A memory of what we used to be

poppy

Roger Kimball is an American art critic and conservative social commentator. He is the editor and publisher of The New Criterion and the publisher of Encounter Books.

He observes:

In the middle of my tiny neighborhood on the Connecticut shore, there is a nobbly, plinth-like stone about 2 feet high surrounded by a circle of grass and some simple decorative stonework. On one side of the stone there is a brass plaque to “the eternal memory” of the 26 men from the neighborhood who fought in World War I, “the great conflict between liberty and autocracy.” On the other side, a plaque commemorates the 17 men who fought in World War II “that mankind might live in freedom.”

Every year for the more than two decades we’ve lived here, the neighborhood has marked Memorial Day with a little celebration: some children parade, place flowers by the stone, someone makes a few remarks at the clubhouse across the street. This year, there’s been no talk of getting together for a Memorial Day celebration because getting together is verboten. Our ancestors fought for liberty against the forces of autocracy, “that mankind might live in freedom.” We cower in our homes, constantly told to “practice social distancing,” and not to venture out of doors without a mask.

In a recent neighborhood survey, 86 percent of the respondents (but not your faithful correspondent) were in favor of people keeping “a minimum 6-foot distance” from one another (my emphasis), 60 percent were in favor of “limiting large group gatherings on common properties.”

One respondent noted that she (I feel sure it was a “she,” though the posted responses were anonymous) would be “happy to wear a mask in the neighborhood” but wanted “guidelines.” For example, “should I wear one in my front yard?” I would say yes, she should. “What about when running?” Definitely when running. Also when showering or eating.

Another respondent advised wearing a mask “when off one’s property,” while a third scolded that “Any event must have social distancing, even by children, have ample space for social distancing, and require masks.”

I wonder what the 43 men commemorated on that neighborhood stone would have made of this Eloi-like display of conformity, egged on by bottomless docility, on the one side, and Nurse Ratched disapprobation, on the other. I do not think they would approve.

For the past two months, the country has been on a moral bender, intoxicated by fear and panic. As with most benders, the aftermath will be painful. But the symptoms this time will not be nausea and headache but shame at our credulousness and rage against those who exploited it. Rage. Look for it in a neighborhood near you in the coming weeks and polling stations across the country in November.

~ Leonidas

The Observers: Experts, fathers, informers

father son

Intelligent commentary on matters of importance.

Victor Davis Hanson: The War between Experience and Credentials

One of the most depressing aspects of the coronavirus epidemic has been the failure of the credentialed class — the alphabetic transnational and federal health organizations, the university modelers, the professional associations, and their media enablers. Their collective lapse was largely due to hubris and the assumption that titles and credentials meant they had no need to accept input and criticism from those far more engaged in the physical world — they saw no need to say, “At this time, I confess we are as confused as you are.”

In sum, the ER doctors, the nurses, and the public in general all eagerly welcomed the research of the experts. But the reverse — in which experts would listen to those with firsthand experience — was not true. The asymmetrical result is that we all have paid a terrible price in misjudging the perfidy of China; the rot within the World Health Organization; the origins, transmission, infectiousness, and lethality of the virus; and the most effective, cost-to-benefit response to the epidemic in terms of saving lives lost to the infection versus the likely even more lives lost through the response.

Suzanne Venker: America is awash in overmothered men

Growing up fatherless, or with a father a son rarely sees due to divorce or workaholism, almost invariably stunts a boy’s growth. The end result is almost always too much mother, which means boys will absorb too much femininity and none of the masculinity they need. Ergo, he will spend years trying to figure out what it means to be a man. It’s a tough subject, and thus taboo. But at some point, we will have to answer why there are so few strong, grounded, purposeful men among us when they used to be a dime a dozen.

Daniel Greenfield: 1-800-INFORM

It’s not just New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Informing on your friends and neighbors is a nationwide trend where smartphone technology meets classic commissarism.

Chula Vista, CA advertises that its official app can be used to report “groups not-adhering to the COVID-19 stay-at-home directive” in both English and Spanish. Santa Clara, CA has set up a public health referral email address at the DA’s office and is urging rats to call or email.

In Hays County, TX, Judge Ruben Becerra was asked how he plans to keep “non essential customers out of Lowe’s , Home Depot and other stores”. He replied, “Call the police in the city the store is located. My order comes with a fine. Take pics. Get proof.”

Steven F. Haward: Earth Day at 50

The decline in most forms of pollution across the board are greater in magnitude than the more celebrated drop in the crime rate or the large reduction in welfare dependency from welfare reform in the 1990s. The congenital Malthusianism of environmentalists, however, prevents them from celebrating this progress or learning the lessons (chiefly economic growth and technological improvement more than lawsuits) that could inform the next generation of environmental policy. To the contrary, many environmentalists will fly into a rage when you point out the facts of this immense improvement, because belief in the end of the world is their chief source of happiness.

