Last week I noted the passing of Paul Fussell, and especially his famous article, later turned into a book, entitled “Thank God for the Atom Bomb.” That article originally appeared in The New Republic, back in the early 1980s when TNR was an iconoclastic publication that often challenged liberal orthodoxy. Fussell wrote a number of pieces for TNR back in those days.
Jeremy Lott, blogging over at Patheos, notes the “conspicuous” silence about Fussell’s passing at The New Republic, and wonders why:
[T]his is extra odd, because the New Republic published one of Fussell’s most important essays. Now, in the wake of his death, it is proceeding as if that essay never existed at a time when its republication would get actual traffic. Why wouldn’t it want those hits? A few friends have speculated to me that TNR is staffed with a bunch of younger staffers who don’t remember such things, but that can’t be it. Grand culture editor Leon Wieseltier has weathered several regime changes at the magazine, including a recent handover in ownership. The Fussell essay appeared two years before his appointment in 1983 but he must remember it.
So why ignore it? Embarrassment? It’s possible. In the famous essay, Fussell set himself up as the sworn enemy of moral reasoning that is too abstract, too removed from what, these days, we would call the “boots on the ground.”