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Oh, The Things You Will See … Or Not

I had a friend, years ago, whose father suffered what was diagnosed as hysterical blindness. Nothing was wrong with his eyes according to top ophthalmologists. Yet he stumbled along, tripping on furniture while never, mysteriously, over the dogs he loved. His only son, my friend, was a rising artist bringing more wealth to an already affluent family. He was gay at a time when and in a culture where being gay was not only not cool, it brought shame and social alienation similar to that incurred by mental illness in the family.

The parents lived in the main house, and my friend erected a loft two stories high on the other side of the garden where he occupied the first floor and worked on the second under a skylight. He came and went as he pleased and entertained friends as he wished. Was it perhaps my friend’s independent life that precipitated this blindness of his dad’s?  It occurred shortly after the loft was completed. Were there things the dad simply could not allow himself to accept and see? Is that why he blinded himself?  One can only speculate. We will never know. The father is long gone, and the son succumbed before there were effective HIV-AIDS medications.

How sad and ironic, in the wake of this election, when the unfairly maligned Clinton Foundation, which works assiduously to eradicate HIV-AIDS and preventable blindness, that Americans need to be warned not to succumb to a self-disciplined form of viral blindness that can spread via mass media.

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

Naked

Already Happening: Media Normalization of Trumpism

His polls numbers will…improve. The international community will…come around. Melania and Ivanka will be…unorthodox but charming. Brace yourselves for a huge media fail.

Joy-Ann Reid

Joy-Ann Reid

11.27.16

In the children’s short story “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” by Hans Christian Andersen, what kept the fiction of the naked emperor’s sartorial splendor alive was nothing in particular about the emperor. True, he was vain and plainly foolish; easily tricked by the false flattery of swindlers into paying a kingly sum for a cloak so fine and magical that only the wise and true could see it. But it was the people of the kingdom, including his trusted advisers, who maintained the absurd notion that he was splendidly clothed, because none – the emperor included – wanted to admit that they were so unworthy as to not see the bright colors and fine threads.

Only the characteristic bluntness of a child, who proclaimed the emperor’s nudity as he paraded through the streets humiliating himself and his kingdom, threatened to break the spell. But when the boy spoke out he was quickly rebuked by his father, who assured the gasping public that the child was clearly soft in the head. So powerful is the compulsion to normalize the powerful.

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