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22 December 2001

Our current howler (part III): Claiming it loudest

Synopsis: Noemie Emery's open dissembling suggests a Big Crackup is coming.

The Crybaby Left
Noemie Emery, The Weekly Standard, 12/17/01

Putting patriotism in perspective
Barbara Kingsolver, The Chattanooga Times, 9/30/01


Maybe Noemie Emery simply can’t read. In a recent piece in the Weekly Standard, she was calling the roll of the "crybaby left." Eventually, she got around to Barbara Kingsolver:

EMERY: "Patriotism threatens free speech with death," said novelist Barbara Kingsolver, who then was invited to elaborate on her views—that "the American flag stands for intimidation, censorship, violence, bigotry, sexism, homophobia," and many more evils—in some of the biggest newspapers in the country, including the San Francisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post, where she complained at great length of oppression.

Kingsolver sounds like a handful. At this time of national peril—a time when patriots like Emery swing into action—Kingsolver thinks that the flag stands for evils. And she thinks that patriotism "threatens free speech with death!"

Sadly, we’ve learned the things you have to do when dealing with people like Emery. You have to look up every quote—you have to track down every reference—because dissemblers like Emery like nothing better than spinning you round till you’re blue. So we looked up Kingsolver’s piece, finding it in one of "the biggest newspapers in the country," the powerful Times, of Chattanooga. And, of course, the dissembling—or baldly illiterate—Emery was spinning us blue once again.

In the article, written soon after September 11, Kingsolver wrote about the acts of violence and intimidation being directed against American Muslims (and those who resemble them). She wrote about "the man who went on a rampage crying ‘I’m an American’ as he shot at foreign-born neighbors, killing a gentle Sikh man in a turban and terrifying every brown-skinned person I know." And Kingsolver mentioned "the talk-radio hosts, who are viciously bullying a handful of members of Congress." Which members of Congress did she mean? She cited Rep. Barbara Lee, who cast the only vote in the House against last September’s war powers act. Why did Kingsolver mention Lee? "As a consequence [of her vote], so many red-blooded Americans have now threatened to kill her, she has to have additional bodyguards."

It was then that Kingsolver wrote the following passage, referring to the acts just described. And if Noemie Emery is able to read, she may have gleaned Kingsolver’s meaning:

KINGSOLVER: Patriotism seems to be falling to whoever claims it loudest, and we’re left struggling to find a definition in a clamor of reaction. This is what I’m hearing: Patriotism opposes the lone representative of democracy who was brave enough to vote her conscience instead of following an angry mob. (Several others have confessed they wanted to vote the same way, but chickened out.)

Patriotism threatens free speech with death. It is infuriated by thoughtful hesitation, constructive criticism of our leaders and pleas for peace. It despises people of foreign birth who’ve spent years learning our culture and contributing their talents to our economy. It has specifically blamed homosexuals, feminists and the American Civil Liberties Union.

In other words, the American flag stands for intimidation, censorship, violence, bigotry, sexism, homophobia and shoving the Constitution through a paper shredder? Who are we calling terrorists here?

Outsiders can destroy airplanes and buildings, but it is only we, the people, who have the power to demolish our own ideals.

Speaking of demolishing our own ideals, let’s return to Emery. Did Kingsolver state that "the American flag stands for intimidation et al?" No, as experienced readers can see, she phrased her remark in the form of a question! Just like they do on TV! Those of you who have read before will see what Kingsolver was actually saying—in her question, she was challenging those who seem to say by their conduct that the flag stands for the things listed. Maybe Emery doesn’t care if citizens kill Sikhs and threaten Lee. But many other people do care. Kingsolver seems to be one.

And citizens care about something else—they care about being lied to by Emery. No, Noemie—Barbara Kingsolver didn’t assert that patriotism and the flag stand for bad things. She said that people who behave in the ways she described act as if they do. And she said that people who behave in those ways "have the power to demolish our own ideals." And someone else destroys those ideals—someone who slanders, lies, dissembles, misleads and spins her readers round till they’re blue. By the way—why on earth does the Weekly Standard keep putting their bald-faced dissembler in print? Do they get some kind of cheap thrill every time that they mislead subscribers?

That’s right, folks. When Kooky Conservatives dissemble like this, they point the way to a big, coming crackup. In our next HOWLER, we’ll spell it all out. And we plan to look in on Sean Hannity.

Next: How we know the big crackup is coming.