The Baltimore Sun has a good article on HL Mencken in today’s edition. The article was written by one of Mencken’s biographers for the fiftieth anniversary of his death last week. She has some intriguing comments and I’d recommend that you go take a look. A short teaser is below, but definitely go read the whole thing.
Liberals and academics, who once damned Mencken for his racial and ethnic positions published in his Diary in 1989, now embrace the views for which he risked jail and fought all his life: free speech and justice for blacks and whites alike. For all of his printed slurs against blacks and Jews, his personal life was replete with evidence of his efforts to advance their condition and in many cases their literary aspirations. He published and promoted the work of Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Du Bois and James Weldon Johnson when no other white editor was doing so.
Republicans who once embraced Mencken for his sharp criticism of Franklin D. Roosevelt are obliged to cringe at the merciless Mencken quote now flashing across the Internet in the current context: “On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
Today, Mencken’s prescient take on culture, politicians and the role of the press rings ever more true as Americans grapple with the same issues of his heyday. Bloggers have imitated Mencken’s independent attitude while often failing to adhere to his relentless loyalty to facts (half the time misquoting him). If only more of Mencken’s heirs in the press would take a cue from him now.
[Links to the Baltimore Sun, like the Los Angeles Times, can be excruciatingly aggravating to manuever. If the link above doesn’t work for you, go to www.baltimoresun.com and type in Mencken. The article is entitled: “The Bark that had Bite”. I’m sure Mencken’s friend, AJ Nock wouldn’t have approved of the biographer’s representation of Mencken as belonging to one of the lower classes of animals, but at any rate, that should help you find the article if the link above doesn’t work].