Divisions among the "Disabled"; Footnote to Marta Russell

Jim heartfield Jim at heartfield.demon.co.uk
Fri Jun 19 11:13:13 PDT 1998

In message <199806190007.TAA34732 at rs6000.cmp.ilstu.edu>, Carrol Cox <cbcox at rs6000.cmp.ilstu.edu> writes
>One more point about Showalter, and a most damning one in respect to her
>book and her personal integrity *even* if it turned out that her
>individual accounts of Gulf War Syndrome and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome were
>accurate -- by placing the sufferers from and believers in those syndromes
>(the believers re CFS, incidentally, now include a growing number of
>rather prestigious members of the medical profession) in the same category
>as believers in UFOs simply showed her as utterly lacking in any sense of
>proportion, any minimal social awareness, any sense of responsibility.

I really don't share Carrol's hostility to Elaine Showalter's Hystories - a rather excellent book, in fact. Gulf War Syndrome definitely needed debunking. It is grotesque that through the refracting lens of America's therapeutic culture that the forces of the allies are magically transformed into the _victims_ of the war.

Quite real atrocities were suffered by Iraqi soldiers and civilians alike. Continuing health problems arising from depleted Uranium shells and other chemical weapons used by the allies continue to be a real health hazard in the Gulf. What those afflicted with Gulf War Syndrome are suffering from is unacknowledged guilt at their role in the Gulf.

Carrol's dialectic works its way around the houses until we get to this proposition:

>One would also gather from it
>that all feminists were freaks, etc.
>Showalter pulls this same shit

But making out Elaine Showalter to be a proponent of the view that 'feminists are freaks' is to get carried away with your own powers of persuasion. On the contrary, Showalter is a respected feminist and writer. Her book raises some hard problems and challenges some strongly held beliefs, but that is generally a good thing and not a bad thing.

It is one thing to disagree with her, but quite another to question her personal integrity, which is just a demotic attempt to silence her. -- Jim heartfield

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