What Haidt never quite gets across is that conservatives typically define their groups concentrically, moving from their families outward to their communities, classes, religions, nations, and so forth. ...
In contrast, modern liberals’ defining trait is making a public spectacle of how their loyalties leapfrog over some unworthy folks relatively close to them in favor of other people they barely know ....
Thomas Kennerly Wolfe Jr. was born in 1930 into an old Virginia family at a time when the Civil War was still as much a part of Richmond as the Confederate statues on Monument Avenue. His father, whose Virginia roots go back to 1710, was an odd Southern hybrid of agronomist, teacher and businessman who taught at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, edited a publication called The Southern Planter and ran a company, Southern States Cooperative, that became a Fortune 500 company. His mother, Helen Perkins Hughes Wolfe, came from an old Virginia family as well. ...
Wolfe strayed from the steamy Eden of his youth, but his friends say that to understand his work -- the (dare one say?) cavalier detachment from the passing parade; the acerbic skewering of most elements of modernism from art to architecture; the conservatism about politics, art and race; the withering disdain for what he calls the think-alike "intellectual etiquette" of liberal Manhattan -- one need only think of Wolfe not as dandy or New Journalist or satirist, but as Virginian.
"It's what he's all about," said Ed Hayes, a Manhattan lawyer who says he is the model for Killian, the defense lawyer in Wolfe's first novel, "The Bonfire of the Vanities." "Tom doesn't talk about this stuff publicly, but he has this Scotch-Irish sense of honor, of duty, of family, about masculinity.
"He's the grandson of a Confederate rifleman and grew up with the sense of the Lost Cause, of glorious doomed charges at Gettysburg, of a sense of personal honor and what constitutes masculinity that has largely been rejected by the urban intellectual elite of the Northeast."
And Wolfe grew up with a sense of entitlement so profound that each night when he got down on his knees to pray, he began by thanking God for the miraculous gift of his place of birth.
"I used to think of it every night," he said, as he sipped his tomato ("ta-MAH-to") juice with a dash of salt and pepper. "First, I thanked God for having been born in America, which was obviously the greatest country on earth. I was pretty dead right on that. And in what was obviously the greatest state, because more presidents came from Virginia than anywhere else. And from the greatest city in the greatest state in the greatest country, because it was the capital of Virginia. Just think of all the people not fortunate enough to be born in Richmond, Va."
He paused a moment to contemplate that injustice for a moment and realized he had not fully conveyed his enthusiasm.
"Oh," he added, "and I also thought I lived in the best location in the greatest city because from my window, when the state fair was in town, I could see all the fireworks. How many children could say that? I can see now that I had -- what's the word? -- literally an egocentric view of the world. But it wasn't all that far from the truth."