A Singularly Semitic Scandal: Avital Ronell and the Corruption of Western Academia

In Homage to Catalonia (1938), his memoir of the Spanish Civil War, George Orwell describes how his wife was rudely woken by a police-raid on the hotel room she was occupying in Barcelona:

In the small hours of the morning there was a pounding on the door, and six men marched in, switched on the light, and immediately took up various positions about the room, obviously agreed upon beforehand. They then searched both rooms (there was a bathroom attached) with inconceivable thoroughness. They sounded the walls, took up the mats, examined the floor, felt the curtains, probed under the bath and the radiator, emptied every drawer and suitcase and felt every garment and held it up to the light. (Homage to Catalonia, ch. 14)

The police conducted this search “in the recognized OGPU [then the Russian communist secret-police] or Gestapo style … for nearly two hours,” Orwell says. He then notes that in “all this time they never searched the bed.” His wife was still in it, you see, and although the police “were probably Communist Party members … they were also Spaniards, and to turn a woman out of bed was a little too much for them. This part of the job was silently dropped, making the whole search meaningless.”

Orwell’s story suggests a new word to me: typhlophthalmism, meaning “the practice of turning a blind eye to essential but inconvenient facts” (from Greek typhlos, “blind,” + ophthalmos, “eye”). But it’s a long word, so let’s call it typhlism for short. Shorter is better, because the term could be used so often today. Orwell’s story is an allegory of modern Western politics and social commentary, where so many essential but inconvenient facts are “silently dropped” from analysis. For example, the Labour MP Denis MacShane and the Labour council in Rotherham were typhlistic when, for reasons of political correctness, they turned a blind eye to the horrors being committed by brown-skinned Muslims against White working-class girls.

Looking for Mr Reitman

And if you want to see another good example of typhlism at work, try one of the strangest and funniest scandals ever to set the Owl of Minerva hooting in the groves of Academe. The two central figures in the scandal are the New York University (NYU) professor Avital Ronell (born 1952) and her former graduate student Nimrod Reitman (born c. 1984). Ms Ronell, a “feminist literary theorist,” began her career studying with the enormously influential French philosopher Jacques Derrida and is now the Jacques Derrida Professor at the European Graduate School in Switzerland. As a sideline, she headed “the trauma and violence transdisciplinary studies program” at NYU. She is also a “self-defined lesbian,” while Mr Reitman is a homosexual.

Academic star Avital Ronell

Their respective sexualities, although not of course funny in themselves, are an essential part of what has made the scandal so entertaining. Mr Reitman has accused Ms Ronell of a sustained campaign of sexual harassment, including two incidents in which his 66-year-old lesbian mentor pulled him into her bed and “put my hands onto her breasts, and was pressing herself — her buttocks — onto my crotch. She was kissing me, kissing my hands, kissing my torso.” Read more

“Modify the standards of the in-group”: On Jews and Mass Communications — Part Two of Two

Go to Part 1.


“Millions of leaflets, pamphlets, cartoons, comic books, articles
and more recently radio and movie scripts — have been produced and disseminated in the propaganda war.”  Samuel H. Flowerman, Mass Propaganda in the War Against Bigotry, 1947.[1]

The Protocols of Samuel H. Flowerman

Samuel H. Flowerman, as Research Director at the American Jewish Committee, as colleague of the Institute for Social Research, and as a kind of hub for the expansive Jewish clique of mass communications scholars, was at the center of the drive to put Jewish “opinion research” initiatives into practical action. The clearest articulation of what this practical action would look like was articulated in his 1947 essay, “Mass Propaganda in the War Against Bigotry.” Flowerman’s foremost concern was that, although millions of dollars were being spent by organisations like the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League on propaganda, propaganda may not by itself be sufficient for the mass transformation of values in the host population — in particular, for the weakening of its ethnocentrism.

