Charting a nation’s decline is a difficult process; cultural dissipation is typically death-by-a-thousand cuts, as what Paul Johnson dubbed “the theory of moral relativity” in Modern Times slowly becomes the Weimar-esque law of the land. But in “A Heroine for Our Times,” at National Review, F.H. Buckley records one key moment where, as he writes, “There, there is where it all happened” — and another which further documents America’s sad deterioration, so reminiscent of postwar England’s collapse:
It was when The New Republic’s senior editor Jonathan Chait wrote in 2003, “I hate President George W. Bush.” TNR was always a liberal journal, but under editors such as Andrew Sullivan (before he went mad) and the restraining hand of Martin Peretz, it prided itself on its reasonableness. The magazine might have been coma-inducing boring, but by God it was reasonable.
And then came Chait’s tirade. For conservatives who seek to be loved by the Left, it was deeply painful. More cynical conservatives took it in stride. And just what was it anyway? Merely an op-ed. But then it was more than that too. It was a sea change in which the swimmer suddenly finds himself in frigid water. And Chait’s permission slip for hatred explains what has happened to American politics since then, the bitterness, the calls for revenge, the IRS campaign against the Tea Party.
A conservative friend of mine asked me the other day why congressional Republicans had failed to offer amnesty to Lois Lerner in exchange for her testimony. What that fails to recognize is that she is already immunized, by an administration, a Department of Justice, and a mainstream media that have her back. She’d get nothing better from a congressional immunity, and what she’d lose is the support of the most powerful people in America. That has to be a no-brainer. Nothing indeed will happen to her, and provided she doesn’t rat anyone out she’ll soon be lionized as one who was unfairly persecuted. We’ll see well-paying lectureships, law-school chairs, ambassadorships offered her. Wait and see.
Which dovetails perfectly with a recent article at the London Daily Mail I’ve been meaning to link to, but couldn’t find the right angle:
The former black student body president at a pricey New Jersey prep school was forced to resign from her leadership position earlier this year after she posted a series of photos on the Internet, in which she is seen dressed as what she describes to be the typical male, white student at the school.
In the photos, former Lawrenceville School Student Body President Maya Peterson is seen wearing L.L. Bean duck boots, a Yale University sweatshirt and is holding a hockey stick, which she says is representative of the typical ‘Lawrenceville boi.’
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‘Yes, I am making a mockery of the right-wing, confederate-flag hanging, openly misogynistic Lawrentians,’ Peterson responded. ‘If that’s a large portion of the school’s male population, then I think the issue is not with my bringing attention to it in a lighthearted way, but rather why no one has brought attention to it before…’
A “large portion of the school’s male population” — how many students at Lawrenceville have Confederate flags? Something tells me the answer is somewhere in the vicinity of zero. I’d be curious to know how much of Peterson’s rage towards the world was stoked by her professors, versus how much punitive ideology she initially brought to the school? Whatever the proportions, the result is quite a toxic brew. Still though, reading the article on her and the sneering photos that accompany it is a reminder that as 21st century America heads towards its inevitable perigee, if Peterson decides to enter politics, perhaps even more so than Lois Lerner’s future celebrity, the sky’s the limit for someone who clings to such bitter hatred of her fellow Americans.