January 25, 2020

Now Playing

Juliet Naked
(Reviewed September 21, 2018)

An amusing but slight adaptation of a Nick Hornby novel which can laugh at its characters without precluding the possibility that they may laugh at themselves

Won't You Be My Neighbor?
(Reviewed September 20, 2018)

Did Mr Rogers’s extraordinary capacity for love end up producing a generation of haters?

Lady Bird
(Reviewed March 6, 2018)

A delightful and not entirely politically correct movie about growing up as a Catholic schoolgirl in 2002-2003

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
(Reviewed February 22, 2018)

An occasionally amusing parable of guilt and forgiveness whose setting in small-town America, like the prejudices of its author, does it no favors

ENTRY from January 17, 2020

Max Beerbohm said that history doesn’t repeat itself but historians repeat each other. I wonder if the latter repetition doesn’t give rise to the former? Those lucky baby boomers who, like me, have managed to make it to the half-century mark since they were college-age revolutionaries will have grown used to the sense of déja-vu in the revolutionary rhetoric of the so-called “millennial” generation, particularly when it comes to matters of war and peace. Justin Trudeau, born on Christmas Day, 1971, is no millennial, but he showed that he knows how to use the language of protest from the period of his birth when, in an interview about Iran’s shooting down of a Ukranian passenger jet with 57 Canadians on board, he said  “I think if there were no tensions, if there was no escalation recently in the region, those Canadians would be right now home with their families.”

Unlike me, the Canadian Prime Minister is too young to remember how that word “escalation” came into our political vocabulary and so presumably doesn’t know that it was invented (or appropriated) by the anti-war left to redistribute the blame for aggression from the aggressor to whomever responds to aggression. The great irony of the term is that it was originally part of the jargon of the foreign policy establishment whose conduct of the war in Vietnam had given rise both to the protests and to the defeat that they had helped cause.

To Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and his whiz kids, the idea of escalation and de-escalation were products of their own innovative genius, a way of conducting war in a new and more up-to-date way than that which had brought about our last true victory in war, in 1945. Their idea of war was to escalate with “measured” force, not to defeat but to punish the enemy and warn him of worse things to come if he persisted in his aggression. Then, so the theory went, when he took the warning and de-escalated himself, we could reward him by de-escalating in our turn. Except that, in Vietnam, he never did respond by de-escalating, with the result that the escalator only went, with agonizing slowness, in one direction and so failed completely to achieve its purpose.
  Full Entry

Media MadnessBefore there was Howard Kurtz’s Media Madness, there was mine — now, alas, out of print but still available while supplies last for the cost of shipping and handling. Send $5.99 to me in care of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, 1730 M Street, Suite 910, Washington, D.C. 20036

Honor, A HistoryAlso available, now in paperback and Kindle version, 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

Just “politics” December 31, 2019.
The revolution demands to be televised (or it can’t be revolutionary) — From The New Criterion of December, 2019 ... Full Article

Revolutionism redux, Part III November 30, 2019.
The C.I.A. is revealed (again) as the revolutionary vanguard urging Nancy Pelosi on to impeachment — From The New Criterion of November, 2019 ... Full Article

Revolutionism redux, part II October 31, 2019.
A New York Times town hall meeting reveals that paper’s newsroom as the epicenter of the revolutionary dynamic now manifesting itself among American progressives — From The New Criterion of October, 2019 ... Full Article

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