Unified Patriots by Vassar Bushmills
I’m not sure who first used this title, and it may even have been me, in 2009, when I wrote a short essay on “Homer Simpson and the Constitution” at RedState.com The line had nothing to do with the content of the essay, and the content of the essay flew way over the head of the editors there, for it argued that all American have the most common of forbearers, and we should pay attention to the lesser in our society for we all arose from that very same stock.
It was one of my “never take yourself too seriously” inquiries which is rejected out-of-hand by two generations now. It’s like me telling Jonah Goldberg that in some small junior college in Georgia there is likely a student there from a farm family near Waycross who is as well read and has a wiser understanding of American history and its underlying philosophy than he does.
Of course there is, and thousands more, only they will never be heard.
It was about humility and gratitude.
I think it was Mark Twain who first used “reformed whores”, probably in a piece having to do with the early history of California after the Gold Rush at Sutter’s Mill. Twain arrived there a decade later, when San Francisco was only a pup, so he had more firsthand knowledge of its founding Pilgrim families than most.
San Francisco has always liked to view itself as the Boston-of-the-West-Coast, the home of the Founding Pilgrims of California. And in comparison with Los Angeles they may have a point.
But the joke going around when Mark Twain visited was that Nob Hill, the wealthiest and most blue-blood neighborhood of Bay Area aristocracy, far more than the nouveau riche properties of Pacific Heights where Lady Di lives, was originally settled by got-rich miners and the whores they took as brides.
This is where the phrase, “there’s nothing so self-righteous as a reformed whore” comes from, for it’s true, former prostitutes were very anxious to wipe away that social stain.
And let me tell you, no Mayflower grand dame highbrow could ever match these 24-carat dowagers on Nob Hill for that perfect down-the-nose self-righteous sense of privilege.
But I’m not making fun here. On the contrary, for America is unique in world history for its ability to produce this sort of cultural phenomenon. We had no royalty so a kind of royalty sprung up just by being there first.
In Europe a self-educated man from the lower classes might rise to the rank of being able to manage a prince’s finances(Bob Cratchit) but lower class women could not even dream of bathing and squeezing pimples on Elizabeth I’s shoulders, and only the most elegantly educated in the salons of Paris could rise to the rank of courtesan (kept woman, er, whore) such as Milady de Winter.
But here in America a girl of 19 in our first century could barely get a bath once a week, and barely a change of underwear, yet she could strike it rich by meeting a man who struck it rich and then get to bathe in a gold tub by 30.
Or maybe she would only marry a man who world build the only granary within fifty miles. BY Nebraska standards, rich.
I think it was me who added the “Lawyers Wives” to the title, for that was how I saw many of them when I graduated from law school, for they carried the same sort of reflected glory of status in their husbands’ careers.. Very socially-conscious. Since my wife had shared beers with prostitutes in Tokyo, at a CIA front called Manos, she was less insecure of her status. I recall, at a dinner while sitting with another captain and his wife, she blurted out “Wayne could have been a doctor, but he chose law instead.” My wife looked at me, then Wayne, and no doubt tried to imagine me taking the medical school boards, and just fell out in uncontrollable laughter[…]