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Arms and The Man
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Arms and The Man

I must have been 11 or 12 years old before my father put a gun into my hands and told me to shoot. By then, I had been out hunting with him several times a year but I had not ceased marveling at the efficiency and grace with which he handled a shotgun or a...

Thrice-Told Tales
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Thrice-Told Tales

Politics and tale-telling are virtually inseparable activities. Great political events—wars, rebellions, social crusades—do not exert their full measure of influence until they are whittled into legends. More than one British statesman has derived his understanding of the Wars of the Roses from Shakespeare’s Histories, and in the United States the stories of Washington at Valley...

Literacy Before the Revolution
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Literacy Before the Revolution

Publishers Weekly must be the most depressing magazine published in the United States. Oh, there are others like Esquire that make us despair for the affluent numskulls who swap life-styles as if they were wives, or The New Yorker that makes us remember how really boring New York can be. But for the sick feeling...

No Latin, Much Less Greek
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No Latin, Much Less Greek

In pondering where the modern age went wrong, writers have pointed to as many answers as there are systems of thought. For conservative editorialists, the problem is Marxism or its lifeless reflection, liberalism. Irving Babbitt blamed the Romantics, while Richard Weaver nailed his thesis on the door of nominalism; and there are still literary scholars...

Paradise Enow: A Midwestern Perspective
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Paradise Enow: A Midwestern Perspective

This is not an invitation. Frankly, if you don’t live here already, most of us would rather you stay where you are, although we can’t blame you for wanting to come. Oh, some of our businessmen and bankers and ministers and mayors and tourism promoters might, in the prejudicial atmosphere of their workplaces, look down...

The Business of Business
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The Business of Business

Jefferson was of the opinion that the tree of liberty was not a hardy perennial that could be safely neglected. Once planted by a revolution, it needed to be periodically “refreshed by the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Jefferson’s radical vision of revolutionary violence was muted, in later years, by his conservative skepticism, but the...

Speak the Word Only
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Speak the Word Only

Modern man often seems ill at ease. It is as if the world has been broken and the human community shattered into millions of charged particles, attracting or repelling each other in their chance meetings. Some such notion has threatened many of the best (and second best) minds of the past two centuries. For Hegelians,...

Plain People
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Plain People

The Century of the Common Man. That was the phrase Henry Wallace used to describe the world emerging out of the Second World War. Wars do have a way of leveling society into the great democracy of the dead and dying, and it is certainly the case that, in the two great wars of the...

The Uses of Diversity: Recovering the Recent Past
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The Uses of Diversity: Recovering the Recent Past

One of the more interesting recent books of popular history, Paul Johnson’s Modern Times, stakes out the period between the outbreak of World War I to almost the present. In Johnson’s intellectual framework, the boundaries of modernity are marked by two great revolutionaries: Albert Einstein, who threw the thinking world into a turmoil of doubt...

Short Views
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Short Views

Some people love to go to Washington. The sight of so much power and wealth is exhilarating, especially for young conservative writers who discover that their names are recognized on the Hill. For many, however, the reaction is just the reverse. Within a few hours they are mulling over certain scriptural passages in Eliot—”Oh my...

Journalists and Other Anthropoids
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Journalists and Other Anthropoids

It is over 60 years since the Scopes Trial attracted journalists like Henry Mencken and Joseph Wood Krutch to Dayton, Tennessee, and yet the teaching of evolution is once again as controversial as—it was in 1925. Most of the debate is carried out between militant fundamentalists and equally militant materialists. While most of the fundamentalists...

Fruitless Grain
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Fruitless Grain

The great American story for at least 100 years has been a tale like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington or Hawthorne’s “My Kinsman Major Molineux”: the rube who comes to the city and loses his innocence. Like Jack in the fairy tale, we are eager to trade in the family cow for a chance to...

Old Adam, New Eve
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Old Adam, New Eve

Feminist writers sometimes give us the impression that the nonworking mother is a rare bird like the Bach man’s Warbler—sighted (not very reliably) once a decade or so in a corner of I’on Swamp in the South Carolina low country. The ladies magazines do occasionally report on rumors that some professional women like Janet Fallows...

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Conspiracies Against the Nation

The Reagan Administration’s Baby Doe policy is finally being tested in the Supreme Court. Supporters see the law as a necessary guarantee of the rights of handicapped infants whose lives are threatened by selfish parents and amoral physicians. The Federal government has a positive obligation, they insist, to send investigation teams—Baby Doe Squads, as they...

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Successful Crimes

Crime is big business in the U.S. It is bigger than the billions of dollars that are made in the drug traffic every year and the astronomical revenues from prostitution, gambling, and armed robbery. (Robbers alone are estimated to cost us $355 thousand a day.) Even honest citizens gel a piece of the action: law...

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Between the Lines

“He whom nature has made weak and idleness keeps ignorant may yet support his vanity by the name of a critic.” —Samuel Johnson Not too long ago we devoted an issue to the death of serious art. While there may be many objections to the thesis that popular culture has replaced painting, the symphony, and...

