Monday, November 28, 2005
Continuing The Assault; or, How my favorite novel sticks it to the lefty emotivist do-gooders
NPR is reviving a long-dead radio program entitled This I Believe (article on the previous incarnation here; the current incarnation's homepage may be found here). This caused a bit of an uproar last week over at The Corner. Apparently Jonah Goldberg didn't like Penn Jillette's snub of people with religious beliefs.
In any event, the show's premise is to get Americans of all stripes to compose 500 words on "the core beliefs that guide [their] daily life." The goal? "[A] picture of the American spirit in all its rich complexity." One could quibble with some of the guidelines -- they are not looking for people to say what their parents taught them to believe, or what their religion teaches them to believe, or what they think they should believe. As if what one's parents teach you are not supposed to be the core beliefs that guide daily life.
But my attack is more blunt: How stupid are these lefty do-gooders? I delight in the return of This I Believe precisely because it permits me to mock them, thoroughly, with the help of My Favorite Novel, The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy. (The novel was published in 1961, so they had fair warning.) The true sign of education-induced stupidity is when the lefties can't tell they're being mocked. Here you go:
...Being a creature of habit, as regular as a monk, and taking pleasure in the homeliest repetitions, I listen every night at ten to a program called This I
Believe. Monks have their compline, I have This I Believe. On the program
hundreds of the highest-minded people in our country, thoughtful and intelligent
people, people with mature inquiring minds, state their personal credos. The two
or three hundred I have heard so far were without exception admirable people. I
doubt if any other country or any other time in history has produced such thoughtful and high-minded people, especially the women. And especially the South. I do believe the South has produced more high-minded women, women of universal sentiments, than any other section of the country except possibly New England in the last century. Of my six living aunts, five are women of the loftiest theosophical panBrahman sentiments. The sixth is still a Presbyterian.
If I had to name a single trait that all these people shared, it is their
niceness. Their lives are triumphs of niceness. They like everyone with the
warmest and most generous feelings. And as for themselves: it would be
impossible for even a dour person not to like them.
I did not always enjoy This I Believe. While I was living at my aunt's house,
I was overtaken by a fit of perversity. But instead of writing a letter to an
editor, as was my custom, I recorded a tape which I sumbitted to Mr. Edward R.
Murrow. "Here are the beliefs of John Bickerson Bolling, a moviegoer living in
New Orleans," it began, and ended, "I believe in a good kick in the ass. This --
I believe." I soon regretted it, however, as what my grandfather would have
called "a smart-alecky stunt" and I was relieved when the tape was returned. I
have listened faithfully to This I Believe ever since.
[UPDATE: The new program is funded by The Righteous Persons Foundation, run by Steven Spielberg. See here. What? Lefty Hollywood involved in ridiculous pandering? Never.]