Anne Applebaum on Memory

The outsanding Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning and truly excellent book Gulag: A History, has hit another home run with today’s column on the late architect Philip Johnson.

In explaining why the antics of a callow spare Prince in the UK generated many outraged headlines, while a fascist apologist like Philip Johnson was celebrated, she concludes,

In the end, I suspect the explanation is simple: People whose gifts lie in esoteric fields get a pass that others don’t. Or, to put it differently, if you use crude language and wear a swastika, you’re a pariah. But if you make up a complex, witty persona, use irony and jokes to brush off hard questions, and construct an elaborate philosophy to obfuscate your past, then you’re an elder statesman, a trendsetter, a provocateur and — most tantalizingly — an enigma.

Anne Applebaum has done a great deal to remind us of the importance of memory. And to explain why some are so happy to forget.

2 Responses to “Anne Applebaum on Memory”

  1. Mark Brady

    I’ve now read Anne Applebaum’s column. There may be merit in her argument but she doesn’t really explain why other intellectuals who flirted with fascism and/or Nazism (she cites Ezra Pound and Martin Heidegger) failed to get the pass that Philip Johnson did.