‘Mercer Eats Nails For Breakfast’ (Not)

Classical Liberalism,Ilana Mercer,Old Right,Pop-Culture,Reason,The Zeitgeist

In 2006, Anthony St. John posted interesting, but misguided, comments about me on the blog of Sir Peter Stothard, editor of the Times Literary Supplement, whose avid reader I am. (Their archive facility for subscribers seldom works; a big drawback.)

Sir Stothard had noted my praise for the TLS in “Excellence Vs. Offal”: “It’s always good to find a friend in blogland. So let me introduce Iana [sic] Mercer and her views about the TLS.”


As they say, “So long as they spell your name correctly…”

More interesting are Anthony St. John’s comments about me. A while ago, my pal Tom DiLorenzo sent me a note in which I am referred to as “one of the toughest people around.” Sean laughed a lot. (He understood that the comment was directed at my principles, not my person.) I find it puzzling, as I’m one of the softest sorts around, in demeanor too. (And a tiny person at that.)

I suspect that rationality is hard to grapple with in sentimental fin de siècle America. I don’t misplace sympathy; I always bestow it where it is absolutely deserving.

It takes a superficial sort to call me “hard.”

Has any writer written more emotionally than the one who wrote “About a Boy,” or “Betraying Brave Boys”? I doubt it. It’s just that I don’t bleed all over the floor for Oprah’s or Tyra’s archetypal “victims.”

I suspect that comments such as “[d]oes she eat nails for breakfast?” are an extension of the above, and compounded by the impersonal nature of the Internet.

In any event, St. John’s comments are interesting, as I’m not quite sure how he, being a Marxist, would like me to mellow. Or how he, being a Marxist, can even attempt to understand a woman of the Right, which I am–a woman of the Old, libertarian Right. This man has not done his homework. As for me being “crass”; a man who doesn’t recognize a lady is no gentleman at all.

Here goes:

30 June 2006
About twenty years or so ago, I (7 October 1944) stopped asking myself “Where’s this world going.” I just had given up. Nothing could surprise me from then on. So when one of my fellows, a woman, wrote back to me–after I had suggested to her to visit www.ilanamercer.com and tell me what she thought–pleading that I “blow Ilana out of the water,” I was not shocked, but I was very disappointed. I have no reason to blow Ilana out of the water. She is a stunningly beautiful woman, a very talented essayist, and I admire gutsy women (and men) who provoke us to think in these days of ambiguity and hypocrisy. A cad I am not! And Ilana offered me a chance to stroll down a Memory Lane of sorts. She reminded me of my stint as a circulation/correspondence assistant at NATIONAL REVIEW magazine in New York where I hobnobbed with those egg-headed US conservative doyens who were planting the seeds of the NeoTheoCon vogue with which we are burdened today. I broke bread with Russell Kirk, Senators Barry Goldwater and John Tower, Eddie Rickenbacher, Jr, James “The Managerial Revolution” Burnham, Robert Welch, Charles Edison, William A Rusher (WAR!), Frank Meyer and many others including, of course, the Prime Mover of the NeoTheoCon fad and the fervent Irish-American Roman Catholic who put God in the first pew of Northamerican conservative politics, William F Buckley, Jr. Ilana is made of that “conservative stuff” I tired of when I left NR in 1962 and went to university. (I am haunted, to this day, by with what my sister once told me: “You, mitigated Marxist, rocked the cradle of the NeoTheoCon movement, too!”) They are smart individuals but they stink to high heaven with their self-righteousness. I read a couple of IM’s articles and I know how her political DNA is mapped out. I could never agree with her on, say, her efforts to extol Oriana Fallaci whom I consider a racist and war-monger. (Nothing would please OF more than if British and Northamerican soldiers fought another “crusade” against the believers of the Islam religion which she, OF, detests.) But, IM is courageous enough to say those things which others might not agree with her on, and she is ready to take the consequences–something which many journalists today are not wont to do. I would like to give Ilana Mercer some advice, if I may. Ilana, you are often crass and insensitive. You also assume too much from your readers. Remember there are many people in this world who are not even interested in what the Left or Right has to offer us in these trying times. Your barbs are probably going to turn people off more than they will win friends and influence people to your side. You must enlighten and delight. Tone your voice down. You have a wonderful ability to see through to the heart of things. But, please be courteous when doing so–for your own benefit. Contain your strength and maintain a calm exterior. Remember that we are pliant. We are flexible when we are born, and we become hard when we die. You must be strong. Not hard. Being strong means you know when to be soft, when to be hard. You are too hard, Ilana. Really. Anthony “The Word Warrior” St. John…

Posted by: Anthony St. John | 30 Jun 2006 18:02:36
24 June 2006

I’ve been called THE WORD WARRIOR…but I would run for my life if I saw Ilana Mercer coming my way! Does she eat nails for breakfast? Anthony St. John

Posted by: Anthony St. John | 24 Jun 2006 10:17:13

3 thoughts on “‘Mercer Eats Nails For Breakfast’ (Not)

  1. EN

    Hmmmm. I know what crass and insensitive looks like and IM ain’t it. You have high standards and that makes some think of you as mean, but only “in these trying times”. Your honesty, which he apparently sees as “barbs”, will always scare a Marxist. Lies are their stock in trade. Curious that he thinks of you as a woman of the right. I doubt any Republican, or even a conservative, would claim you. However, it must be admitted that you are “stunningly beautiful”. At least he got that right.

  2. Blode032222

    It can be tricky to understand the mind of the male Marxist when it comes to his thoughts about women. Male Marxists usually see women as symbols rather than people, but this leads them in two opposite directions. Some, like Ayers, are misogynists who like (or want) to use women like ragdolls. Others think they are some sort of high-tech, non-Quixotic white knights who will chivalrously free women from capitalism. St. John is waiting for his selfless jousting on your behalf to convince you that free markets oppress you. Doth not your heart flutter?

  3. EN

    “St. John is waiting for his selfless jousting on your behalf to convince you that free markets oppress you. Doth not your heart flutter?”

    Now that’s funny.

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