September 25, 2017

Now Playing

(Reviewed July 28, 2017)

A great movie as spectacle, though also an illustration of the limits of spectacle

The Wedding Plan
(Reviewed June 2, 2017)

An amusing fairy tale that sometimes flirts with over-seriousness

(Reviewed May 26, 2017)

"In short measures life may perfect be." — Ben Jonson

The Lovers
(Reviewed May 16, 2017)

A not-so rollicking comedy about infidelity and divorce? What’s wrong with this picture?

ENTRY from September 19, 2017

If, like me, you don’t bother reading New York Times editorials on the grounds that you already know what they are going to say on any given subject, you may have missed one over the weekend that was headed: "Morality Is Negotiable for Mr Trump." Of course this one is no less predictable than the rest, but the headline caught my eye because it so perfectly summed up what is wrong with our politics, as well as our journalism. Both, that is, are crippled by the left-wing tactic of removing things from the political arena where they are, ipso facto, subject to negotiation and depositing them instead into the realm of morality, where they suddenly become matters of principle on which there can be no compromise. A highly desirable knock-on effect of this technique is that anyone who does not accept the alleged principle as such, or who treats it as still a matter for negotiation, can then be called unprincipled — a bad person — thus further ratcheting up the moralizing and, with it, political polarization.

The particular "morality" involved for the editorialists on this occasion was the legal status for the so-called Dreamers, or children of illegal immigrants, a subject on which our President had seemed to want to compromise with Democrats, much to the annoyance of many of his most fervent supporters — the "deplorable" ones that the Times, like Hillary Clinton, believes are bigots. Anyone who didn’t know better might suppose that the paper would welcome any such concession to their own position, but on this matter it takes T.S. Eliot’s view of "the greatest treason," which is "to do the right deed for the wrong reason."

"Mr. Trump’s actions are rarely underpinned by principles, or a vision of who we are as a nation," the editorial opines. " Even on matters of near-perfect moral clarity, he is often transactional and capricious." Of course, "to us" is understood after "near-perfect moral clarity," just as The New York Times Editorial Board must be understood as preferring a highly moral dictator issuing highly moral decrees to the messiness of democracy. Do you suppose they know that a certain Barack Obama, who definitely has "a vision of who we are as a nation" matching that of The New York Times — would be available, but for the 22nd Amendment?
  Full Entry

Media MadnessMy book Media Madness, is available for order from Encounter Books. Less a polemic than an attempt to understand the origins of the mass media’s folie de grandeur, the book is a warning even to those who are deserting the big networks, newsweeklies and large-circulation dailies not to carry with them into the more attractive world of niche media the undisciplined habits of thought that the old media culture has given rise to. To order this book, click here.

Honor, A HistoryAlso available, now in paperback, is Honor, A History, which was first published in 2006. A study of Western cultural artifacts, from the epics of Homer to the movies and TV shows of today, it is focused on explaining why Western ideas of honor developed so differently from those elsewhere — and especially from the savage honor cultures of the Islamic world. The book then goes on to trace the collapse and ultimate rejection of the old Western honor culture from World War I until the present day and to suggest the conditions that would have to prevail for its revival.

Recent Articles

Fantasia on a Theme September 18, 2017.
Ordinary delusions and the madness of crowds in Kurt Andersen's unreal America — From The Weekly Standard of September 18, 2017 ... Full Article

A “narrative” outworn June 30, 2017.
The media’s triumphalist account of the Watergate scandal has turned their routine bias into confirmation bias ... Full Article

A Wilderness of Mirrors May 31, 2017.
To the media it’s scandal, scandal everywhere but never touching them — From The New Criterion of May, 2017 ... Full Article

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