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H.L. Mencken Club vs. H.L. Mencken

Columnist Mike Moran wishes a group some have called racist would find a new name.

On Nov. 9 of this year, the fifth annual conference of the H.L. Mencken Club will be kicking off, just outside of Baltimore in BWI’s hotel district. How honored we Baltimoreans must be for this elite society to have christened itself with the name of one of our most beloved citizens, the great early 20th century writer, skeptic, and old-timey smart-ass, H.L. Mencken. With this year’s topic of "Challenging the Historical Consensus," the H.L. Mencken Club will, no doubt, celebrate its namesake’s legacy of skepticism, witty intellect and of course white supremacy

…wait, what?

Well, here’s the thing, the group known as The H.L. Mencken Club is part of the "paleoconservative" movement, a political ideology that stresses the strict preservation of Western culture to such a degree that they’ve been referred to by some as “suit and tie Nazis” and “uptown Klan.”

The small but growing society, keeps distant from the usual "white power" suspects as these fellows (and there aren’t many women) are armed with masters degrees, articulation, and enough sense to keep things low-key. There won’t be any cross burnings, sieg-heilings, or adorably groomed Hitler-staches here.

It’s difficult to nail down the exact views of the HL Mencken club members. A casual foray into their website, podcasts and the various writings of the club’s all-star players, presents a bizarre mixed bag of political philosophies. Antipathy toward the immigration of non-whites to the U.S. seems to be the one thing the group agrees on. The rest is a strange blend of relatively innocent ideas akin to “small r” republicanism and isolationism, mixed with disturbingly academic versions of social Darwinism, racial eugenics, and the preservation of white-Christian heritage.

So why H.L. Mencken, H.L. Mencken Club?

Do you really have to name your radically conservative, anti-humanist organization after our "Sage of Baltimore?" A man who wrote the progressive "In Defense of Women" way back in 1918? And insisted on publishing black writers in his American Mercury magazine, something no other white journal had done, ever?

Do you really want to name your Eurocentric, Christian group after a man who cheekily referred to the white race as "the most cowardly in history?"  And who was an outspoken atheist who pretty much introduced the U.S. to the unholy blasphemies of Friedrich Nietzsche?

The H.L. Mencken Club offers up a plethora of reasons for naming itself after one of history’s greatest Baltimorean, namely Mencken’s distrust of political egalitarianism and his disapproval of FDR’s new deal. There’s also… well, actually that’s pretty much it. Geez, H.L.. Mencken Club, if two points of agreement are all that’s required, you could likely just as easily be the Malcolm X Club.

Of course there are those who would claim that HL Mencken was indeed a racist and that the name is appropriate. After all, the man dropped enough politically incorrect pejoratives in his writings to make Lisa Lampenelli blush. But if looked at Mencken’s works within context of the era, it is clear that the man was pretty darn progressive for his time. Like the Nietzsche he adored, Mencken’s (often) satirical and darkly humorous generalizations were indiscriminately aimed at any and every group, definitely including American Anglo-Saxons.

The H.L. Mencken Club certainly has a right to exist and hold whatever opinions it wants. But please H.L. Mencken Club, do you think you could call yourselves something else?

How about the "White Power Rangers," or maybe the "Nu Klux Klan," or perhaps the "Social Darwin Social Darlings?"

 No?

 I’ve got lots more where those came from.

Dan Lisle November 08, 2012 at 10:24 PM
"Social Darwin Social Darlings." Beautiful.
Sarah M November 09, 2012 at 12:45 AM
I vote for White Power Rangers!
Steve November 09, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Heidi Beirich refers to them as "The Uptown Klan"
TD November 09, 2012 at 10:54 PM
I second "Social Darwin Social Darlings." I can picture their illustrated magazine cover, The Smarm Set.

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