Medford Evans once said about “Gone With the Wind” that it “is not specifically Southern; it is a world book. And it is a world book mainly because Scarlett is Everywoman, in whom every woman recognizes herself, and every man recognizes something dangerous and marvelous.”
In her new book, “Broad Sides,” Ilana Mercer is Scarlett O’Hara reincarnated with an intellect. She is dangerous and marvelous. She takes on today’s corrupted establishment the way Scarlett took on the marauding Yankee soldier climbing the stairs at Tara to have his way with her. Scarlett impudently unloaded a pistol into the Yankee’s face, and Ms. Mercer does the same to our collectivist establishment today. Her prose style is .44-caliber Magnum force. Her insights are like silver bullets.
Here is just a taste of that style:
Our society revels in a drunken orgy of self-indulgence and self-abasement. We live in an era in which all rational standards are mocked and dismissed as irrelevant and impotent. The quest for moral reputation has been supplanted by an obsession for instant notoriety – a ferocious competition in attention-seeking that elevates shameless degenerates.
‘Reality’ TV lifts from well-deserved obscurity a procession of vacuous narcissists who flaunt their neuroses and intimacies before millions of video voyeurs, themselves desperate to fill dull mornings and empty evenings with the solace of vicarious titillation.
The paramount need in modern America is to find our way back to that hierarchy of values that all great, free cultures must possess if they are to remain great and free. America once radiated such a hierarchy because we as a people understood what Jefferson meant by “a natural aristocracy among men composed of virtues and talents.”
In our national youth – before liberalism dumbed us down to the mediocrity and mendacity of egalitarianism – we were not afraid to accept the obvious realities of the world. We did not flinch in face of the fact that cultures are not equal. We were not afraid to pass judgment on the moral vacuity of certain ways of life. In this wide-ranging series of essays, Ms. Mercer brings us back to Jefferson. She passes judgment, and it is marvelous.
“Broad Sides” cuts a vibrant swath across the tyrannical shams of modernity – from creeping statism at home, to Pax Americana abroad, to the insanity of open borders, the myth of Rousseau’s “Noble Savage,” and the “boundless ignorance” of the neoconservatives masquerading as America’s champions. Ms. Mercer enlightens us as to what is needed if we as a nation are to reverse our miasmic slide into the decadence that has, this past century, been consuming our lives like crack cocaine swallows up a ghetto.
Mercer shows us that freedom and virtue are companions, that a free people do not need to be a trashy people. America was meant to be a land of libertarian politics and traditional values. The Founders’ legacy was about precisely such a combination. Mercer’s scintillating mind offers us a vision of that legacy again and says to us that it is not dead, that if we in America wish to regain our high-minded form of freedom, all we need is to hearken back to the philosophy of Jefferson and Madison.
Such a philosophy is not ephemeral; it is eternal. Today’s computerized world needs a hierarchy of values taught to its young just as Jefferson’s world did. That the liberals bamboozled three generations of intellectuals into the madness of relativism is our most nefarious crime. It is here at the level of basic values that the battle must be waged. Mercer comes armed with Excalibur to show us how and why.
Margaret Mitchell created one of the great literary heroines of all time in Scarlett O’Hara. There was a spirit about her that stood up to the bumptious idiocy and cruelty that life so often throws at us. Scarlett did not know how to back down. That, more than her beauty, was why men found her so appealing. That is the kind of spirit that permeates this book.
Ilana Mercer’s intellect, like Scarlett’s spirit, does not back down from the unsettling truths of life and the debauchery that we have made of it today. “Broad Sides” is a dangerous and marvelous book. It will threaten the oleaginous elites of Washington and enthrall bedrock Americans in the heartland.
Nelson Hultberg is a freelance writer in Dallas, Texas, and the executive director of Americans for a Free Republic. His articles have appeared in such publications as the Dallas Morning News, Insight, The Freeman, Liberty and The Social Critic, as well as on numerous Internet sites.