February 10, 2016

Now Playing

(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

ENTRY from February 10, 2016

Number me among those who think that the Trump phenomenon is very largely a revolt against "political correctness" — especially if you count (as you should) as a manifestation of p.c. the disastrous, pacifist-inspired foreign policy pursued by the Obama administration under both Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. I don’t think I would go as far as Tim Stanley in today’s London Daily Telegraph who writes that "Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have blown up political correctness in New Hampshire." Apart from anything else, if he thinks those who flock to Bernie Sanders’s standard are reacting against political correctness, his definition of the term differs significantly from mine.

Yet an article in the Times Literary Supplement, for which I used to work, suggests that maybe that definition does need to change. Barton Swaim, whose brilliant book The Speechwriter I reviewed for The Weekly Standard last summer, reviews Stephen Fender’s book titled The Great American Speech: Words and monuments (Reaktion) in the TLS’s January 22nd issue and finds it instructive in explaining the appeal of a man like Trump who, we may confidently predict, will never deliver a Great American Speech, whatever other virtues he may have.

Mr Fender’s book, thinks Mr Swaim, is all too predictable in its choices of the allegedly "great" political speeches of recently years. There is mention, among others, of JFK’s inaugural, Lincoln’s first inaugural, RFK’s speech on the death of Martin Luther King, Barack Obama’s first inaugural and even James Stewart’s senatorial peroration about — what was it again? oh, yes, a boys’ camp — in Frank Capra’s Mr Smith Goes to Washington. Taking the Obama speech as a springboard, Mr Swaim writes:  Full Entry

Media MadnessMy 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.

Honor, A HistoryAlso 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.

Recent Articles

Manners Makyth Man January 31, 2016.
Why should anyone suppose that the media have standing to censure Donald Trump’s manners when they are so ill-mannered themselves? — From The New Criterion of January, 2016 ... Full Article

A Topos of Chaos December 31, 2015.
The media’s "narrative" of American politics and its contribution to rampant partisanship and systemic breakdown — From The New Criterion of December, 2015 ... Full Article

Parodic Crudeness November 30, 2015.
On the scandal of those who disagree with the progressive agenda — From The New Criterion of November, 2015 ... Full Article

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