Occupy Wall Street’s surface message, cleverly backed up with the canny but fatuous “99%” slogan, is an illusion, a red herring employed in a cynical attempt to press more mainstream public unease into the service of a worldview that remains very much on the fringe. Were all of OWS’s gripes to be resolved firmly in their favor, the displeased would not suddenly consider America pure. On the contrary, by and large, the types who have occupied Zuccotti and other parks across the nation consider the United States to be an intractably racist, imperialist, unequal nation, which boasts an invidious history whose alleged crimes can be seen populating the pages of Howard Zinn’s books. As a new report concludes, “while their rhetoric might decry crony capitalism or bank bailouts, their values reveal self-centered and fear-based motivations,” and a deep hostility to capitalism and American values of individualism and limited government is thrown in for good measure… ›› Read on National Review Online
Posts from December, 2011
Even for the late 17th century, the witch trials at Salem were egregious: the last hurrah of an early-modern culture of superstition and retribution that was stopped dead in its tracks by the early sparks of the Enlightenment. By the time, in 1692, that Abigail Williams and her friends wrought havoc across three counties on the Massachusetts frontier, it was widely considered that “sorcery” was, if not whimsical in itself, at least a matter unsuited for the courts. Indeed, so keen was the horror at the hysteria that had taken hold in Salem that the mere mention of the place was sufficient to cool any passions that looked in danger of spiraling into outmoded and dangerous thaumaturgy. For America, it was the witch-hunt to end all witch-hunts… ›› Read on National Review Online
My review of Victor Davis Hanson’s The End of Sparta is in National Review‘s December 31 print issue.
With a dull inevitability and a scandalous absence of shame, New York University announced Thursday that next semester it will offer two for-credit classes on the subject of Occupy Wall Street. The first, for undergraduates, will be entitled, “Why Occupy Wall Street? The History and Politics of Debt and Finance” and taught by Lisa Duggan, a professor of social and cultural analysis, whose long list of “teaching interests” is a veritable masterpiece of satire, including such gems as Gender and Cultural History, Social Theories of Citizenship, Critical Historiographies/Queer Historiographies, Constructions of Whiteness in the United States, Studying Sex, Studying Gender, and the indispensable Introduction to Lesbian/Gay Studies: Queer Critique… ›› Read on National Review Online
Whether Liddy, Abby, and Mary Anne — more commonly known as the Huntsman Girls — can do much damage to a campaign that has never left the launch pad is doubtful, but they are certainly a liability in one area: They are not funny. In his classic “schoolmaster” sketch, Rowan Atkinson tells his students that we can tell “Antony and Cleopatra is not a funny play” because “if Shakespeare had meant it to be funny, he would have put a joke in it.” The Huntsman Girls might take note, for theirs is a big stage on which to fail… ›› Read on National Review Online
In 1783, William Pitt warned the British Parliament about the dangers of those who would reflexively employ “necessity” as an argument in favor of their preferences. “Necessity,” Pitt exclaimed, “is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves!” These are wise words indeed. But in a purely Machiavellian sense, the tactic is also a risky one. Those who shout “or else!” tend to be left in the role of the boy who cried wolf if their apocalypse fails to turn up on time… ›› Read on National Review Online