The Hypocrisy of Geert Wilders

I've written before about Geert Wilders, the right-wing firebrand (and ex-Catholic agnostic) Dutch politician who infuriated Muslim governments worldwide with his anti-Islam film Fitna. The kingdom of Jordan demanded that the Netherlands extradite him so he could stand trial under their blasphemy law. While the Netherlands rightfully refused this chilling request, they also charged him under the country's own anti-hate-speech law, which I opposed for the same reasons. (He was later … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: A Dream Deferred

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 4Howard Roark has been working at Henry Cameron's office for a month. Cameron often comes out to loom over Roark's shoulder and glare at him, but the two of them have scarcely spoken in all that time. Finally, he calls Roark into his office:The light of the lamp fell on Cameron's cheek, on his beard, the white threads glistening, on his fist, on a corner of the drawing, its black lines bright and hard as if embossed on the paper."You're fired," … [Read more...]

The One Percent Embraces Doomsday

America is in a gloomy mood, and it's not just us. A spirit of pessimism seems to have settled across the world in the last year: our divisions seem more unbridgeable than ever, the solutions to our problems increasingly receding out of reach.In such times, it's natural that people start fearing the worst. In a way, imagining the apocalypse is refreshing. It's strangely comforting to ruminate on how we'd survive even if things got as bad as they possibly could. Plus, if everything comes … [Read more...]

The Cult of the In-Group

Well, it was only a matter of time until someone made this argument:In Matt 25, when Jesus talks about caring for "the least of these," he isn't talking about the poor in general, but fellow Christians.— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) March 17, 2017Matthew 25, the parable of the sheep and the goats, has long been a thorn in the side of the religious right. It's a story that's supposed to take place on judgment day, where Jesus exalts some people and condemns others for how they … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: Roaring Twenties

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 4The 1920s in America were a glamorous, atmospheric decade of excess, social upheaval and cultural ferment. Al Capone and other legendary gangsters shot their way into the public consciousness, whether as lurid villains or Robin Hood-esque antiheroes. F. Scott Fitzgerald immortalized Jazz Age wealth and decadence in novels like The Great Gatsby. Radio and cinema conquered culture as the new organs of mass media. The Harlem Renaissance was at its height, … [Read more...]

Movie Review: Arrival

Content note: Minor spoilers.I'm behind on movies, but I'm trying to catch up on the ones I missed when they were in theaters. The 2016 film I most wanted to see was Arrival, and it was worth the wait.Arrival is a first contact sci-fi story, based on Ted Chiang's novella "Story of Your Life". It begins with twelve huge ovoid spaceships appearing silently, simultaneously, at twelve locations across the Earth. Every eighteen hours, a hatch opens in each of the ships, and the human beings … [Read more...]

#800deadbabies: The Grim Conclusion

In 2014, I wrote about the Magdalene laundry in the Irish town of Tuam, one of many institutions where the Catholic church imprisoned and tortured innocent women. Catherine Corless, a local historian, uncovered death certificates for almost 800 children who died there under the harsh and abusive hand of church overseers.Corless embarked on a search for these children's graves. While she had no direct evidence of where most of them were buried, there were no burial records for them in any … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: The Art of the Interview

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 3We've seen that Howard Roark's goal is to apprentice with Henry Cameron, a once-renowned modernist architect who lost his business and sank into obscurity when he refused to move with the times. In this chapter, while Peter Keating is reporting for his first day of work at Francon & Heyer, Roark is across town climbing the stairs to Cameron's crumbling slum of an office:Henry Cameron sat at his desk at the end of a long, bare room. He sat bent … [Read more...]

Evangelicals Cement Their Bigotry

The new administration's Muslim travel ban has inspired vehement protests across America. Even if the courts uphold it, which seems unlikely, the fear and dismay it's caused in immigrants throughout the land will have a lasting effect. In a black irony, its most salient effect may be to chase away skilled workers of all types - including immigrant doctors from Muslim countries who work in the underserved regions of Appalachia and the Rust Belt. (Once again, you get what you vote for.)The … [Read more...]

Dystopia Journal #3: The Unamerican President

Last month, when I wrote about the unprecedented badness of the Trump administration, I neglected to mention something else unique and terrifying about his presidency. Namely, it's that he seems to value the goodwill of foreign autocrats above the well-being of America.This was, of course, brought forcefully to my attention by the news that Attorney General Jeff Sessions secretly had contact with the Russian ambassador during the campaign and lied to Congress about it during his confirmation … [Read more...]