Fuck the pope. This is what I call sacrilege:
Every September, on the Saturday closest to the great curmudgeon's 9/12 birthday, this city makes a fuss over the iconoclastic newspaperman and author whom the New York Times called "the most powerful private citizen in America."
Festivities this year included a droll Mencken Day lecture by Christopher Hitchens at the Enoch Pratt Library, a talk by author Marion Rodgers, whose Mencken: The American Iconoclast (Oxford) now ranks as the definitive biography, and a Peabody Library exhibition.
Hitchens’ wrote about Mencken back in 2000 or thereabouts, implying that he was a fascist and suggesting an underlying similarity with Evelyn Waugh. How contrarian. It seems to me that the salient part of Mencken’s political legacy now is his opposition to American wars, his support for American civil liberties, his forceful critique of patriotism as the first refuge of the idiot and his more or less constant lampooning of religion. His opinions then translate pretty straightforwardly into the current libertarian critique of the war on terror.
For these reasons, we don’t hear much about him from the US rightwing these days; and the left have been traditionally at odds with his social Darwinism and his laissez-faire economics. But surely they could have got someone better than Hitchens. That’s just pissing in a dead man’s shoes.