Many high schools and colleges across America canceled in-person graduations during the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, but Hillsdale College decided to host an in-person ceremony a few months late. The college approached state and local authorities, worked with the local health department and four epidemiologists, and hosted a crowd of roughly 2,000 people on July 18. More than two weeks later, no new coronavirus cases have been traced to the ceremony.
— Read on pjmedia.com/culture/tyler-o-neil/2020/08/04/hillsdale-college-had-graduation-during-covid-and-the-black-plague-of-death-didnt-descend-n733768
Jump now to the time of Corona, in the year of our Lord 2020. “Conservative is kind of a meaningless word now,” a young and skilled writer (one I like to read, Brad Polumbo) recently stated on social media. Meanwhile, over at the venerable Intercollegiate Studies Institute, an institution charged with promoting conservatism within higher education, another young and gifted writer, Gracy Olmstead, writes: “I am loath, in fact, to embrace the label ‘conservative’ myself—in part because of the ways most people define it, and in part because I am unsure whether any political label fully defines my beliefs.”
I suppose it must be age and, perhaps to some extent, ego, but I find such statements to be as mystifying as they are unsatisfying. While I agree that conservatism is not, nor ever should be, a political label, I am far less certain that it should be loathed or dismissed so readily. I also fear that in this age of Trumpian populism and soft authoritarianism, conservatism is all too readily confused with populism.
The most important question for any conservative remains: what should be conserved?
— Read on www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/theres-no-real-definition-of-conservatism-and-thats-a-good-thing/
Stanislaw Augustus (1732-1798) was the last Polish king. Not without controversy, he was one of the greatest patrons of the arts and sciences in his day. In his many efforts, he supported publishing, libraries, architecture, education, painting, cartography, ballet, theater, and industry. He was also the co-author of the Polish constitution of May 3, 1791. A great and meaningful reformer, the last monarch essentially undid his own position.
In An Appeal from the Old Whigs to the New, the grand Anglo-Irish statesman, Edmund Burke, praised the May 3, 1791 constitution as one of the great reforms of the modern world. It should be remembered that this was the so-called “Age of Revolutions,” and Burke had witnessed both the glories of the American Revolution and the hideousness of the French Revolution. Poland’s reforms and constitution, he thought, offered real meaning, much closer to the American experience than the French one.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/07/edmund-burke-last-polish-king-bradley-birzer.html
What then does our conservatism mean in 2020? What does it mean as statues tumble, as injustice reigns, and as anger seethes? What does it mean when our leaders seek not the common good, but mob-ish acceptance? What does it mean when our children are indoctrinated with racialism and collectivism rather than individualism and personalism?
At its essence, conservatism has not changed over the years. While the debates may be about a variety of things, the meaning of conservatism lies in understanding that, taken as a whole, our ancestors are not utter fools. The past for the conservative must remain the great laboratory of human experience, human knowledge, and human wisdom. The past is our depository of strength, our trust fund of morality. Now, more than ever, we must preserve what has come before us. Every statue torn down by the violent is a terrorist attack on our very civilization and our very strength as a people. Like the unsung heroes of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451—the men and women who memorize each book burned by its society—we must remember and preserve our statues, our museums, and our cultural storehouses—even if only in our own minds and souls. Like those around the immortal Cato the Younger, we must become living embodiments of the virtues.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/07/conserving-2020-499-bradley-birzer.html
Experts on amphibious forces note the PLA already has powerful army units that are trained and equipped to make the kind of landings necessary for an invasion of Taiwan. In expanding the marines, they argue, PLA military planners are looking at operations across the globe, in places where China has extensive offshore investments. These commercial interests are likely to multiply as Beijing presses ahead with its Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious bid to put China at the center of global trading routes.
— Read on www.reuters.com/article/us-china-military-amphibious-specialrepo-idUSKCN24L17B
Later, of course, we find the commandment to keep the seventh day holy and free from trials and corruption. As the tablets commanded:
Remember the sabbath day—keep it holy. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God. You shall not do any work, either you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your work animal, or the resident alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
Again, my words can add little to this, but it is quite clear that the Sabbath matters, and it matters intensely. In part (only in part, but an essential part, nonetheless), the human person must rest on the seventh day.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/07/learning-rest-bradley-birzer.html
From the beginning of our existence, we have known that, to the best of our ability, we must try to do both. Our inspiration—and this is not meant to sound pretentious, just honest—came from the two greatest institutions of the Middle Ages, the monastery and the university. The one protected the best behind thick walls and even denser prayer. The other promoted the best through inquiry and scholarship. At the beginning of the Middle Ages, though, the monastery was indispensable to the very survival of classical civilization in the West. As Christopher Dawson explained: “Ninety-nine out of a hundred monasteries could be burnt and the monks killed or driven out, and yet the whole tradition could be reconstituted from the one survivor, and the desolate sites could be re-peopled by fresh supplies of monks who would take up again the broken tradition, following the same rule, singing the same liturgy, reading the same books and thinking the same thoughts as their predecessors.” Those books were everything from Platonic dialogues to Holy Scripture, and every breath of every monk preserved the best of the past for those who would never know them and sadly, almost certainly not praise them for their innumerable sacrifices over a thousand years. Sacrifice there was… in abundance.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/07/the-imaginative-conservative-ten-years-preserving-advancing-bradley-birzer.html
Throughout his career, Bradbury spoke bravely and openly against “political correctness,” recognizing it for the evil and the tyranny it is. In 1953, it was against Joseph McCarthy. “Whether or not my ideas on censorship via the fire department will be old hat by this time next week, I dare not predict,” he wrote, but “when the wind is right, a faint odor of kerosene is exhaled from Senator McCarthy.” In the early 1990s, in Chronicles magazine, he stated: “Someone said to me recently, aren’t you afraid? No, I said, I never react in fear; I react in anger. As with graffiti, you must counterattack within the moment, not a day, a month, or a year later. All the politically correct terrorists must be driven back into the stands. There is no place for them in the open field of democratic ballplaying.”
