Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Books (Ava and C.I.)




Ava: As we did in 2021, we're attempting to again increase book coverage in the community. After a review posts, we try to do a discussion with the reviewer.  This go round, I'm speaking with C.I. about her "Naomi Klein's DOPPELGANGER" covering Naomi Klein's new book. Jim said he loved the review but to ask you, "Well, what did you like about it?"


C.I.: Right. I do recommend the book, it will make you think.  But, as I said in Friday's snapshot, I don't do puff pieces.  

Ava: And you didn't know what you were writing until you wrote it.

C.I.: Right.  And you know that.  We write media pieces here every week and we never know where we're going before we start writing.  We bounce ideas off one another and end up with something.  Without you for this piece, I would stop and clean.  During one of those breaks, I thought of June Miller and Anais Nin and that's really how the whole thing came together.

Ava: I loathed the book.  I didn't finish it.  I made it to the end of chapter six.  That was as much as I could endure, I didn't care for her dismissive attitude -- her swipe at second wave feminists  ("feminists of my mother's generation").  Her stupidity regarding her mother in law.  Michele Landsberg is not just a former columnist, she's also a best selling author.  I don't live in Canada but even I know that Landsberg is much more than someone who "wrote a popular newspaper column for decades." Researching it, I discovered she wrote a column for THE GLOBE AND MAIL in the sixties.  In the 70s, she wrote a column for CHATELAINE magazine, starting in 1978, she was a columnist for THE TORONTO STAR for 25 years and, during this time, she also wrote a weekly column for THE GLOBE AND MAIL until 2005.  She's won numerous awards over the years but, by all means, let's just say she was "wrote a popular newspaper column for decades."  Considering that she addressed feminist issues in many of those columns -- especially the one for CHATELAINE magazine.  And what is with "Blue"?  Did she mean to say BLUE.  The Joni Mitchell album?  I don't see how she rediscovered the Joni Mitchell song "Blue" via Brandi Carlisle.  

C.I.: She did get her mother-in-law wrong.  Her father as well.  It's funny he's a doctor in her story.  There's nothing about him being a War Resister who left the US and moved to Canada because of the Vietnam War. I've never understood why she hides this reality to this day.  If you're going to write about your father in a book, I'd assume you'd note that he was a War Resister.  I don't find that a bad thing.  I don't know why she does.  

Ava: But either we outed that reality while Bully Boy Bush was in the White House -- we outed it here or you outed it at THE COMMON ILLS.  I found her book frustrating and indulgent.  I didn't care about  her personal stories to begin with and didn't find them illuminating but, more often than not, I also didn't find them accurate.  I read an early, near final draft, of your review and you cut it down to make it readable.  I miss the joke about how writers shouldn't try to pass off bathroom conversations as actual research -- I won't quote it in case you want to work it into a snapshot next week.  But I told you that if you had to pull the section on OUTRAGES, we could go over that here.  So, background, Naomi Wolf got her doctorate from Oxford.  She then turned her dissertation into 2019's OUTRAGES.  OUTRAGES was an embarrassment. The only thing more embarrassing would be how Naomi Klein writes of OUTRAGES.


First, she writes:


In May 2019, less than a year before pandemic lockdowns began, Wolf went on BBC Radio 3 to promote Outrages: Sex, Censorship, and the CriminalizationCriminalization of Love, a book about the persecution of gay love in Victorian Britain that drew on research she’d done at Oxford University for a late-in-life PhD and was in many ways a throwback to her earlier work about sexuality and gender. What ensued was an event that I can barely think about without experiencing vicarious heart palpitations. 

Wolf shared what she apparently considered to be the most explosive finding of her research: that well into the nineteenth century there were “several dozen executions” of men convicted of sodomy. She based this on finding the term “death recorded” in court documents. The BBC interviewer, Matthew Sweet, informed Wolf, live on the air, that she had misunderstood the term, which actually meant the exact opposite of what she had claimed: that these men had been found guilty and then released. It also turned out that several of the charges she referenced were not for consensual gay sex, but rather for child abuse, and that by conflating the two, she had perpetuated a dangerous fallacy linking gay men with pedophilia. 

