Friday, April 04, 2008

Eye on Hollywood: No Country for Old Men

I believe it used to be called Noblesse Oblige. It was the quality of the old Anglo-Saxon elite - an element of the nature of monarchy that sees itself as of the same substance as the nation it rules. That is not how the new American elite views itself. It is separate. Its destiny is not intertwined with the nation it rules.

"In fact, the sheriff in the book (played by Tommy Lee Jones in the film) mulls over the changes that have come to American life. Back in the thirties, someone handed out a form asking teachers what problems there were in schools. Answers were “things like talkin in class and runnin in the hallways. Chewin gum. Copyin homework. Things of that nature. . . . Forty years later. Well, here come the answers back. Rape, arson, murder. Drugs. Suicide . . . Forty years is not a long time neither.” "

"Interestingly, these same forty years were the period in which the traditional WASP leadership of American was replaced by a new one, an “adversary culture” in Norman Podhoretz’s words. David Gelernter, the Yale University computer scientist nearly killed by a bomb sent by the Unabomber, wrote a stunning essay in the American Jewish Committee’s house magazine Commentary about this change. “The perversity I want to understand starts in the 1960’s.” He sees the rise through the ranks of a new class as both unhealthy and ominous. To many readers of Commentary (there were plenty of letters of complaint) it was unforgivable that Gelernter identified Jews as the cause of the problem. "

"“One dramatic sign was the big influx of Jews.” Perversity resulted from that fact that “the old elite used to get on fairly well with the country it was set over. Members of the old social upper-crust elite were richer and better educated than the public at large, but approached life on basically the same terms.” The new, heavily Jewish elite, Gelernter argued, is not only different from the non-Jewish masses, “it loathes the nation it rules.” "

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