A thoughtful article at The Wall Street Journal.
Some Chicago Boyz know each other from student days at the University of Chicago. Others are Chicago boys in spirit. The blog name is also intended as a good-humored gesture of admiration for distinguished Chicago School economists and fellow travelers.
18 thoughts on “Aunt Sally versus Huck Finn”
As always, Liberty vs. Security (or Equality, to slightly change the terms to make the historical comparisons more explicit).
It’s unfortunately clear that those advocating for Liberty are always and everywhere a minority. Note that you have to run away to the Territory, you can’t have it where you are. Relates to what I posted a little while back that the end of the frontier was the end of America.
His equating of Trump to the Territory is quite weak and forced.
I thought a better analogy was comparing the last presidential election to Bart Simpson versus Lisa Simpson.
I quit the Journal after 40 years. Is there an Outline version ?
Mike… I can’t tell if this is paywalled or not since I’m a subscriber…if the link doesn’t work for you, I guess it must be. Probably a free version will show up sooner or later.
In the meantime, some quotes:
America once again feels like “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” You remember that the book—sequel to the freckle-faced, sun-shot frolics of the Tom Sawyer version—shows the darker side: alcoholism, child abuse, murder, race hatred, blood feud, fraud, rural moronism. Twain’s 19th-century masterpiece feels fairly contemporary in the 21st. Naturally, school boards keep banning it.
At the end of the story, Huck has a choice between the genteel oppressions of Aunt Sally (big government, in effect, and the suffocations and soul-killing pieties of cultural correctness: “sivilization”) and the bracing anarchy of the Territory. Huck lights out for the Territory. Progressives opt for Aunt Sally—for the schoolmarm’s coercive niceness and the Chinese finger trap of “diversity.”
Trumpism is the 21st century’s Territory, where anything can happen, some of it crooked and sordid, no doubt. This is where scams occur and masculinity is “toxic” and men mansplain and tell lies and fall into unmade beds with dance-hall girls but nonetheless enact a drama that feels, to them, like freedom.
Long ago, in the 1960s, the dissident young lit out for the Territory, telling themselves they were wild and free. By and by, they gained weight, turned gray and commenced to impose their cultural whims upon everyone else. The former Hucks converted U.S. universities, for example, entirely to the regime of Aunt Sally. They now preside over the worst of dogmatic petit-bourgeois correctness: hordes of diversity bureaucrats, invidious quotas, discretionary pronouns, safe spaces and other oppressions. If the Democrats do not purge Aunt Sally from their program—if they don’t manage to lure Huck, who is the real American energy, back from the Territory—then they are going to lose the 2020 election. (But we cannot look that far ahead, of course; Robert Mueller has yet to weigh in.)
For the WSJ (and many other sites), you can cut and paste the first sentence of the article, put it in google, search for it, and the first or second return will be a non-paywalled version of the story.
Reliable paywall workaround.
“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” You remember that the book—sequel to the freckle-faced, sun-shot frolics of the Tom Sawyer version—shows the darker side: alcoholism, child abuse, murder, race hatred, blood feud, fraud, rural moronism
The WSJ article must have been written by an Ivy League graduate — i.e., some Far Leftist too Europhiliac ever to have read hick American trash like ‘Tom Sawyer’ — remember, the story that revolves around a murder?
And Huckleberry Finn shows the dark side of America — a white boy helping a slave to escape?
Like Mike K, I gave up the WSJ some years ago, when it went over to the Dark Side. Damn! There is another cultural reference to another piece of hick American trash. It is so hard to keep one’s Davoise credentials gleaming.
Brian, thanks for the tip.
It’s been 55 +- years since I’ve read Huck Finn (!) so perhaps I’m wrong (or perhaps I’m just too sensitive about personal freedom) when I comment that “Ken Kisey’s (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) character Nurse Ratchet is a better metaphor for the elite class controlling people. Certainly H.R.Clinton made that (Nurse Ratchet) impression on many of us in fly-over country. Extending the idea, perhaps Trump is McMurphy. I suppose one has to actively rebel before “Aunt Mary (Polly?)” turns into “Nurse Ratchet”.
