Monday, May 7, 2007

Unwelcome Gift?

Via Hit and Run, the apparently left-leaning guy who runs a blog called Marry in Massachusetts is mad because a friend sent him gift subscriptions to Reason, City Journal, and Commentary. I can see how it's a mischievous, slightly-obnoxious thing to send somebody subscriptions to magazines they disagree with politically. It's like something I might do. Um, come to think about it, it's like something I have done. More than once.

Wait a second -- here's the weird thing. So has Marry. (And to reiterate, Marry is a guy.) He gave his Mom, who is apparently a right-winger of some sort, a subscription to The Nation. So what's he gripin' about? Sounds like perfect turnabout to me.

But that's not the only thing that struck me as weird about his post. To start, he refers to these magazines as "neocon rags." First the rag part: how anybody who digs The Nation can refer to any other magazine as a "rag" is quite beyond me. In terms of quality of newsprint and overall production values, The Nation ranks well below any of the three magazines he got as gifts. Now, I suppose it lends the magazine a certain proletarian street cred that fits in with its editorial bent, but gosh, The Nation would be annoying for the smelly paper, regardless of the content.

OK, I'm being snarky. Forget the newsprint -- in what universe is Reason "neocon"? Reason is the canonical libertarian magazine. If anything, it's anti-neocon. City Journal is closer, although most of its topics tend to be focused on urban life (hence "City Journal") rather than foreign policy. It's a good magazine, but it really doesn't fit in with the whole Perle/Kristol neocon big government invade-the-world-and-spread-democracy shtick. While it doesn't do much on foreign policy, the sort of skepticism about state intervention which animates City Journal ought to counsel against the whole neocon war-as-social-work agenda.

Now Commentary, that's neocon to the bone. I suppose one out of three ain't bad.

Marry described the woman who gave him these mags thusly:

Our friend is an artist -- painter and sculptor. When she moved from the South to Manhattan and we all lived there, she seemed liberal enough. However, she kept company for years with a wealthy lawyer and businessman, who held very different views and got such publications as she has now visited upon us. He has died, but the damage was done.

How condescending. His artist friend seemed like such a nice girl, but then she fell into bad company and succumbed to their influences. It couldn't be because she weighed the arguments contained in these publications and found them valid. Oh no! It had to be that she was "damaged" by her wealthy consort. He describes this woman as a long-time friend and godmother to one of his boys, but, even so, he casually deprives her of any agency or intelligence.

Some friend!

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