January 14, 2014

PETER WOOD: Defending the Humanities and Heather Mac Donald.

Heather Mac Donald may be the Ida Tarbell of our age: a writer who combines a meticulous eye for facts, intellectual brilliance, a sure sense of the historical moment, and deep moral seriousness. Tarbell is famous for her History of the Standard Oil Company, serialized in McClure’s Magazine between 1902 and 1904, and is celebrated today by the Left for her having struck a blow against Big Business. She even merited her own postage stamp in 2002, along with three other women journalists.

It may be a while before Mac Donald wins such philatelic immortality. Like Tarbell, she is a deft expositor of the excesses of large enterprises that have grown unaccountable and corrupt. But Mac Donald’s preferred topics are big city government and, increasingly, academia. The Left has a hard time coming to grips with the prospect that the latter day equivalent of Standard Oil may be the University of California.

To be fair, the resulting “splenetic rage” is much more amusing than anything that ever came out of the Standard Oil Company.