Sunday, March 6, 2022

A Journalist's Goal

A journalist must avoid ego and hatred. Both vices block you from empathizing, then understanding all points of view. Until linguistic translations are seamless and historical facts uniform, a journalist's job is to tell stories with context, opening doors to the truth. 

© Matthew Mehdi Rafat (2022)

Friday, January 28, 2022

On Caitlin Flanagan: High Society Pulp

It’s impolite to malign skilled writers, particularly when they’ve done nothing wrong. When I say nothing wrong, I mean not one wrong breath taken, nor a hand raised at anything impersonal. For The Atlantic’s Caitlin Flanagan, everything is personal, and the personal is worth sharing.

“I think I’ll head over to the kitchen and look out the window for a few minutes.” — Caitlin Flanagan, March 16, 2020

This would be absolutely true were Flanagan, daughter of an Ivy League professor, not a reminder of birthplace invoking fate, the kind of person only possible in America’s sheltered cul-de-sacs.

When I first heard Flanagan, she was exactly what I expected: a privileged schoolmarm who, deep down, believes in the Establishment but is rebellious enough on the surface to convince us otherwise. Indeed, Flanagan's greatest crime is becoming her circumstances’ diktat: an American-born white woman who makes fragility look alluring. (Think Marilyn Monroe with a dog, two degrees, and no scandal, unless buying a birth control pill qualifies.)

Take away Flanagan’s familial money, and she’d be more desperate than sexy, which is precisely why she’s popular--many people, some even non-whites, wonder the same about themselves. A flesh-and-blood reminder of “There but for the grace of God go I,” Flanagan’s made a career as social critic for the country club set and its aspirants. Good for her. Perhaps other writers have become beloved by doing nothing wrong and nothing remarkable, but Flanagan does it all with such empathy, it’s impossible not to admire her—preferably in print than in person. 

© Matthew Mehdi Rafat (January 2022)