Dear Intelligent American,
The curly-haired tyke’s stardom sailed far on the Good Ship Lollipop, into teen years that included goodly roles in several classic flicks, including The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer and Fort Apache. One Temple movie that seems appropriate, as this Advental seasonal approaches, is David O. Selznick’s mid-war epic, Since You Went Away, in which the girl for whom a drink is named costarred with Claudette Colbert (never not terrific), Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, and Monty Woolley. Its story, in a nutshell: How the folks remaining behind—while the men were gone, or going, to fight and die—coped.
There’s love, humor, tragedy, and sweet vignettes strewn throughout, and some Christmas flavoring—there’s never a bad time to catch Since You Went Away, but right around now seems most appropriate. A suggestion: Find yourself some time (three hours) and maybe a loved one, and maybe too a hankie, and enjoy. Watch it here.
Speaking of watching things, amigo David Bahnsen debates (quite civilized) Oren Cass about the correct way to consider free enterprise, and its consequences for trade, industrial, and related public policies. You’ll find it here. Shirley makes no appearance.
Now let’s attend to the obligation of this epistle. Ready? Good, because about to come at you is a bevy of excerpts and links that will be . . . well, animal crackers in your intellectual soup.
A Dozen Suggestions, and Then Some
1. Hypocritic Oath: At Tablet Magazine, Ian Kingsbury and Jay P. Greene take stock of the plentiful Jew-Hate now infecting the medical profession. From the piece:
Medicine has eagerly adopted the same type of identity politics that have come to define the policies, sensibilities, and ideologies of Ivy League universities, where diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) officials have essentially served as a political commissariat, articulating and enforcing identity politics orthodoxy. Indeed, medical training and practice is fertile ground for antisemitism to flourish. Looking at explicit acts of antisemitism from health care providers in the wake of the Oct. 7 attack, we observe that doctors are among those who have engaged in some of the most egregious displays of antisemitism, and that they are not regularly punished for their conduct. Second, we examined the responses of professional medical associations and medical schools to Hamas’ attack against Israel compared to their response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Leading medical institutions treat the world’s only Jewish state differently from other U.S. allies even though Americans overall have warmer feelings toward Israel than Ukraine.
If we want to understand why medical professionals are drawn to acts of antisemitism despite their advanced levels of education, we need to look at what their medical associations and schools are teaching them. Those institutions not only advance an ideology that facilitates Jew hatred, they demonstrate by the example of their public statements that they hold Jews and the Jewish state to a different standard.
Assuredly, the great majority of medical practitioners have made no public statements or made benign remarks that did not warrant news coverage. Still, Stop Antisemitism, an organization that calls attention to public displays of antisemitism, has recorded many medical practitioners whose speech or conduct related to recent events clearly demonstrate untrammeled Jew hatred. The fact that some of those health professionals were subsequently disciplined by their employers is reassuring. But the fact that so many would feel the urge and freedom to engage in overt Jew hatred despite their advanced professional training is alarming.
2. At the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, education guru Bruno Manno writes about the big upside of apprenticeships. From the piece:
The U.S. lags behind many nations in using apprenticeships for workforce preparation. Moreover, around 70 percent of U.S. registered programs are in construction trades, such as carpentry and plumbing. This is unlike other English-speaking nations like Australia and the United Kingdom where most government-supported apprenticeships are in fields like healthcare, logistics, technology, and the financial sector. The U.S. also has pre-apprenticeship programs that prepare individuals for registered apprenticeships and youth apprenticeships, typically part of a young person’s high school experience (some are registered). Apprenticeships differ from internships, which typically are short-term, entry-level, often unpaid jobs without a mentor and no industry credentials.
State and federal support are growing for apprenticeships. They have bipartisan backing is states as diverse politically as California, Colorado, Tennessee, and Texas. Federal spending for apprenticeships in the Labor Department’s Employment and Training Administration more than doubled over five years, from $90 million in 2016 to $185 million in 2021.
These programs succeed in preparing individuals for rewarding employment. One study of registered apprenticeships shows that workers earn $240,000 more over their lifetime—$300,000 when including benefits—by participating. Another study documents how states are creating new pre-apprenticeship programs as short as one to three weeks or as long as eight weeks that recruit a more diverse pool of underrepresented groups for apprenticeships.
3. At The Spectator, Bill Kauffman joins history buffians at America’s epic battlefield on the 30th anniversary of Gettysburg. From the piece:
The Ultima Thule of Gettysburg fandom is embodied in a Pittsburgh man who has amassed a stupendous collection of its props and costumes and who says that he has seen the movie (which in its briefest version runs 254 minutes) an astounding 3,000 times—a claim reminiscent of Wilt Chamberlain’s boast that he had conjugated with 20,000 women. One may admire the dedication of both men but . . . really?
