Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers

Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers



The Pequod Review:

Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers combines two classic Tom Wolfe essays — the first ("Radical Chic") a sharp send-up of social justice posturing among members of the upper-middle class left, and the second ("Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers") a profile of anti-poverty programs as they are actually administered at the local level. The strength of Wolfe's essays lies in the fact that he shows the conceit and absurdity of his subjects simply by observing:

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm. These are nice. Little Roquefort cheese morsels rolled in crushed nuts. Very tasty. Very subtle. It’s the way the dry sackiness of the nuts tiptoes up against the dour savour of the cheese that is so nice, so subtle. Wonder what the Black Panthers eat here on the hors d’oeuvre trail? Do the Panthers like little Roquefort cheese morsels wrapped in crushed nuts this way, and asparagus tips in mayonnaise dabs, and meatballs petites au Coq Hardi, all of which are at this very moment being offered to them on gadrooned silver platters by maids in black uniforms with hand-ironed white aprons …The butler will bring them their drinks … Deny it if you wish to, but such are the pensées métaphysiques that rush through one’s head on these Radical Chic evenings just now in New York. 

Wolfe's specific concerns may be topical to the 1970s but his broader points have much relevance for post-2020 America.