~ Chad Band

Will the Kung Flu leave a better world?

Two observations suggest it is possible.

First, from Instapundit:

Top Ten Surprising Consequences of Covid-19 Hysteria:

1: Democrat governors rediscover federalism.
2: Wanna-be totalitarians can’t help but unmask themselves.
3: Trump gets a daily platform to smack the media around (watched by millions).
4: The CDC is exposed as just another dysfunctional gov. agency.
5: FDA, same as above.
6: WHO, same as FDA, CDC.
7: The US media is in China’s pocket.
8: “Models” completely useless except to frighten citizens.
9: We now know Nancy Pelosi has a $24,000.00 fridge.

And the 10th most surprising consequence of the Covid-19 hysteria?

10. Donald Trump was right about China the whole time, and everybody who didn’t know it before knows it now.

Second, from American Digest:

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The debate over immigration is over: restriction wins.

The debate over borders is over: they are needed.

The debate over globalization is over: the era of autarky begins.

The debate over Europe is over: it is a geographic expression, not a polity.

The debate over global warming is over: it is irrelevant.

The debate over international institutions is over: only nations matter.

The debate over the People’s Republic of China is over: it is a menace to the community of nations, not a member in good standing.

Crisis is clarity.

~ Feuilleton

The Observers: Authority, fear, white people

I follow several writers whose intelligence and insight about events of the day are noteworthy. Here’s a sampling.

Victor Davis Hanson: The Thin Façade of Authority

expertsThe virus will teach us many things, but one lesson has already been relearned by the American people: there are two, quite different, types of wisdom. One, and the most renowned, is a specialization in education that results in titled degrees and presumed authority. That ensuing prestige, in turn, dictates the decisions of most politicians, the media, and public officials—who for the most part share the values and confidence of the credentialed elite.

The other wisdom is not, as commonly caricatured, know-nothingism. But it puts a much higher premium on pragmatism and experience, values instilled by fighting nature daily and mixing it up with those who must master the physical world.

David Warren: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

It is hard for people, especially while scared, to consider anything in proportion. And it is difficult to find contextual information: for we cannot expect the media of entertainment to tell us anything that might ruin the show, while they’re in the theatre business.

The “beauty” of computer projections, working from speculative data by theory, is that it won’t be off by double, or half. It will be off by orders of magnitude. This will even help the researchers wet themselves. Whereas, mere common sense will fail every time.

The Z Man: A Bridge Too Far

If there is to be just one line to describe the history of white people on this planet, it should be “No good deed goes unpunished.” White people literally pulled the world out of the dark ages, but the world remains an ungrateful place. Asians in America are now working on their grievance tales, about how the round-eye was mean to them during the great yellow pandemic of 2020. The fact that they would be eating bugs and living in huts if not for the white man is conveniently forgotten.

Richard Fernandez: Planning the Great Escape from House Arrest—and From Communist China

housePerhaps nothing will prove more difficult to salvage from the train wreck than individual rights, the fundamental building block of subsidiarity, which are being eroded at an unprecedented rate. The need to track the whereabouts of literally every citizen in the name of “contact tracing” the public means government will demand to know exactly where you’ve been and who you’ve ever met with. Scrupulous records will be kept on the public’s biometric profile to make offices habitable again.

~ Lachrymal

The Observers: Stupid people, plastic panic

stupidInteresting perspecives on issues of the day.

The Perverse Panic over Plastic. The plastic panic has never made any sense, and it’s intensifying even as evidence mounts that it’s not only a waste of money but also harmful to the environment, not to mention humans. It’s been a movement in search of a rationale for half a century.

The Case for Professors of Stupidity. One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision. By now this phenomenon has been demonstrated even for everyday tasks, about which individuals have likely received substantial feedback regarding their level of knowledge and skill. Humans have shown a tendency, in other words, to be a bit thick about even the most mundane things, like how well they drive.

Reaching Peak Progressivism. Barack Obama recalibrated the Democratic Party’s liberalism into progressive radicalism. He opened the border and all but dismantled existing immigration law. Sanctuary cities sprang up with impunity. Executive orders bypassed the Congress. Obama sought to nationalize healthcare. The concept of “diversity” replaced affirmative action by redefining racial oppression as distinct from historical grievance and economic disparity and instead lumping together 30 percent of the population as nonwhite, and thus antithetical to the new buzz construct of “white privilege.”

The Coming Violence of the Left. As Eric Hoffer pointed out, mass movements need an enemy and the Left has always had the struggle as an essential element of their identity. It’s why they have invented things like institutional racism and white privilege. Lacking anything resembling actual racism in modern America, and faced with a tsunami of anti-white sermonizing, they have been forced to invent a boogeyman. Like shamans of the past, the modern Left warns about evil spirits, but now they are called unconscious bias and extremism.

