Wednesday, November 27, 2002

More on the hypocrisy of the educated middle class.
The author of a letter to The Times today points out the irony of the government giving a payout to Eli Lilly—by sneaking a clause into the homeland security bill protecting it from lawsuits over mercury based preservatives in vaccines—while one member of the Lilly family can stuff $100 million into the pockets of the editors of a small poetry magazine. Leaving aside the fact that the best poet this country produced in recent memory was James Merrill, who was born with a few hundred million of his own to play with, and whose politics, judging by his works alone, were about as repulsive as those of any other high-born Tory faggot, all I can say to the boys and girls who struck it rich, most of whom are undoubtedly liberal democrats, is: enjoy yourselves.

Salman Rushdie manages to sound like a self-indulgent ass again today, also in The Times.
If I say I'm sick of Rushdie it doesn't mean I'm defending the slaughter of women in bikinis (some of my best friends wear bikinis) but let's be clear: in conservative societies women's roles are limited and tightly regulated,but they have a measure of power, sometimes small sometimes not, within their own areas of control. After all, in such societies every individual faces coercive pressure.

When powerful outside forces come into the community, forces outside the control of the collective, this produces new tensions. Rich countries offer freedom to individuals but the end of any sense of local control. The community, led by the male population, and used to power, has no choice in the matter. And of course the new powers that be are about as interested in humanitarianism as a casino is interested in seeing you win at the slots. If you need convincing of that just read the letter from the PR flack from the National Association of Manufacturers in defense of Lilly.

I don't dismiss criticism of fundamentalist belief. I'm a New Yorker and I'm not an idiot. But I'm angered if the criticism is based on the vague moralizing of the habitués of the land of the leisured. Painful transitions are now being forced upon people who have no idea what's happening to them, and who feel they have no control of the outcome. And intelligent cynics will use that anger to create and maintain power for themselves, based solely on their ability to steer anger in one direction or another. Do I have to list the ones who have done it recently? Add to this that the first power girls are able to feel when they have no other—and which is tightly regulated but not always to extremes—is the power of sex. The power over male desire is limited, and if it's used to the extent of its being defined as the only power, the result is often but not always tragic. For the lucky few, life can be a breeze. But telling every poor girl she can be a model is the same of telling every street kid he can make it in the NBA, and sports take brains and skill. Not that I mind anyone who does, but how much skill does it take to look good sucking cock? Who has more control of her life, a woman in chador, or a prostitute? Who has more means of mediating the means of male control. The woman with many skills to barter with or only one?

For Rushdie to grouse about Germaine Greer's annoyance at the importation of the Miss World Pagent to London is just stupid. Rushdie after all was once married to a well known novelist with a mind of her own, but now happily describes the pleasures of true love with a much younger woman who may have her own thoughts as well, but who's known primarily as a choice piece of ass.

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