Mitchel, we have sometimes disagreed in the past, but I hope
I have never used inflammatory terms. This is not only because
I don't want to incite anyone to murder you, but also because
I really am not motivated to insult you.
I don't know what is dangerous name-calling in your view.
For example, I don't mind being called a liberal: the word has
many meanings, some of which are accurate as applied to me and
some not; even if someone mislabels me due to misunderstanding
my position, this is not necessarily closing down communication
between us, for I may clarify things in setting them straight.
When Thomas Smith as the climax of an outburst scornfully
called the lot of us liberals, he meant to be insulting, and
it was that intention that was offensive.
It had not occurred to me that "denialist" was a fighting word.
Is there an ideology of denialism? and if so, what is the
courteous word to denote it? I think there is not. In my
experience, "HIV/AIDS denialism" means something; "climate
change denialism" means something; I can't imagine what other
denialisms you intended to list for us, but surely those who
deny one thing --Sen. Inhofe, say-- don't automatically deny
Does this make me so woefully out of touch as you say? Then
you have an opportunity to educate. I promise not to call you
a running dog of the imperialists.
On Thu, 7 Nov 2013, Mitchel Cohen wrote:
> Hi Larry,
> I agree with you that Tom reacted aggressively and insultingly, and that he should be reprimanded and perhaps moderated on the list. But also, please try to
> understand why those "forces" were unleashed, what provoked him.
> One person said that *I* should be censured. Another goes and calls Gary Null a Denialist -- and then me and Tom by extension. This was no attempt to accurately
> describe our beliefs but to intentionally mock, ridicule and made to seem ludicrous so that no one has to listen to or discuss the actual ideas.
> Any honest discussant should first listen to Gary Null's show, at least for a few days, before coming to conclusions about it and the information he's
> broadcasting, especially if they're making wild accusations ridiculing him based on false or very partial information.
> Remember the times when Maoist forces used Confucius when what they were really doing was attacking the capitalist roader faction within the party? Or when
> LaRouche attacks the Queen of England (he's really talking about "the Jews" in his own organization)? Or when the CP maligned Trotskyists (using the term
> "Trotsky-ites" .... diminutive Trotskys) as "counter-revolutionaries" (and look where that led!) Let's not forget that those labels become a "material force" in
> what passes for the "real world" of the Left. So now we have the "Denialist" label being flung pretty cheaply at just about anyone who disagrees with the
> mainstream position being offered on 9/11, the Kennedy Assassination, or on AIDS. Really, it's unbecoming of the intelligent and committed people on this list.
> It becomes a means for avoiding clarity and understanding of what so-called Denialists like Gary Null, Thomas Smith, or myself are actually saying. (For one,
> none of us are "Denialists".)
> In fact, someone on this list has now being accused AIDS "denialists" of "murdering" people with AIDS because those so labelled and libeled do not believe that
> the scientific evidence proves that HIV CAUSES AIDS. No one here says anything about such smears, whether made against someone on the list or off of it! Hey,
> like others here I too was involved in needle exchanges in New York City and supported them elsewhere. I too participated with ACT UP in numerous meetings and
> events, and have relatives and friends who've died from infectious diseases that their immune systems were unable to ward off, as a healthy immune system should
> be able to do. I've probably participated as much as anyone here in daily activities on that issue, saw firsthand the effects of AZT (talk about murderers!) and
> the pharmaceutical industry, and have been arrested about as many times as I've tripped on acid (I try to keep those sides of my life in balance!) -- but *I* am
> the Denialist, *I* am portrayed as a "murderer". Maybe some deranged individual will read those reckless accusations online and kill me, as a result. (Don't
> laugh, most of us who've been involved for a while know what I'm talking about.)
> There was a time when accusing someone of something -- being an informer, say, without any proof -- was rampant in the Left and led to people actually being
> killed. Check out the great poet Roque Dalton, for one of many examples. He went to El Salvador to assist the guerrillas and one of the factions invented lies,
> and then kidnapped and murdered him. Or the founder of the Green Party, Petra Kelly in Germany. Yes, it seems as though her military husband killed her and then
> himself. Maybe that's true; but look at the context; she was under a constant barrage of horrible insults and character assassination by Webster Tarpley,
> LaRouche's lieutenant in Germany (who, by the way, has never owned up to his culpability there), and she just couldn't take it any more.
> And it's happened within the U.S. more frequently than I care to remember. My old friend Mike Zweig, when he was in the RCP, told his class at Stony Brook that I
> was a "disruptor" -- I was giving out to his class, with others, an unedited and uncommented upon flyer containing the RCP's official position at the time on
> homosexuality, which none of the young recruits had ever seen and so they thought I was maligning their new Party, as opposed to merely passing to them their
> party's own platform, its own words that Mike had conealed from them. (The RCP viewed non-hetero sexuality as a "bourgeois decadent deviation," and wrote that
> gay men should be thrown into "rectification camps". Some on this list were supporters of the RCP, and of Progressive Labor Party, during that period -- or do
> you now forget?) The "pledges" ... er, recruits ... thought I was maligning their Party. One of the young RCP troubled acolytes came searching for me, to kill
> me. Seriously! (I'll tell you another time how we dealt with that.) He apologized to me years later, but at that moment he was caught up in the cultish macho
> That kind of rhetoric often has implications way beyond what the speaker intends. It should have no place on this list -- "Denialist"? "Murderer"? That's what
> triggered Tom Smith. I'm not defending what he said nor the way he expressed it, but you, Larry, really need to look at the context. The things you accept and
> take for granted in your circles -- many don't even see that there's anything strange there, or amiss! -- are experienced as insults with life and death
> implications by others in facets of the movement that have different everyday realities.
> I COULD (but won't) attack some famous person who is looked up to by others but is not on the list, and by extension his or her followers on this list. I won't
> accuse them of being a murderer because in my judgment s/he supports this or that stance with regard to capitalism, sexuality, abortion, pesticides, animal
> rights, meat-eating, whatever. "Baby murderer!" "Animal killer!" "Pesticides murderer!" "Soap bubbles -- Larry, how COULD you theorize about that? You and
> Proctor & Gamble are capitalist scum!" It's not only a slippery soap ( :-) so to speak!), it's a whole fucking swamp. (I've been thinking about these things for
> decades, and I don't label people glibly as a result.)
> Calling someone a "Denialist" is the equivalent of calling them "a running dog lackey of the U.S. imperialist swine" or "an enemy of the people". The fact that
> some here don't realize that shows how out of touch with those movements they've grown.
> So I think the demarcations you are trying to make not only don't go far enough, but they are extremely complicated and probably impossible to make as general
> rules, where context is important. And people act self-righteously (not only Thomas, here), like they're little babies. I'm sort of amazed, actually, how quickly
> they work themselves into a reactive lather, and then think it's perfectly OK to feel it's acceptable to sling calumnies. It's not. Nor do you know where they
> will end up, and how they will "motivate" people who take you literally.
> Good luck in working through all the contradictions and twists and turns of what first seems so obvious; the generalities one tries to see objectively get
> complicated very quickly, if you're honestly trying to work through them!