The centerpiece of the weekend was the screening at the suitably named Majestic Theater on a Saturday afternoon of cold and drenching rain, perfect weather in which to view a four-and-a-half-hour director’s cut. The packed audience lustily cheered favorite scenes, whether Union Colonel Joshua Chamberlain’s “why we fight” oration, General Robert E. Lee’s inspection of the troops just before the disastrous Pickett’s Charge or the first glimpse of Confederate General James Longstreet’s movie beard, a boscage that might have provided nests for half the bluebirds in Adams County.
The subject of Gettysburg remains a touchstone, even an obsession, of those who understand that the United States did not begin last Tuesday. The battlefield attracts a million or so visitors a year, and Maxwell’s film is credited for not only adding to these numbers but, more importantly, enriching the experience. These are not National Lampoon’s European Vacation drive-bys; since the movie’s release, says Gary Adelman of the American Battlefield Trust, people have “wanted to get out [of their cars] and explore. Suddenly, the characters were real to them, and they wanted to see where they fought and died.”
4. More Kauffman: At The American Conservative, after a history lesson, the affinity towards “America First” gets measured. From the piece:
America First is a protean term if not concept. Woodrow Wilson, who forced U.S. entry into our most catastrophically indefensible conflict, the First World War, used the slogan, as did his amiable and un-Wilsonian successor Warren G. Harding. Senator William Borah, the interwar Idaho retroprogressive, stated the creed in language to which only an Effective Altruist could object: “Whatever we owe elsewhere, our first concern is our own people.”
I have “America First” pinback buttons for both Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, although the former was a internationalist and the latter a routine Cold War Republican who was first elected to Congress after defeating an archetypal isolationist in a 1948 GOP primary.
(Ford was a cofounder of the America First Committee in 1940, along with such embryonic eminences as future Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, future vice-presidential nominee Sargent Shriver, future Yale president Kingman Brewster, future Quaker Oats CEO Robert D. Stuart, Jr.—the list goes on. The AFC was as American as Bob Dylan and tax revolts. But down the memory hole it went.)
The first national candidate of the modern era to say was Virginia Governor Doug Wilder, who experimented with the formula in 1991 when laying the groundwork for a presidential candidacy that never got off the ground.
5. At The Imaginative Conservative, Darrell Falconburg celebrates the 70th anniversary of Russell Kirk’s classic, The Conservative Mind. From the essay:
Today, readers will discover that The Conservative Mind does not have the shallowness of the political pundits of our own day. Kirk did not pen a manifesto of policy positions, nor did he write a book to ridicule his opponents for the purpose of influencing an election. Instead, “he meant to wake the moral imagination through the evocative power of humane letters.” Kirk wrote as a historian of ideas and literary critic, and in doing so wrote a text of long-lasting value.
Seventy years later, as new debates about the meaning of conservatism arise, many will wonder how Kirk defined the idea. What, indeed, is Kirk’s understanding of conservatism? Who among us may be rightfully called “conservative?” Thoughtful readers will be pleasantly surprised that Kirk does not provide a litmus test for what passes as conservatism. He instead shows the historic and imaginative ways that the conservative tradition of English-speaking civilization stands as a viable alternative to liberalism and radicalism. This is because simple definitions and easy solutions are the approach of an ideologue. For Kirk, “ideology” is a precise term, and it produces uncompromising political fanaticism. In fact, it produces the kind of mentality that excommunicates the politically impure, demanding rigid adherence to a strict litmus test or political program. Ideology, argued Kirk, is like an inverted religion, promising a kind of secular salvation through politics. With ahistorical and abstract solutions ready in hand, the modern ideologue seeks to topple our heritage in an attempt to implement his vision of the perfect society. He believes that political legislation and uncompromising political dogmas are solutions to the complex problems that touch the human condition. The conservative, in contrast, recognizes the complexity of human society and the imperfectability of man. The conservative does not seek to make a perfect society; he only seeks a tolerable society. Conservatism, Kirk taught, is the negation of ideology on both left and right.
6. At The Washington Free Beacon, esteemed historian Andrew Roberts makes the case for Hamas being worse than the Nazis. From the essay:
In Hitler’s Willing Executioners, Daniel Goldhagen notes how "Hitler opted for genocide at the first moment that the policy became practical. The moment that the opportunity existed for the only Final Solution that was final, Hitler seized the opportunity to bring about his ideal of a world forever freed of Jewry and made the leap to genocide." This came in 1941 when both Poland and the western USSR were under his control. (Over half of all Europe’s Jews lived in the Soviet Union then.) "Demonological racial antisemitism was the motive force of the eliminationist program," Goldhagen adds, "pushing it to its logical genocidal conclusion once German military prowess succeeded in creating appropriate conditions."
