Author: Thomas Fleming (Thomas Fleming)

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On the Wings of a Snow White Dove

When you have over an hour to kill downtown in a major city, time seems to slow to a stop.  Fortunately, the Roman houses beneath the Palazzo Valentini, which we were waiting to visit, are a stone’s throw from the column of Trajan.  On that warm and sunny day in February, we took over an...

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No News Is Good News

Why does anyone follow the news?  I am not referring to people who more or less have to know what is being said about current events.  Investors, naturally, want to know about the rumors that can drive markets up or down, and politicians and their advisors have to study the media the way a deer...

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The Ugly Beautiful Losers

“Beautiful losers” was the phrase Sam Francis borrowed from Leonard Cohen to sum up the failure of the American conservative movement.  Beautiful or not, American conservatives have been losers from their movement’s inception, and the same can be said for every conservative movement since the French Revolution and going back at least to the Enlightenment,...

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A Visit to Ali Pasha, Part 2

The main attraction in Ioannina is still the Kastro, the Turkish fortress that served as the Ottoman capital of the territory of Epirus, ruled for 30 years by Ali Pasha, a dashing Albanian warlord who accidentally helped to spark the Greek Revolution. The one thing most Americans think they know about the Ottoman Empire is...

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A Visit to Ali Pasha

“Why do you go to Ioannina”?  Pronouncing the town’s name very carefully in four syllables for our benefit, our driver broke the silence of several hours on the road from Athens during which the entire conversation had been limited to driving time and route information. I wanted to say, “?ληθ?ς, δεν ξ?ρω,” (“Truly, I don’t...

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Living With the Past

Returning from the Abbeville Institute’s conference on Confederate symbols, I began thinking of all the things I failed to say in my talk on the campaign of cultural genocide waged against the South.  I had addressed my argument to people who already respected the Southern tradition and quite properly resented the program of demonization and...

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America’s Best Friend, R.I.P.

A funeral can sometimes seem like a going out of business sale, an occasion for taking stock, not so much of the deceased as of your friendship with him.  It is strange that, presented with such an opportunity, pastors and friends usually do so poor a job of evoking the life of the departed.  One...

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Nuclear Baksheesh

For several months Republicans and Democrats have been jawing over the nuclear “deal” with Iran.  Unlike so many partisan debates, this one may actually involve issues of national security, but only if both sides are serious.  The Iranians have legitimate reasons to be afraid of an American Empire that has destroyed Iraq; plunged Syria, Tunisia,...

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Mapping Verona

A map of Verona is open, the small strange city; With its river running round and through, it is river-embraced, And over this city for a whole long winter season, Through streets on a map, my thoughts have hovered and paced. I still wake up some nights, thinking about the streets of Verona and of...

The Shape of Sicilian Water
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The Shape of Sicilian Water

When Metternich famously dismissed Italy as “a geographical expression,” the peninsula was divided into states ruled by (to name only the principals) Austrians, the Vatican, and Spanish Bourbons.  Yet even 150 years after the Kingdom of Piedmont united Italy by conquest, the truth of Metternich’s description remains perceptible to anyone who travels from Torino to...

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Tom Fleming’s Complainte

George Garrett used to tell the story of a young writer who visited him in York Harbor, Maine.  The writer, who had worked in a prison, wore a cap emblazoned with the letters SCUP, which stood for something like South Carolina Union of Prisons.  Sharing some of George’s sense of humor—which bordered on the wicked—he...

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Family Tradition

Michelle Parker, a young mother of two, disappeared from her Florida home in 2011 and has never been seen again.  The only suspect in her disappearance is her husband, who has left the state with the two children.  Michelle’s mother, who has not seen her grandchildren since 2011, has repeatedly petitioned the Florida legislature to...

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Why They Fought

The late Jean-François Revel wrote a once-famous book with the title Comment les démocraties finissent.  Revel was not a stupid man, and I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon “we tired the sun with talking,” but as a political philosopher, he was a prisoner of the leftist ideology that treats terms like equality and democracy as substantial...

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A Plague on Both Their Houses

“Layze Ameeze de tayze ameeze sont mayze ameeze.” A drunken redneck recited this at me late one night in 1965, at Andy’s Lounge.  Andy’s was one of Charleston’s last “blind tigers”—a speakeasy, complete with gambling and homely B-girls, that defied even the closing laws that the other scofflaw establishments observed.  I went there often to...

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A Little List, 1

  As Some day it may happen that a victim must be found   I’ve got a little list, I’ve got a little list   Of society offenders who might well be under ground   And never would be missed, who never would be missed. A recent comment of Robert Peters (a pleasure, as always,...

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A Different Drum

You turn on the radio for the weather report: “Sunny and warm today, with a high near 80.  Light breeze out of the south at five miles per hour.  Chance of rain less than ten percent.”  Outside your window, you watch the winds rage and the rains pour.  Which are you going to believe, your...

