It’s not the being bookish that saves us from barbarism, and it isn’t even that education of the sympathies that Middlemarch provides: it’s the questioning, the wondering, the doubting, the refusing, the arguing, the discovering thoughts and feelings you never knew you had because you never had them, and the jettisoning of them the minute they become familiar; it’s the restlessness of reading when we are not passive recipients of language but partners in its equivocations, its leaps and gaps and contradictions, its marvellous refusal, when in the service of art, to believe finally in a word it says.
Whoever has once been truly unsettled by a work of the imagination will never give loyalty to a single idea, belief system, religious faith or party. When demagogues and dictators ban art, this is the reason: art is the great solvent of obedient fundamentalism. You can imprison but you can’t enslave a man who argues with his books.
“The overwhelming majority of graduates recruited into Islamist terrorism studied engineering, science and medicine. Almost none are social science or arts graduates.”…Wonders if “embracing violence” might be “connected to education in certain subjects failing to encourage the questioning of received ideas or alternative arguments or points of view”. Wonders if there might not be a particular “mindset which is attracted to the simple solutions and lack of ambiguity, nuance or debate sometimes seen in technical subjects – and that is vulnerable to radicalisation for similar reasons”.
This Popehat piece is so good, especially the dog part.
As someone who has spent time in the Middle East I can testify that David French is spot-on here. You just don’t get it until you’ve been there.
A senior Department of Homeland Security official was unable to tell Congress the number of Syrian refugees who have entered the United States in the last year and the number of Americans who have travelled to Syria and returned, in testimony on Capitol Hill that angered many lawmakers.
“How many Syrian refugees have entered the U.S. in the last year” Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) asked Burriesci.
“Sorry, I didn’t bring any of the refugee numbers with me,” she responded.
Jordon then asked: “Do you know how many Americans have traveled to Syria in the last year?”
“I don’t have that number on me either,” the official responded.
“So you wouldn’t know how many Americans have traveled there and returned?” Jordan pressed.
“I don’t have that number on me,” Burriesci stated.
When asked by Jordan, “How many visa waiver program overstays are there currently in the U.S.,” Burriesci again responded that she does not “have information” on that subject.
America: “Badly burned girl who wished for Christmas cards gets 18,000 letters, 400 packages”
Tashfeen Malik, who with her husband carried out the massacre in San Bernardino, Calif., passed three background checks by American immigration officials as she moved to the United States from Pakistan. None uncovered what Ms. Malik had made little effort to hide — that she talked openly on social media about her views on violent jihad. She said she supported it. And she said she wanted to be a part of it…Had the authorities found the posts years ago, they might have kept her out of the country. But immigration officials do not routinely review social media as part of their background checks.
Jonah Goldberg tries to understand the thinking behind the bizarre way the above NYT piece was written.
A suburban Philadelphia school is removing “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” from its 11th grade curriculum, saying the language and portrayal of blacks makes students uncomfortable. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Friends’ Central School decided the “community costs” of reading Mark Twain’s 1885 classic outweigh the literary benefits. Art Hall, principal of the school in Wynnewood, says the book’s use of racial slurs was “challenging for some students, who felt the school was not being inclusive.”
Whatever. The Navy’s diversity programs are doing great and that’s what really matters. Who needs to win wars?
Overall what came out of Paris was the diplomatic equivalent of a New Year’s resolution to go on a strict weight loss regime involving no more than six chocolate eclairs between meals…Getting taxpayers in the developed world to subsidize inefficient green energy generation in the developing world remains the key goal of many of the investors and money people funding a lot of the climate movement.
Hypocrisy is the necessary lubricant of international life, and the Paris agreement is about as well lubricated as they come. Nobody is serious about this “agreement,” but the diplomats have agreed that a hollow facade of an agreement is preferable to the PR disaster that failure would have been. There will no doubt be many follow-ups, jet-setting conferences in many more attractive destinations, and climate diplomacy will continue to produce more greenhouse gasses than climate agreements block. What we will now see is various world leaders striking inspiring historical poses. With Libya in ruins, Syria in flames, Ukraine on the brink, and ISIS on the march, President Obama and Secretary Kerry are particularly eager to convince themselves and the public that the Paris Accord is an actual accomplishment. But historians are likely to agree that the Accord abolished climate change the way that the Kellogg-Briand treaty ended war.
The Chinese are rich enough now to care about how filthy their air is; that will drive change more than anything that happens in Paris. Fracking has made natural gas cheaper and more reliable than coal in the United States. Online shopping is keeping people home from the malls, and more and more workers are working remotely. Down the road, more changes will come as the world shifts from a manufacturing economy based on metal bashing to an information and service economy. Technological change is also coming: self-driving cars, renewable energy that can actually compete with fossil fuels without generous government subsidies, genetically modified plants that don’t need fertilizer or pesticide, safe nuclear power. Always and everywhere, capitalism is pushing companies to produce more goods using fewer raw materials and energy, and generating less waste. Much as the last great Malthusian panics (the population bomb and peak oil) quietly fizzled out, the panicky, Chicken Little aspects of the green movement are likely to fade over time. The economy of the future will produce more abundance and leave a smaller footprint than the economy we have today. It will be capitalism and innovation that we have to thank for that.
“Political correctness began as a campus joke, evolved into a cultural disease and now is becoming firmly embedded in the law as applied. The left is blasé about this, because to them it’s only the bad and wrong people who are having their rights stripped away. Call it Progressive Privilege”
I am so dead. Sleeping is my favorite thing.