Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bug us

Made Love Got War is a catchy title. The subtitle is "Close Encounters With America's Warfare State." The author is Norman Solomon, someone all of us at least like (C.I. goes futher). So it might seem like a natural for a book discussion, right?


On page six, Solomon quotes from David and the Phoenix, "It's the discovery of the age." The discovery of the book is a really negative attitude towards women that we do not feel is intended but comes off page after page -- "humdrum" "housewives" being only one example. In example after example, men are applauded and women are wrong. Wrong for actions (Cathy Wilkerson), wrong for thought (Susan Sontag), wrong, wrong, wrong. When it's time to highlight the wrong or the bad, if there's a woman to go to, Solomon is there. Such as Anita Roddick who "drew sharp criticism" for selling Body Shop -- while Ben & Jerry's apparently drew no criticism -- not really even from Solomon. Had the book been written now instead of being published now, Roddick might have come off better since women who are dead tend to be the only ones receiving any praise in the book -- and what kind of a message is that supposed to send?

But the reason we took a pass on this hastily put-together clip job can be found on page 146: "Mr. Penn showed a lot more maturity and I think complexity of thought than what Ms. Fonda displayed back during the Vietnam War, when she went to North Vietnam."

Solomon made that statement to the grotesque Jerry Nachman on air at MSNBC. What would have been an eye roller in real time becomes a huge problem when, all these years later, Solomon wants to reproduce it.

It's not a surprise that in this book a male and female get compared and the male wins. It's a hallmark of the book and Solomon should take a strong look at that trait on display, page after page.

But if you're going to compare Fonda and Penn (Nachman asked for the comparison), if you're not going to say, "We're talking about two different situations, I'm not even going to go there," then do so honestly. Fonda stopped the bombing of the dikes. There was nothing immature about her visit. Her visit actually accomplished something because she put herself out there.

In France, she talked about the bombings -- which not only Tricky Dick was denying but also George H.W. Bush -- and showed film of the dikes -- film that would disappear in transit when she made it back to America. [C.I. note, the film would disappear in transit after Fonda returned to the US. It was shown in the NYC press confrence. It was shown without sound because the sound disappeared before the film made it to America. The film itself "would disappear in transit when she made it back to America" -- it was shown in NYC before that happened.]

Fonda accomplished something and to call it immature certainly fits into the book's pattern of downgrading women. [What really is the purpose of including Carly Simon over others -- she is the only individual named -- and when including her, maybe it should be noted that she was supporting a family unlike her drug addicted spouse.]

Fonda sat down somewhere she doesn't think she should have. It wasn't a big deal in real time, it took months and months and months of the right-wing tossing out mock outrage over it. (And creating a host of libels to go with that.) There's no denying she accomplished something. There's no denying that her American press conference had a real impact. There's no denying that Tricky Dick and Poppy were exposed as liars. There's no denying that lives were actually saved by the exposure of the bombings.

Appearing on the crap-land that is basic cable may not allow people to think through the responses before speaking. Electing to reprint a transcript of it, indicates Solomon still agrees with the sentiment. We don't. And we think it's embarrassing that something as monumental as halting the bombing of the dikes (which would have starved the population as well as led to flooding) is being reduced to immature. Had the left bothered to stand up to the right-wing nonsense in real time, we might not have the current illegal war.

Perhaps a subtitle that better describes the book could have been thought up? We'd suggest Made Love Got War: Made Time To Grind An Axe Against Women. And note, we didn't have to tear down Penn to note Fonda's accomplishments -- something Solomon might consider thinking about in the future.
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