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November 30, 2015
... with Jim Geraghty
The On-Again, Off-Again Arguments about 'Dangerous Rhetoric' Leading to Violence
Let me get this straight. In the eyes of the Left . . .
. . . criticism of Planned Parenthood means something like the shooting in Colorado "was bound to happen" . . .
. . . but chants where people describe police as "pigs" and call for them to be "fried like bacon" don't lead to attacks on police . . .
. . . when an event by Pamela Geller is targeted by an Islamist shooter, it is "not really about free speech; it [is] an exercise in bigotry and hatred" and the attempt to kill her means she has "achieved her provocative goal" . . .
. . . while at the same time, investigators contend we may never know what motivated a 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez to kill four Marines and a sailor in an attack on Chattanooga's U.S. Naval and Marine Reserve Center last July . .
. . . a shooting by a diagnosed schizophrenic, who believed that grammar was part of a vast, government-directed mind control effort, is characterized by the Southern Poverty law Center as having views that are the "hallmark of the far right and the militia movement" . . .
. . . while the shooter who opened fire in the lobby of the Family Research Council in downtown Washington in 2012, who planned to target the Traditional Values Coalition next, does not spur any need for a broader discussion or societal lessons about the demonization of political opponents . . .
. . . a California killer, who was treated by multiple therapists and already had police checking on him after posting disturbing YouTube videos, is a reflection of "sexist society" . . .
. . . but there's little reason to ask whether the Oregon shooter's decision to target Christians reflects a broader, societal hostility to Christians, or whether it reflects his personal allegiance to demons . . .
. . . when white supremacist Dylann Roof commits an act of mass murder in an African-American church, Salon declares, "White America is complicit" and the Washington Post runs a column declaring, "99 percent of southern whites will never go into a church, sit down with people and then massacre them. But that 99 percent is responsible for the one who does" . . .
. . . but the Roanoke shooter's endless sense of grievance and perceptions of racism and homophobia in all of his coworkers represents him and him alone . . .
Do I have all that right? And does that make sense to anyone?
Wouldn't Occam's Razor suggest that those already driven by a desire or compulsion to kill other people are going to do so, and will merely latch on to whatever "reason," justification, or excuse is at hand or is most convenient? Isn't it ridiculous to expect sane people to watch what they say and restrict what thoughts they express in order to prevent a rampage by someone with an inherently illogical, literally unreasonable, not-sane thinking process?
Isn't "don't say what you think, because it might set off a crazy person" the most insidious form of censorship, because none of us can really know what prompts a crazy person to go on a violent rampage?
Cyber Monday Shopping Guide!
No pressure, but I got almost all of my Christmas shopping done this weekend.
My delivery list became self-aware.
I'm sure I've probably forgotten some of my colleagues' books, but I think this is the most comprehensive list of National Review–related books and paraphernalia you'll find anywhere.
Let's start with the Buckley for Mayor campaign poster, with the oh-so appropriate pricing of $19.65. The Unmaking of a Mayor book, with a new foreward by Neal Freeman and afterward by Joe Scarborough, is just $22.95.
Kevin Williamson's The Case Against Trump is just $5.99 -- that's a deal even The Donald would say is a great bargain! Trump fans may prefer Kevin's earlier ode to the upside of national fiscal ruin, The End Is Near and It's Going to Be Awesome.
Victor Davis Hanson has written, by Amazon's count, 23 books. His latest is Bonfire of the Humanities: Rescuing the Classics in an Impoverished Age; the year before he wrote The Savior Generals: How Five Great Commanders Saved Wars That Were Lost - From Ancient Greece to Iraq. He writes fiction as well, including The End of Sparta: A Novel. Immigration-minded readers may prefer his 2007 Mexifornia: A State of Becoming, now just $5.53.
