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At Yale: ‘We ask that Major English Poets be abolished…’

A Petition [to the Yale University English Department] — We, undergraduate students in the Yale English Department, write to urge the faculty to reevaluate the undergraduate curriculum. We ask the department to reconsider the current core requirements and the introductory courses for the major. (Continued)

A unique American college becomes just another State U.

By ROGER KIMBALL [Real Clear Politics] – You can’t set foot on a college campus these days without encountering incessant chatter about “diversity.” It doesn’t take long to realize that by “diversity” most colleges really mean “strict intellectual and moral conformity about any contentious issue.”  Indeed, most colleges and universities are one-party states, purveying, at enormous cost, a species of ideological indoctrination while their charges enjoy a four-year holiday from the responsibilities of adult life masquerading as a liberal education.  Their parents are happy, or at least reconciled to the expense and the indoctrination, because said college provides their child with the all-important stamp of societal approval in the form of a meal ticket called a “diploma.”  What have they actually learned? What skills have they mastered? What is their character?  Those are questions that no one, having just spent  (in many cases) $250,000, wants to ask. (Continued)

‘Adieu’ is how the French pronounce ‘Brexit’.

By EDOUARD TÉTREAU [Le Figaro via VoxEurop] — Brexit is a fantastic opportunity. First off, for Europe itself. The UK’s exit would put a definitive stop to the EU’s hurried enlargement. The UK always encouraged this policy, seeing it as an effective way of diluting the Franco-German partnership that has called the shots on the continent. This enlargement has had two damaging consequences: states were integrated into the EU and even into the eurozone before they were ready, from Greece – doctoring its public accounts to benefit from the euro’s financial profligacy – to Viktor Orban’s Hungary and Bulgaria – one of the most corrupt countries in the world. (Continued)

Aprés France, le déluge.

By JAMES POULOS [Orange County Register] — President Obama has studiously ignored the obvious – year upon year upon year – when it comes to France’s critical role in staving off disaster in Europe. To be sure, the White House is well aware that sometimes the most important work in foreign policy takes place all but silently, behind the scenes. But, repeating a pattern that has all but demolished its credibility in the realm of leadership, the administration has simply opted out of shaping public and elite opinion around the centrality of U.S.-French relations to a clear, coherent and now more than urgent mission: to defeat international jihad and ensure European peace and security. (Continued)

A history lesson for Hilary Benn and Yvette Cooper.


Walther Funk

Walther Funk. (via Wiki)

BORIS JOHNSON MADE what most people would regard as a mild observation to the Sunday Telegraph, when he said, “Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried [European unification] out, and it ends tragically. The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods.”

The furor was as immediate as it was ill-informed. The Telegraph headlined their scoop, “Boris Johnson: The EU wants a superstate, just as Hitler did”. Imagine that! The news that Hitler wanted a “superstate” was shocking. It led the BBC newscast, perhaps for the first time in nearly 70 years. Johnson’s political opponents quickly expressed their outrage. As the Independent reported:

The Shadow Foreign Secretary, Hilary Benn, described the former London Mayor’s comments as “offensive and desperate”.

“After the horror of the Second World War, the EU helped to bring an end to centuries of conflict in Europe and for Boris Johnson to make this comparison is both offensive and desperate.”

Former Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper joined the condemnation and called on Mr Johnson to not play “political games with the darkest and most sinister chapter of Europe’s history”.

For Hilary Benn and Yvette Cooper, and perhaps the headline-writers at the Telegraph, it’s apparently a chapter so dark they have never read it. After all, as Michael Blackburn recently wrote here, even those who know absolutely nothing else about the twentieth century in Europe know about Hitler: “Even the nurse who wheels you to the bathroom in your nursing home will have heard of him. Nobody forgets Hitler.”

Europe’s backers may like to pretend the spore that bore the EU was taken from the European Steel and Coal Treaty of 1951 and planted in 1957 with the Treaty of Rome, the European Economic Community’s birth certificate. But in fact, as Johnson correctly noted, the latest effort to unify Europe has a slightly more colorful pedigree, one that includes the European unification plan put forward by Hitler’s Reich Minister for Economic Affairs, Walther Funk (with the persuasive support of the Wehrmacht, of course). It was exactly what Johnson meant when he used the term “superstate”: the Europe proposed by Funk and other Nazi strategists, according to Columbia historian Mark Mazower (in his excellent Dark Continent: Europe’s Twentieth Century), “bore more than a passing resemblance to the post-war Common Market.” The Nazis called their vision for Europe the “New Order” and as early as 1941, Funk and other German propagandists were proclaiming that “the United States of Europe has at last become a reality.”

