No, it wasn’t the result of too much drinking or bad food….. the party was great, a celebration of another year of reading literature in Spanish together and discussing it, and the 10th year, no less. I’ve been in it quite a while myself.
No, the puking came about b/c I decided to watch a recorded program while I washed dishes this morning. It was a celebration of James Burnham, in particular his book, The Suicide of the West. His great aphorism, “If you aren’t a liberal when you are young, you have no heart; if you are not a conservative after the age of 35, you have no brains” was cited. Burnham started out as a Trotskyite and then shifted to conservative, founding The National Review with Wm. F. Buckley.
No one mentioned that millions of Americans, including me, managed to get through our youth with a clear vision that the free enterprise system works great and communism doesn’t. Many of us have reached our 70s without seeing any reason to vote Republican or embrace that cheap cop-out philosophy, Libertarianism.
The panels even incuded Burnham’s son who read off several interesting numbered lists to help us decide whether we were liberals or conservatives. One, that we will always have skid row, elicited a chuckle from the crowd, making me wonder if I had wasted those 20 years I spent working in inner-city social service agencies.
To these self-congratulating conservatives. I certainly had. Their disdain was mixed with good humor when Burnham was quoted referring to cannabalistic tribes making up the nations of Africa and the one quoting quipped that indeed these observations were only obvious. The smell of superiority reached to the television set – amazing technology these days.
Roger Kimball was one of the panelists, and I recalled him objecting to the Black author James Baldwin being heralded on our campuses and publishing houses when he was clearly derivative of Henry James, which begs the question of James’ influences. Ah! What you have to realize is that great intellectuals like Kimball know intuitively through their deep absorption of Western thought that no Black man need be considered the equal of men (women?) of European heritage. Therefore, any attempt to elevate a Black author to the level of the canon is ipso facto political correctness since no Black could possibly qualify for such a position.
All of that is blindingly obvious, to use a hackneyed phrase, to the conservative. After all, what Black African nation is the equal of France or Germany? Case closed. When you see a White man, you see a citizen of a free republic; when you see a Black man you see a cannibal…. or his recent incarnation as the notorious Black thug of Fox News.
This is why it is absurd to talk about reaching agreement and compromise with these people. They are well-defended in their hierarchical beliefs (somehow they always wind up at the top of the hierarchy no matter stupid mistakes like forgetting Henry James had predecessors, too.)
However, it is still worth puking to listen to what they have to say. Lots of times we observe someone and say, “That guy’s crazy.” But with a closer look, we can ascertain just how crazy he really is.