removed from office. His home a block-and-a-half from mine.  
     No. A primary reason for reading there can be summed up by an overwhelming thought I had, as I rode, the wrong way, away from Mr. Cohn's 39 East 68th Street home. Underneath the police surveillance cameras, at Madison Avenue, wondering whether, no matter how obscure, it’d look bad if our new president became more independently discerning as people want to believe our presidents grow? While my being stigmatized, as against what’s patriotically decent, was replaced with remembering presidents facing the future facing the past is a good reason for being there. Whether a confabulation, or not, I most certainly deny.
     When healing an aggravation, understanding soothes. This essay, Witch Hunts' Relevance, was conceived while rereading Naming Names by The Nation’s Publisher Emeritus, Victor S. Navasky. A relatively broad overview of the mid-20th Century’s black-listings Witch Hunt. A fair explanation why everyone, then, were victims. An un-rectified result passed down the generations, through us even now, as we speak. As they say.
     Can humanity surpass our squabbling nature? Ever agree on anything other than celebrating celebrities is leadership? Anything’s possible, and eventually something’s faced, whether, or not, it’s ourselves. But certainly a president, if they so chose, can narcissistically equate their victimhood with those of the “Spanish Inquisition,” as composer David Raksin described enduring his experience with The Witch Hunt on page 251? 
     Wondering how much forty year old “Witch Hunt” material, relevantly, applies today? Who wouldn't be most comfortable doubting everyone? 
     On page 311, Navasky, (my phrasing), refers to the steerers of public rectitude, including Nixon and McCarthy, as having - in common political opportunism and a demagogic capacity to exploit nativism and know-nothing passions. With 319 pointing out - the practical consequences of the naming ritual’s real significance was symbolic. Stigmatized naming names, intelligence agencies already had. Our president’s victimization claim relates? That’s the point. The correlations are vagaries allowing charlatanism to slip between the pages of history, for a time?
     Page 322 Navasky continued, explaining - The degradation ceremonies satisfied the needs of the mass media, which were neither capable, or interested in, exposing the ways in which the ritual distorted truth when it lent itself so elegantly to reproduction on radio and television. Exploiting the peculiar vulnerability of mass media through pseudo-event, coined by Daniel J. Boorstin, at the time Librarian of Congress, distinguished historian and namer of five former Harvard colleagues. Navasky describes the pressures people underwent in giving up their right to free speech. Page 356 notes - Some ex-party members felt ambivalent about the suffering inflicted on their families as a result of activity in a party whose program turned out to be so flawed. Facing down aberrant socialism is Mr. President's creed. Such a billboard you’ve made of yourself. An apparently happy corporate welfare recipient? Shrewd, you admitted in other words, and mercurial. Nothing's stuck to Teflon Don but the mirror. 
     Page 422/23 cites George Orwell’s coining forged history. While Stalin’s apologists were an excuse to institutionalize blacklisting that, analyzed, was so commercial, an enterprise, that vacating idealism for a fear riddled public was convenient. Tragically, as is the case, but not a law, the precedent was set, from our country’s start, that the position of president should be one of character. Not an overrun office of characters assuming the mask. 
     A witch hunt, historically, is lashing out frivolous accusations from forum's podiums. Twitter's a platform, too. Circling the troops in defense of authority rather than authority looking out for ALL THE TROOPS is not the purpose for which America's defense was founded. Autobiographical protectionism in the guise of defendable history is mystification, the enemy of enlightenment, as page 426 highlights - the dynamic of victimization and scapegoating across history. Stating on 427 - We have seen what happens when the citizen delegates conscience to the state. Deep state, shallow state, political state. Same conspiratorial difference?
     So, why not conclude thus? That the brand of obfuscation our president expresses, through irreverence and hostility, is his style. Yet, as page 311, of noted socialist Irving Howe’s autobiography, A MARGIN OF HOPE, figured, about that earlier political era - each triumph of publicity chipped away at the slender remains of good sense. So, as accused, all mass media’s guilty of our incapacitation? Though Shakespeare, long ago, noted, "the fault’s within ourselves." 

Charles M. Fraser
First & Second Printing: June 10 and July 11, 2020

Equal rights do not attack traditional values. Traditional values are less authentic without equal rights.
Dear Reader,
The Hammer and Cycle Messenger Service was written to broaden society's commercial outlook. "Capitalism from the bottom up," becoming a catchphrase decades before this novel was figured out. Hank Greenway's noble capitalist, Moscow, adventure during 1991's Soviet August Coup
And this film, 
is, an hour reading, from chapters One and Four. Including the last, imagery laden, 24 minutes next to Roy Cohn's 39 East 68th Street townhouse. The first Tuesday following the 2016 November Presidential Election.
In Case Anyone’s Not Seen The
Mulberry Street Gang Reading, it continues Chapter IV by Roy Cohn's front doorstep. Followed by the Summer of 2017 49 East Houston Sit-In  
The Hammer and Cycle Messenger Service 
While this film
is from when Keegan Stephan and Charles Komanoff asked me to speak in The Great Hall of Cooper Union. After screening the 1987 documentary, Fifth, Park and Madison, and before the panel discussion, a picture appears of Lake County, Florida Sheriff Willis V. McCall with three of the Groveland Four and "Sheriff." Meaning face history. Through age 15, his house was a block from mine. His dog bit me when I was five-six, and all the older kids laughed hysterically when I cried screaming I'd sue. I was too young to know of track records. Just that he was Sheriff McCall. My mother, uncomfortably, received his call the next day inquiring whether I was ok. 
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