What a week it has been for the ambulance-chasing media! Anticipated highs in their schedule were anniversaries of the Gettysburg address and the Kennedy assassination. What that pair really should be remembered for are cheap rhetoric to camouflage mass murder and cheap idealism to camouflage not just the libido dominandi but plain old raw libido.
I well remember the day Kennedy was shot. I was in a record store in Charleston and heard two Citadel cadets chatting with the sour-faced liberal democrat who managed the joint. "Too bad about Kennedy," intoned the manager with affected grief. "Yes," said one of the cadets, "too bad they didn't get Johnson at the same time." For the record, I strongly oppose assassination as a political tool and try not to insult those whose graves are fresh. After, respectively, 50 and nearly 150 years, I think we might be able to afford a little candor.
As if two of the worst American presidents were not enough, then, as icing on the cake came the convenient departure of Doris Lessing, a tedious novelist famous for her childish flouting of taboos and conventions. She deserved a Nobel Prize as the queen of platitudes and liberal orthodoxy. Coming on the heels of the Kristallnacht anniversary, all that's left now is some really important event in the Watergate saga: Did you know that Richard Nixon was reelected November 7, 1972, only 41 years and 14 days ago?
All these Unholydays and Festivals of Hate are reminiscent of the calendars of other revolutionary states. Forget saints days and season change, we have MLK Jr Day, Labor Union Day, and Anti-Male History Month.
The good news is that no one pays any attention to most of these government-invented tributes to the Goddess Reason, and of the few who might have a warm feeling on MLK Jr Day, it is only because they have the day off--which, when you come to think of it, is the proper way to celebrate an apostle of the welfare state, the man who helped liberate his people from the tyranny of work, the family, moral responsibility, and common decency.
White Americans have no cause for bragging. Few of them have any knowledge of our traditions, and only a tiny minority of people under the age of 50 know enough to come in out of the rain, much less cook dinner when the power goes out and there is no propane left in the tank.
My younger son told me today he had drinks with a "literature major at American University." The naive young chef asked him about Shakespeare only to get the reply."I've managed to avoid reading Shakespeare up to now, and I guess I can make it through the rest of my life without reading him." That's the spirit. Why not throw in women, wine, real music, too? Why "get your kicks on Route 66," when you can tweet your day away talking about a mouth sore?
There is an alternative, which is what Tim Leary should have been telling people before he died on the Internet and sent his tortured soul gibbering into the prison of cyber space: Tune out, Turn off, and Drop in.
Thomas Fleming is the former editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of The Politics of Human Nature, Montenegro: The Divided Land, and The Morality of Everyday Life, named Editors' Choice in philosophy by Booklist in 2005. He is the coauthor of The Conservative Movement and the editor of Immigration and the American Identity. He holds a Ph.D. in classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Before joining the Rockford Institute, he taught classics at the University of Miami of Ohio, served as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Education, and was headmaster at the Archibald Rutledge Academy. He has been published in, among others, The Spectator (London), Independent on Sunday (London), Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, National Review, Classical Journal, Telos, and Modern Age. He and his wife, Gail, have four children and four grandchildren.