The recriminations continue. Liberals gnash their teeth and try to figure out what went wrong, and what is to be done. Reader John Jensen draws our attention to a symposium at Slate, and, in particular, to this appalling contribution by novelist Jane Smiley.
While some Democrats have made constructive and thoughtful suggestions in the wake of the party’s fifth loss in the last seven Presidential elections, most commentary from within America’s minority party is along the lines of: we’re too good for those stupid Americans. Ms. Smiley’s contribution is unfortunately of this school.
Which is too bad, because she is a fine novelist. The Greenlanders, one of her early books, is a special favorite of mine–the best historical novel I’ve ever read. She lost her way a bit after she became famous, in books like Moo and A Thousand Acres, largely because she became at least indirectly political. It’s a familiar story–an artist becomes popular and jumps to the conclusion that people are dying to know what he or she thinks about politics. But then, just a couple of years ago, Ms. Smiley put politics aside and wrote the delightful Horse Heaven, a comic novel about the world of horse racing.
Unfortunately, in her Slate essay Smiley tells us what she really thinks, and it isn’t pretty:
Ignorance and bloodlust have a long tradition in the United States, especially in the red states … When the forces of red and blue encountered one another head-on for the first time in Kansas Territory in 1856, the red forces from Missouri, who had been coveting Indian land across the Missouri River since 1820, entered Kansas and stole the territorial election. The red news media of the day made a practice of inflammatory lying