thinkable a few decades ago. If shoutingrna racial epithet denoted a “hate crime,”rnhow many million such crimes occurredrnin 1930, compared to the few hundredrnprecisely recorded by today’s bureaucrats?rnThe clearest evidence of such arnracial sea-change came last year, with thernabsurd outcome of the O.J. Simpsonrncase. While local authorities were gearingrnup for a black uprising in the event ofrnconviction, nobody suggested that whiternprotesters might riot in the streets, or attemptrnto impose lynch law. Could suchrnracial quiescence reasonably have beenrnanticipated in any decade of Americanrnhistory prior to the 1970’s? Black andrnwhite, post-civil rights generations havernthoroughly internalized the ideologies ofrnthat movement, and it is disingenuous tornsuggest otherwise.rnIn other forms of bigotry also, we livernin a golden age of tolerance. Stern canrncertainly find plenty of asinine and unpleasantrnremarks about Jews from hisrnsubjects, and similar ideas have pollutedrnradical-right conspiracy theory. Consciouslyrnor otherwise, the concept of thern”New World Order” does indeed havernroots in the infamous Protocols of the EldersrnofZion, and Nazi militants do declarernwar upon the Zionist OccupationrnGovernment, ZOG. But owing to thernoverwhelming power of the holocaust inrnAmerican culture and rhetoric, and thernensuing idealization of the state of Israel,rnactive anti-Semitism is virtually absentrnfrom contemporary politics, at least anywherernremotely near the mainstream.rnThis is the first era in which a career canrnbe irretrievably destroyed by an overtrnracist remark, or even by what is interpreted,rnhowever tendentiously, as a “coded”rnremark about some ethnic group.rn(Exceptions are allowed for Arabs orrnSerbs, on whom permanent open seasonrnhas been declared.)rnThough the Oklahoma City bombingrnshowed that rightist paramilitaries couldrnindeed pose a deadly terrorist threat onrnAmerican soil, it is far from obvious thatrnthe event has any connection with thernbroader radical and antigovernmentrnviews held by millions of peaceful citizens.rnA Force Upon the Plain is useful forrnwhat it reveals about hard-core terrorists,rnbut its extravagant account of the “politicsrnof hate” should be read with skepticism.rnPhilip Jenkins is the author of Pedophilesrnand Priests: Anatomy of a Social Crisisrn(Oxford).rnIt^s All ToornBeautifulrnby Thomas FlemingrnThe King of Babylon Shall NotrnCome Against Yournby George GarrettrnNew York: Harcourt Brace;rn336 pp., $24.00rnLock up your daughters, draw thernblinds, and check your house forrnbugs and hidden cameras. Ceorge Garrettrnhas put on his cap and bells again,rnand every page of his new book constitutesrna thought crime against the stupidrnhypocrisies on which the current Americanrnregime is built. Part mystery novel,rnpart social satire. The King of Babylon isrnmore like Tristram Shandy than it is likernthe postmodern fictions that are set in arnnowhere populated by nobodies. It is alsornthat rarest of rare books: an Americanrnnovel that actually takes a close look atrnAmerica.rnTo get at his theme—the America ofrnthe 90’s that was forged in the latern1960’s—Garrett sends his hero (an investigativernreporter) back to his hometownrnin Florida to research two bizarrernmurders and an apparent suicide thatrntook place on the same day as the assassinationrnof Martin Luther King. The townrnhas changed almost beyond recognition,rnand the leader of the social and professionalrnelite is a black attorney who inheritedrnthe estate of his rich white patron.rn(Is this old-fashioned paternalism or arnsymbol of affirmative action?)rnOf course, Paradise Springs was nornEden in the 60’s: the Episcopalian priestrnwas a drunkard and a womanizer; the intellectualrnprofessor, Moe Katz, is a sometimesrnbrilliant fraud (some things havernchanged: Anglicans rarely chase womenrnany more, and professors are never brilliant)rn. The rising generation in generalrngives us a hint of the future in store forrnus: the priest’s beautiful daughter—anrnamoral thrill-seeker who links up with arnserial killer; Alpha Weatherby—a youngrnreligious fanatic who embezzles from thernbank and ends up dead; her best friendrnDarlene, the town slut who later becomesrna phony palmist but a genuinernpsychic; Alpha’s little brother Penrosern(the future real estate magnate and NewrnSouth business dynamo) is a vindictivernlittle snot who would have leaped at thernchance to join either the Mafia or thernGestapo.rnGarrett’s fans will recognize the deliberaternechoes of his earlier work: thernsideshow midget preacher is almost arnparody in miniature of the crooked evangelistrnof Do, Lord, Remember Me, whilernthe investigative reporter—even byrnhis name, Billy Tone—is obviously arncleaned-up version of John Tbwne, Garrett’srnMr. Hyde alter ego, the author ofrnmost of Poison Pen. Like Towne, Tonernhas written pornography and made arnstab at scriptwriting, and also like Townernhe (and George Garrett) is obsessed withrnthe two-dimensional falseness of Americanrnlife in the age of television, advertising,rnand—above all—celebrity.rnAs one of Garrett’s warmest admirers,rnI wondered, at various points of thernbook, if the author had made a mistake:rnIs it possible to sustain interest in a mysteryrnplot, when so much of the book isrndevoted to satire? Technically, the trickrnis managed adroitly: the investigative reporterrnrecords a series of frank confessionalrnstatements that lay bare the vulgaritiesrnand dishonesty that we arerngenerally not allowed to talk about.rnAbout halfway through I began to losernsight of the story, as one social freak afterrnanother gives his version, not just of thernevents of a quarter century ago, but ofrnwhat’s wrong with American life. It wasrnjust at this point that the reins are pickedrnup again and the story gallops to a conclusionrnthat is both surprising and (withrnthe benefit of hindsight) inevitable. Inrntightness of conception (if not of composition).rnThe King of Babylon invitesrncomparison with Sophocles’ Oedipus,rnand like the Oedipus, it is a tale of guiltrnOn the Coming Multiplicationrnof Individuals Who SendrnExplosives by Mailrnby Richard MoorernThey won’t be madmen,rnmankind haters,rnjust Unabomber imitators;rnso let us brace ourselves—and blessrnour popular, untrammeled press,rnlikely to cause this gory mess.rnAUGUST 1996/31rnrnrn