Activists Appropriate Holiday Spirit for Political Purposes

It’s the same, every year. If our most cherished holidays aren’t denigrated falsely as pagan anachronisms, they’re indicted as examples of naked consumerism. As Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or even Easter and Christmas roll around, one can reliably count on the chorus of cynics ever ready with limitless reserves of smug

By | 2017-04-22T20:41:12+00:00 April 20th, 2017|

Draining the Academic Swamp

Civil rights historian Abigail Thernstrom once spoke of the American campus as “an island of repression in a sea of freedom.” That was in 1989. At the high tide of freedom we who believed in unfettered inquiry and free speech believed these islands might “stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which

By | 2017-04-22T00:36:01+00:00 April 19th, 2017|

The Southern Poverty Law Center is a Hate Group

  The hilariously misnamed Southern Poverty Law Center is a non-profit group that purports to fight “hate and bigotry” and to seek “justice for the most vulnerable members of our society.” Though it makes the most of the goodwill and reputation earned in the 1960s, today they exist mainly to spread hatred, incite violence, and

By | 2017-04-03T05:22:13+00:00 March 28th, 2017|

Political Violence and Coming-of-Age for an American Student

The recent events at Middlebury College should have been a jolting reminder that all is not well in our polarized culture or, especially, in our institutions of higher learning. The level of chaos on display two weeks ago was incongruent with the understanding most of us have about the experience of university life, and somehow even

By | 2017-03-14T22:03:29+00:00 March 14th, 2017|

Our Conservative Folks Part 2: Campuses Are Becoming Unsafe Spaces for Conservative Students

The attack on Middlebury College political science professor Allison Stanger, who moderated a talk by scholar Charles Murray, has received some attention—as it should. There is something about the image of a professor wearing a neck brace from an attack by a mob on campus that should raise alarms. Stanger became a target by virtue

By | 2017-03-13T15:53:19+00:00 March 13th, 2017|

Our Conservative Folks

Back in the days of Jim Crow, many whites defended racial discrimination by trotting out stereotypes about “Our Black Folks,” who they maintained were satisfied with the status quo. Oh, they are quite happy with being maids, bootblacks, and sharecroppers, said the apologists. They like living on their “side of the fence,” as a character

By | 2017-04-03T05:35:25+00:00 March 10th, 2017|

Harry Potter and the Danger of Words

“Avada Kedavra!” —Voldemort It must have been J. K. Rowling. That’s the only explanation that makes sense. Rowling, with her Harry Potter series, somehow convinced a generation of kids that words, spoken in just the right sequence, can affect the physical world in exactly the same way force can. After exhausting every other rational explanation,

By | 2017-03-09T08:17:03+00:00 March 9th, 2017|

The Middlebury Meltdown

Future historians of the liberal arts in American academic life will be able to pinpoint the time and place of its death with remarkable accuracy. The fatal blow was delivered Thursday night, March 2, at Wilson Hall, Middlebury College, Vermont. The victim struggled manfully, but finally expired outside the McCullough Student Center an hour or

By | 2017-03-05T14:38:57+00:00 March 5th, 2017|

The Denunciation Racket

Maybe it’s my background as a Soviet-era Jewish Russian emigre, but I’ve always found calls from politicians to denounce someone or something unsettling. From the days of Ancient Rome when senators would pressure each other to out-denounce political enemies to appease the emperor, to the French Revolution where the Sans-Culottes pamphlets read: “Denounce the crimes,

By | 2017-03-04T09:54:09+00:00 March 3rd, 2017|