I know we’ll be talking at greater length about the readings on Wednesday, but I just finished the Podhoretz piece and I’ve got to ask: what the hell? This cantankerous, meandering Bizarro-world is the kind of history you usually hear spun after two whiskey-sours at a VFW happy hour. Still we’ve got to admit that Grampa Norm perfectly fits the stereotype of a neo-con. And when that happens, comedy is usually inevitable (not the “ha-ha” kind, the mean-spirited, hammer-dropped-on-foot type).
Consider how he proves his points while we look at the “Varieties of Anti-Americanism” section. The dime-bin representatives Norm selected prove little more than how out of touch he is. Let’s look at the lineup: the unnamed host of an unnamed program on al-Jazirah, the chairman of the Syrian Arab Writers Association (I wonder how much they charge in dues), Dario Fo (an Italian Nobel laureate excluded from America by the Johnson administration), Jean Baudrillard (who wrote a book entitled “For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign” which I hope cleans up in French), and the historian Mary Beard (not that one, the unknown English one; go figure: there are two historians named Mary Beard). Cracker-jack material, Norm; you sure showed them. He collected sound bites and called them proof.
Along these lines is his seeming inability to differentiate among people with whom he disagrees. Brent Scowcroft, Pat Buchanan and anti-Semites form one peculiar group (Norm actually cites “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion;” that ad hominem seems thrown in simply for kicks, but you’ve still got to admire the chutzpah). Look through the article; you can play this game at home. Okay, here’s one: the arts(?), universities, NYC, and
Occasionally, Norm does to history what Andy Warhol did to art. Things just come up a bit kookier. For instance, I never knew that bin Ladin and Khomeini have identical views on
All in all, Uncle Norm comes off –I’ll be kind—curmudgeonly. When he called anti-war activists “Jackal bins,” he’s just plain adorable (I wonder if he knows how close that sounds to Joe McCarthy’s “Jackal Pack”). Still, if you follow Norm’s advice and simply mold the evidence to fit the political theory, all sorts of great fun is possible. Hell, I could have my own condescending, patently inaccurate magazine funded by an ultra-radical group of disappointed, yet ebullient, ex-leftists. I wonder whether the PETA people pay by the hour?