Carl Rollyson of the New York Sun gives a negative review of a new biography of Jessica Mitford. Mitford was a brilliant social critic and is a joy to read. Her "American Way of Death," a hilarious and gruesome expos� of the funeral industry, is a classic of our time. Unfortunately, she was, like so many intellects of the twentieth century, especially England's, a lefty and a member of the Communist Party for many years. Rollyson faults Mitford for turning a blind eye to the innumerable atrocities committed in communism's name and faults her biographer for whitewashing this serious and all-too-common flaw of the elite.
The ugly fact of the twentieth-century intelligentsia's embrace of Marxist tyranny is one of western civilization's great mysteries. The ability of otherwise brilliant and creative luminaries to propagate the lies and rationalize the brutality of communism is baffling although I suspect guilt has something to do with it; its proponents have mostly come from the upper-classes. Whatever. Thanks be to God for bestowing artistic and intellectual gifts on many of them; we forgive them, or at least try to ignore, their trespasses. Sometimes that is well-nigh impossible, as with Leonard Bernstein, but Pablo Casals ransomed the Bach Cello Suites from obscurity and that alone, for me, expiates his myriad sins. You have to wonder, however, if Jackie Kennedy would have invited Casals to perform at the White House had he sided with Franco during the Spanish Civil War.