When Slander Goes Rampant

In her memoirs, Russian combat pilot Anna Egorova remembered her mother ”kneeling before the icons, as she firstly listed all our names, the names of her children, begging God for health and wisdom for us, and then at the end of each prayer repeating: ‘God save them from slander!’”  She didn’t understand that word ‘slander’ in her childhood, Egorova wrote, but after her brother was sent away as An Enemy of the People, “it was exposed before me in all its terrible nakedness.”

I was reminded of Egorova’s story by a recent article by Richard Rahn titled The high cost of slander:

Endless cruelties have been and continue to be committed on the basis of group slander. The communists and socialists imprisoned and slaughtered many of their merchant and property-owning citizens on the basis of a gross slander, not to mention what the Nazis did to the Jews. In America, blacks, gays, many ethnic groups and women were first stereotyped, then slandered, and then discriminated against. But the fashion of which groups of individuals can be slandered has changed to such people as Wall Street bankers; pharmaceutical, coal and oil company executives; conservative scholars; those who question the global warming establishment; and white males, among others.

The general rule that one is innocent until proven guilty goes back at least to ancient Roman law: Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat — “Burden of proof lies on him who asserts, not on him who denies.” Over the centuries, not only individuals, but whole classes of people, have been denied this basic human right. The oppressors normally begin by slandering a group, and then use the slander to discriminate and ultimately persecute — and, unfortunately, this persists even in America.

If one listens to Bernie Sanders’ rants, somehow all of those who work on Wall Street are far greedier than most other Americans. It is also obvious that he has no idea of what the functions of financial markets are, nor the disaster that would occur without them. Yes, there are plenty of unethical and incompetent people on Wall Street, as there are in Washington and in most other places in America. That does not justify indicting all who work in a particular industry and a particular place. The ignorant attacks on the financial industry have resulted in increasingly costly and destructive regulation, which increases the risk in the financial system rather than diminishing it.

RTWT.  Indeed, much political writing and speech these days is reminiscent of the two-minute hate sessions which were a feature of the totalitarian society portrayed in Orwell’s 1984.  Any day on Facebook, one can see the sharing and sometimes the origination of extreme and even vile assertions about individuals and whole groups…usually people and groups that are Designated Targets, similarly to Emmanuel Goldstein in 1984.


11 thoughts on “When Slander Goes Rampant”

  1. If we had an intelligent GOP (crazy fantasy, I know) –

    “My opponents talk such a big talk about the 1% and our corporate elites. Do you all realize, my friends, that when we talk about our “elites”, we are not talking about “Wall Street”. We are not talking about the heads of our oil companies, our petrochemical executives, our agricultural and land barons. Oh those people are there, yes, fine, maybe they make up 20% of our “elites”. Do you want to find out where are elites are, where to look for them, where to go to hold them accountable? Well, my friends, you need not look far. You will find the people that run our society, virtually in toto, easily enough. They are found in that big rectangle at one end of your den and bedroom. They are found inside that screen on your desk. They are found literally in your hand, in your purse, clipped to your belt, before your own eyes four hours a day. THOSE are the people, backed by your academies, that run this civilization. THOSE are the elites that you hate so much. THOSE are the responsible ones for the world you live in, and virtually all that you do not like about it.”

    “And I will let you in on a secret, my friends – THOSE PEOPLE ARE NOT REPUBLICANS, NOT CONSERVATIVES, NOT CHRISTIANS (by and large). Not by a long shot. The idea that it is our hard manufacturing/industrial leaders and the like that are our “elites” is a lie that has been going on some 50 years now, and a superlatively successful lie at that. Do you think for a moment that our real and genuine current genuine elites have the slightest interest in you all seeing them for what they truly are – the Rockefellers, Carnegies, and Morgans of the 21st century? Do you think, as they vote and agitate relentlessly for the Democratic Party, that that party has ever or will ever do anything that will ever hurt their elite interests? That the schemes that they agitate for will ever be truly paid for by anyone other than the non-elites of the middle-class, courtesy of the convoluted tax code, and the labyrinthine legal and financial construct they have foisted upon us all?”

    “Yes, my friends, Mr. Sanders and Ms. Clinton will make much of “evil Wall Street” and hammer it 24/7, and somehow never get around to mentioning Rodeo Drive, Pennsylvania Avenue, or Silicon Valley, where the real power lies. Do you think there may be a reason for this? And their followers will continue to swallow whole this decades old lie about who does and does not hold the real power over us all. This campaign is about taking that power back, where our founders put it, and where it belongs. I ask you to join us, because you know this is the truth, in a way this “Wall Street” vendetta never has been or will be the truth of today’s world. You know this is truth, you are not as stupid as they think you are.”

  2. Look at the comments section in any respectable mainstream media outlet when the topic is, oh, gun control. Or abortion. Or queer/transgender ‘rights.’

    We stopped being one country a long time ago. And Obama is merely a symptom.

    Stockpile. There’s still time.

  3. I suspect if a considerable fraction of the fraudsters who destroyed the lives of millions in 2008 had gone to the pen, the ‘slander’ would be overstated.

  4. KH –

    Like the fraudsters on Penn Ave, such as Barney Frank and the DoJ’ers and FANNIE’s who either forced or colluded with banks to make those loans, and the cultural/media mavens who protected them all from start to finish, while attacking the people who tried to reign them in as racists and the like…

    Yeah, can’t argue with that.

  5. How about vicious and rather personal slander – which tips over into the territory of incitement, as when a female rapper of a more than usually unhinged temperament suggests via her twitter feed that Sarah Palin be gang-raped? Mind you, I’d consider the unhinged source … but still, being the object of anyone’s 2-minute 140 character hatefest must be a bit wearing, after awhile.

  6. ” a female rapper of a more than usually unhinged temperament suggests via her twitter feed that Sarah Palin be gang-raped?”

    I’m hoping she has been saving her money and that Palin follows through.

  7. It’s my guess that Banks will have the full force of the media and entertainment industry behind her. After seeing her rebuttal to Sarah’s response, I assumed she’s simply a cat’s paw for the progressive machine. Rap goons from Harlem don’t write or speak in that style whether they have the ability to or not. It doesn’t make good business sense.

    Given that Springsteen and band mate Van Zandt are now also mouthing off about boys-in-the-girls room, and that Hollywood shut down the Pastor Protection Act in Georgia, I suspect this is more of the same.

  8. “Hollywood shut down the Pastor Protection Act in Georgia, I suspect this is more of the same.”

    This is the latest round in the culture wars.

    I wonder if Tim Cook ever visits the Apple Store in Saudi Arabia where his sexual orientation would lead to his head being cut off or his being thrown off a building?

    PayPal is in the same hypocrisy business.

    We have Virtue Signaling run amok.

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