HL Mencken

Ann Coulter is reviled in many quarters, and not so much for the nature of her opinions, but the ferocity with which she expresses them. And on the other side of the fence, it is the most aggressive of the left-wing bloggers who attract the greatest attention. Michael Moore may be a fat, unattractive film-maker with a warped view of reality, but the aggression with which he expresses his views is enough for his fans to forgive or forget his sins against the truth.
The practitioners of polemics are always going to do better then the rest of us. I’ve had readers say nice things about my writing but they usually add the rider that I would do better to be more aggressive. And they are right.
But that’s not who I am. Placid as a lamb, that’s me.
That’s not too say that I don’t enjoy a good rant as much as the next reader. A literary assault by Tim Blair, Steve Edwards, or Professor Bunyip are as good as anything you might see in the mainstream press, and delightfully crafted to boot. There’s plenty of mainstream media guys on both sides of the political isle who are capable of a written assault and battery as well.
But I’ve been indulging in the writings lately of a man who could make them all blush. HL Mencken wrote with such skillful savagery that no reader could walk away in any doubt that the pen is indeed mightier then the sword.
And unlike the modern practitioners of literary bile, Mencken spared no one. He detested Republicans, loathed Democrats, and laughed at Independents. But everyone else who crossed his radar might end up a victim of his wrath. He was elitist, and proud to be so. Americans in general, and Southerners in particular, are ‘morons’ the South in general was “Felix Moronia”, and the Baptist and Methodist clergy that that he felt sustained Prohibition were also savagely denounced.
But the Presidents of the United States of America were the most frequent targets of his wrath. In ‘A Carnival of Buncombe’, which I am currently enjoying, Wilson, Harding, Coolidge and Hoover are excoriated, denounced and ridiculed with pungent ferocity (I haven’t got to the FDR part of the book, but it’s clear in reading this book that all Presidents, past, present and indeed future are held in suspicion (Even Lincoln is regarded as somewhat dubious).
The follies, rorts, and corruptions of his age are presented to the reader, and we are invited to throw things. It is tempting to accept. This collection of articles is also a useful corrective to those that would think that the political process of the US today is at a low ebb; on the contrary, it would seem that the standards of morality and probity of US elected officials is at a historical constant level.

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2 comments

  1. Niall

    Blair, Edwards & Bunyip as good as you might find??? Delightfully crafted??? Scotty, you must know an entirely different trio to the one’s I’ve heard about.

  2. Lo Ping Wong

    “Ann Coulter is reviled in many quarters, and not so much for the nature of her opinions, but the ferocity with which she expresses them.”
    Nope, sorry. It’s pretty much completely the nature of Coulter’s opinions that makes her vile and reviled. Take away any “ferocity”; make Ann as bland and smooth as oatmeal, but “Timothy McVeigh should have blown up the New York Times building” and “invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity” are still odious sentiments. Coulter is a sociopath and a liar.