Category: Correspondence

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So-Called Fascism, Canadian-Style
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So-Called Fascism, Canadian-Style

The Canadian left and right are equally guilty of slinging the word “fascist” at their opponents. The partisan reinvention of this term is problematic for the left, as Pierre Trudeau once subscribed to an ethnic and organic nationalism.

South Africa’s Fortresses of Fear
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South Africa’s Fortresses of Fear

Leonard Pillay’s 9mm pistol hasn’t left his side since July 9 of last year. “Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration,” the middle-aged mechanic admitted in an interview. “I haven’t got it on me when I sleep. But I promise you, it’s never far away. Never.”   Pillay lives in a small house in Phoenix,...

The Political Utility of Tragedy
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The Political Utility of Tragedy

The morning of Sept. 11, 2001 was unusually beautiful in Brooklyn, fresh and cloudless after the previous day’s thunderstorms, with temperatures in the mid-60s. It was Primary Day, and around a quarter to nine my wife had set out for our polling place at a local school to vote.   Just short of arriving, she...

Giving Up on the Suburbs
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Giving Up on the Suburbs

In the last week of February, the Pennsylvania Republican Party met to decide whether or not to censure U.S. Senator Pat Toomey for multiple offenses, chiefly for criticizing his Republican colleagues for daring to question whether Joe Biden was truly the winner of the 2020 presidential election. Toomey had declared that the “evidence is overwhelming...

Why Freedom Persists in Poland and Withers in Canada
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Why Freedom Persists in Poland and Withers in Canada

Why are Poles so conservative? And why are Western countries like the United States, and my country of Canada, so liberal? Although Poland claims to be Western and democratic, its government and culture are markedly different from those of Western countries such as Canada. Poland and Canada have been shaped by their pasts to evolve along...

Texas and the Big Freeze
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Texas and the Big Freeze

It became up close and personal real quick. A favorite restaurant for brunch was closed on Valentine’s Day, a Sunday, because it was already cold and icy. So my wife and I walked to a place only blocks from the house. Then, the power at our home in Austin went off around 2:00 a.m. on Monday....

The Man From Bug Tussle
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The Man From Bug Tussle

On the fourth floor rotunda of the Oklahoma State Capitol hangs a curious portrait entitled “Carl Albert,” painted in oil by distinguished Sooner State artist Charles Banks Wilson and dedicated in 1977. It depicts the 46th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Only 5’4” in real life, Carl Albert (1908-2000) looms large in the...

What Really Happened at the ‘Save America Rally’
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What Really Happened at the ‘Save America Rally’

What really happened on Jan. 6, 2021? The nation still doesn’t know the whole of it, but by all accounts on the Left and from center-right Fox News it was America’s darkest moment since 9/11, Donald Trump’s Waterloo, and the abyss of the Right. As a participant at the Save America Rally, my own perceptions...

Was Poland’s Notorious Communist Dictator Actually a Conservative?
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Was Poland’s Notorious Communist Dictator Actually a Conservative?

Calling a dictator and military officer of a Communist regime, General Wojciech Jaruzelski, “conservative” will come as a surprise to many a Western reader. After all, can such an icon of loyalty to his Soviet overlords be truly considered conservative in any sense other than a nefarious dedication to conserving a highly destructive political order? History...

Seattle’s Summer of Hate
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Seattle’s Summer of Hate

“We’ve got four blocks in Seattle that you just saw pictures of that  is more like a block party atmosphere. It’s not an armed takeover… We could have the Summer of Love.” —Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan   These sanguine and rather evocative words were uttered on CNN the other evening by Seattle’s mayor. She was speaking...

Artists, Punks, and Techies in the Golden City
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Artists, Punks, and Techies in the Golden City

If I recall correctly—always a  dangerous way to start a sentence—it was sometime in the early to mid-’70s that John D. Berry wrote in his fanzine Hitchhike about a line of thinking that placed value on having “a sense of place.” My memory hasn’t retained where he got this notion from—possibly from an issue of Whole Earth Catalog—but the...

An Easter Reflection: The Mystery of Goodness
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An Easter Reflection: The Mystery of Goodness

The sun broke through the thin, whispery clouds, and its reflection in a pool of water collected from the previous night’s rain caught my eye. Suddenly the day was bright and the morning as clear and joyful as hope itself. Resurrection Day. It was Easter morning in a year that will surely be marked down...

