All entries by this author

Hitchens Remembers Gene McCarthy *

Dec 14th, 2005 | Filed by

McCarthy’s 1968 campaign is one of the best correctives to the stupid cult of the Kennedy family. … Read the rest

‘Theory’ Such Old News, Says CHE, Yawning *

Dec 14th, 2005 | Filed by

Then gives pile of quotations showing opposite. Very ironic, very theoretical.… Read the rest

Theory? What Theory? Where?

Dec 14th, 2005 2:42 am | By

This article in the Chronicle of Higher Education is hilarious. Oh, Theory is so over, what empire, it’s all fragmented, what a silly fuss everyone is making, it says. Then it offers a comment backing up the claim.

First, theory has become so much part of the literary profession that one needs to have some familiarity with the “isms,” no matter which (if any) one embraces most closely. Being labeled a theorist does not advance a career the way it might have 10 or 15 years ago, but theoretical naïveté is a luxury that few aspiring professors can afford. James F. English, chairman and professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, writes in an e-mail message that while “it’s

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Never Offend

Dec 13th, 2005 8:02 pm | By

Annals of Thought-crime. Orhan Pamuk goes on trial on Friday.

My crime is to have “publicly denigrated Turkish identity.”…Last February, in an interview published in a Swiss newspaper, I said that “a million Armenians and thirty thousand Kurds had been killed in Turkey”; I went on to complain that it was taboo to discuss these matters in my country…If the state is prepared to go to such lengths to keep the Turkish people from knowing what happened to the Ottoman Armenians, that qualifies as a taboo. And my words caused a furor worthy of a taboo: various newspapers launched hate campaigns against me, with some right-wing (but not necessarily Islamist) columnists going as far as to say that I

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German Officers Knew About Holocaust *

Dec 13th, 2005 | Filed by

According to newly revealed transcripts of conversations between captured generals.… Read the rest

Where Are the Big Questions? *

Dec 13th, 2005 | Filed by

In the philosophy and history departments, for two.… Read the rest

‘Publicly Denigrating Turkish Identity’ is a Crime *

Dec 13th, 2005 | Filed by

Angry nationalism sees freedom of thought as a Western invention.… Read the rest

When Did Lit Crit and Aesthetics Break Up? *

Dec 13th, 2005 | Filed by

Interpretation is the revenge of moralism upon art.… Read the rest

Pointless Execution Goes Forward *

Dec 13th, 2005 | Filed by

Reformed man doing useful work killed anyway.… Read the rest


Dec 12th, 2005 8:19 pm | By

And another thing about the Akyol piece and all the similar strains of thought. It’s such an impoverished, pinched, narrow, trivial view of what matters, of what morality should be, of what people should fret about.

…soulless, skirt-and-money-chasing men drinking whiskey…selfish, lonely creatures in a soulless society where little is worshipped beyond money and sex…The America that people see is one represented by Hollywood and MTV…extremely hedonistic and degenerate elements that turn life into meaningless profligacy…a lifestyle based on hedonism…the masses live, earn, spend, and have relationships according to this supposition. A popular MTV hit summarizes this presumption bluntly: “You and me baby ain’t nuthin’ but mammals; so let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.

Humping … Read the rest

Naughty Materialism

Dec 12th, 2005 6:05 pm | By

It’s touching when obscurantists band together and discover how much they have in common. Mustafa Akyol gives us an example.

Little does he realize that if there is any view on the origin of life that might seriously offend other faiths – including mine, Islam – it is the materialist dogma: the assumptions that God, by definition, is a superstition, and that rationality is inherently atheistic. That offense is no minor issue. In fact, in the last two centuries, it has been the major source of the Muslim contempt for the West. And it deserves careful consideration.

That offense is no minor issue. So it’s an ‘offense’ to try to give the best natural explanation of the world that … Read the rest

But, But, But

Dec 12th, 2005 5:26 pm | By

I still don’t get it. I don’t see how ID fans and Anthony Flew get past the first, obvious objection.

At age 81, after decades of insisting belief is a mistake, Antony Flew has concluded that some sort of intelligence or first cause must have created the universe. A super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature, Flew said in a telephone interview from England.

But how can that be a good explanation? How can it be an explanation at all? How can it be anything other than just an ‘I don’t know’ translated into something that sounds more impressive? Other than hand-waving? I don’t get it. Because if the origin of … Read the rest

Ian Mayes on Chomsky and Metacomplaints *

Dec 12th, 2005 | Filed by

Letter from Aaronovitch, Kamm and Wheen about Johnstone and Chomsky on Srebrenica.… Read the rest

The Argument is About Types of Liberty *

Dec 12th, 2005 | Filed by

The most fundamental liberty of all is freedom from harm by others.… Read the rest

Flew’s Change of Mind *

Dec 12th, 2005 | Filed by

Because DNA is complex. Yes but the designer would be more complex, so what then?… Read the rest

Sean Wilentz on Separation of Literature and State *

Dec 12th, 2005 | Filed by

Our politicians’ prose is reduced to hollow sentimentalism or manipulative semi-literacy… Read the rest

Salman Rushdie Recommends Less Purity *

Dec 12th, 2005 | Filed by

Cultural relativism lets much that is reactionary and oppressive be justified… Read the rest

Who You Calling Crude, Bub?

Dec 10th, 2005 6:46 pm | By

There was this interview with Alister McGrath last spring, all about how wrong Richard Dawkins is and how weak his arguments are. It’s rather puzzling.

But by the time you get to A Devil’s Chaplain, what we have is a very crude religious propagandist, only loosely connected with the whole scientific culture…It seems to me, he has a real animus against religion, but I’m unable to identify any single factor that seems to be a legitimate explanation of that hostility.

That’s puzzling, because, one, Dawkins (of course) is not a religious propagandist, that’s just the usual silly – and crude – religious rhetoric that pretends religion and non-religion are both religion, theism and non-theism are both theism. Two, because … Read the rest

Deeply Cherished Dogmatism

Dec 10th, 2005 6:11 pm | By

An article by Bruce Bawer in Reason raises some very basic issues.

For many Europeans, the murder of one of the Netherlands’ most outspoken public figures underscored the importance of protecting freedom of expression…Many members of Europe’s fast-growing Muslim communities, however – along with more than a few non-Muslims eager to keep the peace in an increasingly anxious and divided continent – draw a very different lesson: the need to curb freedom of expression out of respect for Muslim sensitivities…Iqbal Sacranie of the Muslim Council of Britain agreed. “Is freedom of expression without bounds?” he asked. “Muslims are not alone in saying ‘No’ and in calling for safeguards against vilification of dearly cherished beliefs.”

Safeguards against vilification of dearly cherished … Read the rest

Xians and Muslims Join Hands Against Materialism *

Dec 10th, 2005 | Filed by

How touching – ID brings God-huggers together.… Read the rest