Friday, May 30, 2008

George Orwell, Susan Sontag and Frank Lentricchia: Infantilization of the Public

"The enemy of the moment always represented absolute evil, and it followed that any past or future agreement with him was impossible."
---George Orwell, 1984

The disconnect between last Tuesday's monstrous dose of reality and the self-righteous drivel and outrageous deceptions being peddled by public figures and TV commentators is startling, depressing. The voices licensed to follow the event seem to have joined together in a campaign to infantilize the public. Where is the acknowledgement that this was not a "cowardly" attack on "civilization" or "liberty" or "humanity" or "the free world" but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions?

---Susan Sontag, New Yorker, two weeks after 9/11

Intolerance of political dissent in the United States at the present time makes it necessary to say, before we exercise our right to work against the grain, that we, also, abominate the slaughter of the innocent, even as we find it unacceptably childish that Americans refuse to take any responsibility for September 11th; unacceptably childish because the Americans in question are not (presumably) children.

--Frank Lentricchia (and above quotes), "Introductory Notes." Dissent From the Homeland: Essays After Septemeber 11th. ed. Stanley Hauerways and Frank Lentricchia. Duke UP, 2003: 3.

No comments: