LIBERAL CULTUREnSiskelnEverybody has his Siskel andnso do we—without whom wenmight be deprived of our right tona bit of merriment amid the allpervadingngloom of high interestnrates, communist propagandanmovies receiving Oscar nominationsnand Jesuits working fornSoviet imperialism in LatinnAmerica. Our Siskel happens tonbe a film reviewer for the ChicagonTribune, a newspaper thatncalls itself conservative in its editorialsnbut simultaneously supportsnthe rankest sons of radicalismneverywhere else in its pages.nThis is what our Siskel has to saynabout the movie, Personal Best,nand which, of course, makes himnsuch a riot:nDespite its scenes of twonwomen making love. PersonalnBest is not a movienabout lesbianism . . .nA couple of paragraphs furthernon, our Siskel reinforces hisnpowerful thesis by adding: “Thenwomen arm wrestle, fondle eachnother and then begin to live together,”nwhich, naturally, reaffirmsnthe notion that the movienis not about lesbianism. The logicalnquestion, therefore, wouldnbe: What is this movie about?nBut our Siskel does not feel obligatednto provide any coherentnanswer. Our Siskel is stylisticallynsatisfied with this kind of refinednwriting: “It will be a shame ifnPersonal Best becomes brandednas a film about lesbianism, becausenthere is so much more to itnthan that.” What? Is it possiblento know what this movie is aboutnand what more there is to it? Ornis such an exegesis beyond then50inChronicles of Culturenintellectual power of our Siskel,nwhom the Chicago Tribune—anconservative paper—by-lines asna “movie critic”?nNot long ago, Siskel-the-criticngave us another display of hisncinematose version of ready-towearnstructuralism. Writingnabout a French import, Loulou,nhe made a statement from thenrealm of sociophilosophy:nThe film’s implicit endorsementnof Loulou’s brazennsexuality and anti-establishmentnattitude is thoroughlynsubversive to the Westernnworld’s work ethic.nSenator Scoop Jackson once remarked:n”I’m a liberal, but notna fool.” Siskel would have difficultynwith such a self-assessment:nreality would always shownthe reverse. He has not yet noticednthat nowadays the Hefners,nGucciones and Flynts arenthe establishment, and it wouldntherefore be rather useless tonchallenge them by way of fornication.nOh, Siskel, Siskel…nThe Banality of EvilnWe once heard with horror accountsnfrom survivors and witnessesnof the Holocaust aboutnthe nazi henchman at Auschwitz,nwho, after slaughteringncountless Jews, went home, atenhis sauerbraten, played a wistfulnLiederon the piano and lovinglynfondled his flaxen-haired children,nfully at peace with himself.nHannah Arendt, in a dazzlingnmetaphor, termed it thenbanality of evil, and we all—thatnis, people of good will and Judeo-Christiannheritage—knewnthat it symbolized the heart ofndarkness of our time, and wencursed this century which producednsuch an utter devaluationnof humanness. Now Dial Pressnhas published, the Los AngelesnTimes Syndicate has distributednand the Chicago Tribune has excerptedna book entitled EasynStreet, by a certain Susan Herman.nShe is identified by thenTribune as a “journalist,” andnshe happens to be the daughternof one Davie Herman, gangsternand mobster, associate of MeyernLansky and assorted Mafiangreats, member of the most viciousnof all underworld outfits—nMurder, Inc.. In her book, Ms.nHerman traces her father’s past.nOne of his pals tells her;nSusie, only you are left now.nMaybe someday you cannmake the world understandnthat your father Davie wasna good man who acted outnof the most basic desire, tonsee his family continue andnsurvive.nAnd immediately she gives usnthe rationale for her literary mis-nI intend to try.nInterviewed by a reporter, Ms.nHerman demonstrates some ofnthe intricate moral gymnasticsnwhich are so en vogue in thenpsychoanalytic ethics of modernnjournalism:nI have no evidence that mynfather killed or ordered killings,nbut I assume he did.nThat was the business henwas in, and it horrifies me.nBut I can only deal with thatnby knowing that those werenthe choices he felt he had tonmake.nWhat’s the difference betweennMs. Herman and the GermannHausfrau of the 1940’s, whonalways asked her husband tonwash his hands after workingnwith chemicals like Cyclon in thennngas chambers?nOur CancernNot long ago, a columnist forna Midwestern daily wrote:nOccasionally even those of usnwho are fervent FirstnAmendment supporters—nand who make our livings onnthe basis of the concept of anfree press—have to sit backnand wonder if certain thingsnshould be allowed to benpublished.nHe then proceeded with informationnabout the Paladin Press,na firm in Houlder, Coloradonwhich publishes how-to manualsnwith self-explanatory titles:nHow to Kill, Volumes I and II.nIts author, one John Minnery,nintroduces his subject this way:nThe object of this study is toninstruct the reader in thentechniques of taking anothernhuman life, up close, andndoingitwell. … [This book]nis completely contemptuousnof human life . . .nSomeone who goes by the namenof Peder C. Lund and who is thenpresident of the Paladin Pressncommented to the columnist:nI make no apologies for thenbooks. The author says in thenintroduction that he makesnno moral judgments aboutnwhat he writes, and neitherndo I. . . . We have sold betweenn30,000 and 40,000ncopies, not enough to getnspectacularly rich off of, butnenough for us to keep themnin print.nVillage Voice, the chief organnof New York style for the behavioralnleft, which has devoted thenlast 20 years to the annihilationnof any sense of moral norm, finallynmust have sniffed somethingnmorbidly odorous aroundnus. This is what a W film reviewernhad to say ‘about The Fan,n