Moving the markers

From Catharine MacKinnon’s ‘Turning Rape into Pornography: Postmodern Genocide,’ which is about videotaped rapes as propaganda in Croatia and Bosnia. From Are Women Human? pp 162-3:

Some of the rapes that are made into pornography are clearly intended for mass consumption as war propaganda. One elderly Croation woman who was filmed being raped was also tortured by electric shocks and gang-raped in the Bucje concentration camp by Serbian men dressed in generic camouflage uniforms. She was forced to “confess” on film that Croatians raped her. This disinformation – switching the ethnic labels – is especially easy when there are no racial markers for ethnic distinctions. It is a standard Serbian technique…Serbian propaganda moves cultural markers with postmodern alacrity, making ethnicity unreal and all too real at the same time.

That seemed to me to link up rather nicely with a recent post of Nigel Warburton’s on Slavoj Žižek – who is from Slovenia.

Zizek like many postmodernists, poses as one who knows, who can see through ideology and diagnose the short-sightedness of those in the grip of naive enlightenment ideas or systemic violence that is more or less invisible to most of us. We dim-sighted ones naively rail against what he calls subjective violence (or what we traditionally call ‘violence’), apparently blind to systemic and symbolic violence. Unfortunately when he comes to discussing ‘historian’ David Irving he seems to commit symbolic violence himself…On p.92 of Violence, in the context of a discussion of the Danish cartoons of Muhammad, Zizek suggests that the freedom of the press in the West is not as extensive as we like to believe because we can’t tolerate questioning of the Holocaust.

Nigel points out that Žižek describes Irving as ‘expressing his doubts about the Holocaust’ – but Irving did a lot more than that: he not only denied the evidence, he also extensively falsified it in at least one of his books, as Richard Evans discovered for the defense at the trial in which Deborah Lipstadt defended herself against Irving’s libel suit. Falsifying evidence is not mere ‘questioning,’ and calling it that is just another kind of falsification. Another example of moving markers with postmodern alacrity.

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