Weimar America

Why Trump? Here’s a better question: Why is Bashar Assad still alive? With ISIS growing on Syria’s eastern border, refugees pouring into Europe and terrorism growing everywhere, wouldn’t assassination be the simplest solution?

I’m not going to johnsplain this one, but I will give a few hints. Don’t go looking for bad guys. Take a look at the peace settlements after WWI and The Economic Consequences of Peace. Look at the overthrow of Arbenz in Guatemala and the role of the United Fruit Company and the flow of Guatemalan refugees to the U.S. – and don’t just blame the UFC or the CIA because that’s too easy. Consider GW Bush’s transition from “shock and awe” to nation building. Take a look at the 28 pages of the 9-11 report on Saudi Arabia’s contacts with the 9-11 terrorists and ask why they were hidden for so long. Why is Assad still alive? Because it’s bad form for leaders to kill other leaders? Because they need to use up a lot of bombs? Too easy. Blaming it on “evil” will just lead to Trump after Trump till the end of time. Take the red pill. Pull the thread.

Sex Makes Fools, etc.

This is why I’m always trying to get editors to let me write about sex. Alyssa Goldstein runs through the history of how women used to be considered almost dangerously horny to the point of needing constant containment and supervision right up until the 19th century, when women realized that the fight for equality  would go better if they downplayed the slutty-Dionysian-force-of-nature thing.  The price of respect was giving up sex – and demonizing anyone who didn’t.

If women could raise themselves up to the level of angels by being passionless, then they had so much further to fall if they did give in to their desires. As D’Emilio and Freedman explain, “In the past, as long as she repented, the woman who once sinned–like the male transgressor–could be reintegrated into the community. Now, however, because women allegedly occupied a higher moral plane than man, her fall was so great that it tainted her for life.” These “fallen women” were barred from their families and communities, and often had to work as prostitutes to support themselves.

And in the American south, as Edmund Wilson argued in Patriotic Gore, the gentility of the southern belle depended on their husbands’ sexual access to the slave quarters. In this way sexuality becomes social policy and even epistemology. As the divide between “decent” and “indecent” grows more stark, fearful people emerge to police the boundaries, projecting their hidden lusts onto the people with dark skins or strange perversions, and everything gets affected — war, racism, class, crime, even education policy.

(thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the heads up)

 

quote of the day

“Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you’re going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love.” – Butch Hancock

 

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