Few things announce an open audition for the bizarre like a nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The subsequent debate makes our presidential races look mild in comparison. This is the byproduct of â€śthe peopleâ€ť having no direct control over the confirmation process. Nothing turns up the volume on crazy like the recognition that the composition of the Supreme Court is entrusted to people you donâ€™t trust.
Journalists, not knowing what to do but certain that the issues are too boring for print, undertake an archaeological dig of the social landscape and emerge with fringe storylines. Since the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, the strangest storyline in recent years has emerged: The Fall of the WASP.
No, not the insects that exhibit the charm of Nancy Pelosi on a visit to the NRA, but the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, who were once ubiquitous in the halls of government and Wall Street. The Northeastern Yankees who stepped off the Mayflower, into the pages of â€śThe Great Gatsbyâ€ť and â€śThe Bonfire of the Vanities,â€ť and who, from Washington to Eisenhower, monopolized the White House.
Trumping all, Salon published the heady â€śFall of the WASP,â€ť and as you imagined John Kerry tumbling down a flight of stairs, scowl still deftly intact, the piece went on to attribute the WASPâ€™s demise to â€śtechnology and globalization.â€ť Thatâ€™s pretty heavy. Suddenly, thanks to Microsoft and NAFTA, an entire American demographic needs a half-bottle of Xanax before boarding their sail boats. Tennis, the sport of sunny days, is simply out of the question.
For WASPs, this has been an unexpectedly depressing week. Few things are more of a downer than waking up every day and reading your own obituary. But itâ€™s a fleeting shock, one which diesâ€”speaking of generalizationsâ€”in the dead zone of the WASPâ€™s token indifference. The only depressing thing about hearing that your unsentimental, invisible subculture has really vanished, is the realization that youâ€™ve been replaced by people who care about stuff like that.
Thatâ€™s the thing: I donâ€™t think this is really about the â€śFall of the WASP.â€ť That is a consolation thought, a placeholder for people who choose not to identify what has really disappeared: a nation where people who speak in the childishness of identity politics are laughed out of rooms; far more endangered is the broad understanding of E Pluribus Unum â€“ â€śOut of Many, One.â€ť