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Mencken-Barnum Awards Announced

For months there have been rumors circulating about the establishment of a set of annual prizes, commemorating two great American geniuses, H.L. Mencken and P.T. Barnum. The prizes are inspired by a single sentence from each genius: Mencken: “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public” Barnum: “There’s a sucker born every...

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Welcome to the United States of George Soros

My wife keeps asking me how so many people seem to have the time to go out and demonstrate against  the brutality of “racist white cops.”  She asked a similar question, when there were regular marches against violence in the “community.”  In both cases, I explained that they are paid to demonstrate, much as the...

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Aliens and Strangers

“Pope Francis: Caring for the Poor Doesn’t Make You a Communist,” screamed the headline the day before Halloween.  Perhaps not, I thought when I read the story, but why is it that caring for the world’s poor always seems to involve massive national and international programs of wealth transfer that might have been copied directly...

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Political Liberty and the Classical Tradition

When people ask me, “Why study the classics?”, I give the same answer that has been given for past 2,500 years or more: So as not to end up a stupid barbarian. As G.K. Chesterton remarked nearly 100 years ago, in any generation those who count will be talking of Troy, and since today, few...

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An Appeal from Thomas Fleming

Your mind is a terrible thing to waste—which is what will happen if Chronicles and its web go under because of lack of support. The election is over, and the Republicans have won their much predicted victory. It was only a matter of days before GOP legislators began to run away from the big issues:...

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Cuber Libre

It is a good thing Cuba is so insignificant a place, because if it had any importance—apart from its faded  glories in the cigar industry—it would be an even more royal screw-up, for American foreign policy, than our disasters in Iran, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Egypt, and the Balkans. Here is my short history of Cuba since...

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Dante’s Path to Heaven

Dante Alighieri died here in Ravenna, a little city where any sane man or woman might well choose to live and die.  Like most people, I come here from time to time to stare stupidly at the Roman and Byzantine mosaics—though as the years go by I notice most people are letting their cameras and...

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Thugs and Tarbabies

Ferguson is on fire? Blacks are looting and trashing black stores, homes, and even churches? Who could have imagined? There is really nothing to be said about such  events, as predictable as a celebrity face lift and as unsightly as a Kim Kardashian photo shoot. Those of us who lived through the 60’s have seen...

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Immigration—and the Politics of Hate

As luck would have it, we Chronicles editors were thinking about immigration, the theme of the January issue, when the President issued his marching orders on Univision. I was not especially interested in the details drawn up by the President’s clueless policy advisors: One way or another, he and they are bound and determined to...

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Cos’ and Effect

The reemergence of rape accusations against Bill Cosby have divided this nation of TV-watchers. Most members of Mr. Cosby’s race and a large percentage of his fellow males have responded with a skepticism that is not entirely unjustified. It is all too common for women to “discover” through therapy or introspection that their lives have...

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This Land is My Land

I am writing a piece refuting some of the pseudo-Christian arguments against restricting immigration. Much of the evidence I had previously collected for the chapter of my never-ending book project, but I had been looking more closely at some of Pope Francis’ naive statements and comparing them with the misleading entry in the Cathechism, which...

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Cuthbert J. Twillie and Other Bold American Warriors

Who killed Osama bin Laden? The question is almost as fraught with mystery as who killed JFK—or the man who shot Liberty Valance. Two different Navy SEALS on the scene have sold competing accounts, one to a book publisher and the other to Esquire,  a magazine that in better days purveyed soft girlie pictures and...

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Political Poltergeists

“They’re back,” cries the little girl in the movie, when the demons from Hell reappear on her television screen.  The phrase, a cliché in the cliché-driven headlines of the Washington Post and Time, comes to mind at the beginning of every election cycle, as gibberish-driveling demons like Hillary and Joe, Sarah and Newt get interviewed...

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What, Me Worry? Part II A: Ebola, Ebola, Don’t Touch Your Friend

For Americans, ebola is the new AIDS. It’s not only the nightmare plague that is supposed to obsess our imaginations, all day long and every day, as we sip the first cup of coffee or the first martini or the first 2000 calorie big gulp of diabetic shock at our favorite fat-food joint, but, wait,...

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What, Me Worry?, Part I

During a long and less than spectacular lunch at a tourist joint on the Piazza Brà in Verona today, I could not help overhearing an American couple talking about their trip, their hopes, their dreams. They were dressed regulation Rick Steves, with dangly things around their neck to connect them to their tour guide—this despite...

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Rebuilding the Family Castle

A police officer stops two black teenagers sashaying down the middle of a public street.  According to law enforcement and at least one noninvolved witness, one of the two—a six-foot four-inch, 300-pound behemoth—charges the cop and goes for his gun.  Fighting for his life, the policeman shoots and kills the “gentle giant,” who, as it...

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Rumors of Wars

“What did you think of the President’s speech” I have been asked more than once only to reply, “Not much, in fact, nothing at all.” “But, surely you’re interested in the details of his plan to stop ISL in its tracks!” The short answer is, “No,” and, though the reasons for my lack of interest...

