Thursday, April 08, 2010

An Insult to Dunces

Over at what used to be called "America's Newspaper of Record" things have certainly gone downhill and slid to the right over the last couple of decades. But not so far that they've gotten rid of everyone with a brain. Not yet anyway.

Here's the New York Times' Gail Collins with a piece entitled "A Confederacy of Dunces":

April is the cruelest month. Or, if you live in Virginia, Confederate History Month.
The state is buzzing over Gov. Bob McDonnell’s proclamation urging citizens to spend the month recalling Virginia’s days as a member of the Confederate States of America. Although since McDonnell had previously turned April over to child abuse prevention, organ donation and financial literacy, perhaps it was O.K. to just pick your favorite.
The original Confederate History proclamation was a miracle of obfuscation. It did not even mention slavery. On Wednesday, the governor apologized for that and said that slavery “has left a stain on the soul of this state and nation.”
People, what’s our bottom line here. The governor of Virginia has decided to bring slavery into his overview of the history of the Confederacy. Good news, or is this setting the bar a wee bit too low?
There's more to this and it's well worth the read. As those old-timers who provided comic relief in old B&W movies used to say, "The South will rise again!"

The shenanigans going on in Virginia are an insult to dunces everywhere. I'm reminded of the old joke wherein a guy goes into a bar and starts denouncing all lawyers as assholes. A guy at the end of the bar says "I resent that!"
"Why? Are you a lawyer?" the first guy fires back.
"No. I'm an asshole."

That title, BTW, adorns one of my all-time favorite books, A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, whose tragic suicide predated the publication of his book by some 11 years.

A Confederacy of Dunces. Get it and read it -- it is absolutely terrific.

And, just to wrap things up, the phrase itself comes from another of my favorite writers, Jonathan Swift: "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him."