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Showing posts from December, 2016

Malachi 3:1

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"Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts."






Naughty or Nice?

To date, 10,344 of my academic colleagues have added themselves to an open letter that they plan to send to Turning Point USA asking to be added to the "Professor Watchlist."

Their argument:  You claim that by creating the watchlist you "fight for free speech and the right for professors to say whatever they wish." But the creation of such a watchlist serves the opposite purpose. Such lists have been used since at least the 1930s to silence free speech, chill academic freedom, and harass faculty members.... The type of monitoring of professors in which you are engaged can only inhibit the process through which higher learning occurs and knowledge is advanced. We support and stand with our colleagues whose academic freedom your list threatens. Therefore, we, the undersigned, as that you add our names to the list. Which is interesting, because my colleagues seem to spend a great deal of time adding themselves to other lists which could just as easily be used for prec…

Social Justice Sophistries

The tenor is smug self-righteousness, the absolute certainty of being on the Right Side of History. Even some liberals are starting to find it a bit hard to take, the way in which their family and friends talk about Those People. The Deplorables. The Racists. The Misogynists. The Xenophobes. The People With the Wrong Opinions about Immigration, the Relation Between the Sexes, the Welfare State, and Islam. You know. The ones who read Breitbart, vote for Donald Trump, and listen to Milo.

It can get a bit wearing, even at a distance. It takes real stamina to be able to meet it head on, as Milo has done this past semester over the course of his Dangerous Faggot Tour. Quite frankly, I don't know how he does it. I get weary just watchingthe protests. The name-calling. The unwillingness to listen to what he actually says. On the other hand, the tactics rarely change, which makes them possible to list. And if we can list them, we can prepare for them. These are the weapons that our oppone…

Fighting Words

Conservatives are pussies. We know it, they know it, and they use it against us, especially come holiday time when our defenses are down and all we want to do is celebrate Christmas.

There you are, minding your own business, re-reading Hayek or swooning over Milo, thinking about how to explain why it is impossible for top-down centralized systems of social engineering ever to work, no matter how well-intentioned. They, on the other hand, having failed to convince the Electors to repudiate the results of the election, are gearing up to come after you, adamant in their belief that the only reason you could have opposed a lying, crony-capitalist career politician up to her pantsuits in influence peddling is that you are a misogynist, racist, xenophobe, possibly even a Christian.

The attack will come, perhaps over a glass of wine, perhaps during a long walk. It will start with an invitation to talk about what you have been reading, and you will be sucked in. Because you want to explain. A…

Rhetoric 101: Clickbait

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It's a funny thing about writing. Everyone wants to take it literally. And not just those Bible-thumping rednecks (a.k.a. Presbyterians) everyone loves to hate.

Even colleagues in my academic department struggle with this problem, as witnessed at the panel that they participated in two weeks ago on "Understanding the Trump Phenomenon," when one of the graduate students stumped them with the question, "What news sources can we trust?" As I have argued, this is one of those questions to which the only answer is "None!" But my colleagues struggled with it nevertheless, suggesting by their very struggle that there should be some source that one could refer to without having to question its authority. Like, for example, the Bible.

But of course there isn't. Not even--as medieval commentators on the Scriptures knew all too well but modern historical-critical interpreters seem to have forgotten in their on-going search for the literal meaning of Scriptur…

Trumping the News

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This just in:
With liberal culture on the wane, or rather perishing in the cities of France, there were many deeds being done both good and evil. The peoples were raging fiercely. Kings were growing more cruel. The church, attacked by heretics, was defended by Catholics. Although the Christian faith was in general devoutly cherished, among some it was growing cold. The churches were enriched by the faithful but plundered by traitors. And no grammarian skilled in the art of dialectic could be found to describe these matters either in prose or in verse. Many were lamenting and saying: "Woe to our day, since the pursuit of letters has perished from among us and no one can be found among the people who can set forth the deeds of the present on the page." Hearing continually these complaints and others like them, I have undertaken to commemorate the past that it may come to the knowledge of the future. Although my speech is rude, I have been unable to be silent as to the struggle…

Fake News

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Last week I broke my sabbatical seclusion to attend a panel that my colleagues in the Department of History had organized on "Understanding the Trump Phenomenon." The panelists covered a range of themes: climate change denialism, white nationalism, the global failure of capitalism, the latent illiberalism of American culture, and world-wide yearnings towards totalitarianism--all the usual -isms. And then they opened the floor to questions. Like a good fencer, I got my hand up first and said something about the need to think of American culture in more regional and long-range terms, particularly the differences in conceptions of liberty that David Hackett Fisher has shown to be in play, but it was already too late. The room was primed to descend into pessimism and despair, although since we're talking academics here--fellow professors and graduate students in History for the most part--it was subtle and came out mainly in the kinds of questions asked.

One question in part…