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Death of a Liberal God
Reacting to Arthur Miller.


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Roger Kimball

EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece appears in the March 14, 2005, issue of National Review.

Attention must be paid to the attention that’s been paid to Arthur Miller, playwright, darling of the Left, husband of Marilyn Monroe, self-appointed public moralist, and did I mention that he was married to Marilyn Monroe? The outpouring of sanctimonious twaddle that greeted Miller’s death at 89 in February was partly queasy-making, partly comic.

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The emetic side came from the pent-up liberal self-righteousness that erupted everywhere like a nasty boil. The comedy–if such ghastliness can really be called comic–followed from the yawning disproportion between cause (Miller’s modest artistic accomplishment) and effect (wailing and gnashing of teeth as if a hybrid of Sophocles and Mahatma Gandhi had suddenly passed away).

The New York Times started its obituary-cum-bid-for-canonization on Page One, above the fold, and continued inside the paper for two full pages. “Mr. Miller grappled with the weightiest matters of social conscience in his plays,” quoth the Times, “and in them often reflected or reinterpreted the stormy and very public elements of his own life–including a brief and rocky marriage to Marilyn Monroe and his staunch refusal to cooperate with the red-baiting House Un-American Activities Committee.”…

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