Until 2011, UCLA students English had to take a course in Chaucer, a couple in Shakespeare, and one in Milton as the fundamental works of English literature. Some junior faculty revolted, and UCLA promptly changed its course to studying compulsory papers in “Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Disability, and Sexuality Studies; Imperial, Transnational, and Postcolonial Studies; Genre Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies, and Critical Theory; or Creative Writing.”
According to the course catalog, giants of English literature were irrelevant. but students must study “alternative rubrics of gender, sexuality, race, and class.” UCLA’s undergraduates, therefore, had to choose among courses like, “Women of Color in the U.S., Women and Gender in the Caribbean, Chicana Feminism, Studies in Queer Literatures and Cultures, and Feminist and Queer Theory.”
Likewise, at Columbia University, a black music undergraduate rebelled against the classics. “Why did I have to listen in music humanities to this Mozart? My problem with the core is that it upholds the premises of white supremacy and racism. It’s a racist core. Who is this Mozart, this Haydn, these superior white men? There are no women, no people of color.”
Category: Book Reviews
The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America – Timothy Snyder.
Tim Duggan Books, 2018.
Hardcover, 368 pages, $27.
In sum, Snyder’s central thesis is that Russia is a nationalist, hyper-masculine, reactionary great power that wants to return to an age of soft imperium and spread Christian social-conservative ideas across a postmodern, effete, liberal, and secular Europe. This is the cause of Brexit, of European disintegration, the war in Ukraine, the election of Trump, and the overall terrible misfortune of humanity.
This thesis is as simplistic as it sounds and is based purely on conventional wisdom and current liberal narrative. It also suffers from the notable disadvantages of being empirically inaccurate and wrong.
Read the full review HERE.
“We’ve engaged him for ourselves. … Within two months, we will have pushed [Hitler] so far into a corner that he’ll squeal.” – Franz von Papen
“He’s an asshole, but he’s our asshole.” – Duncan Hunter on Donald Trump
Why does the Republican Party continue to stand behind Trump when his approval rating is at 40 percent, he just bowed down to Putin, and it looks more and more like he is going to cost Republicans their control of the House of Representatives? Why did the Republicans allow him to run in their party’s primary in the first place, and why did they use their party mechanisms to support his candidacy in the general election?
In their book How Democracy Dies, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt point out that demagogues often need the support of legitimate political parties and elites to legitimize them. Hitler was appointed chancellor by president Paul von Hindenburg. Hugo Chavez had charges (stemming from his attempted 1992 coup) dropped by then-president Rafael Caldera in 1994. Caldera didn’t think Chavez would ever win a presidential election and was sadly shocked when he did in 1999.
In 2012, the Republican Party candidates courted Donald Trump’s endorsement. Mitt Romney ultimately accepted it. Romney came out against Trump during the 2016 election.
History’s revolt against the Liberal Empire
Review: “The Virtue of Nationalism” – Yoram Hazony, Basic Books. September 2018. 304 pages.
Epochal events in history, of course, never stops, and predicting or explaining such events is fraught with dangers, something Francis Fukuyama found out to his credit. 2016 was one such year, where British exit from the European Union and the election of Donald Trump marked the end of the Post-Cold war unipolarity and globalization. At least those are the two events we paid the most attention too. But other than Trump and Brexit, Nationalism in differing forms returned in Hungary, Austria, Italy, Poland, while India, Russia, and China continued on their respective nationalist revival. Yoram Hazony’s new book “The virtues of Nationalism” adds to the already growing literature and seeks to explain the phenomena. Hazony, the President of Israel’s Herzl Institute and director of the John Templeton Foundations’s Project in Jewish Philosophical Theology, lays the blame on the liberal empire and the “globalists” for their imperial overstretch, and often contradictory and incoherent ideas about what constitutes good and bad nationalism.
I was made to read Steve Pinker’s new tome, by someone very close to me.
To start with, I don’t disagree with his data, or his stance against Post-modernism, for example. But, here’s my review of his attempted, ahistoric Nate Silver-isation of Renaissance.
It’s a good book, even though I disagree with it, gigantic dataset compilation that will provide joy to optimists. True Conservatives, such as yours truly, are however, rarely optimistic. Simply because we don’t believe history is inexorably progressive or teleological.
I took the final revision class at the University, wished the students good luck, and came out thinking what a year it had been! My PhD is halfway through, all the theoretical chapters are done, and now I’m moving on to the empirical chapters. I almost got back to full-time column writing for so many different publications as well! Not quite my old journalism life, but close enough.
So what now? A month of peace, to say the least. No teaching, but focusing on research, writing, and some casual reading as well. Bliss.
I was talking to a friend of mine across the pond, and showed her my reading list suggestions for the holidays, and she was a tad surprised that there were no fiction in it. Had me questioning, do we need fiction anymore in life, after the last couple of years or is life already strange enough?
I’m a prosaic man almost reaching my mid-thirties, stiff upper lip and all that, but in light of the trend lines in our planet, here’s my Holiday reading list suggestions for the readers. You lot be the judge!
‘The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam’ by Douglas Murray
Hardcover: 352 pages, Publisher: Bloomsbury Continuum (4 May 2017), Language: English. £18.99. Available at Amazon.
Douglas Murray is not known for shying away from controversial subjects, or for keeping quiet on matters that need the bright light of public discourse shone on them, whether people want that light shone or not.
He has been a vocal critic of radical Islam and Islamist terrorism for over a decade now and has always spoken with great lucidity and coherence on a range of very difficult subjects that won’t be made
any easier to face by ignoring. To watch him debate on the subject of whether Islam has anything to do with terrorism, for instance, is to watch a verbal heavyweight often crush the opposition with skilful rhetoric and salient facts that just will not go away, much to his opponents’ chagrin.
Douglas Murray’s latest book is a bringing together of the themes he’s been thinking, writing and talking about for years now, and as a result the argument presented within this extremely eloquent piece of rapid-fire literary slaying of sacred cows is a pleasure to read, even as someone who doesn’t agree with everything he has to say. Given that he opens with ‘Europe is committing suicide. Or at least its leaders have decided to commit suicide. Whether European people choose to go along with this is, naturally, another matter’ one can tell that he is, as usual, pulling no punches.