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Willie Sutton Answers Eric Holder

Born in a Cadillac in Beverley Hills Raised on gin and vitamin pills, Robbed him a bank, when he was only three Now he’s locked up in the penitentiary, Willie, Willie Sutton.. Someone taught me this parody of “Davy Crockett,” when I was ten years old, I am not sure I remember the concluding words...

Thinking Outside the Boxes
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Thinking Outside the Boxes

And the people in the houses All went to the university Where they were put in boxes And they came out all the same . . . In “Little Boxes” Malvina Reynolds was protesting against the conformity of the 1950’s, when core requirements and a limited number of majors still ensured some measure of common...

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The Alphaville Dictionary III

Ponzio’s iconic diner (in South Jersey) is turning 50; designer Milton Glaser is creating an iconic environmental logo for his line of eye ware; steel and Domino’s sugar are iconic industries; Smokey Bear is an iconic symbol of wildfire prevention; and Roberts Shoe store—an iconic Chicago institution—is closing its doors. These are just a few...

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Up to Our Eyeballs in Gaza

I listen to Rush Limbaugh about 15 minutes a day, which is the time it takes by car to go to and from my house for lunch. Fifteen minutes is more than enough time to get the gist of what any “on air personality” will say, over and over repeating himself and ringing the changes...

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The Gentile Church V

Instead of celebrating the Jewish Sabbath (the seventh day of the week), the faithful gradually broke with Jewish custom and assembled, instead, on the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day, which they identified with the first day of Creation. They came together to sing hymns, hear the good news preached, make common prayers,...

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And All Shall Equal Be

This is our annual summer vacation issue, which means I am free to ramble on like an old lizard soaking up gin and sunshine at the beach and telling stories that all begin, “Did I ever tell you about the time . . . ” Did I ever tell you about the time I first...

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The Death Throes of an Imperial Nation

Iowa is bracing itself for the storm. The danger is not coming from the tornadoes that sweep across the plains this time of year, but from the Central American illegal immigrant “children,” eager to partake of the joys of life here in Middle America. 139 so far have come in, and if Iowa’s Marxists and...

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The Gentile Church IV: The Apostolic Church

Following the Master’s instructions, about 120 of Jesus’ followers gathered in Jerusalem under the leadership of Peter. The first order of business was the selection of a replacement for Judas. The method adopted shows us something of the way the Church will operate: The Apostles themselves choose the most worthy candidates and then leave the...

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The Gentile Church, III: The Galileans

The early Church faced many grave crises and challenges, many of which can be summed up in one question: What kind of Church was it to be? In an important sense, this question was whether it was to be a Judeo-Christian Church limited to Jews, including Gentile converts to Judaism, or a Christian Church liberated...

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The Gentile Church Act II: An Excursus

To understand how the Church disentangled itself from Judaism, it is necessary to know a little bit about what the term “Jew” means. Modern Christians often seem to think that all the Old Testament patriarchs are Jews, though Adam and Abraham are obviously the ancestors of many nations. The “children of Israel” are, in tradition,...

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The Gentile Church, Act I

The Prefect was in a difficult spot. As an honest Roman official, he knew better than to get mixed up in the turbulent local politics. The local religious establishment wanted a rebel to be executed. They said the rebel claimed to be ruler of the Roman Empire, a pathetic but direct challenge to the authority...

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Problems in Democracy 01

The House Ethics Committee has changed reporting  requirements for members who receive free travel from a variety of groups. The travel will still be reported but only on the House Clerk’s website, making it less likely for watchdog groups—aka paid snoops—and journalists—aka professional liars—to keep track of their indubitably corrupt activities. To answer Nancy Pelosi’s...

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The Wasted Century

The Great War and its inevitable successor have been called Europe’s civil war, and there is some truth in this characterization.  Divided by language, religion, and culture, the nations of Europe were nonetheless united in a common civilization that developed out of the ruins of the Christianized Roman Empire.  Despite the strains brought on by...

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The Alphaville Dictionary II

To understand the ideology of the regime, it is necessary to look at some of the most politicized areas of speech, namely everything to do with sex and gender, and—the topic of this installment—race and ethnicity. Without exhausting our entire band-width, I can only scratch the surface. Let’s begin with a few fairly tepid examples...

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The Alphaville Dictionary

Some years ago, I proposed a series of short pieces on language. The project never materialized, but it is really more appropriate for the website than the magazine. Here is the beginning: In Jean-Luc Goddard’s film Alphaville, a secret agent (Lemmy Caution) is sent to find a colleague and to destroy Alphaville itself, a computer-designed...

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The Bowe Bergdahl Gaffe

Back in 1988 Michael Kinsley (in the Times of London) famously defined the gaffe as the occasion when “a politician tells the truth.” Kinsley himself immediately watered down his elegant definition by adding “some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say,” as if the code of the politician did not require him to be uniformly...