Letter from Twickenham: In Deepest Remainland
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Letter from Twickenham: In Deepest Remainland

One would be hard pressed to find a more pleasant London neighborhood than the leafy suburb of Twickenham, where this author resides. Situated on the Thames River and immersed in history, Twickenham was for years a bastion of conservatism. In the last two decades, however, Twickenham has become something of a solid outpost for the...

White Man’s Soul Music
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White Man’s Soul Music

“Country music is white man’s soul music.” —Kris Kristofferson “It doesn’t offend us hillbillies, it’s our music.” —Dolly Parton on the term “hillbilly music” “She sounds exactly like where she’s from.” —Vince Gill on Dolly Parton “The old ghosts are always rising up, refusing to be cast aside.” —Ketch Secor Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison...

A New Right Arises in Poland
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A New Right Arises in Poland

The year 2019 was an eventful one in Polish politics. Out of a boring and meaningless dispute between two wings of Polish liberalism, there arose a new political force determined to shake up Poland’s political culture. Eleven MPs from the new Confederation Party appeared in the Polish Parliament, the Sejm, after last October’s parliamentary elections....

Is Seattle Dying?
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Is Seattle Dying?

Not long ago, I found myself sitting one sunny Friday afternoon in the Unity Museum in Seattle, notebook in hand, as a group of fresh-faced college undergraduates participated in a debate over whether or not their city is dying. The general conclusion of the affair and the grim message of the students was that it...

In Georgia, a Reminder of a Halcyon West
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In Georgia, a Reminder of a Halcyon West

Even in the beginnings of winter, Georgia’s capitol Tbilisi emits a warmth. One should expect this from a city known for its many hot springs, but the warmth experienced goes much beyond the sulfur baths popular with tourists and locals alike. Tbilisi, with its 1.4 million residents, is inviting in a way that few cities...

The Failure of the Canadian Right
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The Failure of the Canadian Right

The Canadian federal election in October confirmed a long-term, leftward trend in Canadian politics. Despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s blackface scandal, the Liberals retained power, winning a plurality of 157 out of 338 seats and 33.1 percent of the popular vote. Conservatives won 121 seats (34.4 percent of the vote), gaining truly overwhelming support from...

Ohio Gets Nice on Crime
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Ohio Gets Nice on Crime

In my new home of Ashland, Ohio, there is a sign that welcomes all comers to “The World Headquarters of Nice People.” It seemed to me as if the entire town conspired to make my move as pleasant as could be. This is “Midwestern Nice” in a nutshell. But I’ve found the flavor of American...

Religious Discrimination, Real and Imagined
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Religious Discrimination, Real and Imagined

As I was scrolling the news one August day, my attention was drawn to an article recounting the story of a woman wearing a niqab who was ejected from a bus in the Netherlands, a country that enacted a partial ban on the full veil. The prohibition mitigates security fears in places where concealed identity...

Boris’s Literary Language
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Boris’s Literary Language

For the first time since Winston Churchill, Britain is governed by a master of language. There have been few such in Downing Street history; most of those who become prime minister have devoted their entire life-effort to climbing “the greasy pole.” Of the partial exceptions, George Canning, in 1797 a co-founder of the Anti-Jacobin, was...

Inky Eyes Into China’s Mind
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Inky Eyes Into China’s Mind

The newspaper boxes can be found around Washington, D.C., ranging from Union Station near the Hill to Foggy Bottom in the vicinity of the State Department. Inside, the newspaper articles emphasize positive, even entrepreneurial themes: investment opportunities, technological advances, the virtues of trade and economic integration. This world view, at first glance, could be mistaken...

Amazon Fires Spark Global Hysteria
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Amazon Fires Spark Global Hysteria

The afternoon of Monday, August 19, I was at home in my apartment in the city center of São Paulo. Glancing out the window, I noticed the sky was unusually dark. I figured it was about to rain, so I told my children we had to cancel our trip to the park. I thought no...