Yet Hamas embarked on its genocidal attack when it only had southern Israel under its control for a few hours, and thus when it knew that the Israeli response would be instantaneous and devastating. Unlike the Nazis, who hoped that their murders could be hidden by the fog of war and complete territorial domination, Hamas grasped at their window of opportunity in the full knowledge that they would be punished for it, and soon. Whereas the Nazis assumed they would win the war and thus would never have to face retribution for their crimes, Hamas knew it was only a matter of hours away, yet still they launched their attack, caring nothing for the effect on ordinary Gazans. Their lust for torturing and murdering Jews was therefore even more powerful than the Nazis’, who waited until the front line had pushed forward before sending in the Einsatzkommando to wipe out Polish and Russian Jewish communities.
Toward the end of the war, senior Nazis like Heinrich Himmler and Ernst Kaltenbrunner tried to exchange Jews for cash, exposing how fundamentally cynical and corrupt they were, but also how they were willing to put greed over the killing impulse. Hamas, by contrast, was doing well out of the relative hiatus in military activity before October 7, with thousands of Gazans being issued work permits to earn more in Israel than they ever could in Gaza. Unlike even the heinous anti-Semites Himmler and Kaltenbrunner, therefore, Hamas has not put its greed for cash over its one true love: killing Jews.
7. At The Free Press, Ilya Shapiro explains the limits of free speech at a time of rampant intimidation. From the piece:
It’s in no way a free speech violation to prohibit students from shouting down professors and speakers. To allow such disruption would be to empower a “heckler’s veto,” which is merely another form of censorship. But because of either ideological affinity or administrative weakness—and maybe even a misunderstanding of free speech principles—university officials have been hesitant to discipline students for this sort of behavior. Which is why it continues.
As Yascha Mounk, a liberal fed up with campus illiberalism, explained in a pithy X thread, “part of protecting free speech is to punish students who violate the rules that make free speech possible for everyone else. This includes punishing those who violently disrupt talks—and it also includes punishing those who tear down fliers depicting children kidnapped by Hamas. The answer to this moment isn’t to give up on a culture of free speech on campus. It’s to enforce the rules that sustain it in an impartial manner.”
Relatedly, students at Columbia, Harvard, Northwestern, and other schools have taken over buildings, threatening to stay until their oft-nebulous demands are met. This conduct, again, is not protected by the First Amendment. The students should be removed and disciplined—up to and including arrest for trespassing—not fed burritos, as they were at Harvard.
8. At Plough Quarterly, Elizabeth Lev explores the combustible past of Notre Dame Cathedral. From the piece:
The fateful 2019 fire was ignited in the “forest,” in the timber roof laid into place between 1220 and 1240. The internal temperature of the structure reached 1212 degrees Fahrenheit, and ultimately the central section collapsed, sending the spire crashing to the ground. The high-definition television footage allowed people to experience the fire intimately, and the horrific scene drew a gasp from the world. It seemed all was lost, yet as the fire was quenched and the damaged was assessed, a ray of hope emerged. The façade and apse remained intact, only 5 to 10 percent of the art was lost, and the crown of thorns had been salvaged.
The April blaze was just the latest in a long series of disasters the cathedral has survived—and unlike many others, it was impersonal and accidental. The year 1548 saw the first serious sally against Notre-Dame when the Huguenots—Protestant followers of John Calvin—attacked the statues they considered idolatrous. While the 2019 fire spared most of the art, the Huguenots targeted it, smashing most of her statues to the ground.
Yet, despite the loss of so many other works of art, the statue of the Virgin of the Pillar survived. Carved in the early fourteenth century in the sinuous Gothic style and hidden away in the canons’ cloister, she is the most beloved of the thirty-seven statues remaining inside the church. She has weathered the Reformation, revolutions, indifference, and the inferno of 2019, and continues to receive the prayers and petitions of Parisians as well as pilgrims.
9. At Comment Magazine, J.C. Scharl praises the provincial. From the article:
This might seem commonsensical. But it is not. Artists who demonstrate a sincere love of their own place often come under fire. One example is Andrew Wyeth, who created such famous works as . Wyeth was fascinated by rural America, he was skeptical of the sweeping promises of progressivism, and he believed that the past has much to offer us. Critics his work and derided him as small-minded, reactionary, trite, uninspired . . . and provincial. and my favorite of his,
In this derogatory usage, “provincial” occupies the same space as “Luddite,” referring to someone who is entrenched in the ways of his or her place, someone who is somewhat baffled by what Martin Buber calls “the Other.” But if we are honest, who among us is baffled by the Other? Who is not disturbed, in the same way water is disturbed by the wind, by that which is beyond our ken? Who among us does not look with wonder and confusion at ways we have not walked, signs that we do not yet understand?
