Friday, March 31, 2017

Before the "Great Inhibition"

As I wrote in a previous installment of this erstwhile series:

That phrase the “Great Inhibition” was coined by Hugh Fitzgerald (harking back to the Great Prohibition) to denote the surreal, bizarre, irrational, maddening mass neurosis of our era with regard to our collective habit of walking on eggshells around the Elephant in the Room (Islam) and everybody pretending that the Emperor has clothes on when he’s standing buck naked with his wee willy and balls dangling in full view. 

I also noted that it's difficult to pinpoint when this inhibition began, and why.  Easy answers that nimbly sidestep the complexities of history, culture, and ideology have ready recourse to a conspiracy theory of one sort or another to explain the advent of PC MC as a dominant fashion of thought, if not worldview.  Not a monolithic worldview in general terms, to be sure, but when it comes to grappling with the problem of Islam, it becomes a remarkably widespread and uniform reflex to defend Islam and Muslims from all substantive criticism (let alone the condemnation they so richly deserve) -- affecting the hearts & minds not only of Leftists, but of otherwise diverse multitudes of people from all points on the political and social spectrum (not just the Leftists, and not just the Dastardly Elites, but Ordinary People, too, including countless Conservatives, Centrists, and the "Comfortably Apolitical") throughout the West.

Over the years, the Counter-Jihad (such as it is) has rediscovered various quotes of yesteryear, when thinkers were not so slavishly correct about the problem, and when the cultural atmospherics, apparently, were not dominated by the politically correct multi-culturalist fashion of thought.  The most famous perhaps are the quotes of John Quincy Adams, Mark Twain, Carl Jung, Bertrand Russell, and Winston Churchill.  My above-mentioned essay reproduces a quite juicy quote (in the sense of a robust side of beef) from a lesser known pre-Inhibition figure, Teddy Roosevelt.

Today, I note a fleeting glimmer, but a provocative one that actually made me exult out loud with delight when I happened to bump into it.  This occurred last night as I was reading Bernard DeVoto's abridged edition of the journals of Lewis and Clark, recounting their epic exploration of the western American hinterland (1804-1806).  The particular quote in question was written by Captain Meriwether Lewis on July 24, 1805, camping somewhere to the northwest of the Big Belt mountains (part of the Rocky Mountains, in present-day Montana).  I follow DeVoto's lead in leaving intact all of Lewis's quaint misspellings:

...our trio of pests still invade and obstruct us on all occasions, these are the Musquetoes[,] eye knats[,] and prickley pears, equal to any three curses that ever poor Egypt laiboured under, except the Mahometant yoke.

(p. 165, The Journals of Lewis and Clark, edited by Bernard DeVoto, 1953)

Readers will recognize that "Mahometant" is an older variant of "Mohammedan" (though I've never seen it spelled with a "t" on the end -- another Lewisism, perhaps).  Lewis meant, naturally, that the Mohammedan yoke is a worse pest even than the pesky mosquitoes, eye gnats, and prickly pears.  One needn't get bogged down in the literalist minutiae here; the reflex exhibited by Lewis, to invoke the "Mahometant yoke" as a standard of Worst, is the key thing here; a reflex that not only has been lost to the West in the meantime, but has to battle a dominant and mainstream culture -- solidly & industriously supported by the news & entertainment media, politicians, and academe  -- of overweeningly fascist "anti-hate" pests in our time themselves worse than the infernal eye gnat.

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