The Magazine

At Least He Isn't a Traitor to His Class

The all-too-familiar story of W. Kendall Myers.

Jun 22, 2009, Vol. 14, No. 38 • By SAM SCHULMAN
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Cuba is so exciting! I have become so bitter these past few months. Watching the evening news is a radicalizing experience. The abuses of our system, the lack of decent medical system, the oil companies and their undisguised indifference to public needs, the complacency about the poor, the utter inability of those who are oppressed to recognize their own condition.

Myers's indictment of the state of the American polity under Jimmy Carter is a cliché. But his admonishment of the poor for not being able to recognize their own misery and failure is rare, though also familiar. Imagine how his parents must have admonished him when he didn't get into Groton or Princeton (or wherever he actually was supposed to go), when he brought home to his Presbyterian Colonial Dame of a mother an Irish bride, when he chose not to be a professional man but a tweedy professional advocate for Neville Chamberlain--when he failed to play the hand he was dealt.

It seems that Myers chose soundly just once--when he chose no longer to allow himself any more choices. Within six months of his return to America, he was in South Dakota living with Gwendolyn, and--as Clarice Feldman shrewdly guesses in a long piece at gunsel in the Cuban mission on Lexington Avenue drew the short straw and traveled to South Dakota to enroll the eager couple as traitors. Signing up with Fidel solved Myers's problems. From that moment, everything that the couple would do--where they lived, when they moved, where they worked--or attempted to work (the poor fellow failed the CIA entrance exam in 1981)--would no longer be their choice, but would serve the cause of the Cuban Revolution. The Cuban people unburdened Myers of his freedom to fail. And no doubt Myers is still grateful for that gift of captivity.

And for us--it's nice to know that we can look forward once again to watching the life and lies of a WASP traitor unfold in the next months, even if he's only a third-tier sort of WASP traitor.

Sam Schulman, a writer in Virginia, was publishing director of the American and publisher of Wigwag.