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Works and Days

Monthly Archives: August 2006

9/11 and counting….

August 29th, 2006 - 11:40 am

As we near the 5th-year anniversary of 9/11, there is something strange in the air-almost a pause or lull-before-the-storm sort of feeling. Those who feel that Manhattan, DC, Madrid, London, Bali, Lebanon, etc. are all part of a larger pathology in a failed Middle East of radical Islam’s reactionary furor with modernity, and the West in particular for saturating the globe with it, expect more to come.

But even the doubters who prefer ignoring the Danish cartoons, the French riots, the murders in Holland, the daily hatred that emanates from Middle-Eastern state megaphones; or who wish to appease it; or who wish in their frustration to blame Bush (“Bush lied, thousands died”; “No blood for oil”) for inciting radical Islamists, themselves are ever more doubtful.

What, after all, is behind the plots to blow up the Holland tunnel in NY, or the German trains, or the London-based airliners? Are they all explicable by Bush and/or Blair, and are they really just minor near-misses, when even in failure they cause millions unease, discomfort, and the airline industry, to take one example, millions of dollars.

So we are in a sort of “Phony War”, analagous to the period after Poland but before the invasion of France (about October 1939 to May 1940), when Western Europeans still hoped Hitler would be satiated, or might turn reasonable, or might remember the nihilism of WWI, or might be deterred, and so did not take resolute, preemptive action, but waited for the blow to be struck.

And it was struck — and with a strong wind Churchill then blew in and Lord Halifax, Lloyd George, Duke Edward, Stanley Baldwin, and all that deranged crowd blew out. The Democrats should take warning and not suffer the same fate.

Back to the Future?

August 29th, 2006 - 11:04 am

I am teaching at Hillsdale College for a month in rural Michigan, and feel, in the positive sense, transported back to the 1950s. The students are well-dressed and polite — gone are the lunatic screaming and free-speech antics of the California campus where I taught for 20 years.

Arguments are conducted politely; there is no controversy any more about the value of the therapeutic curriculum of ethnic studies, women’s studies, black studies, or the leisured courses dealing with cartoons, pornography, sit-coms, Star-Trek, etc. There simply are no classes here like that: Politics, History, hard science, Classics, literatures, English, Math, and economics, are felt to encompass about all one needs to know.

Life is slow in Hillsdale; people say hello; the weather (raining for a near week) is awful, and all the while the visitor from California is reminded that the interiors of this country are the sinews of America that keep the entire experiment going. Hillsdale is an atoll, and it will be interesting in the next few decades to see if whether it becomes a museum of an America now lost, or a beacon for lost wayfarers to find their way back home.

Illegal immigration Again

August 29th, 2006 - 10:57 am

I am currently engaged in a running blog-debate at Cato Unbound over illegal immigration at Cato.org, mostly a rear-guard action in taking the apparently perverse position that  (a) illegal immigration is not good for the country, and (b) we can stop it and need not pattern our policy after some EU or extra-national formula that erodes the sense of exceptionalism about the United States.

The No-Nonsense Farmer

August 1st, 2006 - 6:09 pm

Hesiod was an ancient Greek poet who wrote about the world about him from the angle of the farmer. His Works and Days were a sort of a tough take about how hard life could be, and the world view that the no-nonsense farmer should adopt about the world about him if he were to survive. I have never posted blogs before but I will take Hesiod to heart here in the beginning. — Victor Davis Hanson