Having a perpetual zoom lens idling in your mind’s eye can be extremely helpful for taking in and interpreting the colossal amounts of information available to us in the digital age. It give you the flexibility to strobe in on small-scale stories and details, and then quickly strobe out for a bird’s-eye—or even cosmic—view. Detail and context. Detail and context. They truly ought to be symbiotic ways of seeing in a world with so much of both.
As so many news outlets and citizens are focused this week on the glaringly obvious suspicious death of international pedophile and mysterious billionaire, Jeffrey Epstein (where did the college dropout’s $$ really come from, anyway?), the need for that flexible zoom lens has been acute, to say the least.
It’s helpful, for instance, to zoom in on the individual details of his case: how he tricked or coerced desperate underage girls to work for him, how he exploited them sexually, who helped him with it and exactly where he arranged for that exploitation to happen, over what period of time and for whose sick pleasure; the vagaries of the way he avoided justice for such cold, venal criminality, the stories of the girls he violated (or whose violation he facilitated), and the courage it took for them to fight through all their likely trauma and shame to confront him.
Facing these details is remarkably important—in particular, for understanding through Epstein’s example how much power the wealthy are able to exercise over the vulnerable in a vastly unequal society with limited opportunities for justice.
Then, there is the zoom-out, not just to a bird’s-eye view of the institutional and personal relationships that made this cruel game possible, but to a broader view that takes in the whole malignant foundation, the emotional/psychological and historical context of it all.
To understand some of the emotional/psychological underpinnings of these ongoing events—and these events are indeed ongoing, as sex trafficking continues throughout the world—consider absorbing the comments of Dr. Harriet Fraad, the longtime NYC-based therapist and scholar on how economic systems impact gender relations, self-image, and pathology.
Here’s what she observed in the wake of Epstein’s pre-death arrest:
Of course, there is also the history; the sets of events, relationships and institutional circumstances that unfold across generations and help us make greater sense of Epstein’s place in the world of the elite he inhabited. Getting at this takes real, dogged research skill and the ability (which not everyone possesses) to take raw details and discern genuine patterns and connections between them. Over the last month or more, this is exactly what Whitney Webb, investigative reporter for Mint Press News, has done.
In what has now expanded to a four-part series of in-depth articles, Webb traces the use of children for sexual gratification and blackmail all the way back to Prohibition, and paints a necessarily horrid landscape of the symbiosis between finance, big business, politics, organized crime, law enforcement, intelligence, and even philanthropy. Her work is lengthy, packed to the gills with details and linked references that are worth working through methodically.
But in a vastly unequal society in which even the most diligent citizens are too overworked or time-constrained to absorb such in-depth reporting, it also makes sense to make content like Webb’s easier to access. For this reason, we continue our podcast reading series with Part One of her important reporting. Expect to see podcast readings of the rest of Webb’s series hit this site over the next week. For many, her research reveals a hidden history of the post-WWII period, one that stretches its bloody hands into 2019, thus making it ever so relevant to how we understand the various levels of our current reality.
As always, thanks for reading…and listening.
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