Friday, January 13, 2012

The hermeneutics of Glenn Greenwald (by Suzie)

I view Salon lawyer/blogger Glenn Greenwald the way I do Ron Paul: They have some interesting views, but I don't want to enhance their credibility in any way.

On Jan. 2, Echidne dissected what Greenwald wrote in praise of Paul. Oh, wait, I wonder if I'm misinterpreting him by using the word "praise." Perhaps I should say that his column mentioned Paul in a way that a reasonable person would construe as positive. I want to be really careful, lest he refer to me as using "grotesque accusatory innuendo," as he did Katha Pollitt and others.

We can get a glimpse of how Greenwald argues from this exchange on Twitter about Obama signing a military-spending bill (NDAA) that allows the use of indefinite military detention of terrorist suspects.

Greenwald quotes an ACLU headline: "President Obama Signs Indefinite Detention Bill Into Law." Imani Gandy, a k a Angry Black Lady, a Grio blogger/lawyer, raises the issue of civil custody. Seems like a good point since the law refers to military detention, and Obama promised not to apply it to U.S. citizens. (Nevertheless, I oppose this law, just fyi.) The conversation quickly turns ugly, with Greenwald and supporters disparaging Gandy.
DrDawg: ABL, Obama could rape a nun live on NBC and you'd say we weren't seeing what we were seeing.
Greenwald: No - she'd say it was justified & noble- that he only did it to teach us about the evils of rape.
ABL and others tell him rape jokes aren't funny. (This also is debated among liberals. See this interesting post by the Funny Feminist.)

"Learn how to use Twitter - I didn't offer that example - just replied to it," Greenwald snaps. (This is disingenuous. His reply made the example more extreme.) DrDawg says, "I assure you, I wasn't making a joke, but a point."

It's not like those two things are mutually exclusive. People often use humor to make serious points. Twitterers also say that using rape to make a point is offensive because it trivializes rape. They say that talking about a black male president raping someone can be seen as racist. Jennifer Pozner, founder of Women in Media & News, tweets:
"Turns out I have to start 2012 by explaining to a respected progressive political journalist why cheap rape metaphors are bogus. #neverends"
Finally, Greenwald switches arguments. He no longer says he simply replied to someone else. Instead, he acknowledges that he talked about rape, but assures readers that it wasn't a joke or a metaphor. "It's a statement" that "blind defenders" of Obama would "defend ANY evil: assassinations, child-killings: EVEN rape."

I have criticized Obama many times, but I'm outraged by the idea that he's a killer capable of rape, supported by people who don't care. Talk about "grotesque accusatory innuendo."

Zerlina Maxwell, who writes at Feministing, Loop21 and the Grio, has an excellent post about Greenwald, noting:
... an irony of the infusion of rape into a debate in which it doesn't belong, is that the NDAA that Greenwald finds so offensive, also includes a provision which finally addresses the serious problem of rape, abuse and sexual harassment in the military.
I didn't know that much about Greenwald last week when I mistakenly suggested he was another white-male blogger who supported Obama, only to get disenchanted. The more I read about him, the more convinced I am that I'll need a second part to this post to address why Greenwald is regarded as a "respected progressive."