With such basic errors exposed at the heart of her thesis, Wolf was dropped by her U.S. publisher and the book was pulped. Very rarely does a reputation collapse as publicly or as seemingly decisively as hers did in that excruciating moment. When the audio began circulating on Twitter, it was as if the entire platform had thought of the same cruel joke at once: Naomi Wolf had just had her own "death recorded." University courses, seeking to instill in students a healthy fear of sloppy research, started using excerpts of Outrages as a cautionary tale. Publications where she once appeared regularly, like The Guardian, stopped publishing her, seemingly for good. Wolf, unsurprisingly, saw a plot. In January 2020, she told an interviewer that the "viral attack" she faced after her foundational errors in Outrages were exposed was part of a shadowy effort to destroy her reputation and take her "off the chessboard." All of this came at what was surely a tough time for Wolf—just a few months before the BBC interview, she had lost her father, the man she treated with such reverence in The Treehouse.  


Ava (Con't): Oh, boo the f**k who.  Now there's a roundtable when this first went down, a roundtable here, and you and I took the high road and stated that we didn't want to stone her when she's already humiliated.   But there are problems with Naomi Klein's interpretation of that moment and her coverage of that moment.  What I just quoted is the closet Naomi Klein gets to LGBTQ+ issues in the entire book.  Nevermind that Naomi Wolf has teamed up with bigots like Moms For Bigotry which work to remove LGBTQ+ books from the shelves of school libraries, that they attack drag queens and don't even want a teacher to be able to put a photo of their same-sexed love one on their desk; however, any straight teacher can put up a photo of their boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, etc.  Naomi Wolf went over to the "Don't Say Gay" side.  She is part of a group that wants to decimate the LGBTQ+ population.  But Naomi Klein refuses to call her out for that.  Ms. Klein dodges the issue of LGBTQ+ people the same way she refuses, to this day, to tell the world her American father fled to Canada to avoid Vietnam. She writes about him in this book but, yet again, refuses to note he's a War Resister.  In fact, "War Resister" may be the only term she avoids more than "LGBTQ+."  Now here's here second passage on Wolf's OUTRAGES:


As recently as 2019, Wolf described her ill-fated book Outrages as "a cautionary tale about what happens when the secular state gets the power to enter your bedroom." Now she is in league with the people who stacked the U.S. Supreme Court with wannabe theocrats whose actions are forcing preteens to carry babies against their will. 

[. . .] 

Yet even if Wolf had reason to be wary of the dangers of getting hooked on digital dopamine, few had more to gain from the highs it offered in the pandemic period than her -- because few had experienced a clout-crash like the one she had after that unbearable BBC interview in 2019. 

If you want an origin story, an event when Wolf's future flip to the pseudo-populist right was locked in, it was probably that moment, live on the BBC, getting caught -- and then getting shamed, getting mocked, and getting pulped. Rosie Boycott, a British feminist who knew Wolf from her Beauty Myth days, observed that after the Outrages debacle, there would be no return to the liberal intelligentsia, so "she had to find a new world to fit into where facts don't matter and that's the world she has gone to. Of course, she would become a superstar within it."


Ava (Con't): Talk about that.

C.I.: That is a problem.  That is several problems.  And it was a good chunk of the review, I want to say ten or eleven paragraphs.  Let's start first with that section on OUTRAGES?  Where you started quoting, is where it begins.  She's not prepared the readers for this.  They don't know that this book was pulped -- the publisher destroyed it because it turned out to be so factually incorrect.  Factually incorrect is also a good term for how Naomi Klein just described OUTRAGES.  Abortion was not the focus of OUTRAGES.  If Naomi Klein doesn't know that, it doesn't speak well to her as an author.  I loathe CRAPAPEDIA but let's go them for what Naomi Wolf's book OUTRAGES was about:


Wolf's book Outrages: Sex, Censorship, and the Criminalization of Love was based on the 2015 doctoral thesis she completed under the supervision of literary scholar Stefano-Maria Evangelista, a Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford.[21][22] It studies the repression of homosexuality in relation to attitudes toward divorce and prostitution, and also in relation to the censorship of books.[92]



