Shades Thrown Open
How Intellectual Hucksters Have Hijacked American Culture
by Jack Cashill
Nelson Current, 2006
307 pages, $24.99
Though its title suggests a conspiracy, this book offers instead a series of unrelated myths. It explains the contribution each myth has made to the secular-progressive ethos prevailing in the United States and then exposes its fallacies. What elevates the work beyond a handy reference tool for apologists of cultural conservatism is Jack Cashill’s skillful marshaling of qualified debunkers to pit against the purveyors of “intellectual hucksterism.”
For example, Cashill lays out how anthropologist Margaret Mead’s false reports on the “innocent promiscuity” of Samoan teenage girls were exposed a generation later by Derek Freeman, a respected New Zealand anthropologist. Freeman secured admissions from some of Mead’s collaborators, who admitted to fooling the gullible American public with their tales of casual licentiousness among noble savages.
Meanwhile, how was it that “sex researcher” Alfred Kinsey found so many homosexuals among American males? And why did New York Times foreign correspondent Walter Duranty ignore the 6 million Ukrainians starved to death by the regime of Joseph Stalin in the 1930s?
Though Cashill does not find a conspiracy in these and other historical developments, he does show certain patterns. For example, many of the myth perpetuators had axes to grind. Both Mead and Kinsey felt the behavioral norms of early 20th-century America prevented satisfaction of their own sexual appetites.
As champions of “enlightenment,” both Kinsey and Mead cast Christianity as the villain. “As Kinsey saw,” writes Cashill, “Christianity channeled the essential animal nature of man into ‘cultural perversions’ like celibacy and asceticism that ate away at the American family.” These men and women believed so strongly in the rightness of their causes that they were willing to lie for them. Sound familiar? (Hollywood, take note.)
In instance after instance, from the famous to the obscure, the truth comes out — and then it is quietly buried. Those doing the exposing are excoriated by their fellow academics or just ignored. A British documentary, Kinsey’s Paedophiles, can find no American TV network to show it. Inherit the Wind continues to be taught in tens of thousands of high schools — but only as literature, of course. The Black Book of Communism, detailing the 100 million murdered by various communist regimes in the 20th century, can find no American publisher.
So the book has its heroes, including celebrated Kinsey debunker Judith Reisman, but they are often tragic heroes, doomed to be ignored at best or condemned at worst.
Because of this, the work has a bittersweet tone. Still, by compiling under one cover so many academic and media hoaxes, the author has provided a useful reference tool — one that will serve well those who are willing to step forward and question the conventional wisdom of the popular culture.
Steve Weatherbe is editor of a
Canadian business publication.
- January 28- February 3, 2007