DING, DONG THE WICKED WASP IS DEAD
IN THE EARLY 1970s when the white ethnic revival got under way, the ethnic intellectuals and others who bandy pop sociology in the mass media of the land declared the rise of the unmeltable "ethnics" and the decline of the so-called WASPs--the acronym for white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. Those were heady times, frothy enough to inspire critic Alfred Kazin in 1972 to tell a group of New York college students that "if any group is to be pitied, it is perhaps the 'Wasps,' who find their books reviewed on the back pages of The New York Times Book Review (quoted by Johnson, 1972).
As some of the intellectuals see it, the "WASPs" are like, as Nancy Mitford ( 1955) said of an aristocracy in a republic, "a chicken whose head has been cut off: it may run about in a lively way, but in fact it is dead." In this final chapter, the natural history of the epithet WASP tells a story of ethnic relations played out in the print media.
WASP is one of those pronounceable and irresistible acronyms that has found a firm niche in the American language since it appeared in the mid-1950s. As a new word of slang, probably originating in social science, WASP was embraced at once by journalists, literary intellectuals, and so