Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Radical Chic Redux

Barack Obama's white Leftist defenders are reprising an old form of racial condescension. Tom Wolfe called it "radical chic." Wolfe coined the term in Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers to
describe[] an intriguing phenomenon of the late Sixties: the courting of romantic radicals—Black Panthers, striking grapeworkers, Young Lords—by New York's socially elite.
Socially elite Leftists, that is.

Here's an excerpt (of an excerpt) of Wolfe's book:
...There seem to be a thousand stars above and a thousand stars below, a room full of stars a penthouse duplex full of stars, a Manhattan tower full of stars, with marvelous people drifting through the heavens, Jason Robards, John and D. D. Ryan, Gian-Carlo Menotti, Schuyler Chapin, Goddard Lieberson, Mike Nichols, Lillian Hellman, Larry Rivers, Aaron Copland, Richard Avedon, Milton and Amy Greene, Lukas Foss, Jennie Tourel, Samuel Barber, Jerome Robbins, Steve Sondheim, Adolph and Phyllis Green, Betty Comden, and the Patrick O'Neals . . .

. . . and now, in the season of Radical Chic, the Black Panthers. That huge Panther there, the one Felicia is smiling her tango smile at, is Robert Bay, who just forty-one hours ago was arrested in an altercation with the police, supposedly over a .38-caliber revolver that someone had, in a parked car in Queens at Northern Boulevard and 10th Street or some such unbelievable place and taken to jail on a most un-usual charge called "criminal facilitation." And now he is out on bail and walking into Leonard and Felicia Bernstein's thirteen-room penthouse duplex on Park Avenue. Harassment & Hassles, Guns & Pigs, Jail & Bail—they're real, these Black Panthers. The very idea of them, these real revolutionaries, who actually put their lives on the line, runs through Lenny's duplex like a rogue hormone....
The thrill of seeing Obama consort knowingly with anti-Americans (his wife, his pastor) must transport his fans on the Left into a Bernsteinian swoon of ecstasy.