The 2020 Essay Witch Hunts' Relevance

For the American Literary Historical Society

39 East 68th Street Reading

Witch Hunts' Relevance

     Confabulation sounds accurate, considering our present era’s relationship with 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 - might not 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 forum has long been primed, as in cultivated, as a means of obfuscation rather than confrontations with embellishment and inaccuracy. 
     Whereas obfuscation - the action of making something obscure, unclear, or unintelligible - was how our president used "witch hunt” as a tool to both fray and skew 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 numbers show the public believes otherwise. Well? Polls are for guaging what people understand, however encircled by the narrowest of explanations. 
     Defining current political posturing as witch hunt-ian is an exacerbation of soundbittenly neglected due, diligent, circumspection. Framing and stigmatizing Americans’ public opinions shouldn't be the cornerstone of Publicity Relations. Where, despite fervent polishing, loyalty’s tarnished by an above the law manner abusing patriotism’s role of common cause. In fact, scapegoatinging discordance as "the liberals fault" is a narrow-castingly broad stroke. But all in good sport when winning's everything. Cult of Personality.
     After all History’s Cold Cases are never, ever, really retried. When what’s gotten away with has to be rendered virtually legitimate, for countries, to, even halfway, face themselves? For instance Indigenous Americans' Commercial Gambling is just bandaging something broken that never set. "But they," no, but they had their land taken. The rich beautiful America couldn't be shared with savages. Sit on that a while. 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? ("I don't think Science knows.") Another facet of witch hunt’s meaning is persecution without impartial judgement. Impartiality doesn't disregard objectivity. 
     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 to the consumptive public, “perfect” only requires a portrayal. Shelving suspicion as not just labelled perspective, but honest doubt or wonder as mere matters of taste. Unworthy of being thought through. 
     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 a populace 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 frivolity. 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. Substantiation undermined by "style." As per the first Presidential Debate when Fox News' close-ups covered our president's fed up angry look whenever he took a break from interrupting. 
     The first Tuesday following the November 2016 American Presidential Election, I recorded myself reading from my competent parody of The Cold War novel. The business of literature having, so far, missed fathoming the necessity for crossing this particular misunderstood cultural barrier. Exploitation trumping ambition, so to speak. 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 sound bite, is anti-totalitarianism. Because despite contrary claims that the present matters most, history's now within the second. And trying to provide real insight is what history’s all about. Political polemics aren’t novels and The Hammer and Cycle ... isn’t a polemic. Though one theme advances the concept fully functioning capitalism is socialist. What Republicans claim but semantically differ with. While what's gotten away from the mass of ideologically bound, exploited narrowness, is knowing that the schism, separating the points of view, block everyone's heads from getting around economics’ evolution. Ideology's stuck in a time warp believing in kings when there should be none.
     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 thought of fear of 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 EmeritusVictor S. Navasky. An overview of the mid-20th Century’s black-listings Witch Hunt. Including a fair explanation why everyone, then, were victims. An un-rectified result loudly passed down the generations, through us even now, as we speak. As they say.
     Can humanity surpass our squabbling rival 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 his endured 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. Naming names intelligence agencies already had. Our president’s victimization claim relates? That is the point. The correlations are vagaries allowing charlatanism to slip between history's pages 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 the 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. Except when an office overrun by characters assumes the mask. 
     A witch hunt, historically, are frivolous accusations lashed out from public forum's podiums. Twitter's a platform. 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. Insiders claiming to be out has proven the same conspiratorial difference.
     So, why not conclude thus? That the brand of obfuscation our president expresses, and represents, through irreverence and hostility, is his style. And not a mere so what. 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
1st & 2nd Printing: June 10 and July 11, 2020 3rd: September 22, 2020 4th: October 9, 2020


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