(Reviewed August 29, 2014)
A portrait of modern sanctity which — very oddly, in my view — asks not to be taken too seriously
(Reviewed August 27, 2014)
The movie it took twelve years to make — about a childhood that appears to be taking much, much longer
America: Imagine the World Without Her
(Reviewed July 31, 2014)
Another foray by Dinesh D’Souza into the lists in order to break a lance on President Obama — and Howard Zinn. At least the latter is effectively unhorsed.
(Reviewed June 30, 2014)
An austerely beautiful film by the Anglo-Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski that could hardly be a greater departure from his earlier My Summer of Love
When I was a youngster, all school children knew the story of Henry Clay’s having said, "I had rather be right than president." At least they knew the quotation, even if they didn’t always know the context of "the Great Compromiser’s" paradoxical refusal to budge from his own middle-of-the-road position on slavery, the principal matter of controversy of the day — as a result of which refusal he was attacked by his fellow Whigs and lost whatever chance he may have had at the presidency. It was a rather thrilling moment in our history and one which we may even hope to live long enough to see repeated by Donald Trump.
But now, alas, the historical profession is so far persuaded of Clay’s retrospective wrongness in not embracing the abolitionist cause that school-children are never likely to hear anything about his noble if wrong-headed stand for rightness over self-aggrandizement — or about anything else that doesn’t fit in with the simple-minded moral template that has since been imposed on American history. Thus they will not be led to wonder, as I do, what old Henry, wrong though he may have been, would have made of the curious case of a man claiming that he ought to be president because he was right.
This man, in the all-too-likely case that you haven’t heard about him, is former Senator James, "Jim," Webb of my home state of Virginia. According to The New York Times the "centerpiece" of his candidacy’s self-advertisement was "his consistent and vocal opposition to the Iraq war." In fact, it was more than just the centerpiece. In the text of his announcement as posted on his website being right about Iraq, as he trusts everyone will now see it, appears as virtually his sole qualification, apart from his military service, for the office he seeks.Or rather, it is his sole qualification apart from a number of other, lesser things he thinks he was also right about — because he "spoke out" against them or else "worked hard" towards bringing them about when he was a senator.
ENTRY from July 10, 2015
My 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.
Also 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.
All the latest fashions.
May 31, 2015.
Isn’t it enough for us to concede that you’re more hip than we are? Must you be more moral too? — From The New Criterion of May, 2015 ...
Scandal, or lack thereof.
April 30, 2015.
The media’s appetite for scandal is scandalously limited to only one side of the political divide — From The New Criterion of April, 2015 ...
The irony of p.c..
March 31, 2015.
What do Jonathan Chait, Rotherham borough counsellors and the French Revolution have in common? — From The New Criterion of March, 2015 ...