Remembering Gore Vidal

August 4th, 2012

Published on The Peoples Voice, by Stephen Lendman, August 2, 2012. (Find Stephen Lendman also on World People’s Blog).

Many labels characterize him: distinguished author, essayist, playwright, historian, acerbic sociopolitical/cultural critic, freethinker, intellectual, and humanist.

In 2009, the American Humanist Association (AHA) named him honorary president.

On July 31, Gore Vidal died from complications of pneumonia at his Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles home. 

He was 86. He’ll be missed. Los Angeles Times writer Elaine Woo called him a “gadfly on the national conscience” and “literary juggernaut.” He was that and much more … //

… He called himself “a born-again atheist. “Once people get hung up on theology, they’ve lost sanity forever,” he said. “More people have been killed in the name of Jesus Christ than any other name in the history of the world.”

He called monotheism “the greatest disaster ever to befall the human race.”

He said most people misunderstand the First Amendment’s “free exercise of religion” clause. “Yes, everyone has a right to worship any god he chooses,” but he does not have the right to impose his beliefs on others who do not happen to share” his views.

“This separation was absolute in our original republic.” It’s been misinterpreted and distorted. Extremists “got the phrase In God We Trust onto the currency, in direct violation of the First Amendment.”

In his essay titled “Shredding the Bill of Rights,” he wrote:

“It has always been a mark of American freedom that unlike countries under constant Napoleonic surveillance, we are not obliged to carry identification to show to curious officials and pushy police.”

“But now, due to Terrorism, every one of us is stopped at airports and obliged to show an ID which must include a mug shot (something, as Allah knows, no terrorist would ever dare fake).”

He said what too few others dared. He followed in the tradition of Henry James, Oscar Wilde, and Mark Twain, among others. He was one of America’s most astute chroniclers.

Friends said he combined an old-fashioned sense of honor and stubborn will to live as he pleased.

He said George Bush had advance knowledge of 9/11. Roosevelt knew about Japan’s planned Pearl Harbor attack.

Both men took full advantage. Timothy McVeigh was no more killer than Dwight Eisenhower, and America one day will be subservient to China. Characteristically he framed it as “The Yellow Man’s Burden.”

He was mainly self-educated. Classrooms bored him. He skipped college. He acquired wisdom on his own. He admired Montaigne, Italo Calvino, Henry James and Edith Wharton.

He called his conservative rival, William Buckley, a “cryptofascist.” He described The New York Times as the “Typhoid Mary of American journalism.”

He labeled Ronald Reagan “The Acting President.” He called his wife Nancy a social climber “born with a silver ladder in her hand.”

He openly criticized Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. He once called pro-Israeli ideologue/Commentary editor Norman Podhoretz and his journalist wife Midge Dector “Israeli Fifth Columnists.”

At the end, he was wheelchair bound. His mind and wit stayed sharp. He called style “knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.”

In 2009, he said America is “rotting away at a funereal pace. We’ll have a military dictatorship pretty soon, on the basis that nobody else can hold everything together.”

Reflecting on his accomplishments, he said “I just played the game harder.” He hoped to be remembered as “the person who wrote the best sentences of his time.” He thought of himself as a modern-day Voltaire.

He’s survived by his half-sister Nina Straight and half-brother Tommy Auchincloss. He’ll be sorely missed.
(full text).

Comments are closed.