Category: Perspective

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Save the Children

Modern Americans are going to live forever.  We must believe that; otherwise we would not rise up in spontaneous outrage whenever a stuck accelerator causes a car to crash or a surgical procedure goes awry.  Science and technology have made

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Cheating “Honest” Men

Sometimes I like to remind myself of what a nobody I am.  It does not take much to trigger these fits of humility.  A glance in the mirror or at the ever-expanding bulge in my vest is usually enough to

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Divide and Conquer

I have seen a great deal of your government since I came to India.  Your forts, your arsenals, your ships, all are admirable.  I have been down to Calcutta, and have been astonished with your wealth, your palaces, your marts,

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Print the Legend

It was about 3 p.m. on October 26, 1881, as Tombstone’s town marshal, Virgil Earp (also a deputy U.S. marshal), his brothers Wyatt and Morgan, and the Earps’ eccentric friend Dr. John H. Holliday confronted Isaac and William Clanton and

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When the Going Gets Tough. . .

Would that I were not among the men of the fifth generation, but either had died before or been born afterwards.  For now truly is a race of iron, and men never rest from labour and sorrow by day, and

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Going Through the Motions

I did not expect to like the Basilica of Sacré Coeur, which is why I had never bothered to go up to Montmartre.  The basilica was commissioned by Catholics who had survived the Paris Commune of 1870-71, when churches were

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Something to Remember

Francis Parkman concluded his monumental account of France and England in North America with the Peace of Paris of 1763, by which France ceded Quebec, once and for all, to the British Empire.  In an uncharacteristically smug observation on the

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Remembering Who We Were

We were in Athens, near the end of July, having dinner with some Greek friends at Attikos, a popular rooftop restaurant with a view of the Parthenon.  Like most conservatives, our friends are somewhat pessimistic about what the future holds

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Stepping Backward

When Jefferson Davis was a boy, he told his father that he did not wish to go to school.  The Yankee schoolmaster, although a kindly man, demanded a great deal of memory work and threatened to punish young Jeff for

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Johnny Rocco’s World

Conservative political strategists are like the military strategists they would like to emulate: They are always fighting the last war.  For how many years, when the Soviet Union was collapsing, did conservatives continue to rail against the communist menace?  Marxism,

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The Good Life

“Say, I guess America is just about the best country that has ever existed in the history of mankind.”

I have been hearing this assertion all my life and never fully understood what is intended, unless it is merely one

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Immigration, Neighbors, and Enemies

It is like a science-fiction movie from the 1950’s.  Mysterious radiation from outer space takes over the brains of Asian men in America, turning them into moral zombies that go on killing sprees: a Buddhist in Texas who tried to

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Free Men of a Republic

“The Constitution gives every American the inalienable right to make a damn fool of himself.”  I first heard this wise insight into the American way of life from Sam Ervin, who was, as I have since learned, quoting John Ciardi. 

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Dead Romans and Live Americans

Libero Ingresso” says the little sign on the doors of an Italian shop.  English speakers who know enough Italian to translate the words, Free Entrance, sometimes wonder if there was a time when Italian shopkeepers charged customers an

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Self-Evident Lies

Jon Stewart: “You write that marriage is the bedrock of our society.  Why would you not want more couples to buy into the stability of marriage?”

 

Mike Huckabee: “Marriage still means one man one woman life relationship.  I think people

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Rendering Unto Lincoln

“Now he belongs to the ages,” Edwin Stanton is supposed to have said, when he learned of President Lincoln’s death.  In a trivial sense at least, Stanton was obviously correct.  We have Lincoln’s face on the five-dollar bill—a bill that

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Uncle Sam’s Harem

These days bipolarism appears to be the “in” childhood malady touted by leftist psychologists, who previously promoted ADHD to explain away the disturbed behavior exhibited by postmodern children and adolescents.  The list of problems is long: antisocial behavior, poor performance

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Christmas Nightmares

Like many children growing up in the 1950’s, he looked forward to Halloween even more than to Christmas.  It was, admittedly, a difficult choice, because at Halloween, all he got was candy or a disappointing piece of fruit, while Christmas

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Whither the Republic?

This month, we shall have an answer to an all-important question: Which arm of our bipartisan party state will occupy the White House for the next four years?  This is an issue second in importance only to such urgent American

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The Audacity of Hate

Barack Obama has a problem, and if it were not for this one problem, he would easily be elected president.  As it is, because of this problem, the impossible John Mc­Cain actually has a chance.  The problem is white people. 

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Chinese Monkeys on Our Backs

An eminent British statesman once confessed to Horace Walpole that he had learned all he knew of the Wars of the Roses from reading Shakespeare’s histories.  I do not recall who the statesman was, and I am only guessing that

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Lost in the 50’s

It was about 1965, in Jimmy Dengate’s “club” in Charleston, when I got my first clue to what the 50’s had been all about.  I met an unusual sportswriter.  Let us call him Jack, if only because it was his

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Bush’s Whips, McCain’s Scorpions

“He [John McCain] did everything that we
asked of him, including arming the KLA.”

—Albanian lobbyist Joe DioGuardi

When I hear the word Belgrade pronounced, I can almost smell the soft coal smoke tainting the chilly air of early spring. 

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The Pursuit of Happiness

“This used to be a hell of a good country.
I can’t understand what’s gone wrong with it.”

