One of the great redeeming qualities of the Washington Post would be its ombudsman, whose job consists solely of critiquing the work of his colleagues and the newspaper as a whole.
One imagines himself ombudsman at work and quickly sees the power in his weekly reports to the director, chief, vice president or assistant shift manager—whomever his supervisor at work. Presumably, his missives go uncolored by personal bias, his mission to discern bias and prejudice within a product fashioned by others.
Last year, the Post ombudsman made meticulous study of the “institution’s” coverage of the major two-party candidates in the U.S. presidential election, poring through reams of news stories and insipid editorials to scientifically conclude that, indeed, in words and pictures, the newspaper had very much favored the democrat over the republican. Though quite reasonable a bias given the colossal collapse of Lehman Brothers and the rest of Wall Street on republican watch, the newspaper resolved in late December to raise “transparency” to a much higher level in the ethos of its brand of journalism—which was wonderful.
Now, we ask the Post to stop making ethnographical study of certain slices of youth in the national capital region, particularly the anomaly known as the “young conservative,” a free-ranging population the newspaper regards with the detached and subjective—but ever so curious—perspective of the Anglo studying the Savage.
Like Virgil, Ian Shapira of the Post last week guides us down to Hades and into the first circle of hell—happy hour in early February at the Union Pub on Capitol Hill. The place is “jammed with an unlikely slice of young Washington strivers: conservatives, libertarians, free-market/small-government types, anyone right of center,” Shapira writes. “People, in other words, in their 20s or early 30s who actually groan at the label Generation Obama.”
With this introduction, the journalist in the first canto takes us beyond the foyer to introduce some of the inhabitants of this hellish environment, quoting a 22 year-old intern at the Heritage Foundation who confesses to his peers “feelings of alienation.” As Virgil explains, many of the young conservatives hesitate to provide last names and workplaces, fearful of retaliation for resisting the tide.
"'I just say that I work at a nonprofit,’ says Margaret Taylor, 24, who won’t say for publication which organization she works for, other than that it’s economically oriented.’"
Another young conservative, 24 year-old Dustin Siggins, describes to our guide—the ethnographer—the foibles and failures of his efforts to mate with another of his kind.
“I met a girl today at the gym from Boston College [who] was getting a law degree from George Washington [University],” he says. “She was cute but she wants to work for the ACLU and I said, ‘Oh, you’re one of those.’”
Within the context, we imagine the mating ritual of the young conservative in a crowded barroom as described by Virgil: Males and females buy one another $5 drinks named for Ronald Reagan as Fox News flickers on the monitors to a soundtrack of Dave Matthews. We watch as the male and female exchange paper copies of their resumes in a ritual unbeknownst to the rest of white America.
Many of us along for the journey recognize the conceits of the ethnographer, as voyeurs accustomed to exploring the world of the “striving” African American or the colorful streets of the “vibrant” Latino immigrant community—but, with this reversal, the story jars us to consciousness.
Later, in the second canto, we flash forward to a telephone interview Virgil conducts with yet another young conservative—and there is hope! Two young conservatives, out of work with the new administration, begin clicking and clacking to the continual chiming of IM: they are doing what any such animal would do in similar environs. They are starting a conservative Web site.
Posted by M@ at 11:56 AM