The plan advanced by the Nazis saw a common currency, a central bank and the other institutions that are critical to the EU today.

The plan advanced by the Nazis saw a common currency, a central bank and the other institutions that are critical to the EU today—in the words of Hermann Neubacher, described by Mazower as “Hitler’s Balkan supremo,” a unified “Grossraum which instead of individual countries would form the economic unit of the future.” From the moment of its inception, the Nazi version of the European Union had the support of other Europeans; in fact, it was the Vichy deputy premier, Jacques Benoist-Mechin, who announced France was ready to “abandon nationalism and take [its] place in the European Community with honour.”Eugen Weber, writing in The Atlantic in 2001, observed that for the French as for the Germans, Hitler’s New Order was above all European. “With French and German bankers, industrialists, and other businessmen meeting regularly,” Weber wrote, “the idea of a United States of Europe was making its way, along with visions of a single customs zone and a single European currency. The European Union, its attendant bureaucracy, even the euro, all appear to stem from the Berlin-Vichy collaboration. Bureaucratic controls proliferated, administrative and business elites interpenetrated, postwar economic planning took shape—as did that greater Europe in which France’s Hitler-allotted role would be one of a bigger Switzerland, ‘a country of tourism … and fashion.’”

THIS IS NOT to sully an idea by association; after all, in 1946, surrounded by the rubble of war, even Churchill said a “United States of Europe” was necessary to help rebuild devastated France and Germany. But the war is long past — yet German ambitions linger. Josef Goebbels once predicted that “in fifty years’ time [Europeans will] no longer think in terms of countries.” Sixty years later, Gerhard Schroeder, from a rebuilt, resurgent Germany, echoed that thought when he said that “National sovereignty will soon prove itself to be a product of the imagination.” Every idea has its moment; moats were once the last word in security. But European unification is a constant thread running through all our postwar decades. Reading accounts of twentieth-century Europe, you can’t help notice how little the Continental political class has been affected by the massive storms that have broken over her. The worldview of the European political elites is the same now as it has always been. The growth — usually predicated on various claims of urgency and necessity — of government and the inevitably consequent centralization of power have a persistent gravity all their own. The idea of repudiating this, as Johnson and the Brexit side want, is to demand nothing less than the repudiation of the EU’s new, improved order, and to invite famine, war, pestilence, poverty, hives and rashes.

The prediction made by Goebbels is certainly true for the political leadership of the EU in 2016. In fact, for practical reasons, “Europe” has always meant Germany. For the bureaucrats in Brussels, Goebbels and Schroeder are both a little offensive, but a lot right. The Treaty of Rome, which followed Goebbels’ pronouncement by only 15 years, was intended to make Italian pasta attractive to grocery-shoppers in Luxembourg and German cars affordable to everybody. Now, after nearly five decades of festering growth by bureaucrats feeding on the rich agar of mysterious taxes and near-unaccountability, the old New Order, rechristened the European Union in 1992, has reached maturity as a gigantic, monstrous pyramid scheme run by the Germans, in which other nations are forced to contribute to the political well-being of people such as Cameron and Angela Merkel — or face doom.

Denis Boyles is the co-editor of The Fortnightly Review. His latest book, Everything Explained That Is Explainable: On the creation of the Encyclopædia Britannica’s celebrated Eleventh Edition 1910-1911, will be published by Knopf in June.

More Chronicle & Notices.

The closed minds of American academics.

By BEN VOTH [American Thinker] — Even President Barack Obama recently lamented the declining state of affairs on America’s college campuses. Essentially, a doctrinaire sense of victimology has descended upon campuses such that free speech, critical thinking, and debate are all but abolished in favor of “Safe spaces.” The complaints are extensive and well-founded. Allan Bloom’s concern in the 1980s about the “Closing of the American Mind” is profound, real, and upon us at today’s university campuses. What is not often discussed is what should be done to reverse this crisis and to begin anew the opening of the American mind. (Continued)

On the lookout for agency and ambition.

By JOSEPH EPSTEIN [Wall Street Journal] — [Ronald] Syme was a master of the brief character sketch, not infrequently followed by a sharp observation. The mixture of good and evil in the same people fascinated him. After toting up Marcus Antonius’ many flaws, he writes that “a blameless life is not the whole of virtue, and inflexible rectitude may prove a menace to the Commonwealth.” Cicero, he says, “had lent his eloquence to all political causes in turn, was sincere in one thing only, loyalty to the established order. His past career showed that he could not be depended on for action or statesmanship.” (Continued)

The new Lord of the Ring is, appropriately, French.

