Friday, March 23, 2012

From Satire to Horror Reality Show: Radical Chic Conquers America

Homer: Hey! What's the problem here?
Lisa: We were fighting over which one of us loves you more.
Homer (touched): You were? (sniff) Aww. Well, go ahead.
Bart (pushing Lisa): You love him more!
Lisa (pushing Bart) No, you do!
Bart: No, I don't!
Lisa: Yes, you do!
--The Simpsons, "There's No Disgrace Like Home" episode

In a recent article, Bruce Bawer reminds us of Tom Wolfe's famous 1970 article 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 whitewashes the real threat posed by revolutionary Islamism. In each case, well-to-do people thinking of themselves as highly virtuous and showing their "love" for freedom and tolerance are being manipulated by a political movement that would destroy them, as well as the United States more generally.

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 West Side.  Iit 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.

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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.

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