A Forum for Vigorous Debate, Cornerstone of Democracy

[For the journal (guidelines, focus, etc.), go to www.theamericandissident.org ]. If you have questions, please contact me at todslone@hotmail.com.
Encouraged censorship and self-censorship seem to have become popular in America today. Those who censor others, not just self, tend to favor the term "moderate," as opposed to "censor" and "moderation" to "censorship." But that doesn't change what they do. They still act as Little Caesars or Big Brother protectors of the thin-skinned. Democracy, however, demands a tough populace, not so easily offended. On this blog, and to buck the trend of censorship, banning, and ostracizing, comments are NEVER "moderated." Rarely (almost NEVER) do the targets of these blog entries respond in an effort to defend themselves with cogent counter-argumentation. This blog is testimony to how little academics, poets, critics, newspaper editors, cartoonists, political hacks, cultural council apparatchiks, librarians et al appreciate VIGOROUS DEBATE, cornerstone of democracy. Clearly, far too many of them could likely prosper just fine in places like communist China and Cuba or Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Russia, not to mention Sweden, England, and Austria.

More P. Maudit cartoons (and essays) at Global Free Press: http://www.globalfreepress.org

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Juan Felipe Herrera


Editorial The American Dissident #30

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink. In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics’. All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.
Absolut Vacuity
Assaults on Freedom of Expression
Privileged journalists and cartoonists, white and black, seem bent on drawing PC-red lines for satire and, in general, freedom of speech. I say, fuck’em!  In fact, any satirist worthy of his or her salt would say, fuck’em! They argue only the privileged—not them of course—should be targets of satire. But what about stupid statements, hypocrites, believers in idiocy, and speech-code pushers? Shouldn’t they also be targets of satire? Charlie Hebdo criticized Islam because of its fundamental idiocy. But that should have been off limits according to some privileged journalists, academics, and even establishment cartoonists like Gary Trudeau of Doonesbury fame. DIVERSITY/INCLUSION has become the establishment’s mantra. It is an Orwellian term meaning EXCLUSION of anyone not towing the UNIFORMITY of the PC-party line. 
The inspiration for this issue’s cover came from the website of the Academy of American Poets (www.poets.org), which I rarely visit.  Blazened on the main page in large letters were a couple of lines from the new poet laureate of the US Congress, high-and-mighty Academy of American Poets Chancellor Juan Felipe Herrera, the first Latino academic/literary hack to achieve that dubious position. For those lines of absolut vacuity, see the cartoon below. It is astonishing that only one person chooses/votes for the laureate, the Librarian of Congress (soon-to-be-replaced James Billington). It is even more astonishing that thousands and thousands of poets and academics across the country accept that autocratic- selection process without question or challenge.  Sadly, their open-wide-just-say-ah modus operandi represents the state of literature in a nutshell.  Dare question and challenge any of the literary organizations, organizers, or icons and be prepared for full ostracizing.  It is all very Soviet-like.  And if you don’t believe it, read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Oak and the Calf. The similarities are egregious! By the way, Billington is advised via the James Madison Council, a group of one-percenters led by hedge-fund plutocrat David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-CEO of the Carlyle Group.  Thanks to the Council’s massive amounts of money, Billington has been treated to a one-percenter jetset lifestyle à la Michelle and Barack Obama.
The new editor of Charlie Hebdo, Laurent Sourisseau (aka Riss), was wounded during the Paris massacre and only survived by playing dead. I was tempted to cartoon him for what he’d said in a post-mortem July interview, but decided against it because of what he’d gone through. However, I do think he should have resigned rather than become editor and simply declare DEFEAT (i.e., the magazine would no longer draw Muhammad). Victory went to violent Muslim Islamofascists.  Defeat went to FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION.  What really ticked me off was what Sourisseau had said: "We've done our job. We have defended the right to caricature.”  Well, that was true.  But now they were not going to do their “job” anymore. It would have been much better for the magazine to close its doors. Sourisseau aberrantly argued, “We still believe that we have the right to criticize all religions.”  Yet evidently that is NOT true for he has given up the right to criticize Islam.  He also put forth the lame everyone-else-does-it non-argument to justify the magazine’s decision not to draw Muhammad:  “The mistakes you could blame Islam for can be found in other religions.” Yet clearly people in those “other religions” are not out raping women, enslaving, beheading, and torturing in the name of their “other religions.”  In the case of Charlie Hebdo, Islamic violence defeated freedom of speech.  Former editor Charb, if he’d survived, would probably not have given up to the dictates of Sharia Law, as in Thou Shalt Not Draw Muhammad.  
Despite the dhimmi media, the Garland, TX draw Muhammad contest proved to be a real victory for freedom of expression in America and a consequent defeat for Islamofascism. Nevertheless, the organizers Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, both prohibited from visiting Great Britain, where free speech has been greatly reduced by pro-Sharia-law, hate-speech legislation, must be extremely cautious in America. Their bold outspokenness has cost them the freedom to move about without armed guards.  Why hasn’t Obama spoken out about that?  Why has he not said a word about cartoonist Molly Norris?  Why does he not seem to give a damn about free speech?  Islamofascists in America will not rest until they’ve succeeded in replacing the First Amendment with anti-blasphemy laws. (Both Obama and Hillary worked with CAIR in such an effort known as the UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18.) Bosch Fawstin, the winning cartoonist, must also be extremely cautious and keeps his whereabouts unknown. Amazingly, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF), a purported advocate of free speech, would not publish Fawstin’s winning cartoon (see right), nor would it even mention Fawstin, as the winner. A “conversation” appears in this issue of The AD with CBLDF executive director Charles Brownstein, who argued I did not have the legal right to publish his email correspondence with me. But I did some research, and it appears I do have the right. If not, I take a chance in the name of free speech. Now, imagine a free-speech advocate like CBLDF suing me over a free speech issue…