First we burn her alive, then we steal her jewelry. Wait until ‘Women’s Hour’ hears about this.

bandedarcBy MARTIN BAILEY [Art Newspaper] —The French buyer of the Joan of Arc ring is defying the UK authorities, saying that he did not need an export licence. “The ring has returned to France and here it will stay,” declared Philippe de Villiers, the founder of the Puy du Fou historical theme park, speaking at a ceremony to mark the return of the relic at Puy du Fou, near Nantes, on 20 March. (Continued)

Clash of the intellectual titans.

By POPE FRANCIS [via Pantheos/CNS News] — Thank God he said I was a politician because Aristotle defined the human person as ‘animal politicus.’ At least I am a human person. As to whether I am a pawn, well, maybe, I don’t know. I’ll leave that up to your judgment and that of the people. And then, a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel. As far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I am not going to get involved in that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that.

More at Pantheos (Continued)

The mastery of the suicide bomber.


As for our enemies, shouldn’t we restrict
Their freedom of expression, scandalised
When they advocate violence that costs them
Their lives since it flies in the teeth
Of the violence we mete out from some
Invulnerable height?

—From a poem by the author.

IT OCCURS TO ME that there is a paradigmatic relationship between drones and suicide bombers. In his chapter on “Lordship and Bondage” in The Phenomenology of Spirit, Georg Hegel wrote:

… it is only through staking one’s life that freedom is won; only thus is it proved that for self-consciousness, its essential consciousness is not (just) being, not the immediate form in which it appears, nor its emergence in the expanse of life, but rather that there is nothing present in it which could not be regarded as a vanishing moment, that is pure being-for-self. The individual who has not risked his life may well be recognised as a person, but he has not attained to the truth of this recognition as an independent self-consciousness.

For Hegel, writing in the midst of the Napoleonic wars, the master is one who is prepared to die for his cause, while the one who is not prepared to take this risk, whose consciousness accepts bondage rather than loss of life, will inevitably become enslaved. (Continued)

Who is to blame for the attacks in Paris?

By MICHEL HOUELLEBECQ [New York Times] — France will hold on. The French will hold on, without even needing a “sursaut national,” a national pushback reflex. They’ll hold on because there’s no other way, and because you get used to everything. No human force, not even fear, is stronger than habit. (Continued)

Can Islam be Westernized?

By SAMUEL GREGG [Public Discourse] — In our time, three phenomena tend to come to mind when considering Europe’s contemporary problems. One is the economic difficulties troubling not only small European nations, such as Greece and Portugal, but also large countries, such as Italy and France. The second is the influx of migrants likely to continue sweeping across Europe’s borders over the next few years. As the Paris atrocities have demonstrated, no amount of political correctness can disguise the fact that the migration issue cannot be separated from the problem of Islamist terrorism. And that raises a third matter, which is on everyone’s mind but which few European leaders seem willing to address in any comprehensive way: is the Islamic religion, taken on its own terms, compatible with the values and institutions of Western culture? (Continued)

With Republicans, it’s over when it starts.

By HARRY STEIN [City Journal] — Where liberals, smugly certain of their moral righteousness, assume history’s arc will bend their way, Mets fans like us know better. Never do we take winning as our due. Nor, needless to say, (damn those Wilpons!) do we throw money at problems. Yet still we stick, prizing loyalty above all other virtues. Indeed, even when we know the Mets Establishment is lying through its teeth—behind closed doors, sneering where are they gonna go, to the Yankees?—we accept the shameless duplicity with weary resignation, for it only confirms our worldview. As Peggy Noonan wrote of the reaction of “hard-core movement types” to the slights they regularly suffered at the hands of moderates in the Reagan White House: “More proof of human perfidy! More proof of the ugliness at the core of the human heart!” (Continued)

Caution: books may trigger uncomfortable thoughts.

By GREG LUKIANOFF and JONATHAN HAIDT [The Atlantic] — Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. Last December, Jeannie Suk wrote in an online article for The New Yorker about law students asking her fellow professors at Harvard not to teach rape law—or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in “that violates the law”) lest it cause students distress. (Continued)

Polls: Ferguson’s anger isn’t shared by most black Americans.

By FRANK NEWPORT [Gallup] — August 3: PRINCETON, N.J. — Despite the significant public attention on confrontations between black citizens and police in Missouri, Maryland and New York over the past year, blacks in 2015 express virtually the same opinions about being mistreated by police as they did in 2013. This year, 18% of adult blacks say there has been an occasion the last 30 days when they personally felt they were treated unfairly in dealings with police, which is virtually the same as the 17% recorded in 2013. This is down from as high as 25% in 2004… (Continued)