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HAVE I BEGUN TO SOUND like some cranky uncle? With apologies to Arthur Conan Doyle’s dog that did not bark, I must blame the goose that did not die, and also perhaps David Baron’s stirring chronicle of interaction between cougars and humans. One of many salient points in Baron’s 2004 book, The Beast in the Garden, is that “ecologists call the zone of transition between habitats (for instance, forest and prairie) an ecotone,” and that “America is becoming one vast ecotone where civilization and nature intermingle.”
As with topography, so also with personality, else we could not be (as Blaise Pascal so aptly put it) both “the glory and scum of the universe.” C.S. Lewis approached the same insight in The Weight of Glory, saying that “it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.”
By shielding our children too much — sealing them off from the ecotones in ourselves and in our culture, or acting as though begrimed splendor is all there is — we raise journalists who write blithely about “immigration rights” without ever using the word “illegal,” nationalists who see no problem with remixing an iconic anthem so that its opening line could be styled “Jose, can you see?” pundits whose friends all vote the way they do, historians who mythologize the “noble savage,” priests who never preach on sin, and policy makers who confess themselves puzzled when crime rates go down as incarceration rates go up.
Often our shields are misplaced. Whether through vestigial guilt, as Shelby Steele argued recently, or through simple ignorance, we’re more frank with each other about sex, for example, than we are about terrorism. When the next Broadway fan geek says, “life is a cabaret, old chum,” the proper response is “bite me.”
So here’s to Aunt Rhody and the people who tell lies about waiting for her in the car because they think a dead goose will induce a fainting spell. She gave me a new axiom: when a culture’s video games are more violent than its laughably sanitized folk songs, soul-searching is in order.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?