crowd was unmistakably French, a legacynfrom a better age. They were people entrenchednin some remnant of Frenchnessnwhich in itself was hard to define, but atnthe same time, it seemed natural thatnthey were the bridge to the France ofnClemenceau and Claudel, MarechalnFoch and Mistinguette, Mauriac andnChevalier. They now wore their Frenchnfaces, their ribbons oiLegion d’Honneur,ntheir discreet nationalism like theynwore their pieces des vetments—carefully,nin the European way, which makesnplain that clothes are valuable possessions,nnot paraphernalia of minor pleasurenas they are in America. Seeing themnthere, in that baroque, superbly cavernousnchurch, gave one a sense of vanishingngrandeur so clear that it was almostnpainful.nBut—why is this? Countless historical,nsociopolitical, or existential explanationsncan be put into tomes of scholarly ornintellectual analysis. There are the jointnpressures of East and West, with contemporarynFrance right in the middle betweenntwo formidable forces: the first isnthat of American practical optimism andngood sense, and the other is the Marxiann(or post-Marxian) quest for mean, rigidndoctrinary Utopia. But the French versionnof the latter attitude—whose substancenseems to be some sense of vengeancenagainst imprecise evils—however grimnand invidious versus Western civilizationnit may be, nevertheless does not want tongive up its title to the Western brand ofnthe good life and chintzy hedonism in itsnpursuit of sociomoral revanchism. It doesnnot notice that Bernard de Clairvaux andnthe glories of French nationalism do notnblend very well with the European soundnof rock music, the Playboy “philosophy,”nfeminism, and political terrorism:nSartre and his intellectual gang promisednsuch a concoction ais deliverance, but itndidn’t work; the sociomoral and culturalnnausea that a visitor from WinnebagonCounty can distinctly smell here seems tonbe an inescapable consequence. There’snlitde hope that the post-Sartrian intellectualntone-givers—the Foucaults, Der-nridas, orBartheses, as contaminated withnradical blindness to sensibility as they aren—will help to dispel the bad odors.nAmerican optimism? Isn’t it a triflencocky to invoke that here, on the ruenJacob, replete with the most splendid accoutrementsnof the impotent past? Wendo have our share of melancholies andnnostalgias these days, especially in NewnYork City. But we also feel a compellingnNeo-TheologynNot long ago the New York Timesncame up with a major theological problem:nits influential editor, Mr. L.H.nGelb, prowled through the depths of hisnown mind and, after grave reflection, expressedndoubts about whether communismnshould be regarded as andntermed evil:nMr. Reagan’s thinking appeared tondevelop along the following lines:nCommunism per se is evil and almostnaU Communist movements are controllednfrom Moscow. The SovietnUnion is bent on world domination.nAlmost every serious challenge tonAmerican interests in the world isnmanipulated by Moscow. The Sovietsncannot be trusted and seek to lullnAmericans into a false sense of security.nIt is a raw view, one that does notnallow for real differences within thenKremlin about policy . . .nEven when invoking the most stringentncriteria of formal logic, we can see litflenfault in Mr. Reagan’s reasoning. History,nexperience, current political events, andnthe daily news bear him out. Moreover,nevil—as word and notion—is a bit wornnout; it has been made a trifle shabby bynseveral centuries of hypocriticalnpreaching about it, but, nevertheless, itnis also a perceptual symbol of somethingnthat has accompanied mankind since itsnJOIRNALISMnnncertitude that the ultimate struggle fornthe shape of Western civilization is stillngoing on. We have our load of problems,nnumber one of which is how to devise ancompromise between genuine democracynand genuine common sense. But wenare sure that the intellectual machinesnthat belabor these problems are stillnbuzzing—perhaps more effectively thannever. Dndawn. As such, it is an exclusively humannidea which somehow has determined individualnand common destinies from ournhistorical beginnings to our supercomplex,nmodern reality. It expressesnsomething rarely definable but oftennmaterialized—conceptual and actual innthe same breath. If one were to ask peoplenwho live under communism about it,nthey’d answer that they have a constant,npalpable recognition that they face evil,nstruggle with evil, are daily tormented bynevil. We’re sadly positive that if he werendescribing the Moral Majority, Mr. Gelbnwould have little hesitation about usingnthe word evil as an adjective, a noun, orna curse. DnLest We ForgetnLate last year America, by constructingna monument to the fallen andnhonoring the living in three days ofnceremonies, finally paid—belatedly andninsufficiently—its debt to the tens ofnthousands of servicemen who fought andndied in Vietnam. Though some dissatisfactionnpersists with the bleak andnsomber design of the memorial, mostnVietnam vets—most Americans inngeneral—are deeply gratified to see somennational homage at last paid to the warndead. Not everyone is pleased, though.nAlexander Cockburn querulously complainednin Village Voice that Americani45nFebruary1983n