The bigger picture

Poltics and personal life, science and religion

Michael Steinberg

Michael Steinberg
Location
Rochester, New York, US
Birthday
June 20
Bio
I am a writer ("The fiction of a thinkable world: Body, meaning, and the culture of capitalism" [Monthly Review Press 2005]; "A new biology of religion: Spiritual practice and the life of the body" [Praeger, 2012]) and an attorney. I'm most interested in how we got into our present-day mess and how we can't separate our self-image from the experience of the world.

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JANUARY 9, 2011 12:54PM

The dangers of metaphor

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The horrible news from Arizona suggests yet again that you can't keep people from taking your metaphors literally. Maybe Sarah Palin didn't mean the crosshairs on her "hitlist" as a suggestion that someone shoot Gabrielle Giffords. Maybe calling doctors murderers because they perform abortions doesn't mean that you approve of killing them. But you can't duck your share of responsibility when some loose nut thinks that you actually mean what you say.

This is overwhelmingly a problem of the right wing in this sad and fearful country, and it's frustrating to see the story twisted into a both-sides-do-it fable by the MSM. Still, it worries me when someone as insightful as Chris Hedges talks about "the war on America." This is not only inflammatory, it shares too much of the us-versus-them rhetoric of the right that blinds partisans to the real underlying problems.

What's in danger of sinking the brief historical experiment of capitalist modernity isn't the strength of its internal enemies. It's the self-limiting and self-destructive nature of the system itself. The lunatic right is a symptom, not the disease, and all of us--not just the Sarah Palins and the deranged gunmen--are sick to some degree.

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I am watching the news on and off and calculating just how long it is going to take until the right-wing radio and tv heads take credit for this or excuse it in some perverse way.


stop the advance of the 451s

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