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No One Feels Sorry For An Heiress On A Yacht: The Original Missing White Girl

08.28.08 by Natasha | 4 Comments | Digg This

nullHey! What are you doing right now? Are you making a totally sweet Joe Biden stencil to spray all over your not-quite-gentrified urban enclave? No? Well then this gives you the time to mosey on over to the Atlantic web site and read a really masterful piece by Caitlin Flanagan about the grandmother of all missing white girls: Patty Hearst.

If you’re like me, you know relatively little about the Patty Hearst ordeal. In the kooky threesome-laden ‘70s, there were some despicable radicals who kidnapped, raped, and “brainwashed” a newspaper heiress. She transformed from horse-loving rich girl into a machine gun-wielding bank-robber. Hearst went from mourned victim to despised perp over a stretch of 60 days. But, dear reader, it was so much more than that:

The central question being asked about her experience was also being asked in a million tiny dramas that were unfolding across the country – ruptures that turned on blue jeans and broken curfews and birth control pills, rather than on joining a gang of armed revolutionaries: Had this well-tended and much-loved daughter really crossed over? And if she had, was she so far gone that ever her own people might not want her?

There’s tons of great stuff in the piece: the isolation of living in girl land, the oppressive guilt of affluent white liberals, a little dash of unsentimental class analysis , and lovely cameo from the LAPD. Seriously, Caitlin Flanagan is one of the best writers out there. Read her stuff by the flickering light of a thousand Maureen Dowd columns set aflame.

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