Stanley Fish gets it right…almost!

Stanley Fish has not been singled out here as the commentator to believe, as you can see from here and here.  In fact, the first is a reaction to an essay of his which makes the current one in the NY Times still more surprising.  For from someone who seems unable to discern how priviledged his life has been we have a very strong  and thorough denouncing of the Hillary-haters, inside and outside the press.

The hatred is not news.  Fish is using the appearance of an article by Jason Horowitz at, which investigates Hillary-haters, to point out how “looney-tunes” it has become.  He emphasizes the extent to which it has entered the mainstream media:

Respected political commentators devote precious network time to deep analyses of her laugh. Everyone blames her for what her husband does or for what he doesn’t do. (This is what the compound “Billary” is all about.) If she answers questions aggressively, she is shrill. If she moderates her tone, she’s just play-acting. If she cries, she’s faking. If she doesn’t, she’s too masculine. If she dresses conservatively, she’s dowdy. If she doesn’t, she’s inappropriately provocative.

None of those who say and write these things is an official Hillary Clinton-hater (some profess to like and admire her), but they are surely doing the group’s work.

In his most damning remark, he compares Hillary Clinton-hating to anti-semitism – not in its scale of damage, but in its utter disconnection with the facts.

So what is lacking in Fish’s comments?  It is in his account of its cause:

Horowitz observes that there is an “inexhaustible fertile market of Clinton hostility,” but that “the search for a unifying theory of what drives Hillary’s most fanatical opponents is a futile one.” The reason is that nothing drives it; it is that most sought-after thing, a self-replenishing, perpetual-energy machine.

And this comment leads him to his comparison with anti-semitism. But the two are radically disanalogous in the following way: We do not yet understand why groups of people get declared outside the boundary of those a dominant group accepts. It’s clear groups of human beings are capable of declaring other groups unacceptable as human beings, but we do not understand sufficiently how deeply it goes and whether this capacity is inborn or not. But we do have a very good idea of at least part of what is driving Hillary Clinton’s haters, beyond her obvious connection with her hated 60’s-type husband. She is a strong and brilliant woman whose current quest for power is extremely threatening and entirely unwomanly.

And the theorists who would have foreseen this outburst of villification?   Feminists.