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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 21, 2013/ 10 Nissan, 5773

Mencken and me

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | A friend and critic here in Little Rock -- well, definitely a critic and I hope he's still a friend -- submitted a guest column not long ago reciting my many sins. (Whose sins are few?) And we were happy to run it on the op-ed page of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, which we like to think of Arkansas' Newspaper. It says so right on the front page. To cap off his encyclopedic review of my faults as an editor, columnist, gadfly and sorry excuse for a human being in general, our guest writer ended his philippic by comparing me to . . . H. L Mencken.

For that alone I am much indebted to my friend/critic, The Hon. Robert L. Brown, a now-retired justice of the state's Supreme Court. Modesty should forbid, but I can't help quoting from his climactic peroration:

"It will come as no surprise to anyone that Greenberg wants to stir the pot and sell newspapers. But in this fashion, he becomes a major purveyor of the rancor that afflicts this country, from Washington, D.C., to Little Rock. . . . In short, it is Paul Greenberg who is a major part of the problem, just as his mentor, H.L. Mencken, was when he reveled in describing Arkansas as a hillbilly backwater and did what he could to make Arkansas a laughingstock. He, too, sold newspapers."

My first impulse on reading that comparison was to clip it out, have it framed, and hang it on my office wall next to my Mencken Award from the Baltimore Sun back in the long-ago year 1987.

Imagine the likelihood of any contemporary columnist being ranked with the Sage of Baltimore himself. Henry Louis Mencken was a legend in his own time, even if he could no longer live up to it in his stroke-ridden old age.

But in his time, when he was writing about the Scopes Trial or Warren G. Harding's (awful) way with words, or almost anything else, Editor Mencken was the very personification of curmudgeonly journalism -- a national version of Arkansas' own still-lamented John Robert Starr. Even today, Mencken's best work, and so much of it was his best, never fails to inform, delight, provoke and cut to the quick. His prose might wound, but justifiably so.

What a contrast with today's limited choice of journalistic styles -- bland or hysterical, with precious little in between. It's enough to make you fear for the language, specifically The American Language, a subject to which Herr Dr. Mencken dedicated three volumes of his fascinated scrutiny. That brooding set of black-bound books now sits quiet as a coffin on my shelf, as if in mourning for the dismal state of the once-vibrant American lingo.

Since the death of Murray Kempton, and the premature loss of Christopher Hitchens, it's hard to think of an opinionator who so consistently offered the intricate satisfactions that Mencken did in the '20s and '30s. That was before his apoplectic self got the better of him and, stricken, he entered his long, dark Westbrook Pegler period.

Even then, the light would break through on isolated occasions, as when he covered the Progressive Party's national convention in 1948, which would nominate Henry Wallace, that poor dupe, for president. That convention would run the narrow gamut from mild pink to flaming Red.

Any year that had a Mencken, and any state that had him to dissect it, as Arkansas did in 1931, would seem fortunate indeed, however poor its people. By using Arkansas as the very symbol of miasmic backwardness, Baltimore's sage did us more than a literary service; he sought to awaken this state from its customary slumber. Unfortunately, he succeeded only in arousing our inferiority complex, which is still around, though in much vitiated form nowadays, thank goodness.

Back in 1931, our state legislature responded to H.L. Mencken's stringencies much as one would expect -- by passing an official resolution denouncing him. Instead of learning from his diagnosis, it condemned the diagnostician. It's called shooting the messenger.

The result was that here in darkest Arkansas, the Baltimore Sun's resident genius was generally dismissed as a damnyankee know-it-all. Even if, at the end of his most vitriolic attack on what remained of Southern culture in his time, "The Sahara of the Bozart," Mencken had to concede that the "Southerner at his worst is never quite the surly cad the Yankee is." Yet he was still labeled a South-hater by his critics below Mason-Dixon's Line.

Never mind that Herr Mencken was a Confederate from Maryland, My Maryland, and about as yankee as any other beer-drinking, cigar-loving, gemütlich Wagnerian -- and someone who was a lot closer to Jefferson Davis in his political sympathies than to Mr. Lincoln, a much too democratic figure for his Teutonic taste. Or as he himself put it, "For all I care the United States may be jolly well damned: I am its subject by historical necessity, not its citizen by choice." Could any unreconstructed Reb have put it more forcefully?

A similar anti-American jaundice runs through much of the world today, but, alas, without Brother Mencken's wit. Yes, an occasional Hollywood star may threaten to move out of the country after some presidential election turns out not to his taste, but that sort never does, more's the pity.

Ever since I learned that our legislators here in Arkansas had once passed a formal resolution denouncing H.L. Mencken, my not-so-secret ambition has been to win an official, certified, duly passed and recorded resolution of censure from the legislature. Instead, I get only a denunciation from a former justice of the state Supreme Court. Ah, well, a man has to settle for what he can get in this life.

Paul Greenberg Archives

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