Open Letter to Juan Felipe Herrera, Creative Writing Professor,
University of California at Riverside,
Poet Laureate of California & Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets
He had written much blank verse, and blanker prose,
And more of both than anybody knows. […]
—Lord Byron, RE poet laureate Bob Southey 

“Is Poetry Dead? Not if 45 Official Laureates Are Any Indication” was the title of the New York Times article that featured a large photo of you et al.  However, it is not a question of “dead,” but rather one of having or not having pertinence.  Poetry, in fact, really doesn’t matter today in America because, for one thing, poet laureates and other poets accorded voice are largely paid for and/or promoted by the academic/literary established order to essentially push pabulum verse apt not to offend elementary school children… and easily offended, multiculti-minded adult apparatchiks.  The bland poems read at Obama’s two inaugurals—shame on any poet who stoops so low as to be willing to read a poem only after a politician gives it the okay—serve as examples of such pabulum, as does the verse written by you, Juan Felipe Herrera, cited in that article as a kind of “Whitmanesque tribute”:  “Architects engineers laborers drivers Viva!/Lifters callers crane operators Viva!/Cement mixers cable threaders Viva!”  Whitman could indeed be bland and inncouous in his glory, glory hyperbolic rhetoric.  What is wrong with the New York Times, if it really thinks that line of yours worthy of mention?  Indeed, it sounds as if it might have been taken from the “Communist International,” which for some odd reason omitted to include mention of the millions of hard-working kulaks butchered under the Soviet state.  
In any case, I wish to inform you that I was permanently banned from commenting on the Academy of American Poets’ website in 2007 (see http://theamericandissident.org/orgs/academy_american_poets.html).  For the transcript of my censored comments, see http://theamericandissident.org/orgs/academy_american_poets_transcript.html). If unusually curious you decide to actually check it out, you’ll note the absence of racist or sexist epithets and threats.  However, my comments were not PC smiley-faced.  Fortunately, I saved the transcript prior to its being censored.  Poets should fight tooth and nail against such lowly censorship!  Why did your colleague Chancellors not do this?  Well, for one thing, they tend to be the censors!  My comments were offensive to them because I had (and have!) the audacity to criticize established-order poets and their  academic/literary established-order machine.  For that, I have been ostracized into poet oblivion.  But that was certainly to be expected, for poets are hardly at all staunch defenders of freedom of speech.  What they tend to be is politically correct and gregarious, as opposed to steadfast individuals and fervent advocates of free expression.  
Now, do you care about that egregious incident of Academy censorship or will you attempt to justify it like several of your Chancellor colleagues?  Will you stand as an individual to protest against that act of censorship and RISK upsetting your colleague censors?  As a ladder climber, you will likely respond with a NO, though not directly or to me.  You state in the New York Times article that poets “have to float and be transparent and pick up everything we can.”  Well, what the hell does that even mean?  Most poets don’t give a damn about censorship or issues of freedom of expression.  Hell, if they did, they’d end up ostracized like me and with no grants or speaking invitations, let alone tenure at some university.  So, are they supposed to be “transparent” about their apathy?  Well, that would be a good place to start.  So, are well-fed poets like you blinded by the feed or are they being fed because they were already blind?  Perhaps it’s a little of both?  How long have you been turning a blind eye to rise, as you have, in the ranks of the established order?  As far as poets “floating,” I’d much rather sink and not “pick up” any of those titles, grants, and academic perks you’ve received over the years.  
Finally, since the New York Times would never publish this as an opposing point of view, I send it to The Highlander, your university student newspaper.  Will Michael Rios, editor-in-chief,  publish it?  Will he even deign to respond?  Sadly, experience with such newspapers and journalists tells me that likelihood to be quite low.  These things said, how about getting your library to be the first and only library in California willing to subscribe to The American Dissident (only $20/year), a journal of literature, democracy, and dissidence?  LOL…

[Rios never responded, nor did Herrera.]

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