Initial thought on RuPaul Charles: It could have been worse.
On the one hand, he's be applauded for not using some of his cruder language. (He abbreviated M.F. for the audience so as to keep it G-rated.) On the other hand, it seems as if those of us who questioned him being brought to the Ath have been vindicated by the silliness of his presentation.
In the wisdom he supposedly dispensed from the "inside," he seemed to be appealing to a kind of Gnosticism -- a transcendence that culminates in the nonsensical phrase, "that we're all one gender, really."
And he decried materialism. Of course, that's just the kind of thing one is required to say if one lives in Hollywood and is a self-described "star." But then he said that he loves shopping and likes to wear by his own admission three different set of clothes a day. I'm just as confused as you are.
His message of comforting your supposed inner child suggests a level of childishness and impulsiveness. His joy, he said, comes from being good to his inner child and recognizing that inner child in everyone. "We're all really just little kids," he said. No thanks, some of us are adults.
One of the odder moments of the evening came when he showed off pictures of himself in drag. RuPaul, who is black, pointed to a picture of himself in drag wearing a Confederate flag as trousers. "Why you might ask was I wearing a Confederate flag?" he asked the audience, rhetorically, "because the South shall rise again!"
The audience chuckled. The first person to say that said it in Latin -- John Wilkes Booth after he assassinated Lincoln.
Only in America could a black man -- descendant, no doubt, from slaves in Louisiana -- so extol his own personal freedom to dress like a woman, be so ignorant of the sacrifice of a man who risked all to give it to his antecedents.
Later, a student in the audience confessed himself to enjoying dressing up in drag as "Okama Jinja" -- his drag persona to the approving claps of the crowd.
And just like that, the purpose of the Athenaeum, has become supplanted. What was meant to encourage, in the fashion of the famous athenaeum of London, "the life of the mind" has now become a temple to the vulgar.
It seems CMC's "scholars" are more intent to get the marshmallows on the spits and be merry while Rome burns. Let this be a lesson to anyone so considering donating money for a speaker series to the Athenaeum.