Hypocrisy is Normal

NY Review of Books – Jefferson’s Concubine

Thomas Jefferson was a hypocrite – no getting around that. But hypocrisy is part of normal human behavior.

Growing up in a religious family, my childhood was saturated with it. And I flattered myself by thinking I was above that sort of thing.

But when I was sixty, for heavens sake – I indulged in some deceptive behavior myself. I found myself in a relationship with an ugly woman – and not once did I ask myself “Why are you with this woman?” Delores was thrilled that an attractive, successful man was interested in her – and assumed this interest was sexual. To her surprise, and mine – we discovered I was not interested in sex – not at all. You may not classify this as deception, or hypocrisy – but it was something close to it.

To return to our American friend Jefferson. In his time, he was seen for what he was – a complicated, self-contradictory person – nothing unusual.

But as the American mind got simpler – it could not cope with him.


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