Thursday, August 02, 2012

Gore Vidal e W. F. Buckley

Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr. Had Much in Common (New York Times):

Captured in a vintage black-and-white YouTube clip, the two can be seen and heard engaging in a nasty word brawl. Mr. Vidal pins the label “crypto-Nazi” on Buckley, who testily responds by calling Mr. Vidal a “queer.” The epithets were ugly then, as they are today. But what is most striking to the contemporary viewer is how much the combatants resemble each other, beginning with their languidly patrician tones. The phrases come from the gutter, but plainly Mr. Vidal and Buckley do not. They exude the princely confidence once associated with well-born Americans of a certain pedigree.
It is also not surprising to learn that for all their animosity, the two men shared a distinct set of attitudes. Both were born in 1925 and came of age at a time, just before Pearl Harbor, when the most pressing issue was whether America should intervene in World War II. National opinion was divided — as it would later be over different wars — but in this early instance these two men, though they hadn’t yet met, stood on the same side in their fierce opposition to American intervention and to the “establishment” that was urging it.
This may seem odd. But for all their East Coast social connections both came from families rooted in the heartland and its isolationist legacy. Mr. Vidal’s grandfather was a United States senator from Oklahoma. Buckley’s father was a Texan who made his fortune in oil. In their teens both men idolized Charles Lindbergh, the tribune of the antiwar America First Committee. 

Mr. Vidal helped organized the committee’s chapter at Exeter when he was a student there, and as late as 1998 he argued that Lindbergh had been tarred as a “pro-Nazi anti-Semite when he was no more than a classic Midwestern isolationist, reflective of a majority of the country.” Lindbergh, he added, was “the best that we are ever apt to produce in the hero line, American style.” 

Buckley agreed. “It takes great courage to give up what Lindbergh has and for this courage he has been called a fifth columnist,” he said in an oration delivered at his boarding school, Millbrook, in 1941, the same year Buckley attended a Lindbergh rally in Madison Square Garden. And like Mr. Vidal he continued to champion Lindbergh many years later. In “Saving the Queen,” Buckley’s first Blackford Oakes spy novel, published in 1976, he described Lindbergh as “the great advocate of the American peace.”

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