“The Way We Were” and the saga of the American left

The way they’ll always be. In a finely crafted article at FrontPage magazine, Carol Iannone shows how the two leading characters in the 1973 Streisand-Redford movie, “The Way We Were,” represent the two key elements in the political and cultural transformation of America since World War II: the pushy, never satisfied left, and the passive, complacent WASP establishment.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 29, 2003 12:08 PM | Send

What makes the WASP so weak? First, he has lost his sense of being the leader of the whole American people. He accepted the polyglot boarding house as the national identity. Second, he surrendered his loyalty to the transcendent source of his destiny. He thus lacks principle. Third, his lack of principle makes him vulnerable to any attack on him assertedly based on justice, humanity, and history. Fourth, despite the foregoing, he has the hubris to believe that the capitalist democratic republic he set running and bled to preserve can continue running without much additional investment, and regardless of the near-total destruction of its spiritual, moral, and intellectual foundations.

Posted by: Bill Carpenter on July 29, 2003 3:24 PM

That’s a superb summary by Mr. Carpenter, putting together the different sides of the problem: First, the Anglo-Saxons’ loss or abandonment of their historic position of leadership, without which they lost their true vocation; second, the loss of transcendent belief and principle, which in turn makes them vulnerable to liberal guilt-tripping. But then, added on to these factors and in spite of them, a hubris which makes it impossible for the WASP to repent. I’m not speaking of the false repentance of liberal guilt, of course, but of the true repentance, the repentance FROM liberalism.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on July 29, 2003 3:36 PM

“What makes the WASP so weak?”


Sometimes, I think the answer is almost Darwinian. Conquer or be conquered. Lose the motivation for the former, and you will surely end up being the latter. Once white European civilization lost the will to expand—and correspondingly lost faith in itself—its fate may well have been decided.

Posted by: Paul on July 29, 2003 3:42 PM

Instead of Carol Iannone’s critical exploration of the Hollywood Jewish Left setting off complaints from that quarter, it triggered a remarkable complaint from a Mr. Stanley Womack of Resisting Defamation.org, a group devoted to promoting “Sensitivity toward European-Americans,” over her use of the acronym “WASP.” Mr. Womack also wrote to me complaining of my use of the same term.

Here is his complaint to Miss Iannone at FrontPage:

Here is a comment I posted at FrontPage replying to him:

And here is the link to Resisting Defamation.org:

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on July 29, 2003 8:34 PM

It is one thing for WASP’s to call one another WASP’s freely and in public (and I am not condoning that foolishness in today’s anti-white society), but it is another thing for non-WASPs to use the word freely. It seems to at least approach hate speech when used to criticize.

Posted by: P Murgos on July 30, 2003 12:01 AM

I wrote: “the pushy, never satisfied left, and the passive, complacent WASP establishment.”

Mr. Murgos wrote: “it is another thing for non-WASPs to use the word [WASP] freely. It seems to at least approach hate speech when used to criticize.”

Is Mr. Murgos actually suggesting that my above phrase approaches hate-speech? How does he justify saying this? Further, if that is his view, how would he suggest that I should have written it differently?

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on July 30, 2003 1:17 AM

This whole debate strikes me as utter nonsense. Whites should be the last to play this card; leave that to the blacks and other sensitive groups. I have no problem calling myself a WASP, insofar as I can be considered ‘Protestant’ or ‘Anglo-Saxon,’ which strictly speaking I am neither. If anyone wants to use the term in a derogatory manner, I’ll happily teach them a lesson by laughing it to scorn.

I had visited that ‘Resisting Defamation’ site as a link from the Council of Conservative Citizens — a real joke of a group if ever I’ve seen one. I have to admit that the RD site is an interesting reference source. I had never imagined how many names could be applied to whites in a manner that should infer giving offense. Visiting that site almost made me feel like just another minority with an ax to grind.

