Category Archives: Essays

Earsores and Eyesores

The good doctor endures an annoying train ride from Paris to Nimes with a horribly dull passenger chewing his ear off for three hours in this week’s Taki’s Magazine column. Once in the beautiful city of Nimes, Theodore Dalrymple takes yet another aim at the talentless and destructive modern architects who have done so much to disfigure our cities.

Unfortunately, the late-20th-century contribution to the city is rather less distinguished, though not without a certain interest for those fascinated by the degradation of Western civilization. I recommend a visit to what is called the Ville active (as if the rest of the city were dormant, a kind of Pompeii or Angkor Wat) to understand the vision of what arrogant but pinheaded French architects evidently think is a utopia.

Rushing to Judgment

In his latest City Journal column, Theodore Dalrymple lambasts the cowardly and dishonorable way that Sir Roger Scruton was dismissed by James Brokenshire as chairman of a commission on the aesthetics of modern British housing. Brokenshire is the same minister who also happened to appoint Prof. Scruton, but spinelessly turned on him after a vicious and mendacious assault on Sir Roger by the English left-liberal “lumpenintelligentsia” on (anti-)social media.

Because, like May, Brokenshire appears to believe in nothing, he is not able to face down opponents with arguments, instead falling back into an immediate posture of surrender. These are the people who govern us, whether we deserve them or not.

The Great Hate Debate

Theodore Dalrymple weighs in on a rather nonsensical law being debated in the French Parliament that would attempt to control the promotion of “hatred” on the internet in his weekly Taki’s Magazine column.

If I read a hate-filled rant on the internet, my reaction is surely my responsibility. I have a duty to consider whether the alleged facts in the rant, if any, bear any relation to reality, and whether they justify the high emotion that the author expresses and perhaps wants me to share. If I do not have that responsibility, I am regarded as less than a fully adult human being.

Negligence and Unaccountability at the United Nations

The United Nations’ deadly negligence and disgraceful obfuscation in the recent Haitian cholera epidemic earn the justified ire of Theodore Dalrymple in his latest Law & Liberty essay.

But the United Nations was born with Original Virtue, and certainly with Original Legal Immunity, which is the nearest we come to innocence these days. The Haitian population has received no compensation for the introduction of one of the few plagues that it did not already suffer from. One’s blood boils to read of almost casual dishonesty of UN functionaries, willing dupes, and condescending editors of journals who preferred to save the image of the United Nations than prevent death on a large scale, and in the end did neither.

Burning Indignation

Theodore Dalrymple offers an in-depth analysis on a bizarre incident in 2017 involving a homeless man begging for money and a University of Cambridge law student burning a £20 note (~$25) in front of him, as well as the unsurprising outraged reactions from all corners of Britain.

Yet, is it actually unjust that he had money to burn—and, if so, unjust to whom? All of us, even the poorest, enjoy benefits that we have done nothing to earn or deserve. We have done nothing, for example, to deserve the comparatively long life expectancies that we enjoy, or at least possess. Most of us enjoy, without gratitude and as if by cosmic entitlement, the fruit of the efforts of past generations.

….

Perhaps it should not come as a surprise to us, then, that many of those who expressed themselves about Ronald Coyne’s awful behavior did so with a violence that belied their supposed humanity.

I Get No Kick From Women’s Soccer

In his weekly Taki’s Magazine column, Dalrymple expresses his perfectly obvious and correct—though politically incorrect—views on the pointlessness of watching women’s soccer as he happens to catch a women’s World Cup match on television while out dining with friends in Paris.

The players were very good—for women. The problem is that women are not very good at this kind of thing, certainly not by comparison with men. If you want to watch soccer played well (I personally have a limited appetite for it), you should watch men.

When I uttered what seemed to me a truism, that women will never be as good at soccer as men, the reaction was horror that such a heresy—no, blasphemy—should be pronounced out loud, though of course everyone knew that it was true (which is why it was a truism).

Ice Cold

The most recent New Criterion essay of the good doctor skewers yet another one of Britain’s mediocre, vulgar, liberal public intellectuals in his review of Tiffany Watt Smith’s 2018 book.

Schadenfreude: The Joy of Another’s Misfortune is interesting, but not because it is good. It is interesting because it is symptomatic of the increasing vulgarity and crudity of intellectual life in the modern English-speaking world, particularly in Britain, where it goes almost unopposed.

….

The book has at least the virtue of being short, but also the vice of being too long. Without intending to, it displays in concentrated form the prevailing characteristic of modern British culture, namely a vulgarity in conception, thought, feeling, and expression which has been raised almost to the level of an ideology.

Gratitude and Grumbling

In his July essay in the New English Review, Theodore Dalrymple muses on the lack of gratitude in the modern world, including occasionally his own, as he observes the Paris neighborhood where he is staying.

Gratitude is not the first characteristic of the modern age, however much we may have to be grateful for. Indeed, I have myself made something of a literary career, such as it is, by grumbling. My carping criticisms have covered a wide range of deficiencies and faults, or perceived deficiencies and faults, of both the world and its inhabitants. The fact is that I enjoy complaining.

Virtue Gone Mad

Dalrymple laments on the decline in Christian belief in the Western world in his June essay in the New English Review, while highlighting the misapplication of traditional Christian virtues by the secular, anti-Christian, liberal intelligentsia.

While our societies might be post-Christian in the sense that the majority of the educated population would disavow any Christian belief, yet many of them try to be Christ-like in their thoughts and actions. ‘Judge not that ye be not judged’ said Christ; and they pride themselves on not being judgmental. ‘Be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you’ said St Paul; and they forgive those who commit the worst of crimes against third parties. ‘He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none,’ said Christ; and they advocate increased taxation and foreign aid as the acme of charity. ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you,’ said Christ; and they love, bless and do good to Islamists.

Inventing European Identity

An open letter in the Guardian from “30 top intellectuals” hyperventilating over the growing anti-EU sentiment in Europe draws pointed critique from Theodore Dalrymple.

The letter began with a ringing suggestio falsi: “The idea of Europe is in peril.” What the authors meant was that the idea of the European Union is in danger. They implied, in effect, that Europe and the European Union were synonyms, which is clearly false. If a country ceases to be a member of the European Union, or has never been a part of it, it does not cease to be European, neither geographically nor culturally.

Dalrymple ends his Law & Liberty article with the following shot across the bow:

However, having read the open letter in the Guardian, with all its resort to suppressio veri and suggestio falsi, my main thought was that if these were top intellectuals, what must the rest be like?