Matt Taibbi: On “White Fragility”

At a time of catastrophe and national despair, when conservative nationalism is on the rise and violent confrontation on the streets is becoming commonplace, it’s extremely suspicious that the books politicians, the press, university administrators, and corporate consultants alike are asking us to read are urging us to put race even more at the center of our identities, and fetishize the unbridgeable nature of our differences. — Matt Taibbi, on White Fragility and its popularity

The elemental beauty and depth that can be found only in great works of literature.

I’m still not above watching vapid reality shows about meth-addicted Tiger tamers. Nor am I dismissive of the compelling fare we find on streaming media — we are living in a golden age of middlebrow culture. Certainly the world doesn’t need another writer praising the virtues of Moby-Dick. And that’s not my point. Sitting here in isolation, I come to praise the elemental beauty and depth that can be found only in great works of literature. Moby-Dick demanded my attention, imagination, and time. — David Harsanyi on reading Moby Dick

The Corruption Before Trump

We are where we are in American politics, in part, because all these big-picture projects succeeded in enriching private interests … but failed to achieve their stated public goals. The “shock therapy” delivered to Russia midwifed Putinism instead of a prosperous American ally. The war in Iraq ushered in a regional conflict that’s still burning to this day. Chimerica worked out better for the Chinese than for many working-class Americans, and far better for the Chinese Politburo than for the cause of liberty. And the self-justifying doctrine of the present elite — that you can serve the common good while in office and do well for yourself afterward — became far more implausible when the elite’s projects kept failing even as the officeholders kept on cashing in. – Ross Douthat

Jonah Goldberg on Post-Liberal Conservatism

Where the post-liberals have a point is that humans are happiest in communities, families and institutions of faith. The solution to the culture wars is to allow more freedom for these “little platoons” of civil society from which people draw a sense of meaning and belonging. If Sacramento wants Drag Queen Story Hour, so be it. If some other community holds a socially conservative version of the same, that’s fine too.

What America needs is less talk of national unity — from the left or the right — and more freedom to let people live the way they want to live, not just as individuals, but as members of local communities. We don’t need to move past liberalism, we need to return to it.

Jonah Goldberg

For Liberality, Against Parsimonious Liberalism

Instead of the virtues of classical republicanism, the romance of nationalism, the ructions of democracy, many modern liberals give us a vision of an Open Society that is informed by the dreams of Communism itself, a withering away of nationality, religions, social distinctions, and even the family that occurs underneath the tutelage of liberal democratic capitalism rather than a Communist party. That is why, so often, the legal suppressions aimed at Christianity are aimed at things like the principled refusal to profit from one’s labor. None of these cases involve the systematic and conspiratorial deprivation of goods, as Jim Crow did. What offends the modern liberal is something else. The mere assertion of a higher good beyond the Open Society, and beyond ourselves, something higher than profit, is itself counted as an injury, as treasonous. — Michael Brendan Dougherty

Brookhiser on Bob Dole’s Salute & Custom

But we have customs that train us in how to behave, curbing our emotions and memories. Every conservative writes about them: Don’t tear down the great English oak unless you know why it was built, etc. etc.

Sometimes the customs go wrong, sometimes very wrong. Then people stir, wise men think, demagogues shout “Drain the swamp!” But often customs help us do and think the right thing.

So the 95 year old man was hoisted out of his wheelchair, flicked away the hand supporting his usable left arm, and raised its fingers in a salute to the casket of the 94 year old man.

At ease.

Richard Brookhiser

Opening paragraph of the year candidate

What a brilliant start to this Kevin Williamson post in The Corner at NRO:

Eric Levitz of New York magazine has written a long-ish post that is mostly about my political views, which he gets mostly wrong. This is not entirely his fault. Levitz operates under two heavy disabilities: The first is that he’s stupid, and the second is that he’s dishonest. Paul Krugman seems to have put in a lot of work in his transition from respected economist to trifling partisan rage-monkey, but Levitz seems to have been born dumber than a catfish. So it’s only his dishonesty I’ll fault him for.

Devastating. And beautiful somehow …