December 20, 2014

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 December 12, 2014

As Charles Lane points out in today’s Washington Post, of the many problems with the American security services revealed by the Senate Intelligence committee report on torture by the CIA, the biggest may be the one that hardly anyone is talking about, namely that security itself has become irrevocably politicized. The CIA, I fear, cannot avoid its share of the blame for this in view of its own history of leaking and briefing against elected authority during the Bush years. But the biggest share of the blame must accrue to Senate Democrats who have allowed themselves to become captives of the anti-American left, egged on to it by the media, whom they know they can trust not to modify the full monty of scandal treatment by any mention of the partisan nature of their conclusions. Now we know that there is nothing in our public life, not even national security, that can be treated as being above partisanship.

Democratic politics is founded on the principle that reasonable people are bound to differ about all kinds of things in the public sphere as they do in the private, so that it is necessary to devise political mechanisms for the peaceful and rational resolution of these differences in order that the government of the country may be carried out. Majority rule is the chief of these mechanisms, but that machinery won’t work unless there is also respect for the rights of minorities, since minorities have a habit of turning into majorities and vice versa. This respect of the majority for the minority takes many forms, all of which have come under assault during the Obama years, conceived as they were in a messianic fervor that expected its majority to be permanent. It’s ironic then that, just as this expectation would seem to have been definitively disappointed, the soon-to-be minority Democrats have lashed out with the worst example yet of majority arrogance.

The patriotic principle of bi-partisanship in foreign policy has never been set down in any document or list of rules, but it has been fundamental to the conduct of war and diplomacy since the foundation of the republic, as it has been in other democratic countries. We may disagree about what policies serve or don’t serve the national interest, but we have always been at one that the national interest must be paramount. That is no longer the case. Democrats since the anti-war movement of the 1960s have been prone to abandon such patriotism in favor of what they regard as a higher loyalty to universal moral or ideological principles, though they usually make the cant claim that these constitute the "true" patriotism. In the same spirit, they now release as a "report" what is in fact the purest propaganda, condemning those in the security apparatus on partial and tendentiously chosen evidence, gathered without even the pretense of bi-partisan truth-seeking.
  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

Crocodile Tears on the Back Nine October 31, 2014.
Is there anything President Obama could do that the media wouldn’t excuse him for? — From The New Criterion of October, 2014 ... Full Article

The Forgotten Honor of World War I October 15, 2014.
On the differences between the rationale for entry into the First World War of Britain and the United States and what they portend — From The New Atlantis of Spring, 2014 ... Full Article

Talking to Themselves September 30, 2014.
The media just don’t seem to be able to see beyond their naive constitutional attachment to government by brainiacs — From The New Criterion of September, 2014 ... Full Article

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