Paglia on Obama, Law, Palin

October 14th, 2009

paglia4This month’s Camille Paglia column at Salon.com is, as usual, a delightful read. 

As a firm liberal Democrat with a very open mind, her views are unusually realistic and bluntly stated. 

In this column, she responds to letters from readers.  The letters themselves are good, and Paglia’s responses are even better. 

Here are a few excerpts to whet your appetite:

In response to a reader’s view that she has continued to support Obama despite his lack of accomplishments, blaming his failures on his staff and advisers:

Yes, ever since week one of the Obama administration, I have been doggedly calling for heads to roll. As months of crass ineptitude drag on, however, the blacklist of those who should be tagged for the guillotine gets longer and longer. The most recent fiasco, of course, was sending the president of the United States on a humiliating fool’s errand to beg for the Olympics as a Chicago boondoggle. I cheered when splendiferous Rio de Janeiro rightfully got the gig. …

Obama is approaching a turning point which will define his political future, if he has one. He is surrounded by some mighty small potatoes who need shoveling into the dumpster. …

It’s true he has accomplished nothing thus far and did not remotely deserve the Nobel Peace Prize, a gift carrying a terrible curse. The Nobel should have been the crown of Obama’s career and not the butt of jokes.

A career soldier defended the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as necessary for the protection of the U.S.  Paglia responded,

I want the U.S. out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and I oppose the costly maintenance of U.S. military bases all over the world. Let Europe, for example, pay the price of its own defense and stop leeching off of us. …

American policy seems to be wed to a perpetual state of war. Why? History shows that the world will always be in flux or turmoil, with different peoples competing for visibility and power. The U.S. cannot fix the fate of every nation. In many long-embattled regions, there are internal processes at work that simply must play themselves out. We are overextended abroad and committing financial suicide at home. The escalating national debt is our enemy within. Fanatical jihadism will continue to be a tactical problem, but its attacks, however devastating, will always be sporadic and local. Jihadism cannot destroy the U.S. But our own reckless politicians, spending us into oblivion and servitude to China, can.

On town hall meetings and citizen protests against the Obama Administration’s policies:

I have been deeply impressed by the citizen outrage that spilled out into town hall meetings this year. And I remain shocked at the priggish derision of the mainstream media (locked in their urban enclaves) toward those events. This was a moving spectacle of grassroots American democracy in action. Aggrieved voters have a perfect right to shout at their incompetent and irresponsible representatives. American citizens are under no duty whatever to sit in reverent silence to be fed propaganda and half-truths. It is bizarre that liberals who celebrate the unruly demonstrations of our youth would malign or impugn the motivation of today’s protestors with opposing views.

The mainstream media’s failure to honestly cover last month’s mass demonstration in Washington, D.C. was a disgrace. The focus on anti-Obama placards (which were no worse than the rabid anti-LBJ, anti-Reagan or anti-Bush placards of leftist protests), combined with the grotesque attempt to equate criticism of Obama with racism, simply illustrated why the old guard TV networks and major urban daily newspapers are slowly dying. Only a simpleton would believe what they say.

On media attacks against Sarah Palin:

I too have been repulsed by the elitist insults flung at Sarah Palin in the massive, coordinated media effort to destroy her. Hence I have been thoroughly enjoying the way that Palin, despite all the dirt thrown at her by liberal journalists and bloggers, keeps bouncing back as if unscathed. No sooner did the gloating harpies of the Northeastern media think they had torn her to shreds than she exploded into number one on Amazon.com with a memoir that hadn’t even been printed yet! With each one of these amusing triumphs, Palin is solidifying her status as a bona fide American cultural heroine.

On hate crimes laws:

Hate crimes legislation, in my view, simply cushions people in their own subgroups and gives them a damaging sense of false entitlement. The world will always be a very dangerous place where anyone can cross paths with a psychopath. The human mind is home territory for Edgar Allan Poe’s “imp of the perverse.” Here’s another example from the Philadelphia police blotter: Last year, five African-American youths, just for the fun of it, sucker-punched a passing white man in the Center City subway concourse in the middle of the day. A manager at Starbuck’s who was on his way to work, he died from an asthmatic attack triggered by the assault. Surely he had been targeted because of his race. Why, then, was it not denounced as a hate crime? Why did those amoral marauders get a free pass in the hate crimes sweepstakes? The historical injustices suffered by enslaved Africans should not give infinite latitude to depraved individuals.

I say the law should be blind to race, gender and sexual orientation, just as it claims to be blind to wealth and power. There should be no specially protected groups of any kind, except for children, the severely disabled and the elderly, whose physical frailty demands society’s care.


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14 Responses to “Paglia on Obama, Law, Palin”



  1. doris |

    Sarah Palin, a bona fide American cultural heroine? Certainly not my hero, nor should she be anyone’s. Hate crimes, totally right on, only special treatment for kids, elderly and the disabled. Hate is hate, no matter your color or orientation. All hate crimes should be treated as such, even if you are white or straight. When will the leaders listen to the people, we all seem to want the wars be ended and our troops pulled out.


  2. Elizabeth |

    Surely most murders are hate crimes, regardless of whether the perpetrator and victim are of the same race or creed. How is someone who kills a child for fun different from one who kills a child of the “wrong” color?


  3. Kevin |

    I agree with the philosophy Ms. Paglia appears to be proffering on hate crimes. It would be nice if the law were blind to race, gender and sexual orientation. But she loses me with the bit about the law claiming to be blind to wealth and power.

