- The Washington Times - Friday, June 16, 2006

Caitlin Flanagan has a review of “You’ll Never Nanny in This Town Again,” a revenge memoir written by an ex-nanny of the Hollywood power couple Michael and Judy Ovitz.

The best part of the essay is not the dish about life chez Ovitz. Flanagan goes deeper than that. She examines what I think is a widespread cultural confusion in American suburbia today. The confusion stems from the unplanned and badly managed commingling of upper-middle-class strivers and the mores of aristocratic servitude. In short, most white American couples have no clue how to treat their predominantly Hispanic help, who, in turn, have no inclination to behave like the butlers, footmen and nursemaids of yesteryear.

Writes Flanagan:

[T]he vast and apparently untrammeled arrival of immigrants to this country — combined with our yawning need for child care and the stubborn human tendency toward laziness — has allowed a massive new servant culture to spring up in less than two decades. It is a culture in which people with no experience of having staff in their homes are becoming employers of small retinues of servants — the nanny, the once-a-week housecleaner, the cheap ‘mow, blow, and go’ gardener with his truckload of day workers. It is also a culture in which the servants oftentimes have no previous experience of a life in service (many were factory or agricultural workers in their native countries; many are educated).

Conservative luminary Russell Kirk addressed this phenomenon years ago. It’s why traditional Burkean conservatives tended to favor the preservation of economic strata: to keep the social peace.

To paraphrase pro-wrestler The Rock, it’s good for citizens to “know their role.”

Of course, here in classless America, no one likes to talk like that out loud (and I certainly don’t mean to endorse a large-scale return to Old World mores).

Instead we keep quiet. We heedlessly go along — and hope, naively, that everyone gets along.

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