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Whited Sepulchers

Her Vagina Belongs to Daddy

Kathy G

Phony provincialism is amok again spreading anti-intellectual drivel that allows these elites to wallow in salt of the earth moral superiority.
I heart Digby for many reasons, but one of them is that she was among the first to write about the ghastly "purity balls" -- those sick Christian right rituals in which little girls pledge their "purity" to their daddies. She's written another post about this nauseating patriarchal rite, and it's especially sharp, because it concerns two of the things she understands best: the complete freaking horror show that is the American right, and the shallow, patronizing, bizarrely other-directed and thoroughly phony and dishonest spectacle that is the American mainstream media.

Time magazine has published a piece on the purity balls, and apparently, Time thinks they're just swell. Digby's take on this is spot-on as usual, but I especially enjoyed this:

But people like her would no more ask their own kid to do this than they would suggest she join the Hell's Angels, and any husband and daughter of her social circle would think she was nuts if she even tried. No, this lovely rustic ritual is for the little people who are "authentic" and "natural" and have Better Morals Than Us.

Or, in the words of upper class man-about-town Algernon Moncrief in The Importance of Being Earnest, "Really, if the lower orders don't set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them?"

Digby continues:

It's that phony Village provincialism running amok again spreading patronizing, anti-intellectual drivel that allows these elites to wallow in salt of the earth moral superiority that they do not personally possess but take credit for by writing glowing paeans to primitivism and barbarity that nobody but a few fundamentalist weirdos actually believe in.

This brings to mind the strange media spectacle that was the reaction to the death of Tim Russert earlier this year. The endless grief-athon in response to his passing was unseemly, to say the least. I understand that yes, if someone close to you dies suddenly and at a relatively young age, of course it's shocking and horrifying and traumatic. But the media coverage of Russert's death was bizarrely out of proportion. This was a guy who asked questions on a weekly TV show -- we aren't talking about a president or the Pope here. One would have expected that media professionals would, well, have a sense of professionalism about this kind of thing. But no -- as usual, it was all about them.

Yet, the marathon coverage (on MSNBC, they were going on six hours straight of All Tim All the Time when I finally gave up the ghost) did give me an insight into one thing: Russert was obviously a key figure in the world of The Village -- perhaps the key figure. And a big part of the reason why, is that the Villagers believed that Russert was the tribune of those virtues they constantly pay tribute to, and that they fervently want to believe they possess, but know, in their heart of hearts, that they lack. Russert, according to them anyway, was a guy from a blue-collar background, a devout Catholic, a family man, a person who never let his wealth and fame go to his head. In other words, the salt of the earth.

All that stuff may even have been true, for all I know. The point is, though, that these pampered, ultra-elite, mega-rich media gasbags were desperate to associate themselves with Russert's alleged authentic, unspoiled, virtuous regular-guyness. This obsession was taken to the limit by DC doyenne Sally Quinn, who received communion at Russert's funeral, even though she is not a Catholic. I find that arrogant and grossly insensitive in itself. I was raised Catholic, and though I lost my faith long ago, I strongly believe that Catholicism, and indeed all religious faiths, deserve this minimal level of respect: that you shouldn't participate in their sacraments unless you have some basic training in and understanding of what they mean, and also, unless you sincerely believe in them on their own terms.

So, needless to say, Quinn's shallow, dilettantish religious tourism annoyed me. But what really chapped my hide is that she then proceeded to write an embarrassingly condescending and self-serving blog post about the experience. Sadly, her post showed she didn't have the faintest clue that what she did might considered a tad offensive (and this from a woman who writes the "On Faith" blog for the Washington Post!).

Oh well -- Time magazine likes to cover its scarlet hussy soul in the virginal white of the purity balls. Sally Quinn's little kink is to masquerade as a Catholic. But then again, Marie Antoinette and her ladies-in-waiting liked to dress up as shepherdesses, didn't they? It's the same phenomenon, expressed in different ways: bloated, corrupt, hopelessly out-of-touch elites pretending to be what they're not, and hoping the moral virtue of the Little People will rub off on them, somehow.

Quinn and company might want to learn how that worked out for the queen they called Madame Deficit.

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