Wolcott attacks VFR

James Wolcott of Vanity Fair has discovered View from the Right, and he doesn’t like it. His column is a collection of the sort of adjectival phrases you would expect from him, not containing any argument but simply casting me as a repellant and odious character. Ironically he makes a similar criticism of me, saying that my writings consist of empty sonorities lacking any content except bigotry and resentment. Since VFR deliberately rejects the liberal orthodoxies that are leading us to extinction and presents a different view of life and society, it is understandable that a dyed-in-the-wool liberal like Wolcott would be grossed out by it and portray it as beneath contempt. But how sad for liberals—and for all of us—that when confronted by something that lies outside their usual frame of reference, all they can do is smear it.

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Gintas J. wrote that Wolcott is a very insignificant figure nowadays. I replied:

BTW, I was a fan of Wolcott’s decades ago, I think he wrote in the Village Voice, I forget where, but he had an amazing verbal fluidity, real talent, and then it seemed he disappeared from the scene. When I discovered him again, years later, he seemed to be a figure left over from another era. And intellectually he had become just a standard liberal.

Gintas replied:

And look at this, a book he’s written:

“Attack Poodles and Other Media Mutants: The Looting of the News in a Time of Terror”

Ah, well, the emptiest barrels make the loudest noise. You must have hit a raw nerve somewhere.

I wrote back:

LOL. And we were just talking about how trivial and passe he is.

But gosh he was a terrific writer in the late ’70s or early ’80s as I remember.

Gintas replies:

If you go to the Amazon page of Wolcott’s book, you’ll find this review:

What Happened, James?

I remember James Wolcott as the wonderful television critic for the “Village Voice” in the early 1980s who first alerted me to the glory that was “SCTV.” Back in those days he had a genuinely exciting, hilarious wit and a contagious enthusiasm for the stuff he liked and wanted to share with you, the reader. He was also something of an iconoclast at the “Voice”; he would occasionally say a kind word about Reagan. For these sins his column was cut down from weekly to once a month, so he had to share the space with more politically orthodox writers. We need more diverse voices about TV, he was told. “I thought I was the diversity,” he said, and left the paper.

He cut a swath through big-time New York journalism; “the New Republic,” “the New Yorker,” “Vanity Fair.” He could even publish book reviews in “The New Criterion,” the neo-conservative arts journal. He published a semi-autobiographical novel, “The Catsitters,” about a hick from the sticks who tries to make it in the big city. At this point he still seemed like was going in a good direction and knew what he was doing. And then came the massive shock of 9/11, and Wolcott was never the same. He quickly became the single most shrill leftist voice in the media and soon, the blogs.

“Attack Poodles and Other Media Mutants” shows the new Wolcott at his most depressing. The wit has been replaced with crude character assassination. The red states, from which Wolcott himself once sprang, are mirthlessly ridiculed with relentless Vanity Fair snobbery. Shades of gray don’t exist for him; the only true wisdom resides in the frothing mobs of Moveon.org and Daily Kos. I hope I am not alone in mourning the demise of a once great talent; a brilliant journalist who has decided to turn himself into the left-wing version of Westbrook Pegler.

I replied:

That account certainly corresponds with my own experience.

It’s funny how 9/11 broke some people. There was a promising young priest at my church, who was so traumatized by the attack he lost his faith and left the priesthood. Had he never heard of disasters before? TV picked up on his story because they love priests who lose their faith.

Rachael S. writes:

I read Wolcott’s take on you… and I also read “Undercover Black Man’s” insulting blog entry about you. Thinking back on UBM’s past conversations with you on VFR, I remember thinking that he was really undercover, meaning that he was faking objectivity to gain your trust so that he could catch you in an off-moment and yell “Aha! Hateful Whitey! I knew it!” and gleefully rip his mask away.

But do you ever read things that the Wolcott’s and UBM’s say about you and wonder if they are right? I know that many people I know would never talk to me again if they knew what I really thought about the West, race, gender, and God. Does that make them right? They like me now… am I the bad person?

If I am presented with an opportunity to affirm liberal principles (at work, in a casual setting, in my daily choices) I have a few options. I can remain silent so as not to affirm; I can parse my language so that my response can be taken two different ways, or I can lie and say something liberal. The division that sometimes lies between my true self and the one I present to people creates the doubt that I mentioned above.

LA replies:

I haven’t read what UBM wrote about me, or rather I read a short initial posting but not the follow-up, because I’m too repelled by it. He and I had established friendly and respectful relations at one point, as a result of his doing some detective work and uncovering historical material about my family. I’ll tell this story sometime. Some time later he even sent a donation to VFR. Then a few months ago he did an unethical thing, revealing a blogger’s identity who had every right to keep his identity hidden. I pleaded with UBM not to do this, telling him it was wrong, that writers have a right to keep their identity secret if that is what they want, but he went ahead and did it anyway. And now this personal attack on me.

As to your question, naturally we are going to doubt ourselves when the entire social environment in which we live tells us we are bad and disgusting people for thinking what we think. The answer is to be rooted in the world of true values, where we know that the liberal world that currently seems to rule is not real, that it has no real power, only the appearance of power given to it by men’s false thoughts.

We need to live in and mediate between two realities, the actual reality of the present society where we live and function, and an interior world of our own where the West, European man, and everything they mean to us, are still alive. That needs to be our true “culture,” our spiritual base. Then the false liberal environment around us cannot ultimately control or intimidate us, or at least we’re better able to resist it and not be overcome by it.

In other words, it’s not just enough to have God. We need a culture to relate to and be a part of, even if it’s a culture we are maintaining in our imagination.

Rachael S. writes:

Ok. That helps some, I will attempt to live that way more.

LA writes:

Well, this is something that has come and gone in my life. There are people who are more serious about it, who systematically set about creating a cultural environment, surrounding themselves with things of the past that they like and so on. I haven’t done that specifically. For me it’s more of an interior thing. Each of us is different. But I do believe that part of traditionalism is to have an orientation to the culture that we are attracted to and feel ourselves to be part of, the culture of traditional Western man, to live in that culture and in some way make it our frame of reference, even as we also live in the actual world of the present.

Van Wijk writes:

I’d never paid that much attention to Undercover Black Man, but your post on Wolcott’s cretinous article about VFR (the tone and content of which is summed up by the title “Ebony Kicks Ivory’s Ass”) led me to reread some of UBM’s old postings, as well as bits of his own blog.

His postings at VFR and his writing at his own blog are like day and night. If he didn’t use the same moniker, I really wouldn’t think that both were written by the same person. For instance, here he accuses you of racism and characterizes your response to the Virginia Tech killings as “f____d up.”

Also here he completely ignores your response to his comments in this post and instead gives a list of the non-whites killed in the massacre before declaring you unfit for civilized discourse.

Also, UBM obviously doesn’t moderate his own blog and has no qualms about basking in the adoration of his commenters even as they call you all the names a petulant child can think of. He, however, states that he doesn’t like name-calling. Undercover is just another word for hypocritical.

Russell Wardlow writes:

Regarding Wolcott, I’m not old enough to have read him when he wasn’t already considered something of a has-been, but in recent years, since I’ve been aware of him, he’s the sort of person who’s trademark is hollow anger and shallow sneering. Even when he’s not confronting someone like you who actually engages in rational arguments and refuses to kowtow to the liberal orthodoxy to which most conservatives genuflect, arguing a point seems to be beneath him. Indeed, I recall a few times when he and John Podhoretz got in internet tiffs, and Podhoretz came out of it looking mature and substantive, which is saying A LOT.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 20, 2007 08:25 PM | Send

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