Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing The Flak Catchers - "Radical Chic"

"Radical Chic"

The first piece is set in the duplex on Park Avenue in Manhattan inhabited by conductor Leonard Bernstein, his wife the actress Felicia Cohn Montealegre, and their three children. Bernstein assembled many of his wealthy socialite friends to meet with representatives of the controversial Black Panthers and discuss ways to help their cause. The party was a typical affair for Bernstein, a longtime Democrat, who was known for hosting civil rights leaders at such parties.

The Bernsteins' usual staff of white South Americans served the party. Some of the Bernsteins' typical friends in the arts and guests in journalism (including Oscar-nominated director Otto Preminger and television reporter Barbara Walters) are labeled the "radical chic," as Wolfe characterizes them as pursuing radical ends for social reasons, partially because organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People had become too mainstream. Wolfe's criticism is implicitly of the general phenomena of white guilt and armchair agitation becoming facets of high fashion.

When Time magazine later interviewed a minister of the Black Panthers about Bernstein's party, the official said of Wolfe: "You mean that dirty, blatant, lying, racist dog who wrote that fascist disgusting thing in New York magazine?"

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