The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The Strange Return of ‘Radical Chic’

Posted on | November 13, 2023 | Comments Off on The Strange Return of ‘Radical Chic’

When I was a college student, Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers was one of the assigned texts in our feature writing class — studying the “New Journalism” as it was then called. The slim volume combined two articles Wolfe wrote for New York magazine, a publication that has since become just another mouthpiece of the Democrat-Media Complex. Politics in the early 1970s were in a state of flux — the old New Deal liberalism had been discredited by LBJ’s various bungles, but no one knew which way things would go in the future. Cynicism about all things political was the prevalent mood as I recall in hindsight, and you can see this attitude in Wolfe’s dissection of the absurd scene in which composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein hosted a fundraiser for the Black Panther Party at his posh Manhattan pad.

That came to mind today when I saw Brendan O’Neill’s reference to our “cultural elite” whose “indoctrination into the politics of identity . . . leads them to view Israel as the culpable adult in this relationship and the Palestinians as blameless children” (hat-tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.) This simplistic reduction of Mideast geopolitics to a formula of victims (Palestinians) and their oppressors (Israel) is very reminiscent of Lenny Bernstein’s belief that raising money for the Panthers was the height of enlightenment in 1970. The Panthers were a gang of dangerous criminals using Marxist rhetoric as a masquerade for what was, in fact, a racketeering operation. (If you haven’t read the chapter about Huey Newton in Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts About the Sixties by David Horowitz and Peter Collier, now would be a good time to do so.)

How is it that our so-called “elite” can’t see through the propaganda claims of oppression that lead them to their pro-Hamas posture, which is every bit as ridiculous as Lenny Bernstein’s support of the Panthers? Today with my office TV tuned to CNN (I watch, so you don’t have to), I see them promoting the idea that the biggest news in Gaza is that Palestinian children are suffering. To which any reasonably well-informed person must reply, “Yeah? Well, whose fault is that?”

Isn’t this suffering a predictable consequence of Hamas launching its bloody October 7 terrorist massacre of Israeli civilians? And is it not a fact that the Palestinians elected Hamas as rulers of Gaza?

The “official” count of Palestinian casualties is supplied by the Gaza Health Ministry, which is run by Hamas. But surely these genocidal Jew-haters wouldn’t lie about how many people have been killed, would they? And it’s not as if Hamas would locate their command headquarters underneath a hospital, would they? Why, the Palestinians are innocent “blameless children,” and only a racist — “RAAAAACIST!” — would suspect them of dishonesty or malice. Sympathy toward these alleged victims of oppression is the motor that drives the latest strange revival of “radical chic,” and what we need is a latter-day Tom Wolfe to expose it for the absurdity it is. Too bad New York magazine these days only publishes “Democratic operatives with bylines,” so we can’t get what we need.




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