Historian Eugene Genovese moved from Left to Right: some of the journey is chronicled in this National Review article by Jay Nordlinger.
Archive for September, 2012
Anthony Esolen writes, in Lemmings Unite! Be True to Yourself?:
“This above all,” says the old counselor to his son, advising the lad before his departure for France to play the young aristocrat on tour, “to thine own self be true.” Maintain that truth, he says, and then it will follow, “as the night the day, / Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
Shakespeare, alas, is so great a poet that his readers sometimes mistake deliberate banality for wisdom. This famous line is a case in point. It is uttered by Polonius, a shallow, prating, tedious old man, who is anything but straightforward in his behavior. He encourages his daughter Ophelia to play hard to get, to land the prince who loves her; he sends a servant to France to spy on his son; and he is slain while hiding behind the curtain in the Queen’s room in order to eavesdrop on her conversation with Hamlet. “Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell,” says Hamlet, “I took thee for thy better.”
Shakespeare is deeply suspicious of people who are true to themselves, and not to God or to their country: such, in his three parts of Henry VI, are the proud self-absorbed villains Suffolk and Richard of York, responsible for instigating the civil wars that embroil England during the fifteenth century. But this suspicion seems not to have entered the minds of the leaders of the Girl Guides of Australia, who have recently revised the oath the girls must take. From now on, instead of swearing loyalty to God, to the queen, and to Australia, each girl will swear, “I will be true to myself and to my beliefs.”
It’s easy enough to enjoy a hearty laugh at the stupidity of the change. Indeed, the oath is not an oath at all, but rather implies the repudiation of all oaths. To say, “I will be true to myself,” is equivalent to saying, “I will do just as I please,” nor does the addition of “my beliefs” provide any limit to the narcissism, since what is emphasized is not the objective truth of those beliefs, or their transcendent authority, but merely the fact that they happen to be mine. When they cease to please me, then, I am free to alter them, to “believe” something else, to “bend with the remover to remove.” When the wind turns, so does the weathervane.
Read the whole thing. Do. He goes on to discuss why it’s really not a laughing matter, after all.
Samuel Gregg provides some background to our present cultural/political situation, in a post called Mitt de Tocqueville.
…if the liberal commentariat deigned to pick up a copy of the second volume of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America and read the chapter entitled “What Sort of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear,” they’d find the link between creating tame citizens and a state that generously volunteers to do everything on their behalf spelt out quite gracefully…
hat tip: John Couretas
This (what is reported in the article linked above) is especially silly or aggravating, because one of the wonderful things about tacos is how easily they are personalized. From Trouble Pug:
10 – TACOS
After the Tanakas bowed their heads and silently said grace, Mrs. Tanaka uncovered the serving dishes.
Morgan’s mom stared in shock at what was before her.
“What is this?” she asked.
“Tacos,” Mrs. Tanaka said.
“Tacos? Tacos!” Ms. Smith spluttered.
“Any problem?” Mr. Tanaka asked.
“But you guys are Japanese. This is Mexican food,” Ms. Smith wailed.
“Actually, it’s also American food. And, actually, we’re Americans. Have been for about a hundred years now,” Mr. Tanaka said, politely. He refrained from mentioning that people all over the world ate tacos these days. For that matter, it wouldn’t surprise him if astronauts ate them on the space station. “Kisa, would you pass me the tomatoes, please, if you’re through with them?” he asked.
“Sure, Dad,” Kisa said, handing him the chopped tomatoes.
In the Tanaka house, tacos were a favorite meal, not least because everyone could make his own, just the way he wanted. There were dishes heaped high with ingredients, and the family just handed the dishes around. Kisa liked hard shells, with a lot of tomatoes and lettuce and not too many beans, and lots and lots of ketchup. She wouldn’t even touch the hot sauce.
“Is that beef?” Morgan’s mom asked, with her eyes narrowed into suspicious slits as she watched Kisa’s mom build a taco.
“Yes,” Mrs. Tanaka said.
“I don’t eat beef,” Ms. Smith said.
“Then make yours without any. That’s why we serve them this way. Everyone chooses what he wants,” Mrs. Tanaka said.
“You shouldn’t eat beef,” Ms. Smith told her. “And I’m not a he.”
“I never said you were male. I just used standard English grammar.”
“Not to me.”
“Not once you learn it. It can be pretty handy, actually, using ‘he’ as a generic.”
“You shouldn’t eat beef,” Ms. Smith said again.
Mrs. Tanaka quietly helped herself to more ground beef. (more…)
I know there are reasons for discouragement these days, but there are pockets of brightness.
For instance, last weekend I attended a bluegrass concert sponsored by a Family-Integrated Church. The event was held outdoors in a park. The audience sat on grassy slopes that wrapped around the stage. There were wholesome looking people as far as the eye could see. Kids danced and rolled down the slope, with an innocence and joy that spoke well of their upbringing. I didn’t see one little kid try to be sexy or crude, like so many kids do these days, in imitation of the pop culture. The church members were friendly to all comers. Even some teens who looked like they belonged to a gang came and hung around for a while, taking all this in. The band leader stopped at one point to encourage the men in the audience to be men of honor, of integrity, and courage. He said he had taught his sons to be men; that any one who was crazy enough to invade their home would have to go through three men to get to the girls. I think he was talking mostly to families that are arranged the same way. I’d bet most of them have seen the movie Courageous, and were inspired by it. The band also promoted adoption of orphans, and care of widows. It came out that some of the people in the audience had made independent films that had made it to semi-finals in a film festival, and you can bet these were films that built people up, or spurred them to help their neighbors, and not films that poisoned their viewers.
Not far away, a different group was having a party, complete with children swinging sticks at huge pinatas. Laughter filled the air. The kids were having a great time, but were also behaving well.
This week, I volunteered as a teacher’s aide at a rural charter school, for a release time Bible study class. The kids were cheerful, eager, bright, full of imagination, polite, and respectful. They are also better versed in the Bible than many adults I know. These were kids in kindergarten through second grade. The school has kids from K-8. Walking through the halls, I drank in the atmosphere of the place, the energy and poise and discipline of the kids. I left feeling better than when I got there.