Civil War to the Second World War innthose of Faulkner. That is to say,nMencken did not subjectivize thenAmerican scene, he recreated it —nexactly what every literary artist of thenfirst rank has always done, and alwaysnwill do.nIt is an inherent weakness of thenpresent anthology that Marion Rodgersnhas restricted herself to reprintingnthe material as Mencken wrote it fornoriginal publication in the BalhmorenEvening Sun, the Chicago SundaynTribune, the New York Evening Mail,nand the New York American, thoughnhe rewrote many of the best of thesenarticles for the Prejudices volumes,nwhere they achieved immortality.nMencken typically produced his newspaperncopy “at a gallop, mud-spattered,nhigh in oath” as William Manchesternremarked, then added a scattering ofnpencil marks to the first and only draftnbefore sending it along to the copyndesk. In a career that spanned nearlynhalf a century and added millions ofnwords to the national archives, he inevitablynwrote too much and too quickly,nso that reading through even this modestntome of seven hundred pages Inexperienced certain horrible momentsnwhen I felt that I really was encounteringnthe hollow thumping of Tyrrell’snprose. But Mencken at his best wasnwonderful, and there is enough goodnLIBERAL ARTSnBLOND BANTERnThough ethnic and racial jokes havenbeen purged from “correct” discourse,nblond jokes have reportedly proliferated.nAccording to a recent New York Timesnarticle by Dirk Johnson of Denver, thenbanished jokes have been recycled, substitutingnblonds for the previous targets.nSome sociologists interpret this phenomenonnto be a backlash againstnWASP culture, since blonds are usuallynCaucasians of Northern European descent.nBut as Johnson concludes, nonone is rushing to their defense sincenthey are “not a class of people that hasnknown much discrimination in thisncountry.” As Denver radio show hostnMike Rosen observes, “blonds are not ancertified victim group,” so “jokes aboutnblonds can be told with relative impunity.”n28/CHRONICLESnwriting available here not only to makensampling it an invigorating experiencenbut to inspire new thoughts concerningna writer closely familiar to me sincenadolescence.nMencken remarked in the I920’s,nwhen the New York Times wasncalling him the most influential privatencitizen in America, that should it evernbecome apparent to him that he hadnsomehow produced an eflFect upon hisnday he would jump through the nearestnwindow. He was not, he liked to insistndemurely, a constructive critic: whatnwould he have said to the propositionnthat he was a genuine Americannprophet! We need of course not worrynabout what he would have said, sincenhe is an Angel of Gawd now andnknows better. But the man who —nagain in the 20’s — predicted formallynthat the United States would blow upnin a hundred years deserves respectntoday, even if his forecast was a littlenofiF; for once, it appears, he let downnhis guard and a spirit of uncharacteristicnoptimism seized him. Because thenUnited States has already blown up;nseventy years after Mencken’s prophecy,nwe are surviving more or less miserablynbeneath the rubble.nAn astonishing number of the evilsnof Mencken’s own time, carefully notednand helpfully set down by him, arenwith us today in a form that is morenhighly developed still, and hence morenvirulent. I offer a few examples of hisnprophetic powers:nOn the future of the UnitednStates of America: “Either wenmust soon see the gloriousnshores of Utopia, or the wholenargosy will be wrecked.” (1936)nOn the future of Americanndemocracy: “[Judicious men]nwarned that giving the vote tonincompetent, despairing andnenvious people would breedndemagogues to rouse and rallynthem, and that the wholendemocratic process would thusnbe converted into organizednpillage and rapine.” (1940)nOn the Democratic Party:n”The plain fact is that thenDemocratic party is scarcely anparty at all, but simply a loosenfederation of discordantnminorities, chiefly devoted tonnncivil war.” (1928)nOn class in America:n”. . . Americans of one classnseldom know anything aboutnAmericans of other classes.”n(1928)nOn American idealism:n”There was a time when thenAmerican citizen was an idealistnhimself Now he is onlynidealism’s raw material, as ancow is the raw material ofnbutter, ice-cream, and custardnpie.” (1925)nOn government regulation ofnthe citizenry: “The ideal willnnot be reached until the lawsnare wholly transcendental andnunobeyable . . . until a mannmay commit just as manyncrimes when he is at home innbed, with his car in deadnstorage, as he now commitsnevery time he passes the cornernof Baltimore and CharlesnStreets. Such is the dream ofngendarmerie. Such is humannidealism.” (1925)nOn the American globalistnimpulse: “[Henry Ford] insistsnupon . . . laying downnlaws … for the governmentnof . . . natural inhabitants [ofnforeign countries]. This is whatnEurope understands bynAmericanism, bynAmericanization. And this isnwhat it fears.” (1925)nOn the woman of tomorrow:n”Once women have thenpolitical power to obtain theirnjust rights, they will begin tonlose their old power to obtainnspecial privileges by emotionalnappeals. Men, facing themnsquarely at last, will considernthem anew, not as romanticnpolitical and social invalids, tonbe coddled and caressed, but asnfree competitors in a harsh andnabominable worid.” (1918)nOn Abraham Lincoln: “[H]enhas become one of the nationalndeities, and a realisticnexamination of him is thus nonlonger possible.” (1931)nOn jazz: “It might’justnas well be made by anmachine . . . some day, Insuppose, the experiment of sonmaking it will be tried.” (1934)n