David Mamet’s Right-Wing Argument Betrays More About His Thought Process Than He Would Like

I’m glad David Mamet doesn’t investigate the leftist blogosphere. He might see that we see through him. Check out Ben Crair’s review of The Secret Knowledge; Crair gets underneath Mamet’s rhetorical defenses, which turn out not to be much.

Let’s start with a couple of facts: The U.S. categorically did not “win” in Vietnam. There was no victory to be won. Yet Mamet says this as though it was true as the law of gravity. This is one claim among many that Mamet assumes the reader will simply believe—because Mamet says so? Why? If there was only some basis in fact, the reader would be forced to take him seriously. But to say the U.S. “won” the Vietnam War is an affront to everyone killed and wounded there. He should know better.

Then there’s the reference to the New York City mosque near Ground Zero. He calls it “a cultural obscenity.” Let’s take this apart. He’s suggesting that America consists of a single culture, which one can only presume he presumes to be like himself: pale and prosperous. Likewise his reference to gay marriage, abortion, etc., as “moral [affronts].” By whose rubric? Mamet’s? Sorry. I’ll pass.

So: I could go on, but the point is this—Mamet never establishes anything like a basis for any of his claims, sort of like an undergraduate composition student might do. Any other course represents a material challenge to his argument.

So who does Mamet rely upon? “I drive around and listen to the talk-show guys[….] Beck, Prager, Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved.” The Fear Factory.


Maybe Mamet’s “conversion” isn’t so unusual. He’s older, he’s reached a time in life when conservatism can set in like arthritis, especially for someone as well-heeled as he is. I’ve always been curious about this phenomenon, and it seems clear the same thing’s happening here.

If, of course, we can believe him at all. I’m no fan of Mamet apart from scatological language which I much love, but something strikes me as markedly disingenuous here, either argumentatively or personally; either he hasn’t thought through his own opinions (preferring instead to repeat the Fear Factory’s mantra), or he’s misrepresenting himself. I don’t know, and the fact is that Mamet comes across as signally odious, so I’m just happy knowing no more than I do.


About johnwylam1957

I'm a poet and teacher now living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
This entry was posted in Culture/Politics, Poetry/Fiction, Writing in General. Bookmark the permalink.

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