Every Sunday morning, at the crack of dawn, the New York Times arrives in my driveway. And every Sunday morning I try to resist the temptation to read the opinion pages because, as a general rule, I don’t like it when my head explodes.
Which it does when I give in to the temptation and open the paper to what they simply call the “Sunday Review.” This is a two-word euphemism for a section that, if honesty mattered, would be called, “How many opinion pieces can we publish in order to trash the president, his supporters, his party, conservatives in general — and still look like we’re not being mindlessly partisan but simply being reasonable.”
On page one of the Review this week was a guest column entitled, “The New York Yankees Are the Worst,” written by David Bentley Hart, an Orthodox Christian philosophical theologian, as Wikipedia describes him.
If Mr. Hart doesn’t like the Yankees, well, as the kids say … whatever!
But I instinctively knew this wasn’t going to really be about the Yankees. Not when it shows up on page one of the Sunday Review. Somehow this was going to fit the liberal template of the paper. This was going to be about the perceived deficiencies of a lot more than the Bronx Bombers.
But how, I wondered, was he going to drag Donald Trump into his column — which, of course, he did.
Before we go too far, allow me a few words about Mr. Hart. Let me say this as delicately as I can: He’s the kind of writer who uses SAT words (that even the enlightened readers of the New York Times may not be familiar with) in order to mask the well deserved conclusion that he’s trying too hard to impress us.
Here are a few words he employs to make sure we know how smart he is: Diabolists, bilious, bibulous, emulousness, revenants, orbicular, unguinous, cutaneous, prehensile … and my favorite, a description of how Derek Jeter fielded ground balls: “dainty coupe-chasse en tournant.”
As we used to say when I was growing up in the shadows of Yankee Stadium in the Bronx: Huh?
Okay, enough about how pretentious a writer Mr. Hart is and how he thinks he can fool us by tossing around French expressions that only an elite twit would throw around.
Now to what passes for the substance of his piece.
For starters, the Yankees are the worst, he believes, because for many years they played in a ballpark that was iconic, and described as a “temple of sport” — but was “More like the largest brothel in the world, being torn down only because a larger glitzier brothel was being erected across the street.” Why a brothel? Because the Yankees “purchased” their “championships” just like a customer at a brothel purchases sex.
How do you say, “unhinged” in French?
Here’s more about why the Yankees are so horrible: “The richest franchises – among which the Yankees enjoy archetypal pre-eminence – are content to let the poorest wither in a laissez-faire desert rather than make any reasonable sacrifices for the common good.”
Baseball in general (and the Yankees in particular), Mr. Hart laments, is “greedy.” It ignores “the needs of future generations.”
And take a wild guess what else is greedy and ignores the needs of future generations. If you said the United States of America and Donald Trump, give yourself a gold star.
Here is David Bentley Hart unleashing a not-so-original laundry list of progressive complaints about America. “America – with its decaying infrastructure, it’s third-world public transit, its shrinking labor market, its evaporating middle class, its expanding gulf between rich and poor, its heartless health insurance system, its mindless indifference to a dying ecology, its predatory credit agencies, its looming Social Security collapse, its interminable war, its metastasizing national debt and all the social pathologies that gave it a degenerate imbecile and child-abducting sadist as its president–remains the only developed economy in the world that believes it wrong to use civil wealth forcivicgoods. Its absurdly engorged military budget diverts hundreds of billions of dollars a year from the public weal to those who profit from the military-industrial complex. Its plutocratic policies and libertarian ethos are immune to all appeals of human solidarity. It towers over the world, but promises secure shelter only to the fortunate few.” (Bold face emphasis above, added.)
And what you may ask does this have to do with why the “New York Yankees are the Worst”? Well, it’s because, as he writes in the next sentence: “And so, of course, the Yankees cannot help but be emblematic of everything that characterizes us as a nation and as an idea …”
Get it? The Yankees are rich and strong and successful and want to stay on top – just like the insensitive plutocrats that hold the keys to power in the United States.
Yes, we all get it, Mr. Hart. You dislike the Yankees – but a baseball team is only symptomatic of the much bigger problem that keeps you awake at night: America itself, and a populace that would elect an “imbecile” as president.
I would respectfully recommend that Mr. Hart, an obviously angry man, seek solace in his Bible; he is a Christian theologian after all. Perhaps he can learn to love his enemies instead of hating them as he does.
But we can’t let the New York Times off too easily, not when the editors of the newspaper of record published this tripe, which included the line about how the president is “a degenerate imbecile and child-abducting sadist,” a reference, I assume, to the zero tolerance border policy that led to the separation of illegal immigrants from their children.
I can’t imagine the Wall Street Journal, with its conservative sensibilities, allowing a guest columnist (or anyone else for that matter) to call Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton an “imbecile” on its pages. Real professionals have standards and they adhere to them, regardless of their partisan feelings.
The New York Times has become the print equivalent of cable television news: Give the audience what it wants, (and not just on the opinion pages). Pander to your customers’ tastes.
It’s all about money. Old-fashioned professional standards are just that – old fashioned. The bottom line is all that counts. If the reader comes to your pages already salivating, encourage his raw passion. Get him even more worked up.
If David Bentley Hart thinks the Yankee Stadium is a brothel, what does that make the Times building in New York City?