The magazine that embodied the meritocratic ideal commits spiritual suicide.
I am writing this missive to publicly protest the naming of John Podhoretz as editor-in-chief, effective January 2009, of Commentary magazine.
When my Hungarian-born Nana, Fanny Frank Simpkins (1893?-1976) was alive, had anyone told her that one could sensibly modify the phrase “Jewish intellectual(s)” with “mediocre,” she would have written him off as either an imbecile or a madman. Thank God, she is gone; were she alive to see what Commentary has come to, it would kill her.
According to E.B. White in This is New York, 60 years ago, New York City had 2,000,000 Jews. And from circa 1890-1950, it was as if New York’s factories were mass-producing brilliant Jews. Alas, the genius factories have all shut down.
The brothers Gershwin. Rodgers. Copland. Kern. Hart. Hammerstein. Sondheim. Where do we find their like today?
Back then, many of the greatest Jews had attended the Asphalt League City College of New York (CCNY), which circa 1915-1965 had the most rigorous admissions and graduation requirements of any American college, private or public. Others never made it to CCNY, but instead graduated from “UCLA: The university at the corner of Lenox Ave.” Today’s mediocrities have invariably graduated smugness cum laude from Overpriced Private Universities (OPUs) in the Ivy League or their OPU cousins (e.g., the University of Chicago, NYU).
In matters of intellect, most of the greatest Jewish intellectuals of yore—even when, as was often the case, they were socialists—including those who made Commentary great, stood for excellence, and for meritocracy as the political principle that best fosters excellence. Nepotism is the corrupt enemy of the merit principle, and the bulwark of mediocrity. Commentary has now made a 180-degree turn, and embraced nepotism and mediocrity.
Today, when black-on-white violence is much more common than it was then, many white readers could easily top those stories with worse. And yet even today few of them would be willing to speak truthfully in public about their entirely rational fear of black violence and black crime. Telling the truth about blacks remains dangerous to one's reputation: to use that now famous phrase I once appropriated from D.H. Lawrence in talking about ambition, the fear of blacks has become the dirty little secret of our political culture. And since a dirty little secret breeds hypocrisy and cant in those who harbor it, I suppose it can still be said that most whites are sick and twisted in their feelings about blacks, albeit in a very different sense that they were in 1963.
Methinks young Podhoretz has traveled in too many taxis and limousines, and in too few nighttime subway cars.
He treats anyone who honestly confronts the destruction that open borders dogma has wreaked on, and continues to wreak on America, with the same knee-jerk contempt.
Without honesty and intellectual courage, all the brains in the world are worthless. And when one combines a mediocre mind with dishonesty and cowardice, the result is unintentionally farcical.
The only thing left for John Podhoretz to do, in order to make complete his erasure of everything good that Commentary has long stood for, will be for him to embrace affirmative action, as have almost all of America’s corrupt, nepotistic elites.
The Jewish intellectuals, R.I.P. At this rate, Commentary will soon join them.
Award-winning, New York-based freelancer Nicholas Stix founded A Different Drummer magazine (1989-93). Stix has written for Die Suedwest Presse, New York Daily News, New York Post, Newsday, Middle American News, Toogood Reports, Insight, Chronicles, the American Enterprise, Campus Reports, VDARE, the Weekly Standard, Front Page Magazine, Ideas on Liberty, National Review Online and the Illinois Leader. His column also appears at Men's News Daily, MichNews, Intellectual Conservative, Enter Stage Right and OpinioNet. Stix has studied at colleges and universities on two continents, and earned a couple of sheepskins, but he asks that the reader not hold that against him. His day jobs have included washing pots, building Daimler-Benzes on the assembly-line, tackling shoplifters and teaching college, but his favorite job was changing his son's diapers.