Polemics & Exchanges

Trashing the Trailer

I’m not certain that intellectual snobbery is not inconsistent with a Christian mind, but I’ve never been much bothered by the undercurrent of it that hums along noticeably in a lot of the articles in Chronicles.  Forty years ago, when I, then a small childish high-school student in Houston, would take a packed, gloriously smoke-filled city bus to school in the mornings, at least half of the businessmen, attorneys, and secretary-receptionists aboard would be taken up with a paperback.  They would be reading Austen, Shakespeare, Trollope, and others worthy of attention.  In April or May 1968, enough Americans were still interested in genuine poetry that Life thought it worthwhile to print an article about which poets were supporting McCarthy and which were supporting Kennedy.  I ache with nostalgia for a culture still so hardy.  It’s as gone as the Titanic, but Chronicles does its noble best to pick up the few gasping survivors like me.

But during my dozen years as a Chronicles subscriber, the April issue is the first I’ve read in which a truly mean assertion of class superiority has appeared.  It is grotesque and does indeed clash with Christianity, as well as with Chronicles’ telegraphed claim for itself as a tribune of the ordinary but honorable people who keep the country from metacollapse.

I’m referring to Chilton Williamson, Jr.’s disgusting...

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