THE HATE-MONGER bell hooks is back on the national scene.
The radical sociologist professor just recently engaged in one of her gutter hate diatribes in a commencement address at Southwestern University, a liberal arts college in Georgetown, Texas.
In her usual act of spewing curses at humankind, hooks took this particular opportunity to not only do what she does best--demonize men, capitalism and "patriarchy"—but also to castigate her own audience. In her commencement speech, she reprimanded the graduates and their parents for believing in the future. She insisted that doing so was a surrender to the capitalist patriarchy’s attempt to impose false consciousness on its citizens. In a moving passage that undoubtedly warmed the hearts of her audience, she stated,
"Every imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchal nation on the planet teaches its citizens to care more for tomorrow than today. . . . And the moment we do this, we are seduced by the lure of death. . . . To live fixated on the future is to engage in psychological denial. It is a form of psychic violence that prepares us to accept the violence needed to ensure the maintenance of imperialist, future-oriented society."
After sharing this joyful sentiment with the bewildered graduates and their parents (many of whom booed hooks during her speech), hooks then chastised the students for getting an education in the first place. She fumed that, by attending Southwestern (where hooks is temporarily employed), the students had sacrificed their own identity, had been complicit in their own "mindless conformity" and had placed their souls "at risk." The years they had spent at Southwestern, hooks indignantly charged, was a complete waste of time, because it involved only "indulging in the basic violence of self-betrayal."
Hooks then moved on to her favorite contemporary topic: the evil of "patriarchy" and Bush’s war on terrorism. All the evil in the world, she patiently explained, was the fault of men, the nuclear family, and capitalism. Conservatism, meanwhile, represented death, murder and global terrorism.
Wow! And you thought Anthony Robbins was an effective motivational speaker? Move over Robbins, here comes the inspirational bell hooks.
Imagine IBM hiring hooks to give a motivational talk to its employees.
Picture going out on a date with hooks. Try to visualize a romantic candle light dinner.
Scarier than The Exorcist isn’t it?
I am, unfortunately, very familiar with bell hooks. Throughout my years in graduate studies, I had no choice but to constantly hear her name - almost as much as Noam Chomsky’s. My Leftist academic colleagues perpetually uttered hooks’ name in the same manner they uttered Chomsky’s: in a tone of an eerie devotional ecstasy. This would always bring harrowing images to my mind of how many Nazi officials would greet Hitler. Kneeling in front of him, and unable to disguise their euphoric and nerve-trembling awe and adulation, they could barely get the words out while in the presence of the totalitarian sanctioning they so desperately craved: "Mein Führer."
This phenomenon always comes to mind when I observe the cult-of-personality that Leftists have spawned around hooks. It brings to mind the sublime in the Western tradition, a notion which has been nurtured by poets such as Percy B. Shelley, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. The sublime deals with the inspiration of awe and terror that humans experience in the presence of the Divine.
I always had the suspicion that my Leftist colleagues, like the Nazis, engendered a pathological illness in themselves because they craved the reality of the sublime but simultaneously had to reject the natural human desire to worship God. Belief in God, after all, violated their central philosophy that they were humanity’s redeemers. Thus, desperately needing to submerge their personalities into something greater than themselves, they ended up disfiguring the sublime into a mutated process in which they felt awe and terror in the presence of a hooks or a Chomsky - instead of in the presence of the Divine.
It’s basically the same reality as the Bolsheviks replacing crucifixes with the hammer and the sickle.
And the intriguing thing in all of this is that bell hooks actually feeds off of her disciples’ worship.
This is an individual who refuses to capitalize her name because she thinks it is some kind of a profound social statement. But I have a question: does she really think that anyone cares?
You will see hooks’ non-capitalized name if you ever see her works, which include Feminist Theory, From Margin to Center (South End Press, 2000), Where We Stand: Class Matters (Routledge, 2000), Black Looks and Representation (South End Press, 1992), and Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism, (South End Press, 1981)
What I always found extremely fascinating about hooks’ work is how devoid it is of any honest self-examination. For instance, hooks often refers to how, at one point in her life, she was the victim of physical abuse in a relationship with a particular male. After this experience, she realized how evil capitalism and patriarchy really were. And guess what? She became a radical and proud self-styled lesbian feminist.
I love the math here. I will be the first to take a stand for a woman that is the victim of physical abuse by her male partner. And I will be the first to support her protection and his punishment. But to suggest that the tragedy of physical abuse is somehow not about individual evil, but about male evil and capitalist evil is just deranged nonsense.
Hooks never spends one moment in any honest introspection about the possibility of her own potential complicity in the circumstances of her own life. Of course I am not saying that a victim of abuse always asks for it. And even if they do ask for it, it doesn’t legitimize the abuse itself. Naturally, there are many innocent people that get into relationships without the slightest clue of the dark side of their mate, and then suffer tremendous abuse and find difficulty escaping from it.
But sometimes in life we must also do some honest soul-searching and reconsider whether the painful and hurtful environments in which we find ourselves are not, in part, a result of our own doing. They might very well have something to do with the choices we made, and with the disfunctionality and weakness in our own characters.
But for bell hooks, life is never about having to take individual responsibility or about having to make and pay for our own ethical and social decisions. Not one of her own choices in life, not one of her own character defects, could possibly have played a role in any of the unfortunate circumstances in which she has found herself. Society did. Men and capitalism did it.
No one has more effectively exposed the Wizard-of-Oz fantasy world that hooks lives in than David Horowitz. In his essay "A Rage to Kill" in Hating Whitey, he analyses one of hooks’ recent essays, in which the sociology professor revels in a fantasy about killing an anonymous white man on an airplane. She says that she feels a "homicidal malice" and affirms that,
"Had I killed the white man whose behavior evoked the rage, I feel that it would have been caused by the madness engendered by a pathological context."
Hooks explains how those blacks who do not want to murder whites are victims of a false consciousness. "Blacks who lack a proper killing rage," she writes, "are merely victims." Horowitz's insight into this frightening philosophy is incisive: if hooks killed the white man, someone else would ultimately have to be responsible, because: "even if she had done it, she did not do it. In fact white people did it."
It remains intriguing that while hooks hates America -- and the white people in it, she remains one of the most privileged beneficiaries of the system that she despises.
At the moment, she is the Brown Visiting Scholar-in-Residence of Feminist Studies at Southwestern University. She has been a professor at Yale University, City College of New York, and Oberlin College in Ohio. These positions have allowed her not only a six-figure income, but also the freedom and opportunity to sit around and think up everything she hates about the institutions to which she owes her eminence.
In a statement in her essay that merits an examination by an entire psychiatric conference, hooks complains, in agony, that "My rage intensifies because I am not a victim." While only silence could be the most appropriate response to this grievance, Horowitz aids in deciphering this psychosis: hooks in engaging in a
"Typical radical contradiction. She enjoys the material privileges of the comfortable, but wants the moral rewards of those who lack them; she wants to wear the mantle of the scholar while posturing as a warrior for the cause."
Hooks postures as a warrior for the cause indeed.
One just wonders what a toll it must take on a human being to carry around so much hate and rage for so long.
But that’s what being a Leftist is all about.
And bell hooks does it the best.