Flowerman begins by explaining the format and extent of existing efforts: “Millions of leaflets, pamphlets, cartoons, comic books, articles — and more recently radio and movie scripts — have been produced and disseminated in the propaganda war (429).” Flowerman’s use of the language of warfare is of course interesting in itself and will be discussed further below. For now, we should focus on what Flowerman lists as the five aims of the “propaganda war”:

1. “The restructuring of the attitudes of prejudiced individuals, or at least their neutralization.”
2. “The restructuring of group values toward intolerance.”
3. “The reinforcement of attitudes of those already committed to a democratic ideology perhaps by creating an illusion of universality or victory.”
4. “The continued neutralisation of those whose attitudes are yet unstructured and who are deemed “safer” if they remain immune to symbols of bias.”
5. “Off-setting the counter-symbols of intolerance.” (429)

Flowerman concedes that the level of work and control required to achieve these aims would be extensive, and that the project was highly ambitious, seeking nothing less than “successful mass persuasion in the field of intergroup relations (429).” But he is equally clear in the conditions required for such success. Read more

“Modify the standards of the in-group”: On Jews and Mass Communications — Part One of Two

“To be successful, mass propaganda on the behalf of out-groups would have to modify the standards of the in-group.
Samuel H. Flowerman, Mass Propaganda in the War Against Bigotry, 1947.
[1]

“The whole story is transparently barmy.” This is what Guardian journalist Jason Wilson had to say in a 2015 article discussing “conspiracy theories” about Cultural Marxism. Barmy, for the uninitiated, is a British informal adjective with the meanings “mad; crazy; extremely foolish.” . Wilson continues by attempting to explain “the whole story”:

The vogue for the ideas of theorists like Herbert Marcuse and Theodor Adorno in the 1960s counterculture culminated with their acolytes’ occupation of the commanding heights of the most important cultural institutions, from universities to Hollywood studios. There, the conspiracy says, they promoted and even enforced ideas which were intended to destroy traditional Christian values and overthrow free enterprise: feminism, multiculturalism, gay rights and atheism. And this, apparently, is where political correctness came from. I promise you: this is what they really think … The theory of cultural Marxism is also blatantly antisemitic, drawing on the idea of Jews as a fifth column bringing down western civilisation from within, a racist trope that has a longer history than Marxism.

Re-reading this article recently, I wondered what Mr Wilson would say if I told him I possessed a document wherein an influential Jew linked to Marcuse and Adorno unambiguously sets out a scheme for the capture of the media, the mass brainwashing of White populations with multicultural propaganda, the manipulation of in-group culture to make it hostile to its own sense of ethnocentrism, the spreading of a culture of political correctness, and, ultimately, the co-option of the West by small ethnic clique pursuing its own interests under the guise of “promoting tolerance.” I wonder what he’d say if I told him the same Jew operated a network of hundreds, if not thousands, of other Jewish intellectuals engaged in the same single task — unlocking a psychological “backdoor” to White culture in order to completely reorient it. I think I’m correct in assuming that Mr Wilson would call me “barmy,” and accuse me of regurgitating the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. I suspect he would believe I’m a fantasist and an anti-Jewish conspiracy theorist. I know he’d dismiss even the possibility that such a document might actually exist. And yet it does exist. Read more

An Update to “Why Are Professors Liberals?”: Jewish Influence Firmly Ensconced in Academia by the 1960s

Recently a blog titled “Ideas and Data” posted a very interesting and important article by an anonymous blogger, “The Jewish Question: An Empirical Examination.” I’ll have more to say about this blog in the future, but here I discuss a study on Jewish academic influence that I was unaware of.

This is the video version:

First, some introductory material from my paper, “Why Are Professors Liberals?.

Gross and Fosse point out that it was during the 1960s when universities became strongly associated with the political left in the eyes of friends and foes alike — enough to result in self-selection processes in which conservatives would feel unwelcome in the university:

Higher education was a crucial micromobilization context for a number of left social movements in the 1960s and 1970s, which further enhanced the institution’s liberal reputation; with concerted cultural efforts by American conservatives, especially from the 1950s on, to build a collective identity for their movement around differentiation from various categories of “liberal elites,” not least liberal professors; with restricted opportunities for Americans on the far left to enter other institutional spheres; and with self-reinforcing processes by which selfselection into the academic profession by liberals resulted in a more liberal professoriate whose reputation for liberalism was thereby maintained or enhanced. (pp. 158–159)

