Paul Mirengoff (left) at a PJM Conference next to Claudia Rossett
William Jacobson yesterday delivered the sad news that political correctness has taken down one the top half dozen conservative bloggers.
Paul Mirengoff, one of the three highly talented and intelligent principals of Power-Line, posted some comments on the memorial services conducted in Tucson for the shooting victims, titled “An evening in Tucson â€” the good, the bad, and the ugly.”
On the negative side of the ledger, I didnâ€™t appreciate the president of the University of Arizona (and master of ceremonies) telling us how lucky we are to have Barack Obama as our president and Janet Napolitano as our homeland security chief. Nor did the frequent raucous cheering by the huge crowd seem appropriate at what was, at least in part, a memorial service.
As for the â€œugly,â€ Iâ€™m afraid I must cite the opening â€œprayerâ€ by Native American Carlos Gonzales. It was apparently was some sort of Yaqui Indian tribal thing, with lots of references to â€œthe creatorâ€ but no mention of God. Several of the victims were, as I understand it, quite religious in that quaint Christian kind of way (none, to my knowledge, was a Yaqui). They (and their families) likely would have appreciated a prayer more closely aligned with their religious beliefs.
But it wasnâ€™t just Gonzalesâ€™s prayer that was â€œuglyâ€ under the circumstances. Before he ever got to the prayer, Gonzales provided us with a mini-auto biography and made several references to Mexico, the country from which (he informed us) his family came to Arizona in the mid 19th century. Iâ€™m not sure why Gonzales felt that Mexico needed to intrude into this service, but I have an idea.
In any event, the invocation could have used more God, less Mexico, and less Carlos Gonzales.
Bloggers generally have the journalistic habit of trying to incorporate referential word play into cultural and political commentary and, in this case, I suppose the Southwestern location of the events brought the well-known Sergio Leone movie to mind as the basis for a rhetorical triad.
The application of “ugly” (in quotation marks) was clearly just a triadic reference to what the religiously-minded might regard as the aesthetically unfortunate choice of a decidely un-Christian invocation couched in fashionable PC Mexican Amerindian cultural identity terms. Paul Mirengoff thought that since the deceased were actually Christian Americans and not Mexican Yaqui Indians or fashionistas, a more conventional, and less PC, form of memorial prayer would have been more apropos.
But, it turns out, that Paul Mirengoff’s very large law firm, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld (800 lawyers, 14 offices), has a significant practice in Amerindian law, representing tribes like the Pima of Arizona and the Seneca of New York in casino and gaming licensing, real estate acquisitions, bond issues, and lobbying.
Paul Mirengoff’s posting became an issue at his firm, when James Meggisto (another partner specializing in Amerindian practice) went on the PC warpath, describing himself as “shocked, appalled and embarrassed” by the “insensitive” posting.
Stacy McCain noted the importance of Amerindian billings at Akin Gump.
The lawyer who denounced Mirengoff, James Meggesto, is a member of the Onondago Nation of New York who was hired by Akin Gump in February 2007 â€“ i.e., right after Nancy Pelosiâ€™s Democrats took over Congress. Megesto was one of three lawyers, including Vanessa Ray-Hodge and Madeline Soboleff Levy, hired by the firm at that time as part of an expansion of Akin Gumpâ€™s â€œAmerican Indian law and policy practiceâ€ according to a Feb. 23, 2007, press release. Akin Gumpâ€™s total haul from lobbying in 2007 was $32 million â€“ an increase of 25% over the previous year.
Jeff Goldstein, more appropriately, in my view, reflected on the power and efficacy of PC intimidation.
If weâ€™re going to pretend that language works in a way that it clearly doesnâ€™t â€” and to institutionalize that idea into our very epistemology â€” what we will end up with is the slow erosion of our speech, as more and more of it becomes subject to â€œinterpretationsâ€ motivated by cynicism and a will to power.
This latest is just another dismal example of how precisely such a â€œdemocraticâ€ method of â€œinterpretationâ€ can and will be used to diminish the individual at the whims of a motivated collective.
Jeff is right to be concerned. One of the most influential and articulate conservative bloggers was successfully silenced by the ability of the left to employ advantageously exaggerated interpretations of speech to panic the command of one of the small battalions of the conventional capitalist world into throttling one of that system’s best defenders. The Gramscian long march of leftist assumptions and expectations obviously has passed right down the halls of America’s leading law firms.
The sad lesson here is that, if you want to make a living in the world, conservative speech is not free. Even the most intelligent and articulate conservative commentator may on some random day express himself imprecisely or choose an inapt figure of speech, subject to inflammatory interpretation and advantageous misuse by the enemy, and then find himself hailed before the politically correct inquisition.
The Power-Line principals probably made the better choice originally, back when they started out blogging anonymously. Come to think of it, most of the group bloggers at Maggie’s Farm still blog under names like Bird Dog, the Barrister, and the News Junkie.
I don’t know Paul Mirengoff personally, but I have had enough contact with him in blogging to know perfectly well that Paul is a kind and generous person, and a gentleman. It is obvious to me that Paul has no particular animosity against Yaqui Indians, Amerindian religion, or even the teachings of Don Juan. He merely thought that an exotic cultural theme was an inappropriate choice for the center-stage position in a memorial service for ordinary Americans.
I will miss Paul Mirengoff’s commentary extremely, and regard the closing down of his personal blogging as a major loss to Conservatism and to the national public debate. And I devoutly hope that Paul does come back someday soon under a nom-de-guerre. In the meantime, he has my sympathy and best wishes. Nil illegitimi carborundum.