Sunday, October 9, 2011

Self-Hating Maus

Of all people, you would expect Art Spiegelman, author/artist of Maus, to "get" Israel. Sadly, he does not:
While Spiegelman insists he never wanted to become “the Elie Wiesel of comic books,” Maus did make him a go-to source for those seeking reflection on the genocide and its meaning. Spiegelman, who also created a comic book on the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, is only too aware of the uses and misuses of history, part of what he refers to as “the memory industry.” One of the most striking images in MetaMaus is his nod to the commodification of the Holocaust: He draws a Jewish prisoner in striped concentration-camp garb and yellow star, clutching an Oscar.

His association with the Holocaust, however, has led to Spiegelman being attacked for not supporting Israel enough. “People have screamed at me, ‘How can you not be totally supportive of Israel?’ ” he says. “Israel is a sad, failed idea. I just feel fortunate that my parents went right instead of left after the war and we ended up in America. I’m neither pro- nor anti-Zionist. I’m a-Zionist. If I’d been around in 1948, I would have said, ‘Can’t we all just go live in Montana?’ ”
Yeah, that would have worked--as long as we could have moved Jerusalem and all the other Jewish antiquities (along with modern Tel Aviv) lock, stock and barrel to Billings.

Spiegelman's "Promised Land"?

1 comment:

Carlos Perera said...

Yeah, you'd think that a man with Spiegelman's background would be a natural advocate of the Jewish homeland. But, of course, a goodly part of the Western intelligentsia--to which Mr. Spiegelman does not outright belong, but to which he no doubt aspires and with which he wishes to identify--is pursuing an _unnatural_, self-destructive course of appeasing and enabling the enemies of the civilization to which they themselves belong. In less than half a century, our intellectual leaders have gone from "the West is best" to "the West is worst."

Another factor, to which Scaramouche herself has often alluded, is the unhealthy obsession that many _bien pensants_ (and not just or even mainly Jews) in Western societies have with the Holocaust. For them, the Holocaust has a subjective reality, projected ever-forward in time, that trumps the objective reality of the observable present. Now, any minimally decent human being has got to be appalled by this horror of horrors perpetrated on an inoffensive and highly accomplished ethnic group by a nation with an undeniable claim to high civilization from the Renaissance onward. But Hitler and his regime have been dead since 1945, and, aside from the fantasies of a few neo-Nazi skinhead types, holed up in the mountains of Idaho and like places, his particular brand of anti-civilizational and anti-Semitic malice will not be resuscitated in its 1933-1945 form.

Undeniably, anti-Semitism continues to be a very real existential threat to the Jewish people in general, and to Israel in particular, but it now manifests itself mainly as a phenomenon of the Left within European civilization and its derivatives, and as an attribute of Islam outside it, acting together in a weird synergy that would have been unimaginable before the ascendance of cultural Marxism that began in the late 1960s. People like Mr. Spiegelman, who were marinated in the "political correctness" that grew out of the American Civil Rights and New Left Movements, and which is now the intellectual orthodoxy of academia, journalism, and the arts, simply cannot bring themselves to see the enemy on the Left ("_pas d'ennemi à gauche_") or in the Third World other (mostly, but not exclusively, Islam).

Finally, the "poltroonery" factor must be taken into account. Kicking the corpse of Hitler is no doubt much safer than actively defending living Jews at risk, against live, active, ruthless, fanatical enemies, who already possess nuclear weapons (Pakistan) or are on the verge of getting them (Iran). And, on a less dramatic scale, these enemies are already inside the gates and ready to do small-scale mayhem (e.g., the murder of Theo van Gogh for producing art unacceptable to fundamentalist Islam).

In summary, I would respectfully disagree (very slightly) with Scaramouche's assessment of Mr. Spiegelman as a "self-hating" Maus; rather, I see him as a victim of Ionesco's _Rhinoceros_ effect, brought about by his continuous exposure to the standard Leftist narrative rooted in cultural Marxism and "anti-racist" theory (Israel, of course, being the honkie power oppressing the brown peoples that surround it), with a dash of plain old physical cowardice at confronting the real, present enemies of the Jewish people.