Editor’s Commentn”In America,” a man of functional wit told me once,n”people means those who live in the East Sixties or shop onnRodeo Drive. Those who live in Queens or Tupelo, Mississippi,nand consider a good hot dog with chili delicious arenAmericans.”nHe himself wore French designer jeans, custom-madencowboy boots, an androgynous shirt open to the navel; thenhair on his chest had been styled, treated with an antigrayingnlotion and was adorned with his zodiac sign on one goldennchain with a Victorian gem-studded crucifix. He obviouslynwas people. “Between us,” he added magnanimously, “peoplenmeans a bunch of stinking elitists here.”nThis must be why, I thought to myself, I’m plagued bynthat quaint odor when leafing through People magazine.nT. he American liberal’s most cherished pretension is,nof course, the notion that he speaks on behalf of the people.nLike anyone else, he’s free to do it in the land of the free.nTo speak in the name of the people involves some complications:nthe liberal does not doubt for a moment that he possessesna mandate to do exactly that, but to maintain his credentialsnamong his peers, he is better off if he professes andislike for hot dogs. Torn between his sense of mission andnhis feeling for refinement, he deems it a greater honor to optnfor the latter. Often, the dilemma produces discomfortsnwhich are rarely confided to shrinks. It’s more becoming tontalk about sexual, rather than ideological, frustrations tonthem. How could one admit to a psychoanalyst thatnone dreams about an endorsement from those he subliminallynscorns—those who like navy-bean soup, regard churchgoingnas fulfillment, and indulge in trivial music.” Thus, insteadnof re-examining his propensities, the liberal turns to politicalnpopulism or assorted Marxian denominations: they offernhim a cozy, radical confusion of mind that works like a tranquilizer.nFuming noisily in his newspapers against religiousnhypocrisy, petit bourgeois hypocrisy and pharisaism of bygonenestablishments, he erects a giant rnonument of his ownncant. He feels free to speak in the name of all women, allnblacks and all the wretched of this earth. But he never hesitatesnto clamor rabidly for the right of a few libertines tonsuperimpose their concept of “tolerance” upon millions ofnparents who may jointly reject it in a high-school curriculum.nHe declares such an imposition to be a civil right of the people—fornhe, of course, is people.nJ. here’s little I abhor more than the populists who tellnme that they love people and know all about what kind ofnhappiness is most suitable for the inhabitants of East Brooklynnor Kankakee. I have yet to see a populist who is immunenChronicles of Culturennnto dictatorial passions, an unbridled desire for celebrity atnany price, and French cuisine—which most American populistsntend to view as spiritual protest against chili. The lifenstory of a certain Mr. Sam Brown is keenly didactic in thisnrespect and can provide insights into the rancid layers of thenAmerican experience.nAs one of the shrillest leaders of the anti-Vietnam Warnmovement, Mr. Brown did more to install communism innSoutheast Asia than all the armies of General Giap put together.nNaturally, he conducted his business with a clearnconscience in the name of the people: after all, his NorthnVietnamese proteges were killing not people but Americans.nPeople were safely burning the American flag in CentralnPark and worshiping Ho Chi Minh in the ivy halls of folksyninstitutions like Harvard and Yale. In return for such correctninstincts and credentials, Mr. Brown was eventually offeredna high-ranking government job by Mr. Carter, the incomingnpresident, who knew well how to properly distinguish betweennpeople and Americans: When Mr. and Mrs. Brown,nboth paragons of procommunist dedication, reached an annualnincome bracket of $90,000 they were interviewed bynWomen’s Wear Daily, the fiercely populist organ whosensocietal ideal is to fight for the needy from Le Plaisir whilenwearing the armor provided by Bloomingdale’s. When askednwhether his passionate commitment to the poor did not somehownconflict with his startling affluence, Mr. Brown repliednwith dialectical finesse: “I don’t think poor people wantnother people to be like them. People don’t want to be poor.nPoor people should have just as much chance to dress wellnand live in a nice house as I have had.”n”He sounds as if he had just won the class struggle in anneatery with a $120-per-person dinner prix fixe,” remarked anyoung woman with an unfashionable sense of equity afternreading the interview; she seemed to be shaken by thencomplexity of the human conscience. “Isn’t it despicable?nOr even immoral?”n”It’s liberal,” I sighed. “And radical a la Sans Souci,nGeorgetown, Elaine’s, New York magazine’s editorial offices.nIn those people’s journals like Nation, or the NewnYork Review of Books, which are intellectually perfumednwith a class hatred directed at split-level-dwelling Americans,nMr. Brown’s stance is called an effort toward decency, orngenerosity, or moral spaciousness, or cultural openness,nor healthy shedding of inhibitions.”n”It stinks,” she concluded. I found her verbal impulsenquite precise.nAt’s evident that the more Mr. Brown hates and spongesnon Americans, the more he sees himself as people. There’sna strange sort of accuracy to his feeling; whenever an attemptnis made to rarefy notions, American journalists, those can-n