Eh well, what should one expect from a common ‘frog.’ ;-)

Posted by: Joel on July 30, 2003 1:31 AM

I was not intending to criticize Mr. Auster’s statement. I forgot Mr. Auster was not a WASP and assumed he was a WASP. I am not a WASP either. It just seems the word should be used more cautiously mainly by non-WASPs when criticizing WASP’s. At this site perhaps it is not inappropriate because serous discussion of race occurs and usually no one is intending to demagogue against whites. But if fellow whites use it freely, so will the demagogues. Maybe Mr. Auster is contending there is no alternative, and maybe he is right.

Posted by: P Murgos on July 30, 2003 9:11 AM

I am not URGING the use of “WASP.” I am saying that it is a part of ordinary language and that it’s unrealistic to expect that it would be completely avoided. As I mentioned, I often, both in writing and conversation, in order to avoid saying WASP, use the expression “Anglo-Saxon.” I do this more than anyone I know, even though it comes across as a bit artificial. Properly speaking, WASP means the same as Anglo-Saxon Protestant, so that a working-class guy in Tennessee is as much a WASP as George H.W. Bush. In most usage, however, WASP only refers to upper class WASPs, often with a negative tinge of exclusivity or some other unpleasant trait. But, as I said, it’s often used with no negative connotation at all. It all depends on context and it’s not realistic to expect people never to use the expression. It would be like expecting people never to say “conservative,” even though, as we all know, there are problems with that word. :-)

If you go to the comments linked to Carol Iannone’s article at FrontPage, you will see a truly lunatic response by Stanley Womack to my comment. Womack takes to its extreme the idea that persons who are not members of a particular group cannot impose some label on that group that the group doesn’t want. However, in true leftist, multicultural fashion, he seems to think that his organization alone represents the desires of all Anglo-Saxon Protestants.


Posted by: Lawrence Auster on July 30, 2003 9:41 AM

Here, in what I hope is my final discussion of the “WASP” problem, are parts of an e-mail exchange I had with the incomparable Stanley Womack:

LA to SW:

Of course, it is true that Anglo-Saxons and whites generally are targeted by today’s dominant culture. But wildly exaggerated claims, like calling WASP a hate word, are a distraction from the real and grave problems we face.
SW to LA:

Dear Mr. Auster:

If “WASP” is so trivial as a name imposed from outside the ethnic/religious group being slapped with it, why do Jews pay so much attention to how they are named, described and defined by others? Do you criticize Jews for paying so very much attention to the same phenomenon?

Or is the unwanted naming of Jews by the Other a “different” thing?

Stanley Womack
Resisting Defamation

I then sent Mr. Womack this reply:

LA to SW:

1. What would be the Jewish equivalent of “WASP”? Can you name some ordinary expression, a part of ordinary speech, that Jews are routinely called and which they all object to, and their objections are ignored?

2. For all your victimological fulminations, you haven’t said what expression you want people to use in place of WASP.

3. As I pointed out at VFR this morning, you have the conceit that your organization represents the desires of all Anglo-Saxon Protestants, and that therefore everyone in the world is obligated to obey your organization’s instructions regarding the naming of that group.

But as I sent that e-mail out, I got another message from Womack, replying to another remark of mine.

SW to LA:

“But I don’t think “WASP” is always inappropriate.”

“WASP” is always inappropriate when used by the Other, just as kike and hebe are always inappropriate when used by the Other. Kindly cease.

Here is my final reply to Womack:

LA to SW:

You’ve answered the question I just asked in another e-mail. You think that “WASP” is the equivalent of “kike.”

“Kike” is of course a well-known slur that no one uses except when they are cursing out Jews or at best speaking of them in a contemptuous manner. There is no equivalence between “kike” and “WASP.”

According to you, Richard Brookhiser’s admiring book, “The Way of the WASP,” would be like a book about Jews that was called “The Way of the Kike.”

You are a fruitcake, and not worth another moment of my time.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on July 30, 2003 10:31 AM

In addition to the overwrought fellow who considered Miss Iannone’s passing use of the word “WASP” to be hate speech, her article also evoked a surprising amount of hostility from several commenters who denied that a movie, even a movie with overtly political themes and characters, can have any political meaning. Please see the below post for an explanation of this strange phenomenon:


Posted by: Lawrence Auster on August 1, 2003 12:46 PM
Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember info?

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):