The Hundredth Meridianrnby Chilton Williamson, Jr.rnThe View From Out HerernTliere is a stor^’ about the man who surprisedrnanother man in bed with his wife.rn”What did you do about it?” his friendrndemanded. “Hell,” replied the fellow inrndisgust, “the sonofabitch lied his wav outrnof it!”rnMy inclination, on this 1 Sth day ofrnFebruary 1999, is to take the anecdote asrna parable about the government of thernUnited States, William Jefferson Clinton,rnand the American Republic, in thatrnorder; the only problem I can see withrnthis interpretation being that the originalrnstory is, to use the words of the President’srnmen over the last few months,rn”just about sex,” while the parable has torndo —in a wav the 13 House managersrnwould understand—with several millenniarnof Western political theory. Likernmost of my journalistic colleagues withrnwhom I’m acquainted, I spent 13rnmonths dismissing people whose first—rnand often last—question in any conversationrnwas “When is he going to resign?”rnwith a little of the impatience I used tornfeel when Easterners with an interest inrnAmerican regional politics sought to discoverrnfrom me when the Western statesrnwere going to secede finally from thernUnion (as if I’d know!).rnI still don’t believe that the fate of thernUnited States hangs on Bill Clinton’s goingrnor staying, just as I still don’t believernin the likelihood of Western secession.rnBut since the constitutional “crisis” (nornmore acute in itself than a quadrennialrnnational election), I have to admit thatrnthe Western landscape —this vast, open,rnglorious, and gloriously inhospitable spaciousness,rnthis metaphysical openingrnaway to the region of the gods—has newrnmeaning for me in a “civilization” (sincerntermites are allowed to have civilizations,rntoo) in which the constriction of mentalrnspace leads to a felt lack of physical spacernas the end of consciousness approaches,rnheralding the end of truth. “Wliy, this isrnHell, nor am I out of it,” Mephi.stophelesrntells Faust in the play by Marlowe. Doesrnthe current economic prosperity reallyrnconvince Americans they’ve arrived inrnthe Promised Land? There is a terriblernstory in one of Orwell’s essa}s where arnwasp the humane author has snipped inrntwo at the waist as it dines on stravvberr)’rnjam realizes the terrible thing that hasrnhappened to it only when it tries to flyrnaway. If the Lewinskiad has taught mernnothing more, it is that the countn’ I wasrnborn into and grew up in no longer exists,rnthat an evil facsimile or shadowrncountry has taken its place. In order tornbe loved, Burke said, our countr’ mustrnbe lovely. And more and more, it seemsrnto me, the American land—the shrinkingrnlittle that has not yet been destroyedrnin order to “develop” it, that is—is all thatrnremains to be loved of this once gloriousrnAmerica.rnOf course, we are told bv our governmentrnleaders and opinion-makers thatrnDestruction is actually Progress, but arnfew of us —a remnant which is alsornshrinking—know better. When wordsrnlose their meanings, people lose theirrnfreedom, Orwell warned. And Unamimornreminds us that Progress, beingrnthe result of the Fall, is only the best manrncarr hope for in this life. (But why am Irnquoting Burke, Orwell, and Unamuno?rnThey aren’t taught in the schools anymore,rnand continuing, adult educationrn—”Education is Forever!” —meansrnthat their books are removed from thernpublishers’ warehouses, owing to arncretinous decision some years ago by thernIRS, pulped, and rerolled into soiledlookingrngray paper marked RECYCLEDrnand used by pollutive utility companiesrnto bill their customers with.)rnTerrifying as the 20th century was, thern21st promises to be more terrible still.rnThe impeachment fiasco may havernbeen nothing in itself, while histon,’ conceivablyrnwill record that Bill Clinton wasrnno more than town trash from a staternwhose name is rumored to be an old Indianrnword for trailer park. (LJnfairly, perhaps,rnthe Duke and the Dolphin havingrnbeen natural aristocrats by comparisonrnwith much of what proceeds fromrnArkansas to the District of Columbiarnnowadays.) If not the proximate cause,rnthe impeachment fiasco amounted certainlyrnto a critical demonstration of thernextent to which the mania for diversityrnhas degenerated into demonic divisivenessrnand a vicious, quite literally insanernhatred of the type whose emergencernthroughout history has consistently precededrnpolitical and social catastrophe. Irndoubt seriously that anyone—in particular,rnanyone happening to be male, white,rnof European extraction. Christian, andrnanti-“progressive”—who listened to thernfloor debates on the four Articles of Impeachmentrnin the House of Representativesrnheard the procession of so-calledrnNew Democrats (blacks, Hispanics, feminists,rnsecular Jews, a few Muslims probably)rnto the microphone without perceivingrnthat here was the new Americarnspeaking: glowering, ranting, raging,rnthreatening, foaming at the mouth onrnbehalf of the aggravated, aggrieved, indulged,rnprecivilized, barbaric, and unsexedrn”minorities” that together lack—rnfor the time being, anyway —thernmajority status to send the rest of us packingrnto the concentration camps they sornevidently believe to be our historicallyrndetermined and niueh-deserved end.rn”All right: we are two nations,” John DosrnPassos wrote in the 1930’s. Two nationsrn—only two? Today, we probablyrnamount to about a dozen of them, thanksrnto imperialism, the global economy,rnmulticulturalism, and the nearly openrnimmigration policies that produced it. Isrnthe eoimtry already in a state of civil war,rnwhich the cultural war has so oftenrnseemed to adumbrate? No, because thernnation (it seems quixotic to call the UnitedrnStates a “union” anymore) is dividedrnalong fault lines separating class fromrnclass, race from race, men from women,rnand sodomites from heterosexual couplesrnproducing and nourishing childrenrncreated in tire image of God —not geographicrnor regional boundaries. HowrnMAY 1999/49rnrnrn