Monday, March 26, 2012

The New Radical Chic

From Barry Rubin:

In a recent article, Bruce Bawer reminds us of Tom Wolfe’s famous 1970 article, later a book, ridiculing the Park Avenue penthouse party of Leonard Bernstein, where various stars from stage, screen, and television came together to celebrate the Black Panther Party.
Bawer compares that party to a recent meeting at the Jewish Community Center in New York to combat “Islamophobia” in a way that whitewashed the real threat posed by revolutionary Islamism. In each case, well-to-do people thinking of themselves as highly virtuous and as showing their “love” for freedom and tolerance were being manipulated by a political movement that would like to destroy them, as well as the United States itself.
Bawer’s piece is excellent. But on reading it I realized that he was thinking too small. The true contemporary parallel to the Bernstein party is not to some event of a few hundred people on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It is to all of America.
At the 1970 party, the Panthers’ representatives complained that they were being stigmatized as criminals when, as Bawer summarized it, they were really ”a peaceable group whose real concerns were indicated by the clinics and children’s breakfast programs.”
You know, like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
The Panthers’ speaker continued:
We recognize that this country is the most oppressive country in the world, maybe in the history of the world. The pigs have the weapons and they are ready to use them on the people … ready to commit genocide against those who stand up against them. … All we want is the good life, the same as you. To live in peace and lead the good life, that’s all we want.
The individuals present then gave big contributions to a racist, antisemitic, violent, anti-democratic revolutionary movement.
Fast-forward to today. Bawer describes — based on an eyewitness account by Phyllis Chesler — the Islamophobia event chaired by instant network television personality Chelsea Clinton, daughter of the current secretary of state and the previous president. The audience is, like their Bernstein predecessors, made up of “upper-class” New Yorkers engaged in “narcissism and self-congratulation, shameless social climbing … and a truly repellent condescension toward the purported prejudices (read: legitimate concerns) of the lower orders.”
He concludes by pointing out that the Bernstein party was ridiculed by the media of the time, while no major newspaper would dare do the same to the equivalent events today.
All of this is valid. And yet there is something far bigger, far more important. It cannot be called the elephant in the room, but rather the brontosaurus in the room: contemporary America is one big radical chic party.
It is not a composer throwing the party in his New York penthouse, but the president of the United States throwing the party in the White House. It is not the invited guests who are making contributions of a few thousand dollars, but the uninvited taxpayers who are forking over trillions.
There are times today when the federal government seems to have been transformed into a left-wing foundation whose duty is to fund everything from ACORN to “public” television and radio, Planned Parenthood, and “green energy” scams. At the time of the Bernstein party, the issue was whether women could  have legal access to abortions. Now it is a demand that “access” means everyone pays for free contraceptives and even abortions.

The rest here.

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