Michael Walsh's The Devil's Pleasure Palace: The Cult of Critical Theory and the Subversion of the West -- a strange combination of dark and illumination, like a candle in a cave -- is just $15.21 with Amazon Prime. Speaking of illumination of reason and faith, Ramesh Ponnuru's 2006 work, The Party of Death, is $23.06, and Kathryn Lopez's How to Defend the Faith without Raising Your Voice: Civil Responses to Catholic Hot Button Issues is just $16.16!
Charlie Cooke's rallying cry, The Conservatarian Manifesto, is just $18.94 with Amazon Prime. John Fund's books are always fascinating, whether it's Obama's Enforcer: Eric Holder's Justice Department, the updated Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy, or Who's Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk.
I wonder how Rich's Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years looks in light of Hillary's 2016 ambitions. Banquo's Ghosts was a chilling thriller about Iranian nuclear ambitions and terrorism in New York City.
With terrorism front and center in our minds, maybe it's time for a good perusal of Andy McCarthy's work, including his 2010 work, How Obama Embraces Islam's Sharia Agenda; The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America, and Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad.
A lot of Roman Genn's best artwork is available for purchase, both prints and originals. You know his hilarious caricatures, but Roman can hit deep, meaningful emotional chords with his work . . .
Other friends and allies of National Review with new books hitting shelves include Peggy Noonan's new collection of her columns and essays, The Time of Our Lives; Hugh Hewitt's The Queen; Greg Gutfeld's How To Be Right: The Art of Being Persuasively Correct; and Glenn Beck has a new Christmas-themed novel, The Immortal Nicholas.
Finally, you knew this list was all just building up to . . . Heavy Lifting.
This weekend, the Galveston Daily News ran a review by Mark Lardas, calling it a "lighthearted, yet full-throated defense of the joys of adulthood . . . Take the risk of rejection, because without risk the rewards are few. That is a theme of the book — without taking the risks associated with adulthood, your rewards are trivial and life unfulfilling. Do you have sons in their 20s or in their teens? Get this book and leave it where they can read it. Especially if they are in their teen years. 'Heavy Lifting' is something you grow into."
And of course, there's the quasi-Newt-Gingrich endorsed The Weed Agency . . .
If you're looking for books for kids . . .
Some Not-So-Political Options for Younger Readers
Earlier this year at the National Book Festival, I had a chance to meet Tom Angleburger, the author of the "Origami Yoda" series and several other children's books. Primary school boys devour books in his charming, quirky series about a strange kid who creates a Yoda out of origami that seems to have the ability to use the Force, foresee the future, or warn them away from middle-school embarrassment. Angleburger is a phenomenal speaker in front of the kids, drawing sketches, constantly interacting with them and calling all of them "Larry" which my sons found hilarious. My younger son really enjoyed Angleburger's picture book aimed at the kindergarden-or-younger audience, McToad Mows Tiny Island. He practically did cartwheels when he spotted tiny Origami Yoda and other Star Wars characters in the background of the detailed pictures.
(Say, who's that down in the right-hand corner by the coffee cup?)
Probably the most fascinating children's book I've encountered in the past year is Treaties, Trenches, Mud and Blood, a book in the Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series. These are technically graphic novels -- i.e., comic books -- but done with a lot of text; TTM&B is an extraordinarily detailed yet middle-school-appropriate history of World War I. It's an exceptionally fine line to walk, representing each country with a symbolic animal, but Hale nails it, and has spurred a lot of conversations with my son about wars, why they are fought, and why they should be avoided.
ADDENDA: Speaking of Germans, I finished The Man in the High Castle during the Thanksgiving break. I'm not quite as irate/disappointed about the end of the ten-episode run as Michael Graham, but I see where he's coming from. We'll have a spoiler-filled discussion in about a week or so. For now, I concur with a lot of the assessment of Andrew Cunningham of Ars Technica; this show is fascinating concept that brings an intense, sometimes stunning atmosphere to the screen, and a supporting cast that is remarkably gripping . . . unfortunately, also with main characters that feel a little bland or vague, some serious pacing/plotting problems, and some major unresolved questions that feel like the audience is being strung along.
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