Further, because elite universities attempt to most represent the zeitgeist of the field, Gross and Fosse point out they will offer positions to scholars they see as exemplary; political attitudes are a major part of being exemplary. As noted above, Inbar and Lammers (2012) found that many liberal academics openly acknowledge that they would discriminate against a conservative job candidate. This rigorous policing of the attitudes of professors at elite institutions in turn leads to elite institutions being to the left of lesser institutions. In the academic hierarchy, the result is that graduate students coming from elite institutions are most representative of the leftist academic culture, either because of their socialization in the academic environment or simply because of self-interest as a member of a group (e.g., racial and ethnic minorities, homosexuals) whose interests are championed by the left. This becomes progressively diluted as one goes to the second- and third-tier schools and eventually down to K–12 education. The result is a liberal social environment at all levels of the educational system which in turn has measurable effects on student attitudes. Public opinion surveys carried out since the 1960s show that going to college results in attitude change in a liberal direction compared to parents. If education level remained the same, there was little change in attitudes (Kaufmann, 2004, p. 191).

Thus, academia is a top-down system in which the highest levels are rigorously policed to ensure liberal ideological conformity. Read more

Ezra Pound, Jewish Activism, and the Struggle for Cultural Memory

The terror of Pound for Kazin and the rest of us, if we are honest, is Pound’s racism”
Theodore Weiss, The New York Review of Books, 1986. 

I often take great pleasure from looking into the past and finding, among persons and works of great genius, ideas that we very closely share. It’s not terribly difficult. Times have changed so dramatically, and the window of ‘acceptable’ ideas has so radically narrowed, that almost every great creative thinker of substance prior to the 1950s held socio-political views regarded as quasi-Fascistic by the current dispensation. Most of us will be aware, of course, that these broader cultural shifts have had extremely negative repercussions for the socio-historical legacy of such figures. In short, within a society all too keen to abolish the ‘old White men’ from the history books, such figures will be the first to go.

Against this ominous backdrop, a colleague and literary scholar recently felt the inclination to inform me that the great genius of literature Ezra Pound (1885–1972), who possessed a genuine and open sympathy for Fascism, is being slowly and insidiously exiled from college reading lists and school curricula. It should come as no great surprise to readers of the Occidental Observer that having been caged in a ‘death cell’ for his war-time affiliations, and driven first into a mental health hospital and then out of his country, Pound’s punishment would continue posthumously with his relegation to anonymity. Where my friend erred, however, was in attributing the slow vanishing of Pound to an amorphous ‘neoliberal’ zeitgeist. As an ‘armchair’ fan of Modernist poetry for almost a decade, and an ethno-nationalist even longer, I’ve been more acutely aware of the specificities behind the degradation of the much-maligned poet. Far from being a recent phenomenon, I was also aware that the most important steps in Pound’s marginalization had been put in place decades earlier. Having shared these specificities with my colleague, I now present them here for the consideration of our readership.

The process of annihilating a genius and his worldview from the cultural memory of his people is both straightforward and relatively commonplace. During the course of several research projects over the last decade, it became apparent to me that even where ideologically suspect cultural figures are permitted to remain under study, the socio-political ideas of these ‘tainted’ individuals, no matter how central to their character or intellectual worldview, are sequestered within their social and professional biographies, and often presented as unpleasant ‘moral stains’ upon an otherwise acceptable and productive life. An excellent example in this regard is W.J. McCormack’s 2005 Blood Kindred: W.B. Yeats, The Life, The Death, The Politics, which endeavored to ‘expose’ and quarantine the Anglo-Irish poet’s alleged “intense relationship” with Fascism and anti-Semitism. In this way, ‘offending’ but ‘milder’ figures like Yeats are made ‘safe’ for the young and impressionable White minds passing through our college systems. In the more ‘extreme’ cases, however, like that of the explicitly Fascist-affiliated Pound, these ‘moral stains,’ and the indignation they provoke, are deemed unmanageable and unforgiveable. They are amplified, and utilized in attempts to defame and degrade the cultural figure. The process of defamation and degradation eventually forces that figure out of acceptable public discussion and recognition, and thus into obscurity. Read more