P.J. O' Rourke dead at 74

It’s been a long time since I read it (IIRC it was anthologised in “Holidays in Hell”) but that excerpt certainly reflects his attitude – informed by the Libertarianism he embraced – that everyone is a self-interested bigot, that it’s a saving grace to be honest about being a bigot, and that it’s pointless and ridiculous to try to change any system predicated on bigotry. It’s not so much that he approves of apartheid but that he wants the reader to accept that it’s just the way things are in this dog-ear-dog world and at least they’re open about it (unlike those silly American activists with their useless boycotts and demonstrations and songs about not playing Sun City).

It’s all there in that excerpt if you read it carefully, and based on what I know about him I doubt he says anything in the essay that would lead one to another interpretation. So yes, it is very interesting that you miss the points he’s really making.

As with many privileged white guys, especially ones who enable racists rather than put on the white sheet and pointed hat, it’s easy to joke about the absurdity of it. I recognise the absurdity of racism and laugh about it as well, but after I do that my response isn’t to just shrug it off.

9 Likes

Okay, maybe my favorite typo of the day. Now all I can picture is dog-eared copies of his writings, with notes scribbled in the margins about how wrong he was about so many things.
In this dog-ear-dog world, librarians are hurling well-read books at each other!

10 Likes

I’ll refrain from my usual correction just for you!

6 Likes

This is a good time to remember that those “indignant demonstrations” helped end Apartheid even though the Reagan administration that O’Rourke so venerated was an ally and supporter of the racist South African regime.

14 Likes

13 Likes

Is it really satire when you keep earnestly writing it, everyone has to explain it to people, and it isn’t funny?

13 Likes

You see, @artbrau… see how far this has gone? You made us drag a poor little water bear into this.

6 Likes

You don’t shrug it off and neither do I. I don’t assume P.J. did (but I can’t know). As my quote shows, he was perfectly aware of systemic racism but he did write humor pieces. He was not Upton Sinclair.

Having read more of his writing, apparently more extensively and more in context with his stated ideological worldview than his supposed fans do, I’m very comfortable doing so.

He was indeed a satirist, a very clever and often funny one, but he was also the kind of conservative one who wasn’t really interested in effecting any real change in the Swiftian mode. Even Mencken, to whom he fancied himself the literary heir and who was problematic in his own way, occasionally did try to effect real change with his work. O’Rourke was content to sit back and support neoliberalism and its twisted view of humanity as the default and profit off its spectacle as a supposedly disinterested observer.

10 Likes

Yeah. I know. Without the heretics life would be so boring, eh? I’m not a big commenter but I weighed in because I have read a number of P.J.s books and I quite liked them. If it helps, the troglodytes on gettr think I’m a communist.

1 Like

But is he a heretic to the people on gttr?

6 Likes

I dont think anyone here especially cares about YOU. It’s the shite you’re shoveling that matters, not the shoveler.

10 Likes

Congratulations on being to the left of the Nazis you hang out with…? :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

13 Likes

A funny, witty, amusing, charming, charismatic asshole is still an asshole.

History owed nothing to the dead but the truth.

And I’m sure PJ’s own reaction to this sort of thing would be “why are you holding up that asshole as an example of anything?”

7 Likes

It’s no great distinction to be called a Communist by fascists. They consider George W. Bush to be a pinko. That’s one of the many reasons that joining and participating in their forums is the act of a fool (at best).

7 Likes

So you hang out on a Neo-Nazi propaganda site.

John Cleese Reaction GIF

12 Likes

everybody is a hypocrite about something

most people are hypocrites about most things

denouncing hypocrisy is the cheapest and easiest way to “both sides” everything, since we see it everywhere we look

9 Likes

I think some clarification is needed on racism in practice.

You see, it’s not a matter of “balancing the scales”, like this man did enough non-racist things to cancel out the racist things.

In reality, it’s more like “toe-ing the line”, where one is seen to have either crossed that line or not. Once you go there, it’s mighty, mighty hard to scrabble your way back into innocence.

9 Likes

You’d think that PJ – with his razor-sharp wit, control of the English language, and apparent wish to change the world – would have picked up on how it was the conservatives (emboldened) who embraced him. Of course, he knew… and, given that, the kindest thing one could say about it? He simply went with the kind of satire that paid off for him, and perhaps without much if any effect on his conscience.

7 Likes

P.J. O’Rourke’s stuff was among the funniest stuff in the National Lampoon. And if you disagree I’ll shot this dog.