Obscene History: The Fact-Free Political Alarmism of Naomi Wolf
Naomi Wolf has for many years now been claiming that a fascist coup in America is imminent. Most recently in The Guardian she alleged, with no substantiation, that the U.S. government and big American banks are conspiring to impose a “totally integrated corporate-state repression of dissent.” Many of her arguments rely on what she styles as rigorous historical research and analysis of current events. But if you compare her characterizations of the historical sources and current news accounts that she cites with the sources themselves, it is possible to discern a pattern of egregious misstatements and errors in her political writing.
Skeptics have been raising serious questions about her books and articles since Caryn James called The Beauty Myth (1991) “a sloppily researched polemic” in her otherwise generally favorable New York Times review. Most recently, Wolf’s book Vagina: A New Biography has been roundly criticized for overly creative interpretations of scientific research — most pointedly by the scientists she herself cites. But it is when she ventures into matters of politics, history, law, and society that her failures become most apparent.
In her bestselling book The End of America, Wolf does not merely shoehorn her evidence to fit her theses — she completely twists its meaning and ignores its context. Many of her most outrageous distortions have mostly gone unnoticed as she has works to segue from feminist analyst to left-wing political Cassandra in the international conversation.