When people of a certain age and experience begin to think about when and how America went wrong, they almost inevitably hear

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Beastie Boys

After the recent shootings on the campus of Northern Illinois University, network-news programs were filled with helpful proposals for dealing with the growing problem of school violence.  The suggestions were the predictably inane and irrelevant products of post-Christianity’s impoverished imagination:

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Little Aristocracies of Our Own

How beastly the bourgeois is,
Especially the male of the species

D.H. Lawrence’s lines are still quoted, though most often by writers who know nothing else of his poetry.  It is taken for granted that Lawrence was right to contemn

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Our Open (Borders) Secret

The long campaign of 2007-08, already sputtering out in fizzled squibs, childish ploys, and pointless personal recriminations, has offered few of the moments of drama or high comedy that Americans have rightly come to expect of our political candidates.  The

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The Suicide of the West

The issue of Kosovo, which has been simmering since the United States waged a war of unprovoked and unjustifiable aggression against the former Yugoslavia, is boiling over.  While Serbian “public opinion” is said to be more interested in economic questions,

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The Politics of Human Interests

After wearing out the patience of television viewers over an entire year of premature campaigning, the two political parties will soon be informing us of their choices.  Will the presidential election of 2008 really come down to a contest between

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Freedom of Conscience

The Illinois legislature recently overrode Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s veto of what the newspapers are describing as mandatory-school-prayer legislation.  Predictably, the state’s editorial pages are filled with denunciations of this arbitrary attempt to impose religion on the helpless children of Illinois,

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Wiccan Warming

The summer of 2007 was nearly intolerable here in Northern Illinois.  Except for a glorious week in July when the sun, shining bright in the clear sky, never warmed our city to above 80 degrees, the days were an unpleasant

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Counting People and People Who Count

My curriculum vitae still includes a paragraph describing my activities as an “educational consultant,” though it has been some years since I went to Washington to read grants or evaluate schools for the Department of Education.  It was all time

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Connoisseur of Chaos

In a spurt of avuncular generosity, I handed the young man a cigar.  It was a pretty good smoke, maybe a Romeo y Julieta or a Maria Mancini I had bought for half-price.  (I buy all my cigars on sale

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Ted’s Timor Mortis

It was the second night of RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults), and Ted, the amateur catechist in charge of the class, was on a roll.  The students were an odd lot of fallen-away Catholics, disgruntled Protestants who wanted

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Establishing Christian America

We Americans like to think of our country as the most religious, the most Christian nation on the face of the earth.  In an irritating article I wrote for the Spectator (“America: Not A Christian Country,” August 27, 2005),

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Our Fathers’ Fields

Conservatives in the 21st century lead subterranean lives, taking refuge in their obscurity and finding comfort only in the virtual memories of better times, memories all too often implanted from misleading books and films.  Like aristocratic pagans in the afterglow

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Dead Monkeys and the Living God

Sir Elton John would like to “ban religion completely” because it stirs up “hatred toward gay people.”  Like so many giants of the entertainment industry, Elton John probably does not hate religion per se but only Christianity.  Christophobia is the

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If Pigs Could Fly

The day after Christmas 2006, the U.S.-military death toll in Iraq overtook and then surpassed the total number of Americans killed on September 11, 2001.  Some Democrats, even before the symbolic number was reached, were calling for a withdrawal,

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Pigs Is Pigs

Politics is like the weather: No matter how blue in the face we talk ourselves, no matter how many virgins we sacrifice to Odin, our leaders do not improve, and the drought continues.  The fates who determine the destinies of

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Two Oinks for Democracy

In the year 2000, many conservatives, with or without holding their noses, turned out to vote for George W. Bush.  One of the Republicans’ strongest selling points during the campaign was Governor Bush’s oft-repeated declaration that his administration would not

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Jihad’s Fifth Column

No one on the planet, by now, has not heard of the violence that greeted Pope Benedict’s references to Emperor Manuel II and his reflections on Islam.  Manuel, invariably (and unfairly) described as “obscure” or “forgotten,” lived in one of

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El Gringo y El Mexicano

America has not been a nation for well over a century.  She is more like an Indian stew: Never taken off the fire, the mess of wild carrots and fish is gradually transformed by the daily addition of squirrels and

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The Root of All Evil

When George Bernard Shaw decided to devote himself to the destruction of civilization (or, as he would have preferred to call it, the cause of socialism), he spent years studying political economy.  As Chesterton put it in a book devoted

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Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off

Faculty parties are excruciating experiences—bad food and worse conversation.  It has been many decades since American professors were scholars or scientists who could take an intelligent interest in a wide range of subjects, but they doggedly persist in repeating

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Socialism Is Theft

The troubles of youth have long been a staple of popular fiction.  In 19th-century fiction, wellborn young men borrowed against their future inheritance in order to pay for the wine, women, and song that red-blooded young men have always pursued. 

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Violent Revolution

This past spring, while Congress was engaging in its usual mock debate about tightening immigration, hundreds of thousands of Mexican-Americans took their case to the streets.  In the first round of demonstrations, Chicanos, waving Mexican flags, demanded rights for illegals

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Imposing Utopia

George W. Bush campaigned for the presidency on a pledge not to engage in the nation-building experiments that characterized the Clinton years, and, like every other president of the 20th century, he did not simply break his major promises: He

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New Wine in Old Bottles

Suppose a wife is dying or has been lying for years in a coma: Who has ultimate authority to decide what medical treatments will be used to prolong or not to prolong her life?  Suppose a child of divorced parents