“The Southerner is usually tolerant of those weaknesses that proceed from innocence,” observed Southern Gothic author and native Georgian Flannery O’Connor. But what about those weaknesses that don’t? Well, then the offender may require rebuke, and, depending on the gravity of the offense, and the character of the offender, that might range somewhere between a polite reprimand to being run out of town on a rail.
Or, if you’re Tom Wolfe, it might be a many-thousand-word essay dripping with subtle (and not-so-subtle) mockery. Such was certainly the case with Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, the Virginia-born author’s stinging portrayal of wealthy white Americans who promoted the latest radical, racial causes, a book that last year enjoyed its fiftieth anniversary. Indeed, perhaps one might say that only a Southerner like Wolfe — and one with his literary talents — was capable of writing an essay like Radical Chic.
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