My Blog Week: February 2 to February 8
A Word on the Week
First, another entry in Ways America’s Dictatorship Resembles Maoism.
A slogan* of China’s slaughtering era was, “Wrongly killing a hundred people is better than letting a single guilty one escape.” If words to this effect haven’t been uttered by the Trumpites, no doubt they will be—their policies towards immigrants, towards the people of Puerto Rico, seem underlain by such a sentiment. The variant being: refuse help to all lest an unworthy person benefit.
The rule of law, by tradition, principles itself opposite: “Better let a hundred guilty men go free, than hang one innocent man.” Sometimes this causes chafing. People hear “guilty…blah…blah…go free”, and rally themselves indignantly to say, “Never!”
That’s to misunderstand, or not to work out in the first place, what this statement really says. When you are willing to punish, to the ultimate perhaps, the innocent, you have abandoned the means of determining guilt. Justice that can be satisfied by hanging anyone vaguely associated with, or vengefully accused of, a crime, is justice that doesn’t trouble itself to pursue truth. As usual, your own rights are protected by an extravagant meticulousness in this pursuit.
[*Heaven Cracks, Earth Shakes, James Palmer, 2012]
Just this week, before the Price is Right State of the Union Address, I finished Lonely Crusade, by Chester Himes, a writer with ties to Ohio, my own writerly home. And towards the end of this novel, Himes says:
Lee Gordon recognized it immediately as the old political game that had been played on Negroes since time immemorial—give them something to lose, not much, just a little thing, and they would be blinded to all they forfeited by its acceptance. Presidents had played it along with ward heelers; and so-called humanitarians along with ruthless industrialists.
Give them a General in the army…and you’d have them eating out of your hand while you Jim Crowed the other hundreds of thousands in uniform…
But Lee had nothing but antipathy for all the people who employed this cheap psychological trick—after taking advantage of the obvious weakness of a race—for it was an inhuman thing to do.
Now, let’s take a moment to consider the full idiocy of conservative pundits’ claim that Speaker of the House Pelosi, in tearing her copy of the SOTU speech, symbolically tore up the people mentioned in it…
Or however this primitive superstition is meant to work. At a minimum, the ones whose names were on those papers are not of different value (in the sight of God, if you can handle it) than every other person in the world. So even if the conservatives wish voodoo on liberals, they shouldn’t wish it on strangers, whose views they don’t know in the least. We have to suppose their houses are stacked floor to ceiling with papers they don’t dare shred or throw away, certainly not burn—because, every piece of junk mail has someone’s name on it. And every catalog is full of people’s images, no less. This sympathetic magic must bring about the sending of ill-will to the company itself, not just the models showing the clothes. Next, reckless disposers of paper will be harming the economy! And if fates are attached to representations, what act can the faithful conservative engage in that won’t do further harm? Do they buy a new house, leave their vast hoard of Paper with Names behind, try to block the memory of it from their minds, hope the spirits that guide these matters don’t hunt them down for retribution?
On Monday, Cartoon Stories. A few panels on sea-related themes. Tuesday’s Impresario was part twenty-seven, the epilogue, giving after-stories to the assorted characters. Wednesday, part nine of “Bride to Be”. On Thursday, Frédéric Boutet’s “The Amateur”, in which an adventuring burglar gets a fright. Friday, the second part of “The Recalcitrant One”, with the Totem-Maker first receiving this appellation. Saturday, a poetry reissue from The Poor Belabored Beast, “The Leopard”.
Images on my posts often have a link to related information (click first image), sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, sometimes in answer to a direct reference. Since people can be leery about links, I include them here: what they are, what sites they point to.
My Blog Week: February 2 to February 8