Truth, beauty and the creeping hand of totalitarianism. The witch-hunting of Scruton. Notre Dame is as beautiful as anything anyone has built since in the West. It’s clear that in what we call the Middle Ages they knew things we have forgotten; like the effect of beauty and nature on people’s spirits. They built garden courtyards into hospitals where people could sit as they struggled with illness. They knew that our surroundings can make us feel more well, or less ill; plants, gardens, waterfalls, greenery, colour, beauty in general.

~ Fanfaronade

The Observers: Family, art, civilization

Interesting points of view.

artThe Postmodern Establishment Wants to Exterminate the Experience of Art

Postmodernism is the magical thinking of the ruling elites, who have decreed that they can alter reality with the sorcery of sophistry, and deny out of existence the eternal chains of cause and effect. The world has suffered greatly under this subversive hoax. Anything that could disrupt the systematic brainwashing of the populace was infiltrated and corrupted. The arts were early casualty in the battle, targeted because true art is such a powerful threat to the elite’s influence and control. There has been no freedom of expression for decades in the establishment art world.

The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake

This is the story of our times—the story of the family, once a dense cluster of many siblings and extended kin, fragmenting into ever smaller and more fragile forms. The initial result of that fragmentation, the nuclear family, didn’t seem so bad. But then, because the nuclear family is so brittle, the fragmentation continued. In many sectors of society, nuclear families fragmented into single-parent families, single-parent families into chaotic families or no families.

The Great Displacement of Americans: The devolving of Western Civilization

“Mass immigration is a tool of the global elites and of the Left – that is, of the Democrat party – to fragment American society and to displace those who adhere to traditional American values and the foundational premise of our Constitutional Republic. In other words, to disempower Whites, who will become a minority in their own country by mid-century. This isn’t a slur on Blacks or any other nationality, but in essence it is White Europeans who invented and perpetuated Western Civilization. This great displacement of Whites is therefore synonymous with the displacement of Western Civilization.”

ericThe People’s Avenger

Eric Ciaramella, the CIA plant, who concocted the predicate for the impeachment hoax is friends with John Brennan, the former CIA director. He is also in the same social set as members of Adam Schiff’s crew of witch hunters. Like a religious cult, these people reinforce the paranoia of one another with these bizarre theories to explain what they think is some great anomaly. Trump could not have won the election fair and square, so there must be some hidden reason behind it.

The Intellectual and Moral Decline in Academic Research

President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned that the pursuit of government grants would have a corrupting influence on the scientific community. He feared that while American universities were “historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery,” the pursuit of taxpayer monies would become “a substitute for intellectual curiosity” and lead to “domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment…and the power of money.” Eisenhower’s fears were well-founded and prescient.

~ Fanfaronade

The Observers: Teddy bears, Amazon, women, luck

teddy bear.jpg

Thoughtful writers on matters that concern us all.

Adam Clark Estes. Is It Too Late to Stop Amazon? As the next decade arrives, it’s obvious that Amazon founder and chief Jeff Bezos has built some sort of grotesque post-capitalistic empire that makes Standard Oil look like a local firewood stand. Not only does Amazon dictate the future of retail in the United States and around the world; its sprawling cloud computing business all but ensures that, on any given day, you can’t use the internet without putting a penny in Bezos’s bank account.

Theodore Dalrymple. Teddies for All. Teddy bears have a glorious future ahead of them. They supply emotional comfort to an age in which people seem to have more difficulty than ever in forming true emotional bonds to others of their kind. A teddy bear, unlike a human being, will never let you down. It’s not quite true that it never answers you back, for it will answer you in your imagination, using the words of consolation that a real friend or adviser would have said by way of consolation, if such a person had been available.

The Z Man. Fear, Force & Convenience. In America, trust was always the force that kept local community together, while tradition kept regional identity together. America was always a big country with lots of room, so self-segregation smoothed over the rough spots. With the elimination of free association and the importation of millions of foreigners, social trust is rapidly breaking down and being replaced with state force. For now, trouble makers are sent to diversity training, rather than a labor camp, but the idea is the same.

David Warren. Darlings. A woman who has the management of a household, all the tasks associated with that, plus the charge of, say, four or more children, along with the home-schooling of each of them, is not a hero. She is called to be a heroine, as we say or said in good English. To make her gender-neutral is to diminish her, for she is doing something only she can do, and she is a she. A man would need assistance. To ask this woman also to hold down a job, in our feckless commercial world, is to ask the impossible.

Scott Barry Kaufman. The Role of Luck in Life Success Is Far Greater Than We Realized. A number of studies and books–including those by risk analyst Nassim Taleb, investment strategist Michael Mauboussin, and economist Robert Frank– have suggested that luck and opportunity may play a far greater role than we ever realized, across a number of fields, including financial trading, business, sports, art, music, literature, and science. Their argument is not that luck is everything; of course talent matters. Instead, the data suggests that we miss out on a really importance piece of the success picture if we only focus on personal characteristics in attempting to understand the determinants of success.

~ Sprachgefühl