Our Nearly Classless Society

Jay Nordlinger follows up his remark some time ago about having a concert spoiled by the conductor's political remarks. A commenter here objected that it was an isolated event, but the new column shows otherwise. Everyone wrote in with his own example. Including a truly terrible anecdote about a Rabbi eulogizing a Conservative man who'd been killed abruptly in an accident by remarking that at least he wouldn't be around to see any more Bush stupidity. The defenders always resort to their "free speech!" mantra, and that's fine, but it doesn't change the fact that it's wildly inappropriate and rude.

At the end of a litany of anecdotes, Nordlinger writes
  • I grew up with the slogan “The personal is political.” It was more common than “A little dab’ll do ya,” in dear old Ann Arbortown. And this is one of the things I turned away from, with nausea. No, the personal is not political — at least not often. A recognition of this fact might be said to be the beginning of conservatism (or true liberalism — as distinct from fascism or communism or any totalitarianism).
  • I have an acquaintance who, I know, is a strong Democrat. She is also a rather somber type. Not long after the election, I saw her at a reception, and I said, “How are you?” And full of meaning — almost sarcastic meaning — she said, “Oh, I’m great — just great!” I knew she was alluding to the election.
  • And that served as a reminder to me: “Please never depend for your well-being on the election returns.” Politics must never be that important, at least in a liberal democracy. (In a “nonconsensual society,” as Robert Conquest would say, politics is very, very important — because the “election returns” may make the difference between a midnight knock on the door or not.)
Which is interesting, since a musician from a Soviet satellite nation wrote: For me, it is perhaps even worse, because it brings back all the stench of Communist propaganda, which filled my early years. Now the same thing is creeping into everyday American life. Sick, sick, sick. Nordlinger calls for safe zones where we can occasionally escape politics.

I can't help but think this is related intellectually in some way to the inability of certain folk (see here too) to respect safe zones that are sexuality-free.