The Remove to Representation

ACADEME BLOG

BY AARON BARLOW

Sometime around 1970, when I told an aunt and uncle that the FBI was spying on American leftists, they turned to me in outrage and spoke in unison, “You don’t really believe that, do you?” This, from a couple who had just told me I should be willing to go fight in Vietnam because the Chinese were preparing to invade the US. I had tried to explain that the North Vietnamese were not proxies for the Chinese, but to no avail.

On parting, I felt proud of myself, vindicated in my belief and absolutely certain “they” had been in the wrong.

Though history has confirmed my beliefs more than theirs, for all any of us really knew, the opposite could have as easily proved true. We were arguing opinion, not fact. Worse: We were arguing opinion filtered through layers and layers of other opinions, opinion at far…

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