Maureen Therese Anderson manders at midway.uchicago.edu
Fri Nov 19 01:01:37 PST 1999

John T. writes:

>IMO there is a major difference between the Latin American
>panic over body parts, and our own panic over ritual abuse
>of children. In the US, the prosecutor and the police have
>promoted panic, that is, the State.

Well, that's fine. But the point's rather a non sequitor in the context in which I invoked the "sacaojos" scare. I used that example while addressing the larger issue of rational people holding beliefs about occult activities. As such I deliberately used an anecdote where we'd be more sympathetic to the global-cap-related occult imagery.

(And btw, the fact that the fears might have some basis on actual small-scale organ trafficking only adds to my point that rumors are often based on some real activity which, for structural reasons, is an overdetermined focal point for more pervasive but diffuse fears. These fears therefore animate--and therefore transform the meaning of--that literal focal-point.)

And for what it's worth, there are plenty of examples of states in poor parts of the world taking the perception of increased occult activity very seriously. And the "new" South Africa set up an entire "Commission of Inquiry into Witchcraft Violence and Ritual Murders in the Northern Province" in 1995.

Katha wrote:

> there was one case in England (forget name, as usual) of a sex-abuse
>panic. It was sort of like the Wenatchie case here: a whole small town
>of working class parents accused of molesting dozens of kids.

On the American side, there's an exceptionally detailed and sensitive account of a town-wide scare in small town Washington state (=same recruiting ground as militia? more irony for Alex), in a New Yorker article by Lawrence Wright ("Remembering Satan," May, 1993).


More information about the lbo-talk mailing list