I Waited a Few Days Out of Respect. Time for Some Disrespect.
Here’s a scathing article on Slate by someone (David Greenberg) who apparently only waited one day. Prepare to be offended.
“But, but, but…” you protest, “but not Gore Vidal! No, he stuck it to Regan.” So what? The enemy of my enemy is not my friend. Especially when the best reason to consider him a friend is that he successfully shot fish in a barrel. So he criticized that idiot Gipper. Big freaking deal.
He had plenty of weirdness of his own. And no, that was NOT meant as a mean-spirited homophobic pun.
Toward the end of Vidal’s life, he discredited himself even on the left with his embrace of loony ultra-right causes, such as Ruby Ridge, Waco, and eventually Timothy McVeigh, who blew up the Oklahoma City Murrah building in 1995. Vidal feebly tried to justify these indefensible sympathies by pointing to the United States government’s abuses of power. McVeigh, moreover, was not unique in soliciting Vidal’s tender mercies. The Sage of Ravello was an equal-opportunity apologist for terrorists, taking up the obscene theories (which, in an exquisite Orwellism, go by the name ‘truther’) that the Bush administration was complicit in al-Qaida’s 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.
But wait! There’s more:
The Heartland conservatism that became these men’s philosophy—and Gore Vidal, we should recall, described himself as a conservative—aimed to insulate America from the corrupting cosmopolitan influences of Europe and beyond. Its most vile exponents, such as the Nazi sympathizer Charles Lindbergh, opposed World War II on the grounds that Hitler’s war was none of America’s concern. Others followed the spirit of Jefferson’s famous warning to avoid ‘entangling alliances.’ Some, notably Lindbergh, blamed American Jews for railroading the nation into war. Others saw dark conspiracies in Pearl Harbor, which they said was Roosevelt’s connivance, foisted on a peace-loving nation.
Vidal himself espoused both of these views. In an interview with Bob Edwards several years ago, he sputtered that Philip Roth, whose Plot Against America describes a dystopian wartime United States under a President Lindbergh, was unfair to the isolationist aviator. Later, in the New York Review of Books and elsewhere, he effectively laid blame for Pearl Harbor at Roosevelt’s feet.
“Oh, great,” you moan, “you’re going Godwin to demonize Vidal, you a-hole.” Well then, perhaps you should stop reading right now, because its about to get worse. You see, Greenberg hadn’t gone full-blown Godwin until the very next paragraph.
In the demonology of Vidal and his not-so-progressive Progressive forbears, Jews in particular loomed large.
“Oh. No. You. Didn’t!”
Vidal’s anti-Semitic rants frequently insinuated that Jews were un-American, more loyal to Israel than the United States. The most notorious of these pieces, ‘The Empire Lovers Strike Back,’ ran in the The Nation on March 22, 1986, and achieved what many would have thought impossible: arousing sympathy for Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter.
I personally have no axe to grind. I shared it because why not. Its been a few days.