Shortlink

Science?

Is Linguistics a Science? by Arika Okrent.

Much of linguistic theory is so abstract and dependent on theoretical apparatus that it might be impossible to explain.

More.

Shortlink

Corruption

The Corruption of Biblical Studies by Joshua Berman.

Academic scrutiny of scripture, a discipline prey to intellectual fashion since its inception, is today pursued by many in the service of secular liberal positions.

More.

Shortlink

Downward

The American Left’s Downward Spiral by R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.

I have returned. From Europe, that is, and I hope I met with no Russian undercover agents while there. The soi-disant liberals are in a snit about the Russians. Supposedly, Donald Trump Jr. and the mysterious Jared Kushner met with an undercover agent of the Kremlin in June of last year, and they did not report their meeting to The Powers That Be. Who are The Powers That Be? Actually, I have no idea, but Messrs. Trump and Kushner should have reported their exchange, which had something to do with adoption or adaption, or possibly Hillary’s unwashed socks. You figure it out.

The stalwarts of American left (we no longer call them liberals — it is inappropriate) are in another of their tense moments with the Trumps and, of course, it has something to do with the Trumps and the Russians. The left has developed an irrational fear of the Russians, about whom they are positively obsessive. I am not sure why this is. Perhaps it is because today the Russians are no longer communists, and the erstwhile liberals had long admired certain aspects of the communist system. As I recall, they admired the Marxist-Leninist tax code, and its attendant slow-growth economy. Remember their great economists such as John Kenneth Galbraith and Lester Thurow, oohing and aahing over how prosperous Russia was in the 1980s, just before the crash of communism?

How did that crash come about, comrades? Was it caused by something Ronald Reagan did? Reagan was the Donald Trump of his era. Are our friends to the left still perplexed as to how a grade-B movie actor contributed to the fall of communism? Now what can they be expecting from a billionaire businessman?

The morbid preoccupations of the American left continue apace. Of course, there is their aforementioned paranoia over post-communist Russia. And there is the environment that is increasingly sickening them; and the civil rights of public toilet users in certain red states; and civil rights in general. The KKK is making a comeback and they are aided and abetted by the increasingly popular alt-right movement and the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy who object to the expurgation of five years of American history back in the 19th century. Then there is the Resistance Movement that has been a theme with the American left ever since Hillary Clinton had her meltdown on election night.

As David Gelernter pointed out last week in The Wall Street Journal, the American left has adopted “resistance” in response to Mr. Trump’s election in a free and democratic election. As Mr. Gelernter wrote: “Democrats, in their role as opponents of President Trump, have taken to calling themselves ‘the resistance.’ ” They are co-opting the term “resistance” from the free French who in World War II were opposing, as Mr. Gelernter says, “the Nazis in occupied France.” In their delusions the members of the American left are modern-day freedom fighters and the Trumps are Nazis. Continuing the left’s fantasy, the American Army and its allies will eventually be called in to liberate “the resistance.” And who will march down our Champs-Elysees, Hillary?

I saw my first member of the resistance at Brussels airport wearing his black T-shirt with “Resistance” boldly emblazoned across our hero’s chest. He was asleep. I did not want to awaken him with troubling news. His fly was halfway down. Since then I have seen black T-shirts everywhere in Washington bearing variations on the Resistance theme: “The Resistance,” or simply “Resist,” or, harkening back to Hillary, “She Persists, You Resist.” Nowhere is it reported that Donald Trump has taken any notice, to say nothing of ordering out his Brown Shirts.

Is it possible that we shall endure such childishness into 2018? I believe it is. Comparing oneself to freedom fighters who faced torture and death while one lounges in the Brussels airport may seem like a leap into fantasy to normal Americans, but it is nothing to the American left. They have been inhabiting a fantasy world since the first Clinton administration. Those were the years in which they beheld Bill Clinton as the Virgin President and Monica Lewinsky as The Stalker. Ever since then, the left’s condition has worsened.

Shortlink

Chains?

Who Wants to Put Democracy in Chains? by Ilya Somin.

In her badly flawed book Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, historian Nancy MacLean gets many, many things wrong about the history and purposes of libertarianism. Jonathan Adler, David Bernstein, Phil Magness, Russell Roberts, and Michael Munger, and others, have highlighted some of her most important fallacies and distortions.

More.

Related: Nancy MacLean’s Conspiratorial Response to Criticism of ‘Democracy in Chains’ by David Bernstein.

Nancy MacLean, author of “Democracy in Chains,” has not responded to substantive criticisms of her book. What she has done, however, is circulate a fanciful and potentially libelous post accusing Jonathan Adler and me of being at the center of a Koch-backed conspiracy to discredit her book. She refers to “Koch operatives and the riders of their academic ‘gravy train’?” and writes, “It appears they are using Washington Post blogposts as a seemingly respectable pivot for a coordinated and interlinked set of calculated hit jobs.”

More.

Shortlink

Reconciliation

Closing the Meaning Gap: Toward a Reconciliation of Communitarianism and Libertarianism by Rachel Lu.