    The reality is that citizens of wealth and power have access to a fundamentally different level of justice than those without wealth or power. Case in point: OJ Simpson. He wasn’t acquitted because he’s black. He was acquitted because he could afford top-notch legal counsel who easily outclassed the prosecution team.

    Even outside of criminal law people of wealth and power have access to a fundamentally different level of access to the halls of power than do those without wealth or power.

    I’m not saying that there’s anything inherently wrong with being wealthy or powerful (isn’t that redundant?). But we delude ourselves if we think that the law is *functionally* blind to that wealth and power.


  4. larry |

    The liberal tool of “class warfare” is well served by the “hate crime platform”. Red necks and trailer trash that cannot meet the financial muster as rich folks are easy prey for such hi-jacking of their own civil rights if in fact they have any?


  5. Tom |

    Kevin, when she said the law “claims” to be blind to wealth and power, I think she meant that it really isn’t.

    I agree about O.J. But I would add that in addition to being rich enough to buy a bunch of good lawyers, he was lucky enough to get a clown for a judge. Or was it just luck?


  6. Brian |

    Kevin, you’re right about wealth, but wrong about OJ. He was acquitted by a largely black jury because they believed what his lawyers said about it being a set-up by the “racist” LAPD. But, I cannot say that the LAPD’s reputation didn’t precede them. They are notorious for ginning people into prison, as evidenced by what happened with their Rampart Division several years ago. I don’t recall how many convictions were set aside (seems like it was 50 or 60), but even 1 would be too many.


  7. Brian |

    That doesn’t read like I wanted it to. I meant to say that even 1 conviction on made-up charges is one too many, let alone the 50 or 60 that had to be set aside.


  8. Tom |

    Here’s an interesting website on the O.J. Simpson jury with lots of details, including these:

    9 blacks, 1 Hispanic, 2 whites.

    10 women, 2 men.

    2 college graduates, 9 high school graduates, 1 with no diploma.

    More from the website:

    Some other facts about the final jury: (1) None regularly read a newspaper, but eight regularly watch tabloid TV shows, (2) five thought it was sometimes appropriate to use force on a family member, (3) all were Democrats, (4) five reported that they or another family member had had a negative experience with the police, (5) nine thought that Simpson was less likely to be a murderer because he was a professional athlete.

    It’s anyone’s guess as to who was influenced by what. However, as one who managed to watch most of the trail, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s guilty. No reasonable person could conclude otherwise based on the evidence.


  9. Kevin |

    Brian, I think you’re saying something very similar to what I said but come at it from a different angle.

    It’s the job of defense counsel to pick a jury that will be pursuadable. That OJ ended up with a mostly black jury is evidence of the competence of his counsel, IMHO. Furthermore, the “set up” argument was effective because it was *effectively* presented by top-notch lawyers.

    The OJ trial happened to coincide with an extended period that I wasn’t working due to a back injury. So, I had the luxery of watching most of the trial on TV. And I agreed with the Jury. Which was not that OJ was innocent… but rather that the prosecution hadn’t eliminated reasonable doubt. Case in point being the infamous glove not fitting OJ’s hand. I can’t think of a better example of the relative incompetence of the prosecution than insisting that OJ try the bloody glove on. From a strictly “Xs and Os” strategy point of view it was a monumentally stupid decision which served to reinforce the defense’s argument rather than the prosecution’s argument.

    But OJ is just one example of the effect of wealth on the justice system. Michael Jackson would be another famous one and given time I could dig up many other examples involving wealthy people who aren’t/weren’t black. Like… Michael Jackson. But I digress… LOL


  10. Brianna |

    Tom, about your jury statistics:

    “We have a criminal jury system which is superior to any in the world; and its efficiency is only marred by the difficulty of finding twelve men every day who don’t know anything and can’t read” – Mark Twain

    My point being that the OJ case was so sensational that I’m willing to bet the court had to search far and wide for people who didn’t know the facts of the case beforehand. The end result? Only 2 of the jurists held a college diploma and none of them regularly read newspapers (not counting tabloids, anyway).


  11. Tom |

    Brianna, I couldn’t agree more. The very process of selecting a jury is adversarial, and the result is usually far short of ideal. And by the way, as long as we’re talking about a jury of peers, who are OJ’s peers? For that matter, who are Roman Polanski’s peers, assuming he ever goes to trial in the U.S.? If Polanski is ever tried by a jury of his true peers, the Hollywood glitterati, we all know what will happen. They’ll not only acquit him, they’ll probably nominate him for a Nobel Peace Prize.

    Having said all those snarky things, I’m not sure I could devise a better system.


  12. Jan |

    Wow, I like Paglia’s dialog with readers. Lot more interesting than watching TV talking heads.


  13. Brian Bagent |

    Kevin, the process of selecting a jury is a hodge-podge. While OJ’s defense team certainly got a favorable jury, I can only imagine the pool that they voire dired to get what they ended up with.

    Where the issues are complicated or numerous, it is the job of the defense to find the stupidest people they can to sit on the jury. In this, OJ’s team was successful. That doesn’t mean that Darden et al failed, it just means that these were in an order within the jury pool that they couldn’t get rid of. It happens. Each councilor gets so many peremptory challenges and unlimited challenges for cause, but even peremptory challenges now have restrictions that limit the appearance of a peremptory challenge based on potential racial issues.


  14. Harvey |

    Camille Paglia is apparently a very smart lady and I find myself saying “right on” to every response.

    If she is some subspecies of Liberal I guess I am too!


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