Writing about David Mamet’s rejection of “brain-dead liberalism” in the Guardian (commented on yesterday in Media Blog), columnist Michael Billington offers this groaner on Glenngary Glen Ross:
Given his new-found conservatism, I doubt he could ever write a play riddled with such moral ambiguity.
For the brain-dead leftist, it is carved in stone that conservatives are immune to moral ambiguity. This is pure jackassery. Is there anybody walking the Earth who is more morally assured of himself than Al Gore? Anybody who suffers from more moral certitude than Mr. Gore’s slavish followers, who insist that their program–and that alone–is the necessary condition of human survival? Anybody remember progressive hero Peter Gabriel singing “I get so tired, working so hard for our survival?” Name Hillary Clinton ring a bell? Ever walked across a U.S. college campus? Read the Guardian? Checked out the latest cover of Rolling Stone?
There’s no irony on that cover or in the article. Only hagiography.
In my experience, every red-diaper baby socialist patchouli sponge worth his organic tofu dreadlocks acts, talks, and thinks as though he is in a battle against Absolute Evil. Not the least of these is Mr. Billington himself, who begins his column: “I am depressed to read that David Mamet has swung to the right” and ends it with a lament that Mamet’s political beliefs are apt to corrupt his literary talent. Which is to say that he is bothered by the fact that a man he does not know does not share his political beliefs, and he regards beliefs contrary to his own as so corrosive that they will untalent a talented writer. He suffers from no moral ambiguity in his assessment of Mamet’s politics.
Conservatism assumes that the world is necessarily imperfect, that our institutions are imperfect, and that mankind is inescapably morally compromised. These brain-dead leftists have, apparently, never heard of T.S. Eliot, Russell Kirk, Evelyn Waugh, Burke, Tom Wolfe, Disraeli, or V.S. Naipaul, no doubt having immersed themselves in the finely shaded realism of Marx and Foucault.
Anybody who ever had a single serious thought about U.S. foreign policy under Reagan or George W. Bush ought to appreciate that conservatives are intimately familiar with moral ambiguity.
I know, it’s the Guardian, and I shouldn’t take it seriously. But conservatives shouldn’t allow cartoon versions of our ideas to displace our actual ideas.