I have to admit that I am not a fan of Mencken’s. Even aside from his needlessly vicious attack on William Jennings Bryan, his contempt for the ordinary American people permeated everything he said, and I do not see him as a model for good conservatism and traditionalism today. I also think he didn’t really understand American literature.
Bryan was a good man and a populist and admittedly wrong about many things, but in the Scopes trial he was upholding a principle that many conservatives sponsor today: that parents should have some say over what their children are being taught. It’s not an absolute principle, I know, but we do sometimes have recourse to it in response to educational elites who want to be free to shove their theories and their pedagogies and their liberal and “progressive” ideas into children’s heads.