By David Beilstein
STANLEY CROUCH has fallen into a river of pong, dirtying his shoes and slacks. A strong mentor of mine; a magical Negro who used to run contrary to talking points and conventional butter, has become what he once railed against the most. Thus, the former contrarian and outspoken Jazz critic recently wrote in his Daily News column,
This has been a phenomenal year of bittersweet gifts. We had extremely good luck in the election for the presidency, a waking and roaring of the American public beyond the inevitable hustle of “diversity” foisted on the nation by special-interest groups. We are moving — firmly and finally — toward actual awareness of the untapped value of men and women of all backgrounds and faiths.
Previously, concerning the Benghazi debacle, Crouch wrote in defence of Ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice,
Last week, Rice withdrew herself from consideration to follow in Hillary Clinton’s steps at the State Department. It was clear that the relentless Republican attacks had taken their toll — all the ugly statements and insinuations by Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
Can’t presume attacks levelled at Susan Rice were because of the ambassador’s incompetence? A point, it seems, Crouch would have made less than a decade ago. Of Crouch’s recent orbit, critical thinking means rehearsing leftist talking points, assuming the need for big government solutions, despite those solutions accelerating cultural and governmental deterioration. Crouch, then, used to be a celebrated contrarian. A deserved reputation. He was more than fun to read and wise beyond reckoning. Some time north of January 2009, however, the former bull in the proverbial china shop turned his back on such rough, honorary seas – becoming the worst snake-oil-salesmen for statist agitprop. Having met Stanley Crouch through his social criticism sometime before 2004, I had also watched him exercise his hardware on cable television shows. I found him more than profound and miles ahead when it came to race issues in modern America. His aesthetic was a healthy high-brow classical liberal-esque argument for culture and artistic accomplishment. Crouch called beautiful things beautiful, called foul things a stench – beat down pretenders and praised innovators on the regular.
Crouch, 67, was a prominent interviewee in Ken Burns’ documentary on heavyweight champion Jack Johnson. The documentary dramatised Johnson as a champion in style and persona – a brunette in a blonde town – who demanded to be treated a free man regardless of the circumscribed notions of “freedom” Johnson’s enemies and an America of racist hubris demanded imprison him. In times past Crouch’s perspectives ran refreshingly contrary to the leftist zip coon ‘Afro-nationalist’ dance proffered by charlatan Spike Lee, and Princeton funny man Dr Cornell West. But his views also diverged from much the stale, so-called conservative views on race, or more often than not, but rebarbative rainbow panegyrics.
Therefore, Crouch once reached back, aesthetically, to lyrical thinkers Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray. All three negroes ridiculed idols of the progressive establishment – rebuking social science witchcraft and its weaknesses; weaknesses caused by government as lord and saviour overreach, increasing government reach and intrusion without the ability to comprehend humanity’s vagaries. Alas, the Crouch mantra became: if it’s true, it’s true – no matter where it comes from; no matter the colour, no matter how much truth hurts those in power.
But then came the consequence of eight years of President George W Bush and the fatigue arising out those times. Called Bush derangement syndrome, it reached the mightiest ebb and flow toward 2007-2008, at the end of Dubya’s second term. The odorous malodour of the religious right and cultural “conservatives” hot air seemed the proper perch for Crouch to leap off the mesa of critical thought – divesting himself of rational thinking because of folks Crouch rightly said were “unable to live in modern life.”
The ancients realised two wrongs do not make a right. Though a religious citizen of devoted passion, I too find the political aspect of the religious right outside any notion of a serious classical liberalism enriching and animating the separation of powers within the enumerated parameters of the U.S. Constitution. In fact, I think the religious right has helped grow government. By supporting candidates who have enabled bigger government by being early 20th century progressives; or who become so whacky to average American voters because of their “Christian” cultural uniformity, cannot win elections – thus hardcore statists win those elections instead.
It is a sure thing part of Crouch’s descent into madness is in reaction to such developments calling itself “conservative.” The cultural uniformity religious righters’ desire to impose upon a liberal nation in the classical sense is strangely divergent from the Renaissance/Enlightenment DNA giving parturition to America. If more religious conservatives understood firmly the otherworldliness – or better yet – the secular life Christianity inherently realises itself such cultural/political misdirection could be avoided. It will not be happening soon. We are a country of noise, not serious reflection.
But Crouch is smarter than the average American. If anything atrophies culture and limits the discoveries and developments of human endeavours it is an increasing, aggressive administrative state – a big government run amok. An institution, as it were, Crouch – for all his past magniloquence – has become a shill for. Crouch pounds lectern for policies considered broadly, impoverish financial, artistic, and humane, human intercourse on various levels. Such as it is, a government eating up ungodly amounts of individual wealth, the result of individual market productivity (which is the basis for healthy, wealth creation), creates broader and more severe forms of market dislocation.
Crouch is wilfully blind to big government’s impoverishment of America. It’s gotten too personal for him. For whatever reason, Crouch has forgotten there is larger more sturdy opposition to what is going on in America besides the Republican Party. The GOP is impossible to swallow in a lot of ways. But just because the Republicans are bad does not make the Democrats good – such would be a false dilemma fallacy. There is no way around. Crouch now must defend medircrity for the first time in his career sense giving up the dirge of black nationalism 30 some odd years ago. Crouch must support Obama’s do-over-man dance; the failure and impoverishment of the nation based upon inept policies.
That’s a difficult place (or used to be) for Crouch to be in. Strangely, going back decades, Barack Obama’s style of politics and beliefs were the target of Crouch’s most salient animus. The Jazz writer scored early and often, countering progressive do-gooderism with vengeance. He was combative, writing truth in a highly personal, iconoclastic way. Sadly, Crouch has now sold out. He defends the indefensible; something neither honest, nor sincere.