by Timothy Lane 8/22/14
The August 25 issue of National Review has a number of articles that would be of especial interest here. Of course, there’s always a lot of good material there, but this time several deal with recent discussions on the stubbornthings.org website.
To start with, there’s a short piece by Kevin A. Hassett on the Fed’s QE programs and their effects. He has a decent brief discussion, but punts on any conclusion. This is followed by other short pieces dealing with the possibility of mass amnesty for illegal aliens by executive action (which they consider unconstitutional and irresponsible) and the peculiar Western moral equivalence stance over Gaza.
The first of the significant articles discusses the increasing epidemic of European anti-Semitism. Much of this comes from massive Muslim immigration. France, for example, has about 500,000 Jews (the most in Europe), a total not much reduced (yet) by emigration. But it also has 5 million Muslims (heavily concentrated in a number of major cities); Germany has 4 million. Although author Ian Tuttle doesn’t make the connection, we might think of what America would be like if most of the Latin American immigrants were members of drug gangs. This is a good idea of what has happened to Europe as it imports large numbers of non-assimilating immigrants from nearby nations – immigrants likely reverse the Reconquista centuries after it was completed.
Of course, such immigrants don’t represent all the anti-Semitism. Greece and Hungary have both shown a great deal of native anti-Semitism, and there are incidents such as the disgusting Belgian doctor who refused to treat a prospective Jewish patient (who presumably wasn’t stupid enough to trust a Muslim doctor). That incident reminds us of the degeneration of the medical professions as they’re infiltrated by those who place political and tribal loyalties above what used to be their profession.
Kevin A. Williamson follows with an article on how wretched public facilities are in New York City (and probably elsewhere as well), particularly compared to those run by private enterprise. Thus, people who need to have a conversation with Biden (i.e., urinate) or Obama (i.e., defecate) go to Starbucks rather than public restrooms. It’s a good reminder, as he points out, that Big Government (contrary to what its advocates claim to expect) fails to deliver on even the most basic promises of competent administration.
After an article looking at college education loans, Andrew Stuttaford discusses Latvia’s problems, as a heavily Russian nation bordering on an increasingly irredentist empire under the ruthless Tsar Vladimir (needless to say, this terminology is mine; they would never use such phrasing in a serious article there). Fortunately, most of the large Russian element realizes that they’re a lot better off than they would be in Russia itself, but it doesn’t take very many troublemakers to provide an excuse for Tsar Vladimir to act.
One thing I noticed is that there was no mention of any possible connection between the Latvian-Russian problem and other such problems involving large, intractable immigrant minorities. The Russians of Latvia remind me of the uitlanders of the Transvaal who provided the convenient for Britain’s imperialist (and unexpectedly protracted and costly) Second Boer War (1899-1902). But it also reminded me of the problem, again, of a large (and somewhat irredentist) Mexican population in the US, particularly in the southwest (where many seek to create “Aztlan” and add those states to Mexico – even though, like the Russians in Latvia, they know how much better off they are here than in Mexico (which, after all, is why they come here).
Next is Armond White’s “The Year the Culture Broke”, which I have discussed briefly previously here. His argument is that the culture (such as it already was) was broken up in 2004 by the reactions to The Passion of the Christ and Fahrenheit 9/11. I think he has a bit of a point (they were certainly way stations on the road to the degeneration of liberal-dominated culture), but the decline started long before and was already well along by 2004.
The longest article in the issue, by Charles C. W. Cooke, discusses the right to self-defense as a major tool for black civil rights (which is why Condi Rice, who grew up in Bombingham is a strong opponent of gun control). It’s no accident that the creators of the Klan, the Black Codes, and later Jim Crow were eager to find ways to disarm blacks – and that when they failed to accomplish this, the night riders had a lot less success. This makes it so ironic that many black groups today support gun control – or it would be ironic if one actually believed these groups exist to improve the lot of ordinary blacks instead of the black elites who make up these groups.
The next article, which has already appeared on NRO, offers a middle way on immigration – legalization of the illegal aliens in return for FIRST securing the border (and other security measures). They’re quite correct that this security must be provided first, and before any form of legalization can even be approved (much less started). In the long run, such a compromise may be necessary. But security must come first, and the reality is that the Democrats and the Cheap Labor Lobby will NEVER accept this.
The last article discusses the problem of VA disability benefits, and in particular the explosion in the number of allegedly disabled veterans. The numbers are suspicious, and helped by placing too much trust in psychological disability (which is also a problem with ordinary disability insurance).
Also worthy of mention here is James Lileks’s “Athwart” article (which in this case actually lives up to the original purpose of National Review) on “The Cupcake Cops”. He starts by asking what is the proper amount of regulation of school bake sales and providing answers from the libertarian, liberal, Establishment Republican, and progressive viewpoints. Then, after discussing the issue, he discloses the basic problem: the inability of schools to make these healthy dishes palatable. He concludes by describing the hideous choices his child faced in a school lunch line, concluding, “And that was the plastic cutlery. The food was even worse.”
There are 3 book reviews in this issue, and the first deals with the horrors of Chinese Communist cruelty toward the Falun Gong. Not only do they torture and murder them (which after all is what one expects Communists to do, which is also one reason we dislike them so much), but they also “harvest” them for body parts. This has been discussed fictionally in one of Dean Koontz’s excellent thrillers (Your Heart Belongs to Me), and Larry Niven disclosed the possible consequences of this sort of thing nearly 50 years ago in “The Jigsaw Man” (in which a prisoner faces execution, and thus harvesting of his body parts, because he has too many traffic violations that we would consider misdemeanors).
After that there is a review of a recent biography of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and then Adrian Goldswprthy’s new biography of Augustus Caesar. This latter has some interesting points; reviewer Michael Auslin rightly points out that much of Western civilization comes from Rome, and Augustus played an important role in that. He mentions some of Goldsworthy’s other works, including a biography of Julius Caesar and his excellent How Rome Fell, which I’ve read previously. (Goldsworthy sees the decline as a long process, with the key turning point being the selection of Elagabalus as emperor.)
One regret I have, particularly given that Auslin mentions I, Claudius at one point (regarding Grant’s treatment of Livia Augusta), that he failed to consider that other crucial aspect of Augustus, represented by the line from “The Succession of the Hairy Men” in Graves’s novel: that Augustus (the second of the Hairy Men) would “fetter her [Rome] fast in unseen chains” – something all too familiar in America today. We too face ever-strengthening chains, and I’m not sure how unseen they are anymore.
The final item of possible interest is Daniel Fosters last page article, “A Pot of Message”, on the subject of conservative message art (especially fiction). He points out that much liberal art is every bit as heavy-handed as much explicitly conservative fiction, a problem that an old Hollywood mogul supposedly opposed with an appropriate aphorism: “if you want to send a message, use Western Union.” But I disagree with Foster’s strange idea that fiction, because it involves action and change, is naturally liberal. Neither mysteries nor military stories are inherently liberal, and there’s certainly a great deal of quietly conservative science fiction and fantasy. (What could be more devastating to modern leftism than C. S. Lewis’sThat Hideous Strength?) Certainly he’s right that we do need to compete in the field of culture, and need to do it with material that entertains first and teaches second.
Timothy Lane writes from Louisville, Kentucky and publishes the FOSFAX fanzine.
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