re Melania’s outfit and its designer

 

 

 

“There is perhaps no phenomenon which contains so much destructive feeling as ‘moral indignation,’ which permits envy or hate to be acted out under the guise of virtue.”
— Erich Fromm, Man for Himself: An Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics

 

 

 

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New First Lady Melania Trump wore a beautiful outfit at her husband’s inauguration yesterday.

It was designed by fashion designer Ralph Lauren.

I thought she looked stunning and was reminded that Donald J. Trump’s third wife is (in my humble opinion) a beautiful woman, but that was the extent of my thoughts. I have little interest or zero expertise in subjects such as fashion or glamour.

But, within hours, a story about the outfit appeared in The New York Times:

“Melania Trump, Wearing Ralph Lauren, Channels a Predecessor: Jacqueline Kennedy,” by Vanessa Friedman, The New York Times, January 20, 2017

 

 
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A digest of the article:

“On Friday, Melania Trump wore a powder-blue cashmere dress and matching bolero jacket by the designer [Ralph Lauren] as her husband, Donald J. Trump, was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. Though Mr. Lauren’s designs have been worn by first ladies from Betty Ford to Nancy Reagan and Michelle Obama, the reference this time was clear: Jacqueline Kennedy. From bouffant to mock turtleneck collar to light pastel shade.

“Mrs. Trump has said that she looks to Mrs. Kennedy as a role model, and at least as far as her image goes, it seems she is taking that literally. … It was, in other words, a very considered choice. ….

“It remains to be seen whether there will be repercussions for Mr. Lauren, since he has just become the most high-profile designer to break with peers who previously said they would not dress Mrs. Trump. But just minutes after the news broke that she was wearing the brand, disgruntled customers posted numerous messages on Twitter saying they would no longer shop at Polo Ralph Lauren. [italics added]

“A spokesman for Mr. Lauren explained the decision as being guided by his respect for the office. In a statement, he said: “The presidential inauguration is a time for the United States to look our best to the world. It was important to us to uphold and celebrate the tradition of creating iconic American style for this moment.”

 

 

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My take on all this:

If I were a fashion designer and had the opportunity to design an outfit for an inaugural, I would jump at the opportunity. It would not matter how successful, famous, or rich I already was.

If I were a baseball player, I would want to play for the Yankees and appear in the All Star Game and the World Series.

If were an opera singer, I would probably want to perform at the Met.

And, so on.

Why should Ralph Lauren pass up such an opportunity?

Why should he have been or felt compelled to have a statement issued in his defense?

 

 
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Something quite similar seems to have happened yesterday with respect to the 16-year-old singer with a beautiful soprano voice, Jackie Evancho, who sang the national anthem. It is a notoriously difficult song to sing. I thought she did very well.

Ms. Evancho has been the target of virulent criticism over her decision to perform at the inauguration and was branded a “traitor.” Other performers and groups, such as the Rockettes and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, underwent similar criticism and were subject to similar pressure.

 

 

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Apropos all this, points made by novelist Lionel Shriver in her op ed piece

“Will the Left Survive the Millennials?,” The New York Times, September 23, 2016

are highly relevant.

To quote from her incisive – thoughtfully written and judiciously framed, yet hard hitting — piece, which seems not to have received the attention it deserved:

“Among millennials and those coming of age behind them, the race is on to see who can be more righteous and aggrieved — who can replace the boring old civil rights generation with a spikier brand.

“When I was growing up in the ’60s and early ’70s, conservatives were the enforcers of conformity. It was the right that was suspicious, sniffing out Communists and scrutinizing public figures for signs of sedition.

“Now the role of oppressor has passed to the left. …

“As a lifelong Democratic voter, I’m dismayed by the radical left’s ever-growing list of dos and don’ts — by its impulse to control, to instill self-censorship as well as to promote real censorship, and to deploy sensitivity as an excuse to be brutally insensitive to any perceived enemy. There are many people who see these frenzies about cultural appropriation, trigger warnings, micro-aggressions and safe spaces as overtly crazy. The shrill tyranny of the left helps to push them toward Donald Trump. … people who would hamper free speech always assume that they’re designing a world in which only their enemies will have to shut up. But free speech is fragile. Left-wing activists are just as dependent on permission to speak their minds as their detractors.

“In an era of weaponized sensitivity, participation in public discourse is growing so perilous, so fraught with the danger of being caught out for using the wrong word or failing to uphold the latest orthodoxy in relation to disability, sexual orientation, economic class, race or ethnicity, that many are apt to bow out.

How is this happening? How did the left in the West come to embrace restriction, censorship and the imposition of an orthodoxy at least as tyrannical as the anti-Communist, pro-Christian conformism I grew up with? … Protecting freedom of speech involves protecting the voices of people with whom you may violently disagree.”

 

 

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So true. It used to be that if you had had left wing leanings — if, perhaps, God forbid, in your idealistic youth, you had flirted with Communism; if you could be labeled a Pinko — you might very well lose your job. This was in the 1950’s, the era of McCarthyism, witch hunts, and the Red Scare. I remember that time dimly (having been in my childhood).

Now, the witch hunters have in their sights “innocent bystanders,” so to speak, such as Ralph Lauren and a sixteen-year old singer named Jackie Evancho, who get caught up in the tidal wave of anti-Trump frenzy.

People have a right to their opinions — including vehemently anti-Trump ones – and have the right, in America, at least; thank God – to express them.

In my childhood, when we got into arguments with playmates, we would say, “It’s a free country!” – meaning, I can say whatever I please (barring something over the top, such as a personal slur or an obscenity, which, as children, we would not have thought to use anyway, nor had consciousness of as being something one might be guilty of using).

People also have a right to practice an avocation as a designer, performer, or whatever without fear of retaliation because of the taint of “political incorrectness.”

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

     January 21, 2017

About Roger W. Smith

Roger W. Smith is a writer and independent scholar based in New York City. His experience includes freelance writing and editing, business writing, book reviewing, and the teaching of writing and literature as an adjunct professor. Mr. Smith's interests include personal essays and opinion pieces; American and world literature; culture, especially books and reading; current issues that involve social, moral, and philosophical views; and experiences of daily living from a ground level perspective. Besides (1) rogersgleanings.com, a personal site, he also hosts a websites devoted to (2) the author Theodore Dreiser and (3) to the sociologist and social philosopher Pitirim Aleksandrovich Sorokin.
This entry was posted in personal views of Roger W. Smith, political correctness (PC), politics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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