[Letter January 7, 1941]
One begins to see with what chicanery the synthetic neurosis of popular music has been forced on the world: a product of no intrinsic value, as the instantaneous deterioration of the average hit shows, but only a high price. Most of the things we pay for are like that. I suppose it is the implicit resentment to the elaborate lie which has been woven together from a thousand such false values that has all our people fretting today. Unwilling to subscribe to a multitude of cheap deceptions, we are equally unwilling to denounce them, because with great cunning the deceivers wrap themselves in the banner of civilization so tightly that any disrespect to them can be made to seem a slur on humanity itself. This I believe is the base maneuver that has produced our mass schizophrenia. It is some comfort to know (though great care has been taken to suppress the little item) that Irving Berlin did not write God bless America, which is forty years old, and rather on the laboriously sentimental side anyway. I am never at ease with the patriot who doth protest too much.