Libertarian insights may be able to help communitarians close the meaning gap and build communities that matter.

More.

Shortlink

First Half

This Season’s First Half Was a Home Run Derby by Tyler Kepnerju.

On Monday in Miami, as a prelude to the All-Star Game the next night, a parade of major leaguers will step to the plate, swing hard and try to lift baseballs into the seats. Officially, it is known as the annual Home Run Derby. It will also seem redundant, because it basically describes the entire first half of the season.

More.

Shortlink

Deplorables

Can Democrats Make Nice with Deplorables? by Kay S. Hymowitz.

A few prominent liberal writers venture outside of the partisan bunker.

More.

Shortlink

Dysfunction

Taxation Without Reformation by Steven Malanga.

Illinois finally gets a budget, without addressing its fiscal dysfunction.

More.

Shortlink

Greetings

Greetings, E.T. (Please Don’t Murder Us.) by Steven Johnson.

A new initiative to beam messages into space may be our best shot yet at learning whether we’re alone in the universe. There’s just one problem: What if we’re not?

More.

Shortlink

Light

Light posting will continue through July.

Shortlink

Wise

PD reviews The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch.

Shortlink

Microaggressions

Microaggressions? by Scott O Lilienfeld.

Prejudice remains a huge social evil but evidence for harm caused by microaggression is incoherent, unscientific and weak.

More.

Shortlink

Boy Soldiers

Trained to Kill: How Four Boy Soldiers Survived Boko Haram by Sarah A. Topol.

The four children, from a fishing village in Nigeria, were among thousands abducted by Boko Haram and trained as soldiers. They learned to survive, but only by forgetting who they were.

More.

Shortlink

Crisis

The Crisis of Liberty in the West by Ryan Anderson.

The West faces a deep crisis of liberty. Full human flourishing is hindered by the dawning collapse of civil society and by crony capitalism and cultural cronyism. Natural law arguments, with their appreciation of rights and duties, provide a better framework than natural rights or utilitarian arguments for understanding economic liberty; a natural law conception of social justice recognizes the state’s role in economic justice but also requires respect for the proper authority of society. Globalization and new technologies are only a part of the problem. The solution to the crisis requires a better intellectual foundation for freedom and a renewed common understanding of what human flourishing looks like. This lecture was delivered as the annual Calihan Lecture on December 1, 2016, in London, England, at a conference sponsored by the Acton Institute on “The Crisis of Liberty in the West” at which Dr. Anderson received the Michael Novak Award for “outstanding scholarly research concerning the relationship between religion, economic freedom, and the free and virtuous society.

More.

Shortlink

Hysteria

Pittsburgh, Not Paris: Explaining the Climate Hysteria by Peter Wood.

When President Trump announced his exit from the Paris Climate Accord, the usual suspects responded with their usual agitation and doomsaying. How can so many people subscribe to an idea—and so vehemently—that rests on so little?

More.

Shortlink

Gadfly

Can Jonathan Haidt Calm the Culture Wars? by Evan R. Goldstein.

For the next hour, Haidt roams the stage, TED-talk style (he’s delivered four), and explains what he calls “the new moral culture spreading on many college campuses.” It is a culture, he says, that values victims, prioritizes emotional safety, silences dissent, and distorts scholarship. It is a culture that undermines the university’s traditional mission to pursue truth — “veritas” is right there on the seals of Harvard and Yale — in favor of a new mission: the pursuit of social justice. It is a culture that Haidt believes is fueled by three factors: political polarization, the rise of social media, and a lack of ideological diversity in the professoriate.

More.

Shortlink

Betrayal

Kamala Harris, Speak Up. Don’t Be Silent on Women’s Rights by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Asra Q. Nomani.

There is a real discomfort among progressives on the left with calling out Islamic extremism. Partly they fear offending members of a “minority” religion and being labeled racist, bigoted or Islamophobic. There is also the idea, which has tremendous strength on the left, that non-Western women don’t need “saving” — and that the suggestion that they do is patronizing at best. After all, the thinking goes, if women in America still earn less than men for equivalent work, who are we to criticize other cultures?

This is extreme moral relativism disguised as cultural sensitivity. And it leads good people to make excuses for the inexcusable. The silence of the Democratic senators is a reflection of contemporary cultural pressures. Call it identity politics, moral relativism or political correctness — it is shortsighted, dangerous and, ultimately, a betrayal of liberal values.

More.

Shortlink

Decrypting

Decrypting Jefferson by Andrew Salzone.

Understanding the author of America’s Declaration of Independence is easier said than done. He may have hated big government, but big government was born of the rationalism that he loved.

More.

Shortlink

Heads-Up

Giving Terrorists a Heads-up by Heather Mac Donald.

A proposed law would force the NYPD to publicize the details of its surveillance technology.

More.

Shortlink

Foreshadow

John Stuart Mill’s Intolerant Faith and the Religion of Liberalism by Samuel Gregg.

John Stuart Mill foreshadows the deeply intolerant faith and agenda of contemporary liberalism.

More.