For diversity in testimony, &c.

New Yorker film critic David Denby


When there are gun-control hearings, as there have been lately, there are always moving witnesses: people who have been shot, relatives of people who have been killed. They should by all means testify.

But I know that there are many, many people who have been saved from rape, beatings, or murder by guns. Do they ever testify?

I don’t say I have the answer on guns — on what our gun laws should be. I do say that there are two sides to the story. Or more.

Into my inbox came a blogpost by Peter Wehner. It was a post that gave me a memory. Wehner quoted David Denby, a film critic for The New Yorker. Denby wrote,

I can’t give up my feeling that people are approving of their own tears when they respond to “Les Misérables.” After all, Michael Gerson, George Bush’s principal speechwriter, wrote an entire column in the Washington Post about how much he cried at “Les Mis.” But how much did the Bush Administration do for the downtrodden?

Wehner’s post was titled “David Denby’s Sneering Ignorance.” He ended it by saying, “He should stick to movie reviews.”

It so happens I can remember when I quit reading The New Yorker, and why. It was more than ten years ago now. I discussed the matter in a November 2002 Impromptus. Allow me to quote:

What’s the most despicable thing you’ve read in, oh, the last six months? I know I have my candidate. It came in a movie review by David Denby published in the Nov. 11 New Yorker. Here goes: “People who are convinced that Eminem is destroying America might want to consider the delicacy of the white-black friendships in ‘8 Mile.’ (Perhaps the spectre of such friendships is what right-wingers actually hate most.)”

That’s right: We’re trying to keep blacks and whites from being friends of each other, when we’re not trying to keep women barefoot and pregnant.

David Denby is either a very, very ignorant man — does he know any conservatives? does he ever get out? — or a bundle of malice, in the Sidney Blumenthal/Lewis Lapham mold. How such a sentence could have been published — certainly in 2002 — is a mystery. The New Yorker, a great magazine, and David Remnick, its editor, and a great journalist, should really be ashamed.

I guess it was not long after that that I stopped reading The New Yorker. I remember thinking, “If that’s what they think of me, and people like me, why should I put up with them? If they know so little about us conservatives, and insult us so grievously, why should I bother?”

I decided I had better things to do with my time than read The New Yorker, though I had enjoyed the magazine for years. Maybe I was wrong. Probably have missed a lot of great material. Undoubtedly have. Then again, saved myself a fair amount of heartburn, too.

Care for a little language? I want to make two points about Denby’s words on Les Misérables, the evil of George W. Bush, etc. It is apparently New Yorker style to write “the Washington Post.” “Post” is italicized, but “Washington” is not. Interesting — because “Washington” is part of the paper’s name.

“New York Daily News,” one could understand — one should insist on, in fact. But “Washington Post”? Interesting.

And how about “Les Mis”? I think it has to be “Les Miz” — because “Mis,” you would pronounce differently.

Anyway . . .

So, Dennis Rodman is home from North Korea, saying, “I saw that people respect him and his family.” He is referring to the dictator Kim Jong Un et al. And he reminded me of Jimmy Carter — a more experienced statesman than Rodman.