In Fair Verona, a Fight for Family
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In Fair Verona, a Fight for Family

My husband and I touched down in Venice in late March, rented a Fiat 500, and drove through a rolling Italian countryside spotted with vineyards. Our destination was the medieval town of Verona. Verona has become something of a political flashpoint lately. It is the symbolic home of the Lega Nord, the now-leading conservative half...

The British Invasion of the Ozarks
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The British Invasion of the Ozarks

Chronicles readers may recall my “Old Route 66” (September 2013) and “Keep the Water on Your Right” (February 2015) motorcycle travelogues, in which I rode through small towns and rural areas to reconnect with the land and people of America. A road trip can do this like no other kind of journey, and doing one...

California Apocalypse Now
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California Apocalypse Now

Just about everybody I know, especially Republicans, is planning an exit strategy from California. A Los Angeles County firefighter I met at a party said all those guys, too, are planning to leave, despite their high salaries and pensions. Many grousers no doubt will stay, in particular those whose children remain. But the calamities hitting...

Cop in the SPLC’s Crosshairs
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Cop in the SPLC’s Crosshairs

Schoolchildren all across America are taught they live in the Land of the Free and that freedom of speech is a bedrock right. This is patently untrue, especially if one falls into any of these unfortunate demographic categories: Christian, white, Southern, or male. God help you if, like me, you fall into all four. Aside...

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Silicon Valley Is Dumbing Down Kids

When I caught a seventh student in the classroom trying to bury his Chromebook in his crotch, clumsily angling the screen below the desk to hide the networked game he was playing, I wondered whether there’s any evidence that Chromebooks actually help educate schoolchildren. As it turns out, there is none. No longitudinal studies have...

Farage’s European Victory Upends British Politics
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Farage’s European Victory Upends British Politics

When the 751 Members of the new European Parliament (MEPs) gather in the French city of Strasbourg on July 2, the largest national group present in all the EU will be the MEPs of Britain’s new Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage. While the 29 newly elected Brexit Party MEPs intend to upend the EU,...

‘Brazilian Trump’ Rides Wave of Low Expectations
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‘Brazilian Trump’ Rides Wave of Low Expectations

Jair Bolsonaro’s election to the presidency of Brazil last year provoked a media meltdown similar to Donald Trump’s victory in 2016. Just as in the U.S., journalists in Brazil and abroad predicted the “Trump of the Tropics” was akin to the second coming of Hitler, ushering in the end of democracy, revoking gay rights, and...

Notre Dame and the Lost ‘Means of Culture’
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Notre Dame and the Lost ‘Means of Culture’

The fire that gutted Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris during Holy Week was no doubt caused by nothing more banal than negligent builders doing restoration work on the roof. Nevertheless it compelled all of us to search for a deeper explanation. A Gothic masterpiece begun in 1163, Notre Dame has become an icon of European...

Covington Catholic and the Hour of Decision
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Covington Catholic and the Hour of Decision

Nicholas Sandmann, a young teenager unwittingly made the centerpiece of the Covington Catholic media attack, will never have the chance to restore his online presence, despite his innocence. The internet’s permanence—negative, false and defamatory articles and headlines never ceasing to appear upon a Google search of the word “Sandmann”—will function as a perpetual thorn in...

Healthcare in a Humane Society
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Healthcare in a Humane Society

The night had started off great.  A few weeks earlier I had agreed to speak at the New York premiere of the American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks’s forthcoming documentary The Pursuit.  The invitation came from the think tank Conscious Capitalism, which was founded by Whole Foods founder John Mackey.  Although I knew little about...

Culture Wars!
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Culture Wars!

The bitter war of words that has taken place the best part of this past year between France and Italy culminated in the French government taking the extraordinary step of withdrawing its ambassador to Rome in February. On one level, this drôle de guerre is between two governments which hold dramatically different views of the...

Migrant Dreams and Nightmares
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Migrant Dreams and Nightmares

On Thursday January 17, news broke in the Netherlands that a Dutch journalist had been expelled from Turkey.  Ans Boersma, 31, had been detained the day before in Istanbul when she applied to renew her residence visa.  In a last-ditch attempt to help her, a group of her colleagues brought a lawyer to the police...

