Summer has arrived and so have the bees in the good doctor’s garden in France.
We have a huge fund of very angry people buzzing about in mobs looking for somewhere on which their anger can settle. It seems an epoch ago that it landed on #MeToo and turned all men into Harvey Weinstein. Then, under the direction of little Greta, who somehow managed to combine an autistic manner with hysteria, opposing tendencies reconciled no doubt by the ineffable self-pity of the privileged, global warming provided a temporary resting place. However, with the killing of George Floyd, climate change seems as passé as Mussolini’s spats.
For the July edition of New English Review, Theodore Dalrymple begins his essay with some clever and mature quotes from a young Alexander Pope before moving on to covering the dark and disturbing Romanian thinker, E.M. Cioran.
There are few of us, I should imagine, who would care very much to have their thoughts at the age of twenty about life, literature and the world, exposed to public view and widely disseminated. Our thoughts at that age, though no doubt essential to our personal development, were hardly worth having, or at least not worth communicating to others. In short, our thoughts were callow, shallow, hackneyed and unoriginal in the extreme, often uttered with that youthful combination of arrogant certainty and underlying insecurity which manifests itself as a kind of inflamed prickliness whenever challenged.
Our skeptical doctor skillfully tears apart yet another pathetic, politically correct essay from the standard liberal on the latest black criminal turned martyr over at Law & Liberty.
As an aside, the photograph at the top of the article is worth studying for the absurd signs carried by the apparently suburban, predominantly white, middle-class, American marchers. The two nominated for first and second prize for the most ludicrous are: “All lives won’t matter until black lives matter” (held high by a lady in the foreground next to probably her poor, indoctrinated daughter) and “Satanists against white supremacy” (in the hands of a younger woman clad in—what else?—all black toward the rear on the right side of the photograph). It is to our great relief that masks were worn by all these brave freedom fighters, although social distancing rules will need to more diligently enforced.
In his weekly Takimag column, the good doctor reflects on the farcical nonsense seen these days in street “protests” in the West and how these manifestations of manufactured, self-righteous indignation parallel those of the spoiled, self-absorbed French faux-revolutionaries of 1968. The more things change, the more they stay the same?
Theodore Dalrymple experiences the joys of online banking in his The Critic column.
Because of some new banking regulations, I discovered that it was more difficult for me to gain access to my own accounts via an online accounting system. Suffice it to say that it is an iron law of the universe that new regulations always make things more complex, never less, just as all attempts to reduce bureaucracy increase it.
Theodore Dalrymple returns in the June edition of New Criterion with a classic essay covering too many interesting subjects to list here.
No one will have failed to notice the rapidity with which the morally unthinkable these days becomes the acceptable and then, very soon afterwards, the unassailable. Once the formerly unthinkable becomes the unassailable, outrage is expressed by the guardians of the orthodoxy when the unassailable is in fact assailed by people who are deemed not merely mistaken in their views, but wicked or evil.
Similar to an article last week, the skeptical doctor calls into question the appearance of children at political protests in this week’s Takimag article.
Another example of the relation between sentimentality and brutality has been the use of very young children in demonstrations. There are videos of two girls, 9 and 7, one making a speech at a demonstration and the other marching in a demonstration, her pretty little face contorted with hatred, chanting a horrible slogan, “No justice, no peace” (a justification in advance of further looting, or worse), and making aggressive gestures.
Life in Paris appears to be well on its way back to normal when it comes to the terraces of the cafés—for those under 65 at least—as the good doctor reports in his City Journal column.
But it is the terraces of the cafés that have really come alive. Looking at them, you would never know that anything untoward had ever happened. They practice no social-distancing measures, not even the pretense of them. The only noticeable difference is in the demographics of the customers: hardly a person over age 65 among them.
Over at Law & Liberty, the doubtful doctor raises an interesting issue when it comes to the standard liberal response to crime and how that response appears to be different when the criminal in question is not a member of one of the unofficially protected victim groups.
The curious thing, however, is that no one, not even the most ardent of penological liberals, is arguing that Chauvin was the victim of his circumstances (his upbringing in a violent, racist household or society, for instance) and therefore that he was not fully responsible for what he did. Nor is anyone arguing that punishment in his case would not work and that what he needs is some kind of therapy. They do not doubt for an instant that he should be severely punished, probably more severely than he actually will be punished.
Theodore Dalrymple writes about the petit bourgeois in his weekly Takimag column and provides his Parisian barber as a shining example of this often derided stratum of society.
Most men, said Thoreau, lead lives of quiet desperation, but I am not sure that we are entitled to conclude that those who do not complain about or revolt against the difficulties of their existence are necessarily desperate. Be that as it may, I do not think that those of more exalted, elevated, or fortunate social position are entitled to look down on the petit bourgeois, upon whose devotion to duty or business so much of their own comfort depends. They, the petit bourgeois, are the salt, not the scum, of the earth, and the intellectuals’ lack of sympathy for them says more about the intellectuals that it does about the petit bourgeois.