The Sins of the Father

Below the fold is a short letter of mine in Princeton Alumni Weekly (PAW), responding to a critique by Yoram Hazony of “liberalism” in an earlier article in PAW. I kept the letter brief to maximize the chances of its getting printed, but there’s more to say; I’ll say it here when I get the chance. Most of what’s said in the article is head-shaking nonsense, but Hazony in particular takes the gaslighting to outlandish extremes. Leave it to these allegedly child-loving sophists to use their children as rhetorical props when ideology demands it. Continue reading

Flying the Friendly Skies with Josh

Am currently sitting behind Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) on a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Newark. So tempted to strike up a conversation from the seat behind him about his blind support for Israel, and his similar blindness to the injustice of the Israeli occupation. What do you think about recent events in Jenin and Nablus, Congressman? Or shall I go first?

But I don’t want to be “that guy.” I also don’t feel like getting arrested today.

I note in passing that Rep. Gottheimer was late to the flight, but was permitted to cut the line and board before everyone else. Not sure why politicians deserve this special treatment, but ours is not to wonder why. Ours is to take our seats and sigh.

Anyway, back to reading Gerald Gaus’s Tyranny of the Ideal. Not much of a tyranny as tyrannies go, but easier to engage with right now than Josh Gottheimer.

Runaway Train

This post contains spoilers about the 1985 Andrei Konchalovsky film, “Runaway Train.”

My late wife Alison had a weirdly idiosyncratic conception of politics that fit no clear, known template. She called herself “a Democrat abandoned by the Party,” but that didn’t necessarily tell you what you wanted to know about her politics, assuming that you did. “What, in general, did she believe?” you might ask. Well, phrased that way, nothing. “So she literally had no beliefs?” you might rejoin. No, she believed a lot of things. Continue reading

David French on Ukraine: A Demolition

It hasn’t yet been a year since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, or the beginning of the US-led proxy war against Russia, and already American support for the war is slipping. Last year’s promises about never-ending aid have quietly been toned down, as have last year’s predictions about Russian defeat and collapse. Predictably, the more stalwart supporters of the war have popped back up to accuse us, yes, of a “failure of will,” a brand of moral weakness to be contrasted with the Stoic hardiness required to sit in front of a computer and demand that the war continue.  Continue reading

Stephen Nathanson (1943-2023), RIP

I read the other day of the recent death of Stephen Nathanson, professor emeritus of philosophy at Northeastern University. I didn’t know Nathanson very well–we never met–but nonetheless wanted to note his passing. 

I first encountered Nathanson’s work when I did manuscript reviews for Prentice Hall Press back in the mid-1990s. The Press assigned me a manuscript of his to review with the working title Who Gets What?, later called Economic Justice and published in their Foundations of Philosophy Series (1998). It’s a refreshingly well-written and clarifying book. When I first read the manuscript, I held a Rand-and-Nozick-influenced version of libertarianism at odds with the defense of the welfare state Nathanson offers in Economic Justice. It took me awhile, but I eventually came around to something like the view Nathanson defends, and did so partly by reflection on his arguments. I still turn to the book decades after the fact when I want to think things through on the subject. I highly recommend it to anyone who’s looking to do the same. Continue reading

Adriana Kuch (2008-2023), RIP

Stories about suicide now catch my eye more than they once did, so it’s no surprise that this story leapt out at me while reading the paper this morning: A 14-year-old high school student in Bayville, New Jersey is bullied in a school where bullying seems to be a chronic problem. She’s beaten in a school hallway by another student who has her confederates film the beating; the video is then uploaded to TikTok. The victim, thoroughly humiliated, goes home, waits a day, then kills herself.*

Confronted with the chronic nature of the bullying in the school, and the school’s equally chronic failure to respond to it, the school’s superintendent does his best to deflect. It was the girl’s fault, he says: she was a troubled drug user from a dysfunctional family; the school tried to give her drug counseling, but the family declined. And that, he says, not the bullying, is what explains her suicide. Continue reading

Zionism and Double Standards

Some interesting double-standards exposed, from a piece by Mitchell Plitnick at Mondoweiss, “International leaders push social media companies to ban anti-Zionist speech”:

The international effort to criminalize criticism of Israel is hitting new strides. Bringing the weight of numerous Western governments, the so-called Interparliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism has renewed efforts to label criticism of Israel as antisemitism and to thereby enable online censorship of any such criticism. 

On Monday, the co-chairs of the Task Force—Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) of the United States,  Canadian Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather, and former Israeli Knesset Member Michal Cotler-Wunsh sent letters to the heads of Meta (owner of Facebook and Instagram), Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok calling on them to redouble efforts to combat online antisemitism. …

In the letter, the parliamentarians urged the companies to include “Zionism as a protected characteristic/identity” and “commit to a specific, consistent policy for removing content and users who deny the Holocaust or call for violence against Jews, Israelis, or Zionists.”

This short passage highlights three double standards involved in American discussions of Zionism. Continue reading