The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Tuesday, November 28, 2006  

They Should Have Named It The Crank

I'm still getting a big kick out of Martin Peretz's new blog, The Spine, what with all the gratuitously snide and racist remarks directed against Arabs (here is a fresh one -- Some Arabs are rich!), the posts that reveal an astonishing ignorance of the topic at hand (e.g., the history of Catholic higher education in America), and the near illiteracy displayed in so many posts, of which this recent item about Tom Wolfe is an excellent example :

I am one of those who believes that Tom Wolfe is among the most penetrating and understandably literate social observers and social commentators of the age. Actually, you have to go back to Thorstein Veblen to read someone so evocative of the realities--sometimes grim, sometimes silly--amidst which we live. And as for a readability comparison you may have to go back to the English novelists of the nineteenth century. It's not only The Bonfire of the Vanities, which, in its day, touched on matters that were taboo, is correct society. It's also his occasional journalism, a journalism that does evoke someone else, H.L. Mencken.

There's much to wade through there: "understandably literate," "the realities . . . amidst which we live," "a readability comparison." And then my favorite sentence of all: "It's not only The Bonfire of the Vanities, which, in its day, touched on matters that were taboo, is correct society." Go ahead, read that last sentence again. I gave it three tries and came away with nothing each time.

Someone please call the copy desk.

[Post-publication addendum (November 29): Bonus! Good old reliable Marty then follows up with "Carter's Legacy," in which he begins, "You may think that I am obsessed with Israel and the Middle East," and then adds: "But have you noticed Jimmy Carter's obsession with the same subjects? He's not only obsessed but also really doesn't know what he's talking about. Forgive me: I believe he feels deep rancor towards the Jews and deeper rancor towards Israel. And those feelings give him all the knowledge he thinks he needs. Maybe it comes from his mother. Or maybe it comes from his brother. But, wherever it comes from, it is now a part of his life and his legacy. That's how he will go down in history: as a Jew hater." Speaks for itself, I think. Or rather, mumbles along with a certain paranoid incoherence, as usual.]

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