From Left to Right

David Mamet’s transformation from “brain-dead liberal” to conservative got plenty of play last week, after he penned a 2,500-word essay in the Village Voice.

But Andrew Klavan writes in the Los Angeles Times that it is “wonderful news for the culture, far better, I fear, than many conservatives will appreciate.”

He writes, “The big question is whether the good men and women of the right will realize what a gift they have been given in Mamet. Will they turn out for his plays and embrace their excellence? His is a hard language of four-letter words and scorching insights. Will rightists, despite their commitment to good behavior and values, remember that art is an examination of the world as it is, not as we would have it be?”

Klavan writes that Mamet will “come to find out just how small-minded, exclusionary and intellectually corrupt many on the left can be” and “will also discover a right wing he never knew.”

I can think of more than a few playwrights who would challenge this next graph, which casts the right as more open-minded than the liberal dominated creative class:

“He will discover thinkers who seek historical and moral truth as if it really mattered, and writers who defend liberty as if it were what in fact it is: the prerequisite of full humanity. Rather than the low and tiresome obsession of the left with the color of people’s skins, he will find people who embrace a philosophical colorblindness. He will meet women of intelligence and competence who — mirabile dictu — don’t despise men and manliness but openly admire them. Yes, he will find that a gathering of right-wingers is less welcoming to gay people than the left is, but he will also watch something astounding unfold. Unlike liberals, rightists, after a period of open discussion and thought, will actually admit when they’re wrong and change their minds. This anti-gay prejudice will fall — it’s falling now.”

Call me a bit skeptical of the latter. What isn’t mentioned is that many so-called “creative” conservatives long have bristled at the religious right, in particular its targeting of the gay community. If anything, Hollywood conservatives have had to go to great lengths to distance themselves from the “red-meat” aspects of the religious right, especially when it poses a challenge to freedom of speech, while maintaining their commitment to conservative principles on national security, the environment and other issues. And perhaps Mamet, in his use of “four-letter words and scorching insights,” will offer a refreshing challenge to social conservatives, who seem to thrive on the notion that the creative class in Hollywood and New York is stacked up against them.

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