The post-election issue of conservative rag National Review has nothing about Barack Obama's victory, having gone to press before this past week's election. This is a pity, but flipping through the print version of the venerable publication, you'll find some truly noxious points-of-view, the kinds of things NR doesn't trot out on its ever popular blog, The Corner. So it is with cultural critic Jay Nordlinger, who has decided that liberal "hissing" is a feature of the enemy.If you're not familiar with Nordlinger's usual anti-liberal ravings, you're missing the writings of an insane genius. Nordlinger believes liberals are something akin to the devil, and usually accuses them of being in league with Castro, Stalin or worse. And if you don't condemn atrocities constantly years after the fact like he does, you just don't care enough. (By the way, this is the guy who spends most of his time reviewing classical music for NR and other publications.) In this winning harangue against the liberal practice of hissing while in an audience, he fires one shell, over and over again:
For example, it is common on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, where I live, and where I saw the preview for W. Hissing, wherever it takes place, is always, or almost always, hateful. It is sinister, menacing, sneaky, insidious. (Note how those words sound like hissing itself.) It is sort of anonymous, hiding itself, rather than being out in the open. I like what another reader — not from Gilbert — wrote me: “Hissing is underhanded, and it expresses disapproval without accountability. People can hiss with their lips and jaws in a neutral position — and they can drown out that which is disapproved while obscuring the source."
This cultural note is finely constructed — it cannot possibly be refuted, as anecdotal as it is, and it is the perfect brush with which he can paint different types of people. Nordlinger goes on to employ his favorite practice: he attributes acts to people who never committed them:
One time, on the Upper West Side, there was no hissing — like the dog not barking. And it was so remarkable, I wrote about it in my NRO column, on June 24, 2002. An ad for the Marines came on before a movie. My stomach tightened: Uh-oh. And no one hissed. There was not so much as the beginning of an ess. I wrote that this showed something different about the culture, for surely they would have hissed pre-9/11. The non-hissing took place more than six years ago, of course. What would the Marines bring today?
You see? Liberals hate the military, and worse, they've won't even own up to their hatred.. They just sit, sniveling onlookers. Considering that's what Nordlinger and his magazine are about to be, it's a little ironic. Don't you think? I apologize for subjecting you to more of this, but someone once hissed Jay Nordlinger:
I myself have been hissed a number of times — and not just when speaking about politics. I was hissed at the Salzburg Festival once! What happened was this: I was conducting a public interview of a famous singer, and I mentioned what had happened to song recitals: Everyone had to have a “theme” now, rather than a mixed program. “You know, you have songs to texts of Rilke, or songs about water, or songs by left-handed Hispanics.” Most people laughed or chuckled — including the interviewee — but one woman (I think it was a woman, somehow) hissed. I have never forgotten that hiss: It cut through the general appreciation and good feeling like a knife.
Everyone thought it was hilarious, Jay. Everyone.