Brownstone » Brownstone Journal » The Unbearably Predictable Prattle of the Boston Globe

The Unbearably Predictable Prattle of the Boston Globe


Back in the day, when I was a habitue of leftist anti-war websites (they used to exist), nothing could rile up the groundlings more than reminding them that four years after the US invasion of Iraq some 40% of the US population still believed Saddam had harbored a vast arsenal of WMDs. 

“Oh! the trials of living in a nation of mindless dolts,” they would lament again and again in the comment threads. And there was a doubt as to just who those dolts were: conservatives, probably from the middle of the country, who, if they had ever had a brain, had decided to stop using it and completely disengage from the search for truth. 

Well, a funny thing has happened in the intervening 15-20 years. It’s the smart liberals, at once both insouciant and imperious, who’ve completely abandoned the practice of registering empirical cultural realities. 

I’ve been reading the Boston Globe for nearly 50 years. And while it has never had the widespread cache of the New York Times, it has long had a very strong, and mostly well-deserved place among the still very august second tier of US newspapers. 

Yes, its superb sports section had something to do with that. But that was not all. Its reporting was quite solid and its editorial page, while reliably liberal, was seldom crudely partisan or condescending, seeking in general to elevate the higher civic sensibilities of its readers. 

That was before Covid and Woke “changed everything”™ at the paper. 

The word that comes most immediately to mind when reading it today is grotesque, understood in the strict dictionary sense of being “odd or unnatural in shape, appearance, or character; fantastically ugly or absurd; bizarre.” 

You see, at the Globe these days: 

  • Covid is still cunningly waiting outside of all of our doors for its chance to deliver all of us (including young children whom the generally well-educated Globe readers, of course, love more and better than anyone else does) into the next dimension. 
  • Covid case counts are infallible indicators of the overall health and well-being of the society. Indeed, they are the real indicator worth talking about in the vast and complex realm of public health. 
  • Masks have, Dr. Katherine Gergen-Barret, Vice Chair of Primary Care Innovation and Transformation at Boston Medical Center claimed in a citation-free Globe op-ed in May of 2021, “saved hundreds of thousands of lives.” 
  • The Covid vaccines offer sterilizing immunity that stops the spread of the virus in its tracks, which is why it is a moral imperative and social duty for everyone to get the jab. Thus needless to say, Bill Gates’ recent candid comments on the absurdity of immunity passports in the context of vaccines that don’t prevent transmission never made their way into the paper. 
  • The only people who don’t want to get the jab with its ironclad sterilizing immunity, are, as veteran sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy never ceases to remind us when speaking about the few holdouts on the Red Sox, selfish jerks—most often Christian white guys—who don’t care about their teammates or the fans and who should be dealt with much more severely by the team’s management. 
  • Florida and Sweden have failed miserably at Covid mitigation. This, even as the flow of New Englanders making their way down Route 95 to new homes in the Sunshine State grows thicker every day.
  • The state’s Covid policies have nothing to do with this sudden and historic shift in the state’s demographic fortunes 
  • There is no indication that the vaccines have harmed or killed anyone in New England. 

I could go on.

I was raised on the legend of Boston as the Athens of America, and for a good while believed it was true. And maybe it was. 

Indeed, for those—and Boston has perhaps more of these people than any other place in America—that presume a direct correlation between the number of degrees per capita in a population and the society-wide production of wisdom and goodness, this cult of self-regard still makes some logical sense. 

But, as the posthumous voice of Christopher Lasch presciently warned in 1996, the once relatively stable, mutually respectful and largely productive dialogue between the credentialed classes and the rest of American society, forged in the first three decades following WWII, was not destined to last forever. 

Indeed, he told us of how the wealthy and well-degreed were already well on their way to forgetting about the rest of society, and using the immense cultural and pecuniary capital at their disposal to game the system for the near-exclusive benefit of themselves and their children. 

What he didn’t foresee, at least as I recall, was their collective descent into madness. 

When uneducated people have difficulty registering salient life truths, we send them for psychiatric treatment. When the well-credentialed do the same they are offered a column or a show at a legacy media outlet from whence they hector the unwashed for their inability to appreciate the splendor of the emperor’s new clothes. 

The retreat into fantasy of our self-proclaimed betters in “cultured” cities like Boston, with “progressive” papers like the Globe is unsustainable. Though most of them are blissfully unaware of it, their penchant for aggressively imposing their delusions on the broader public is robbing them, and the institutions in which they toil, of the social capital acquired of several generations of mostly earnest work. 

Sooner or later, they will finally have to face the crowds. And when they do, I suspect their initial reaction will be reminiscent of that displayed by Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu (starting at minute 2:30) on that fateful day in December 1989 when the people, sick of being treated like cattle, decided to stop pretending they believed in the well-scripted farce. 

What will happen from that inevitable day forward, is anybody’s guess. 

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  • Thomas Harrington

    Thomas Harrington, Senior Brownstone Scholar and Brownstone Fellow, is Professor Emeritus of Hispanic Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, CT, where he taught for 24 years. His research is on Iberian movements of national identity and contemporary Catalan culture. His essays are published at Words in The Pursuit of Light.

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