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Shelter From the Storm

The trial of 12 sanctuary workers in Tucson has heated up an issue which is being hailed in many quarters as the great moral issue of the 1980’s. The movement, whose members provide protection to illegal immigrants from Central America, is protesting the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service’s refusal to recognize Salvadoran and Guatemalan emigrants...

All Gone in Search of America
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All Gone in Search of America

What does it mean to be an American? Major debates over legislation and proposed constitutional amendments raise the question. Without stretching a point too much, it is easy to see the American identity as the underlying question on the immigration issue, the Equal Rights. Amendment, and perhaps even in the debate over abortion. It comes...

La Vie en Rouge
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La Vie en Rouge

The sins of South Africa are once again heavy on the American conscience. The flaws and contradictions built into her multiracial social organization are subjected to the most minute scrutiny and the imperfections in her “human rights” record are held up as justification for revolutionary forces that would cheerfully slaughter the European population of Africa’s...

Waiting For the End
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Waiting For the End

In the Gilbert and Sullivan series running currently on PBS, many American television viewers were treated for the first time to a performance of Patience, a masterful satire on the pretensions of aesthetes-the crowd George I described as “boets and bainters.” When the heroine decides to humble herself by trying to love the high priest of...

Leave the Kids Alone
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Leave the Kids Alone

The recent Supreme Court decision striking down a Silent Prayer Law in Alabama came as a shock to many people. What harm could be done by a moment of silence that the students were free to dedicate—or not dedicate—to a Supreme Being? Religion, it now seems, is to be treated like the daughter who disgraces...

Man and Nature
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Man and Nature

Is mankind no more than a part of nature, subject to her laws like every other species? Or has the human race transcended natural limits and set itself apart as master of creation? Since the dawn of the 19th century, the debate in the West on these questions bas been heavily influenced by the proposition...

Friends of the Family
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Friends of the Family

Everyone wants to save the American family. Not a day goes by, it seems, without some politician or professor issuing a call to arms or an invitation to a congressional hearing. For a long time the family had been a conservative/ Republican issue, but last fall both Mr. Mondale and Ms. Ferraro made a great...

Shine, Perishing Republic
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Shine, Perishing Republic

Murray Rothbard recently described American conservatism as “chaos and old night.” Apart from the nasty implication that we are all dunces, there is something to what he says. It is getting harder every year to figure out just what it is that makes a conservative. Consider Newt Gingrich-the Carl Sagan of politics. He wants to...

Saving the Humanities
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Saving the Humanities

While political battles rage over why Johnny cannot read, the teachers of Johnny’s teachers enjoy virtual immunity from public scrutiny. Their intellectual profile remains invisible to the public eye. In a sense, this is understandable. They were educated in the rarefied atmosphere of this country’s great universities where the life of the mind is protected...

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Private Faith & Public Schools

A Martian attending Inauguration Day ceremonies might be curious about the book upon which the President lays his hand as he takes the oath of office. “That,” we would tell him, “is the Bible, a book of Scripture sacred to most American citizens.” “I see,” our alien friend responds, “and therefore your President is obligated to...

Liberal Culture
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Liberal Culture

… And Now Something Completely Different   Husbands, who of late have been invaded by an indomitable feeling of limitless partnership with their wives, have become a routine fixture in the delivery rooms across the country. Some Lamaze instructors regularly speak of “the pregnant couple. “This unnatural exaggeration of equal participation must have resulted from...

Journalism
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Journalism

From Russia with Love   During the 1920’s and 30’s, restless American progressives — “political pilgrims” in Paul Hollander’s phrase — returned from their obligatory hajj to Moscow lauding the Soviet regime and indicting the hopelessly inferior American order. After the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, the Berlin Wall, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Solzhenitsyn, Afghanistan, and KAL 007, almost no...

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Fleeting Truths

Cyndi Lauper, current clown princess of the new (or, given its nature, is that gnu?) rock scene, recently squeaked: It was all traditional: The church, the family, the government. Any you know what I learned? Those are the biggest oppressors of women that will ever come along. And girls just wanna have fun, right, Cyndi? ...

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Liberal Culture

The End Nears . . . “The end nears when fools are hailed and the sages ignored —.” This bit of ancient wisdom came to our minds when we were going through Time magazine’s cover story on one Shirley MacLaine, a successful actress and a quasicultural emblem of the liberal America. The gist of Time‘s...

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Fleeting truths

A gentleman with impeccable leftist credentials, Mr. Todd Gitlin: Journalism is; memory hole. In the perpetual present of the press, nothing is older than old news. We agree. What’s even worse is that both American liberals and conservatives have a pernicious tendency to confuse history  (life’s  teacher) with  old news (most often valueless trivia). Add...

Liberal Culture
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Liberal Culture

CBS versus Law & People A little doubt likely invades anyone who listened to a recent CBS Evening News story about the U.S. government’s war on drugs. The network’s “legal” correspondent, one Fred Graham, informed his audience (people’s right to know) that the government was singling out so-called celebrities for investigation. At a certain point...