Fred Siegel of the Manhattan Institute is a substantial right-leaning intellectual who has written on a wide range of issues (history, urban affairs, culture) and also worked for Rudy Giuliani. I stumbled on an invitation recently to a talk he was preparing to give at the righty think tank the American Enterprise Institute. The talk, titled “Liberalism and Mass Culture: Fear and Loathing of the Middle Class,” was delivered last week at AEI in Washington.
The invitation was striking because it summarized what Siegel has identified as the “three foundational myths of contemporary liberalism.” When I read the summary of the three myths, I thought: Whoa, interesting to see a righty’s view of the “foundational myths” of liberals.
He identified the three thus (see if you recognize yourself or the liberals you know):
“One is that John Kennedy’s assassination was instigated by the rank intolerance and hatred of the American people. A second is that of ‘upsouth’: the assertion that Northern racism was and is every bit as pervasive, if more subtle, than that of the Old South. The third is that the American popular culture of the 1950s was stifling not only in its ‘Donald Duck’ banality but also in a subtle form of fascism that constituted a danger to the Republic. In this view, the excesses of the 1960s were a struggle to free America’s brain-damaged automatons from their captivity at the hands of the lords of mass culture.”
His talk, by the way, was all about the third myth, the Donald Duck banality/subtle fascism one.
Siegel’s talk is viewable online via this link. He pretty much spoke the three-foundational myths in the first few minutes, but the talk is almost an hour long, followed by a Q and A.