Last line says it best:”Mr. Morrow, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, is a former essayist for Time.”
Despite mangling his analogies more thoroughly than I could with a hundred ton press, he gets it wrong from the beginning. Binary stars eventually spiral into each other. Clemens saw Huck as himself.
Just another, “You all just sit back and let us adults handle this.”.
I did read the “Investor Village” version.
Naturally, its Trump’s fault.
I prefer this version.
And it brings me to the two elephants that loiter about the room whenever the discussion turns to Trump’s character and fitness for office. The first elephant is named Hillary Clinton. Jonah has been a staunch critic of Hillary Clinton. Bravo for that. But I believe I am correct in saying that confronted with the choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump he abstained from voting for either. To me, although I too live in a place where Republican votes do not count, the choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was an existential, a moral choice—a choice, if you like, that turned upon the character of the two candidates.
And he is keeping his promises in spite of the furious”:resistance” of the Aunt Pollys of the world.
Not sure why this piece is being perceived as primarily anti-Trump. The headline is “Save America from Aunt Sally,” not “Save America from Huck Finn.” Quotes include:
“Progressives opt for Aunt Sally—for the schoolmarm’s coercive niceness and the Chinese finger trap of “diversity.”:
“The former Hucks converted U.S. universities, for example, entirely to the regime of Aunt Sally. They now preside over the worst of dogmatic petit-bourgeois correctness: hordes of diversity bureaucrats, invidious quotas, discretionary pronouns, safe spaces and other oppressions”
“What worries me now is the progressives’ blindness to their own imperfections. Aunt Sally is always stiflingly right, and Huck, at his best a shrewd and deeply moral deplorable, won’t have her.”
Not sure why this piece is being perceived as primarily anti-Trump.
But a binary system will break up if the two stars fly too far apart—if their mutual gravity (or, by analogy, their deeper community as a nation—Lincoln’s “mystic chords”) cannot hold them in tension. Then someone fires on Fort Sumter. That’s the tendency of things now: President Trump’s first two years have unfolded as a drama of cultural secession.
“Can’t we just all, get along ?”
Mike, I don’t read the comment about “president Trump’s first two years” as being anti-Trump….the “cultural secession” (and, to a considerable extent, attempted legal secession) has been largely on the Left.
I see your point but I think it is unclear. The usual complaint on the left is that the right is too “extreme” as the left pushes gender reassignment on five year olds.
Good column today in, of all places, The Sacramento Bee.
For all of Trump’s belligerence and braggadocio, you never hear him talk about Americans as “takers” the way Romney did. Instead, as historian and columnist Victor Davis Hanson points out, Trump regularly uses the first-person plural possessive: “our” miners, “our” farmers, “our” vets, and “our” workers.
As Roger Kimball noted at American Greatness the other day, anticipating Romney’s criticism of the president: “I don’t know anyone who voted for Donald Trump, or who later came to support him, because he thought the president was a candidate for sainthood. On the contrary, people supported him, first, because of what he promised to do and, second, because of what, over the past two years, he has accomplished.”
Tucker Carlson makes the same point in a video. We did not elect Trump because of his personality and we wanted a disrupter.
@David – yes – paywalled although I subscribe to it too. I think that the Journal, particularly the back of the first section with all the op-eds – is the only paper worth reading any more.
Something that I have wondered – I have copied some of their op-eds in my own posts – do they mind if we do that?
Or is it nebulous?
My thinking is that if we don’t copy everything verbatim and add some of our own content it should be OK?
“Tucker Carlson makes the same point in a video. We did not elect Trump because of his personality and we wanted a disrupter.”
Right on. Although I also get the feeling that people wanted a nationalist instead of yet another globalist.
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