There is nothing inherently wrong with being provincial, with drawing our strength from the ground our roots are sunk in. In fact, done rightly, it is a virtue. To be properly provincial—to be struck by the Otherness of a way of thinking—is to say that you have your own way of thinking. To be provincial is simply to say that you love something deeply, that you believe in the loveliness, or the potential loveliness, of a particular place and its particular ways.
10. At Acton Institute’s Religion & Liberty, Rachel Ferguson gets granular on the block-by-block strategy for saving roughed-up big-city neighborhoods. From the essay:
In the case of inner-city poverty, there is often a strong territorialism between neighborhoods. This means that a 4-to-6-block area may, for a young person especially, feel like the whole world. Telling him that there are job opportunities five miles away is like telling him there’s an opportunity in Japan. It could take him an hour and a half bus ride just to get there, and outside the neighborhood, he won’t know if he’s protected.
Alternatively, if some of the neighbors clear an abandoned lot and turn it into a community garden that neighbors are paid to run, then the job opportunity has been brought to the seeker. Just walking down the street on a Saturday morning, a neighbor can see the activity, stop and ask about the opportunity, and realistically embrace it. And when something good is happening on my block, it means it’s probably not just a one-off. A bunch of the kids are in the student program or several of the adults have started businesses or gotten their home refurbished. Even if I begin to slip into hopelessness again, I only need to wait until Saturday morning to hear the buzzing of the lawnmowers from the group of teens the city pays to clean up empty lots. Or I can see the cars pulling into the farmers market at the community gardens. There are beautiful pictures of the places and people taken by people on display at the farmer’s market. There are carpenters from a local church on the front lawn turning the spindles for Ms. Tawana’s historic staircase. The possibility of change, the opportunity for something good, isn’t far away where I can’t see or hear it— . Now when I’m discouraged I can go to Ms. Tawana’s or Lucas’ or Miss Sharon’s house, and they will feed me and pray with me and laugh with me. Maybe I won’t sink under the weight of my trauma if I can actively envision a way forward and know who can help me get there. By the time one block is stabilized, there are neighbors involved from nearby blocks—and now the hope is spreading.
11. At Law & Liberty, James Hankins wants a return to the understanding of “equality” as synonymous with “liberty.” From the essay:
It is this American way of considering equality—as an open-ended process of making the world more equal—that I think needs to be reconsidered. Equality as understood presently in America is not an ideal that can be harmonized with the principles of ordered liberty. The American revolutionary form of egalitarianism inevitably turns into a political movement and sets in motion an insatiable process of social change. As a movement, it thus acquires something of the physiognomy of religious revivalism. When egalitarians of this new, American kind fail to get their way, frustrating the commands of their Great God Absolute, they can and do undermine and subvert the liberal, moderate, prudent forms of government that are the most valuable parts of the American political tradition.
In The Radicalism of the American Revolution, Gordon Wood made the claim that “by the early nineteenth century America had already emerged as the most egalitarian . . . society in history.” I think this is true, but unlike Wood, I don’t see this as necessarily a good thing for America. Wood argues throughout The Radicalism that the form taken by political equality after the Revolution was unexampled in world history, a proud “first” for humanity. That originality of course does not mean that American egalitarianism has no intellectual roots in the Western intellectual tradition. Wood himself emphasizes the role of Locke’s “sensationalism” and Locke’s invocation of the Biblical principle that all human beings were equal in the sight of God. This principle was later used by egalitarians like John Adams to fight artificial hierarchies, which Adams took to be undergirded by Calvinist doctrines of predestination, unmerited salvation, and unconditional election. For Adams, if you accept dogmatic Calvinism, you will be more likely to accept the traditional view that everyone should be content with the station to which God has called him [or her]. Adams was himself never a man to be content with his station in life.
12. At Spiked, Brendan O’Neill considers the recent riots in Dublin and finds the chattering class’s high dungeon-ry bloody selective. From the report:
So they’re lunatics. The protesters, rioters and looters who hit the streets of Dublin last night are ‘people who are severely mentally ill’, which is how my dictionary defines a lunatic. That’s according to Garda commissioner Drew Harris. The violent mob that rocked Dublin yesterday in response to the mass stabbing of four people, including three kids, are a ‘complete lunatic hooligan faction driven by far-right ideology’, Ireland’s top cop raged on TV. Stop your Googling, park your analysis, we now know why hundreds descended on central Dublin – because they’re madmen and fascists.
