If suicide notes can be said to possess nationality, surely the most American one was left by historian Wilbur J. Cash: "I can't stand it anymore, and I don't even know what it is."
In 1964, rightwing maven Phyllis Schlafly published a book called A Choice, Not an Echo in which she condemned President Lyndon B. Johnson for awarding the Medal of Freedom to the leftwing literary critic Edmund Wilson. Among her objections to Wilson, Schlafly noted: "Edmund Wilson revealed his lack of patriotism in these words from his latest book (The Cold War and the Income Tax): 'I have finally come to feel that this country, whether or not I continue to live in it, is no longer any place for me.'"
It's time Schlafly knew that Alexander Hamilton said it first. In a letter to Governor Clinton of New York he wrote: "Every day proves to me more and more that this American world was not made for me." Moreover, in another letter to Rufus King, Hamilton said: "Am I a fool--a romantic Quixote--or is there a constitutional defect in the American mind?"
Like all members of the God 'n' Country Club, Schlaflythinks that only leftwing teeth are set on edge by America. She's wrong. I'm slightly to the right of Baby Doc, but life in America has the same effect on me as "The Morton Downey, Jr. Show."
Alexander Hamilton was neither a fool nor a romantic Quixote. According to the laws of logic, A is A; a thing cannot be other than itself; parallel lines cannot meet. Except in America, where the movement of Birnam Wood to Dunsinane is a regular occurrence in the lumberyard of our national psyche. Unstrung Americans are found in both political camps, and our common motto is: "My nerves, right or wrong."
This book is about my nerves and the lumberyard. That's not a good title, however, so I called it Reflections in a jaundiced Eye.
REFLECTIONS IN A JAUNDICED EYE. Copyright © 1989 by Florence King. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.