Steve Bannon’s Gladiator School: A View From Within
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Steve Bannon’s Gladiator School: A View From Within

About 50 miles south and east of Rome, high in the Apennine mountains, lies the Charterhouse of Trisulti whose isolated magnificence prompted the German historian Ferdinand Gregorovius (who stumbled upon it in the 1850’s) to write in his classic work Years of Wandering in Italy, “If a place exists where the human spirit can reach...

Secular Nationalism Is Not Enough
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Secular Nationalism Is Not Enough

The Turkic peoples began as steppe nomads, then became soldiers and eventually farmers and city-dwellers.  As they made these transitions they came to dominate ancient centers along the Silk Road.  So they ended up at crossroads and thoroughfares, places where Christian, Muslim, and Jew met with those from farther afield. Such places seem romantic, but...

The Ethnic Partitioning of England
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The Ethnic Partitioning of England

Londonistan: The content is in the book’s title.  Melanie Phillips, the author, had great difficulty in finding a publisher; no main house would take it, even though she is a distinguished and successful writer, and in the end it came out in 2006 with a minor publisher, Gibson Square.  The book’s theme is that Britain...

American Shakespeare
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American Shakespeare

Shakespeare contains the cultural history of America.  From first to last, Shakespeare is the graph of evolving American values.  He early made the transatlantic crossing: It is thought that Cotton Mather was the first in America to acquire a First Folio.  Richard III was performed in New York in 1750, and in 1752 the governor...

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From Russia, With Love­—and Hate

Russian sexuality and the country’s general mores have become a topic of conversation in the United States, mostly in relation to President Trump’s alleged connections with the Kremlin and his behavior during his trip to Russia some time ago, which is the subject of the infamous “Steele Dossier.”  The British press has not ignored the...

Fighting for Their Homeland
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Fighting for Their Homeland

South Africa has rarely been out of the headlines in 2018.  In late February, the South African government voted to amend the constitution to allow for the expropriation of land from white farmers without compensation.  The vote put an international spotlight on the many problems plaguing the country. In January, President Donald Trump was reported...

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The Siege of Sweden

In an era of political correctness, “safe spaces,” and “trigger warnings” for the constitutionally feeble, there are plenty of things we are not supposed to talk about.  Increasingly in recent months, this seems to include crime and immigration in the Kingdom of Sweden.  From across the political spectrum and on both sides of the Atlantic,...

Requiem for a Remainer
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Requiem for a Remainer

It is time to ring down the curtain on the troubled rule of Theresa May.  May became Prime Minister as the result of a series of flukes, which a scriptwriter would have dismissed as too implausible to work.  She was home secretary in the Cameron Government, and cannot have entertained serious hopes beyond retaining her...

Homesick in America
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Homesick in America

“Darlin,’” she said, “I’ll get that.  Go ahead and take it.”  She was a weathered-looking woman with mousy light brown hair drawn back in a bun and the plain, honest look of one of those faces you see in Depression-era photos from the Dust Bowl, faces that don’t smile—they are just themselves, making the best...

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Mencken and After

If Noah Webster was the father of English-language spelling reform, H.L. Mencken was the strong son making good his inheritance.  Mencken’s claim was to be the father of the American language.  He named it.  As with mountains and planets, the one who names is honored with immortality, and The American Language, first published in 1919,...

The Meaning of Macron—and the “Right” in the West
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The Meaning of Macron—and the “Right” in the West

“He is on the right.”  “That party represents the right.”  These are standard expressions that are familiar today in the West, including France.  But as usual, few understand or even care about the precise meaning of the word.  Most people either hurl it as an insult, or claim it as a virtue. For example, after...

The Cottingley Fairies, and Fatima
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The Cottingley Fairies, and Fatima

Arthur Conan Doyle once wrote that the idea of an acceptable form of public entertainment underwent a rude shock in the years around World War I.  By then in his mid-50’s, he had abandoned any pretense of sympathy for modern culture.  In particular, Conan Doyle shrank from the more proscriptive plays of Henrik Ibsen, as...

Success in “Defeat”
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Success in “Defeat”

What do you do when people favor your ideas but your party is shut out of government?  That’s the dilemma faced by the far right in the Netherlands.  The Party for Freedom (PVV), led by Geert Wilders, settled for second place in the national election held in March.  Forum for Democracy (FVD), a new far-right...