It is striking how swiftly this thin explanation for the worst street violence in Dublin in years was embraced as gospel by Ireland’s chattering class. The kind of Trinity-educated know-alls who have no doubt had HR training on why words like lunatic are outdated and offensive nodded along as the chief of police damned a mostly poor crowd as lunatics. Dublin’s Sally Rooney-reading Gen Z radicals who probably agree with the writers who said the BLM looting in the US was a valiant stab at ‘the heart of property, of whiteness and of the police’ took to X to wail about the looting on their beloved O’Connell Street. It seems rioting in response to the police killing of an African-American is fine, but rioting in response to a knife attack on three Irish schoolkids is literal derangement.
Some of us, even as we feel deeply unsettled by the riotous scenes in Dublin, believe there has to be a better explanation than ‘They’re insane’ or ‘They’re Nazis in tracksuits’. It started with the horrific knife attack outside a school near Parnell Square. A woman and three children were assaulted. The woman and a five-year-old girl remain in a critical condition. It was reported, but isn’t yet confirmed, that the knifeman is an Algerian national. This news spread like wildfire and before long the republic was in the grip of its worst civil unrest in a long time.
Lucky 13. At KRTV in Great Falls, Mont., Tommy Lynch explains why a principal spent a night on a roof. From the article:
On Friday morning at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School, the students quietly gathered outside the building, trying to suppress giggles as they looked up to the building’s roof. Sitting on the roof was a full camping tent.
At 8:00 A.M., the children yelled out in unison, “Good morning, Mr. Diekhans”, as the principal of the school emerged from the tent.
This peculiar but fun situation came out of a successful school fundraiser, called the Lourde’s Walk.
“We have a walkathon every year,” Cody Diekhans, Principal of Our Lady of Lourdes said, “. . . It’s a walkathon just to raise money for the school. Since we are a private school, a big part of our income relies on donations.”
Bonus. At Substack, Joe Lonsdale celebrates the 300th anniversary of some forgotten letters that proved of great influence in the colonies. From the piece:
One thing you would struggle to find is any mention of the most popular political work of the late-colonial period, that educated colonists knew and could often quote: Cato’s Letters.
2023 marks the 300th anniversary of the publication of the collection of 138 pseudonymous letters in English newspapers. They were penned in response to public outrage over the South Sea Bubble, and were influential in British politics and in the colonies.
Authors John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon chose the Roman statesman and Stoic Cato the Younger (95–46 BC) as a pseudonym because of his strong opposition to corruption in the Roman Republic. In his final days during the Civil War, he committed suicide rather than surrender to Julius Caesar, whose tyrannical claims Cato opposed.
The South Sea bubble was an early instance of government-corporate cronyism. In 1711, the South Sea Company was formed as a speculative venture to exchange England’s 9 million pound national debt for shares in the company. The Company’s purported value was based on a monopoly granted by Parliament to trade in the Spanish colonies of the new world and a license to provide African slaves to those colonies.
For the Good of the Cause
Uno. The new episode of Jeremy Beer’s “Givers, Doers, & Thinkers” podcast—his guest is charity guru James Whitford—is ready for your listening pleasure and thoughtful consideration. Catch it here.
Due. You bring the libation, we’ll supply the wisdom: A new “Scotch Talk” takes place on Wednesday, December 6th (from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., Eastern), in which Jeremy Beer and Walter Coughlin of Coughlin & Company will discuss cutting-edge ways that nonprofits can save money through the intersection of fundraising and finance. Find out more, and register, right here.
Tre. What’s a nonprofit to do if it needs to firm up its grant-writing chops? The answer: Take AmPhil’s “Elements of Grant Writing” Master Class, the one coming up fast and furious on Thursday, December 7th, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. (Eastern). You’ve been granted a wonderful opportunity! Take advantage of it: Get complete information right here.
Department of Bad Jokes
Q: Is this a temple for atheists?
A: Yes. We’re a non-prophet.
Can the “season of giving” pass without your giving? It is upon us, Christmas: Do be inspired. Also upon us is Hanukkah, commencing on December 7th (and extending through the 15th). May it be a happy one for our Brothers and Sisters in Abraham.
May We Have a Blessed Journey to Our Spiritual Bethlehem,
Jack Fowler, who can be found sore afraid at firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. Like me, do you wonder how Shirley managed to act when she was controlled by the power of hoodoo?