C.I. (Con't): Somehow, the second time she wants to talk about the book, she goes to abortion.  And it's not a book about abortion.  She can lie because no one can read the book -- it was pulped by the publisher.  If we want to talk about Naomi Wolf's absurd political positions today, one of the things we should be calling her out is her homophobia and transphobia -- this from a woman who, in 2019, published a book on the demonization of gay men. I have no idea why Naomi Klein can't -- more likely won't -- go there.  I'm real damn tired of these lefties who can't speak up for the LGBTQ+ community, real damn tired.  There are two paragraphs in chapter ten that Naomi Klein might point to in her own defense.  I don't think they defend anything.  She's talking about people who believe things that she doesn't and she lists the nonsense of, for example, 'groomers.' That's really not enough and, in 2023, that's really embarrassing.  And if she truly believes all children need acceptance -- as she writes in a later chapter -- she should try applying that to LGBTQ+ children who could use some champions right about now.  More to the point, OUTRAGES was not when Naomi Wolf went to the nutty side.  It was around 2010 that she began to be called nuts.  There would be her attack on rape survivors and on the limited court protections for the survivors of rape.  Then she would be off on how the entire world government was trying to control you with chemtrails and only she could tell you about this, warn you about this.  This is years and years before OUTRAGES.  But Klein wants to make that the turning point because it gives Klein a hook for the book even though it's false, even though Klein has to know she's lying.  It's shoddy. It goes far beyond the inherent dishonesty of any analogy. 

Ava: As you note in your review, she's not a feminist -- Naomi Klein is not a feminist.  And, let's note, as we will continue to do when discussing 'Dr' Naomi Wolf, her book was pulped, pulled off the market.  She expanded her dissertation into that book meaning her dissertation was also incorrect.  As such, Oxford should pull the doctorate.  Back to Naomi Klein, did I miss anything of importance by stopping at the end of chapter six?

C.I.: She writes strongly of being the mother of an autistic child.  And that is not me taking a side in the debate over vaccines and autism.  I have not taken a public stand and I will not.  I fundraise for autism and have my entire life.  One of the reasons that I am effective at that is because I don't care to have that discussion.  I care about autism.  I care about the children with and the families raising children with it.  Some idiot in Missouri made rude remarks about autism and calling it the devil's something.  That was last week, I can't speak to it because it's a twisted jumble in my mind.  When I read stories about that, all I could think of was how it was going to hurt a lot of parents and lot of siblings. I'm not here for that and I'm not a part of that -- "that" being anything that causes pain to families dealing with autism.  I know some who view vaccines as the problem and some who don't and I know many who have decided to just avoid the entire debate because it can get very heated and very personal.  People are dealing with enough trying to connect with their autistic child or family member.  I'm not hear to add anything else to them with regards to that.  I will gladly listen to anyone's take but I do not have an official position and don't plan to.  Naomi Klein doesn't agree that there's any connection between autism and vaccines, to be clear.  She once belonged to a group that just wanted to share with others the experiences.  That's the largest group, by the way.  They don't see a positive income in taking sides.  When people were strongly taking sides in the 90s and early 00s, it led to a lot of hurt feelings, wars within families, in fact, including one family that I do fundraise from and, when I do, each side asks me how the other's doing.  They don't speak to each other.  

Ava: So she's critical of those parents who believe in a link?

C.I.: Yes.

Ava: Was there anything in her own remarks and beliefs that you'd think others might be critical of -- with regards to autism?

C.I.: Oh absolutely.  She takes her child to a doctor and he's asking questions to determine the child's level.  He asks if the child plays with toys appropriately and Naomi wants to know what is appropriate?  Okay, that's fine.  Then he wants to know if the child mirrors and Naomi has no idea what that means -- grasp that, she has no idea what mirroring is.  Once it's explained to her, she then wants to ponder whether she even wants her child to mirror and then, if so, who would she want her child to mirror and "the reflexive impulse" blah, blah, blah. I think if you're going to sneer at others and cite science as your reason for doing so, you need to know basic science.  First thing I ever learned about monkeys was how they mirror behavior and how parents behaviors -- including eating and where -- is learned by mirroring throughout the animal community.  It's kind of basic and if someone like me knows, everyone should.  So maybe grasp that you're not the poster for scientific knowledge that you think you are when you don't even know what mirroring is and when you're also under some mistaken belief that mirroring is the equivalent of indoctrination.  "Do we really need more mirrors?" she asks readers.  Well, yes, that is how we raise one another in the animal kingdom so stop making it sound like some nefarious plot.

Ava: I think we've all got a sense of the book now.


Previous book discussions this year.


"Books (Trina, Isaiah, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Marcia, Rebecca, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Ann, Mike, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Stan, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Mike, Ava and C.I.),"  "Books (Ann, Elaine, Kat, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Isaiah, Stan, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Trina, Kat, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Marcia, Ann and C.I.)," "Books (Ruth, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Isaiah, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Mike, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Kat, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Marcia, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Trina, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Rebecca, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Isaiah, Kat, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Stan, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Kat, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Marcia, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Ann, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Trina, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Marcia, Ava and C.I.)" and "Books (Ava and C.I.)."

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