Personal & Political
To the Editor:
I suppose that, sooner or later, I was bound to get a review of Democracy on Trial written by a critic who remains smitten with the 1960′s. Imagine my surprise that the reviewer, Adam Wolfson, is a conservative and that the review appeared in COMMENTARY [Books in Review, April], a journal to which I have subscribed for a number of years. Mr. Wolfson is rather like the U.S. State Department: the Soviet Union has fallen, oh dear, what are we to do? Thus, Mr. Wolfson: the 60′s are over, oh dear, what am I to do? And the answer, of course, is that Mr. Wolfson keeps the 60′s—or his version of them—alive and well by cataloguing with great care all their many “grotesqueries.” That unmistakable frisson at the mention of the word “Dylan.” That delicious adrenalin rush at the sound “Beatles.” Ah, what dangerous folks they were, and are, in Mr. Wolfson’s supercharged world.
The odd thing, of course, is that no Kennedy or John Lennon or Bob Dylan or any other 60′s icon, save for Martin Luther King, appears in Democracy on Trial, although I yield to none in my undying affection for Dylan and the Beatles. Reading the book through paisley-colored lenses, Mr. Wolfson seems to have missed my references—and indebtedness—to Jefferson, Lincoln, Tocqueville, Arendt, Havel, Willa Cather, Richard Rodriguez, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Reinhold Niebuhr, Thomas and Mary Edsall, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, John of Salisbury (that 12th-century hippie), and John Paul II (perhaps, unbeknownst to me, John Paul spent part of the 60′s in a commune).
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