While those around him scrupulously obey the superficial social conventions of the age, Rhett scoffs at his own disrepute and brashly invites scandal, as when he shocks Atlanta society by bidding $150 for the honor of dancing with the recently widowed Scarlett. And while Ashley is torn by doubt, Rhett is the embodiment of decisive certainty.Read the whole scandalous thing, which doesn't shy away from the accusations of raaaaacism that plague Gone With The Wind today -- the 70th anniversary of the film's premiere in my native Atlanta.
He has a way with the ladies, but Rhett is indisputably a man's man. When his blunt skepticism toward the South's prospects in the impending war enrages the touchy pride of his hosts in the drawing room at Twelve Oaks, Rhett is insulted by young Charles Hamilton, but declines the challenge. "I apologize again for all my shortcomings," Rhett says as he excuses himself. The hot-tempered Hamilton imputes this to cowardice -- "He refused to fight!" -- only to be informed by Ashley that Butler is a notoriously deadly duelist, "one of the best shots in the country."
In an agrarian antebellum society obsessed with the noble ideals of ancient chivalry, Rhett's attitudes are shockingly modern. He is a calculating capitalist, shamelessly professing his pursuit of self-interest. When Scarlett reproaches him for doubting the Confederate cause, Butler memorably retorts, "I believe in Rhett Butler. He's the only cause I know." . . .
Turner Classic Movies will show GWTW tonight at 8 p.m. ET. (You can read Washington Times film critic Gary Arnold's discussion of the TCM broadcast and the new 70th Anniversary Collector's DVD version.) Most media will either ignore this anniversary or else view it through a politically correct prism. ABC News airhead Ashley Hall managed to get Australian film-studies professor Deb Verhoeven to share this slice of feminist idiocy:
"Some people see the film and see an independent woman's struggle and her ultimate resilience and another person sitting next to them will see a terrible story about sexual subjugation."Although you need subjugating badly, Professor Verhoeven. That's what's wrong with you. You should be subjugated, and often, and by someone who knows how.
Rhett Butler's offenses to feminism are extreme -- and extremely ironic, considering that he was created by a quite modern career woman, Margaret Mitchell, who remains the best-selling female writer of all time. It's easy to imagine Rhett laughing at feminist accusations of misogyny, just as he would laugh at the accusation of racism.
Fear and Self-Loathing
Coincidentally enough, I had a long phone conversation yesterday with Juliette "Baldilocks" Ochieng, the Luo-American blogger who asked her white readers why they were so afraid of being labelled "racist," and was surprised by the response: Larry Summers' academic career was destroyed after he offended the feminists at Harvard, and then try to imagine what would have happened if he had similarly offended the racial grievance-mongers.
Vicious race hustlers who plague America's universities are a major reason an absurd flinch-reaction to the "racist" label is so commonplace among our educated elite. Just ask Sergio Gor what it was like when left-wingers at George Washington University perpetrated an anti-Muslim hate hoax against the campus chapter of Young America's Foundation. Or ask YAF's Jason Mattera about the reaction to his "whites-only scholarship" protest at Roger Williams University.
The cringing fearfulness Shelby Steele describes in his book White Guilt has to be "carefully taught" -- to borrow with obvious irony the famous lyrics from South Pacific -- and our educational system now teaches white guilt as fanatically as Nazi schools taught Aryan superiority in the 1930s.
Acknowledgement of racial guilt is now de rigueur among white bien-pensants who, if we may continue this impromptu French lesson, are required to prove themselves amis des noirs if they wish to preserve their amour propre.
Terrorized by the very real risk of denunciation and ostracism if they dispute the regnant racial orthodoxy, whites internalize this politically correct fear. As is often the case when fear is hidden in the heart, however, they seek to resolve the inevitable cognitive dissonance by projecting their inner angst onto scapegoats.
In recent years I've noticed that those who most relentlessly charge others with racism are white people who, by pointing the accusing finger, seek to make a public display of their own colorblind virtue:
Not only am I not a racist, but I am such an enlightened and courageous crusader against racism as to be able to detect the hidden hate of my fellow whites and to expose and fearlessly denounce it. Admire me!To these self-righteous hypocrites, we may be tempted to reply with the two most famous words of Rahm Emanuel (hint: the second word is "you"), but instead we should remind them what Jesus said of their predecessors:
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity."Whited sepulchres," indeed. They tithe the mint and cumin of racial self-righteousness, and when they make a proselyte, he is "twofold more the child of hell." (Sharmuta and Killgore Trout come to mind here.) They react with predictable fury toward anyone who calls them out for their pharisaical fraudulence, as the ugly reality of their dishonest hypocrisy contradicts the virtuous reputation they covet.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became foolsRead the whole thing, as the bloggers say. And then please read the rest of my American Spectator column about Rhett Butler, who knew how to make the most of a bad reputation.
Speaking of making the most of such things, I once more wish to thank readers who have already hit the tip jar to help send me to Pasadena for Alabama's Jan. 7 national championship game. (Howdy, Texas A&M fans. Go Aggies!) Remember, we need to average $70 a day for the next three weeks to do this, so that perhaps I can pay chivalrous respect to Baldilocks (and also Little Miss Attila) in person.
Update: (Smitty) Geller 'lanch!