Monday, January 28, 2008

Jonah's mutual-admiration society

-- by Dave

It seems that Jonah Goldberg -- who, as we have seen, already has a predilection for dubious sources in his book Liberal Fascism -- has quite a fan in the form of an Australian professor named John J. Ray, who fancies himself something of an Orcinus-killer. Today, Jonah put up a post extolling Ray's work:
Anyway, on the web one of the sites that's been finding fascism on the left for a very long time is Australia's John Ray. I was sent his garroting of Neiwert at his blog Dissecting the Left this morning and it reminded me that I should have alerted readers interested in this stuff about his work a while ago. You'll find much of this argument familiar, for example. Anyway, I'm delighted to form the Northern Hemisphere's side of the antipodean anti-fascism tag-team. (I'm sure someone will tell me if I'm using antipodean wrong.)

I'll let readers judge for themselves the value of Ray's critique; I'll have nothing more to say about it other than to point out that, once again, Ray (just like Goldberg) resolutely refuses to tackle the review's central thesis.

Ray, as I've mentioned previously, is not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed to begin with. But read on into his "dissection" of yours truly and you'll find this:
In fact, with his constant inspirational calls for national unity, Obama is eerily reminiscent of the Fascists. If he spoke German he might well be inclined to adopt as his slogan Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer -- as Hitler did ("One nation, one government, one leader"). After all, right to the end most Germans saw Hitler as a warm and kindly father-figure. And if the ruthless power-seeker that is Hillary reminds you of Joe Stalin, don't blame me!

That sure is one insightful thinker you're citing there, Jonah!

Actually, a little background on Mr. Ray might be helpful at this point. Ray for awhile was among the writers empaneled at the white-nationalist website MajorityRights (no link, but if you Google it you can check it out), where "Miscegenation" is one of the main topics of discussion. He reportedly resigned in 2006 because the site became overtly anti-Semitic.

Ray is considered part of the Australian wing of what is politely called "academic racism." In addition to his own work, his website also hosts the work of "scientific racist" Chris Brand.

Here's what the Institute for the Study of Academic Racism has to say about Dr. Ray:
Ray himself holds some forthright views on racism. His book Conservatism as heresy includes chapters with such appetising titles as 'Rhodesia: in defence of Mr Smith' and 'In defence of the White Australia policy'. Ray also argues that it is "moralistic nonsense" to denounce racism.

Well might Ray defend racism. He does not mince his words when he writes about Australian Aborigines. Ray says that "aborigines are characterised by behaviour that in a white we would find despicable . . . White backlash is then reasonable. Unless we expect whites to forget overnight the cultural values that they have learned and practised all their lives, they will find the proximity of aboriginals unpleasant" (p.58).

Ray has conducted a number of academic surveys in order to bolster his prejudices. For instance Ray assumes that it is natural that whites should develop an antipathy towards Aborigines:

"If, for instance, people suddenly find themselves living in close contact with Aborigines and Aborigines happen to be in fact rather unhygienic in their habits, some people previously without prejudice will start to say that they don't like Aborigines." (p.261.)

Therefore Ray designed a survey to measure white Australians' attitudes towards Aborigines, comparing those who lived near Aborigines with those who lived further away.

The results of his survey failed to confirm his prediction; Ray did not find that whites living near Aborigines were in fact more prejudiced. Ray described his results as "disappointing" (p.267). Instead of discarding his hypothesis, Ray still strove to maintain his own prejudices; he searched around for reasons why his questionnaire might not have obtained the correct results. Thus, even in the face of negative results, Ray clings to what he calls his 'rational prejudice model'.

Ray's prejudices do not just relate to Aborigines. Dr. Ray enjoins us to "face the fact that large numbers of even educated Australians do not like Jews or 'Wogs'." (p.70.) Ray writes approvingly of people who will

"among friends, exchange mocking misnomers for suburbs in which Jews have settled: Bellevue Hill becomes 'Bellejew Hill' and Rose Bay becomes 'Nose Bay'; Dover Heights becomes 'Jehova Heights'." (p.71.)

Ray obviously has sympathy with the racists and anti-Semites. Many of the people who make the comments Ray cites, are according to our Australian psychologist "superbly functioning and well-adjusted Australians". In Ray's opinion such people will "justly deny being racists" (p.70): n.b. the give-away word 'justly'.

The main reason why Ray does not find such attitudes racist is that he considers them perfectly logical. Thus he asserts that people "who don't like sloth . . . may object to Aborigines. People who do not like grasping materialism, will certainly find no fault with Aborigines but they may find fault with Jews" (p.265).

It seems that Dr Ray, in an academic paper about psychology, is repeating the racist and anti-Semitic assumptions that Aborigines are lazy and Jews are 'grasping materialists'. It is hard to find any other explanation for Ray's continual defence of prejudice.

In his academic papers Ray has a tendency to use some curious turns of phrase. Thus when he criticises, as he often does, the classic work in the psychology of fascism, The Authoritarian Personality by Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswick, Levinson and Sanford, he refers to "the work of these Jewish authors" (see, for instance, the start of Ray's article in the distinguished social science journal Human Relations).(82) This is not the standard way of describing opponents' research, at least not since the days of Nazi Germany.

But there again Ray is not exactly ignorant of the ways of Nazism. During the 1960s Ray was a member of various Australian Nazi parties. In fact Ray has openly described his seven-year association with Nazism (see, for instance, his article 'What are Australian Nazis really like?' in The Bridge, August 1972).

Note that Goldberg also spends several pages frantically attacking "the Frankfurt School" and its "Marxist" professors, and similarly castigates The Authoritarian Personality. He's obviously been feeding from the same trough.

More to the point, Ray and Goldberg are busy indulging the same sort of enterprise: furiously finding "fascists" on the left as a way of diverting people's attention from the fact of the longtime existence of very real fascists operating within the realm of the political right. I'd guess their motives are different, but both the ploy and the outcome are the same.

UPDATE: Colugo in the comments notes that Ray claims he joined those Nazi organizations for the purpose of "investigating" them.

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