THANKS FOR A great July-August issue, whose quality almost made up for the fact that I had to stretch it out for two months! An especially delectable summer treat was “Tragedy 303,” Florence King’s hilarious dissection of Racine’s Phedre. I have vivid memories of writing a college term paper on the subject and trying to find something positive to say about those ponderous 17th-century dramas where all the characters talk each other to death. By the time I’d finished “Survey of French Literature,” I agreed with my mother that all the good French poets lived in the Middle Ages!
However, I was dismayed when Myles Harris marred his otherwise excellent article, “Britain’s Muzzled Press,” by declaring “In the early years of the Reformation, people learned how much the church had deceived them.” I wouldn’t be surprised to encounter such ignorant anti-Catholic bigotry in a fundamentalist cartoon tract, or even in the New York Times—but I expect better things of TAS. It was the Catholic Church that preserved the Scriptures for centuries, and—far from hiding them away—constantly studied, debated, preached, and prayed them, even depicting them on church walls and windows for the illiterate. If Mr. Harris wasn’t prepared to back up this highly debatable statement with the same kind of meticulous fact-finding that distinguished the rest of his article, he should have left it out.
Anne G. Burns
Cos Cob, CT
Myles Harris replies:
As an ex-pupil of the Christian Brothers, to whom I am enormously grateful for a fine education, I was surprised to be accused of ignorant anti-Catholic bigotry. I left school with an understanding and sympathy for the decencies of Catholicism that has never left me. I had, however, one advantage over Protestant friends: I understood what it was like to be a prisoner of the dangerous delusion that because I was a Catholic I was in the special confidences of God. Lots of people, including Muslim bombers setting out today, their waistcoats packed with explosives, hold the same view. Like Islam, the Roman Catholic Church has always taught that it is the sole keeper of The One True Faith, a fact that makes your contention that the church was a type of open medieval debating society simply ludicrous. Despite the Church’s many insights into the nature of man and his place in creation, the idea of a One True Faith was, in the past, a view it was prepared to kill for, just as Islamists are willing to kill for their faith today.
Tom Bethell writes an interesting, enlightening and, to my children and grandchildren, frightening article (“Unrestrained,” TAS, July-August 2013). I am 70 and will be dead before humanity is! However, I must make one comment about the glaring paragraph that ends it: “To date, at least, the culture war has dealt us one loss after another. A strong response is overdue.” A strong response by whom? The obvious organization would be the Republican Party, but is has long ago lost its will to win. While the Democrats would do almost everything to win, to gain power, it seems the Republicans simply want to be “right.” No pun. They speak and write and lose elections.
Only the voters of America can provide a strong response and I don’t think they have a clue of the danger facing them. Their sources of information begin at pre-K with something like “Two Daddies,” and then move along in education taught mostly be far-left zealots using far-left books such as Zinn’s. In university, administrators and their profs try to muzzle any conservative thoughts they might have. The media, print and broadcast, is predominantly liberal. Hollywood and the stars of stage, screen, and athletic field drive most of their vehicles leftward. How about the non-profits such as Planned Parenthood, ACORN, and the rest? How about their union bosses, the primary financiers to the Democrats? And even corporations have filled their ranks with diversity executives and their ilk. Most minorities, ethnic, sexual, or criminal are Democrats. So, back to my question. A strong response by whom?
Theodore M. Wight
Tom Bethell replies:
I wish i could be more encouraging, but my reaction is to agree with everything Mr. Wight says. The “strong response” is likely to come only when a majority of the voters figure it out. By then it may well be too late. We will be hit much as the Soviet Union was in 1989.
In regard to “Read My Lips: No New Texas” (TAS, September 2013), saguaros are not native to Texas. Surely you could have employed a more realistic illustration, despite what Wikipedia says:
The saguaro is often used as an emblem in commercials and logos that attempt to convey a sense of the Southwest, even if the product has no connection to Arizona or the Sonoran Desert. For instance, no saguaros are found within 250 miles (400 km) of El Paso, Texas, but the silhouette is found on the label of Old El Paso brand products. Though the geographic anomaly has lessened in recent years, Western films once enthusiastically placed saguaros in Monument Valley of Arizona as well as New Mexico, Utah, and Texas. There are no wild saguaros anywhere in the western U.S. states of Texas, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, or Nevada, nor in the high deserts of northern Arizona.
On the other hand, we do have lots of genuine saguaros here in southern Arizona, and furthermore they’ve been getting increasing amounts of blue paint splashed on them. Anything you could do to help would be much appreciated.
Managing Editor Kyle Peterson replies:
Pictorial accuracy must, I regret to say, occasionally be sacrificed in the pursuit of artistic vision. But if you were offended, please know that we are very saguary.
You should be embarrassed by the failure to edit the article by Alexander Fiske-Harrison, “Life in the Afternoon,” in the July-August issue. How could you have allowed his false statements to appear in print? In speaking of how Spanish fighting bulls are raised, Mr. Fiske-Harrison states (emphasis added):
I think the 34 million cattle killed annually in the U.S. at 18 months, 78 percent of which are factory-farmed and never see the light of day, would pay good money for such treatment. (Of course, animals killed for food we don’t nutritionally need but like the flavor of, are, by definition, killed for entertainment.)
First, cattle in the United States are not raised indoors. Any proofreader should know that. Second, the American cattle business is largely a salvage operation. The United States has tens of millions of acres of native grass pastures that because of lack of moisture, topography, or soil types are worthless for anything other than cattle grazing and beef production. If we idle those tens of millions of acres and lose the beef grown on them, to avoid killing and eating cattle “for entertainment,” we will annually lose, according to USDA statistics, some 25.6 billion pounds of beef, amounting to some 21.12 trillion food calories per year. Mr. Fiske-Harrison does not suggest how we make up for those lost food calories—perhaps he prefers that we devote more effort and resources to fishing the oceans harder. If we stop eating cattle “for entertainment,” either those calories must be made up from some other source or a whole lot of people will be walking around hungry and without entertainment.
Mr. Fiske-Harrison and his editors need to get out and around more.
Plaudits to Professor Buckley for his piece on the misrule of law (“The Misrule of Law in America, TAS, September 2013). Let us hope that someday lawyers and the state will forswear the looting mentality that motivates much of their conduct. Perhaps we could start by repealing most or all of the anti-trust laws. But I’m not holding my breath.
I enjoyed the article “AM Radio, Signing Off,” in the summer issue. Hopefully, there will be influential efforts to save AM Radio so that it doesn’t go the way of the dinosaur. For years I’ve enjoyed some of the great shows on the AM spectrum, such as “Car Talk,” “The Lone Ranger,” and “The Shadow.” The beauty of the medium is that you can participate with your imagination while listening to informative stations that cover comedy, mysteries, news, and sports. Driving around the country, one can absorb the fascinating aspects of America’s regional cultures. If AM Radio disappears, millions of Americans will miss the ideals of liberty and prosperity expressed so well on conservative talk radio shows. One wonders if these programs will switch over to independent networks or the FM Band.