In this dread year of our Lord, 2020, we have seen Killing Fields’ style public confessionals, policemen and politicians betraying their oaths to their respective communities, the wide-spread destruction of property, the killing of innocents, threats with the guillotine, and the tearing down of public monuments. Whether Bradbury is correct in assessing the government as a lesser danger than the mob, this much is certain: The mob hates dissent, hates liberty, hates individuality, hates personhood, hates God, and hates truth. Yes, there are traitors in our midst, more domestic than foreign.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/07/ray-bradbury-predicted-2020-bradley-birzer.html
First, the Declaration of Independence asserts at a profound and fundamental level the inherent dignity of every human person. “All men are created equal.” Never since the foundation of Christianity has such a proclamation been made at any practical and meaningful level. It is well worth noting and celebrating that neither Thomas Jefferson, the principle author, nor the Continental Congress insisted that all Europeans, or all whites, or all Protestants were equal. It states quite directly and with utter clarity, all men are created equal. Though the Founders did not always live up to that promise, they made the promise nonetheless. Better yet, they declared the promise had been made at the beginning of creation by the very Creator Himself. “They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Again, this was about all men, not some men.
America might, in some way, shape, or form, still be attempting to secure these rights—the primary function of government, according to the Declaration of Independence—but attempting to secure them the American people have for 244 years.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/07/happy-birthday-america-bradley-birzer.html
Yet, was Columbus the first to discover America? Well, let’s leave aside the fact that at least three separate migrations of people in pre-history migrated to the Americas to become the Native American Indians. Obviously, we leave this aside merely for the sake of argument. Once, when my family visited Plymouth Rock, my oldest son looked down at the moment—a massive rock stamped 1620—and asked, “Dad, how did the Indians know that the Pilgrims would arrive in 1620”? A great question to be sure, and we too often—as Americans and as scholars—imagine the American Indians standing around, doing next to nothing, impatiently waiting for the Europeans to arrive so that their history might begin.
So, aside from this… there are actually five rivals to the claim about which non-American Indian discovered the Americas.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/06/who-actually-discovered-america-bradley-birzer.html
When Andrew Jackson delivered his famous (or infamous, depending on one’s point of view) veto message regarding the re-chartering of the Second Bank of the United States, his most adamant supporters labeled it “a second Declaration of Independence.” While Jackson’s message was excellent, it certainly was not at the level of the Declaration of Independence. In a less hyperbolic fashion, one pro-Jackson paper stated: in “the final decision of the President between Aristocracy and the People—he stands by the People.”
This newspaper statement is almost certainly true, but not everyone agreed that the president should ever stand “by the People.” The president’s job, they believed, was to execute the laws that the representatives of the People—through the House—had drafted into law. To proclaim himself the representative of the people was to violate all that was sacred in the Constitutional understanding of the American Founders as expressed in Article II of that glorious document. Even the most adamant supporter of a strong executive, Alexander Hamilton, had feared that Article II might be the “fetus of monarchy.” To the opponents of Jackson, he had crossed a line that should never have been approached. One opposition paper proclaimed, not without justice: “the King upon the Throne: The People in the Dust!” Other papers mocked Jackson as a monarch, a king, and a dictator. All critics came together and began to refer to the president as “King Andrew,” and one of the most important political cartoons of that age depicted an old and wary man, sitting on his throne, with his feet resting on a shattered constitution.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/06/odd-history-whig-party-bradley-birzer.html
Greta Gerwig’s big-screen adaptation of Little Women offers an emphasis on women’s economic independence that has precipitated some protest from purists, who correctly point out that such moments as Amy’s “marriage is an economic arrangement” speech are not in Louisa May Alcott’s novel. What such criticism misses, however, is the reminder Ms. Gerwig’s script provides of just how central the story of Little Women is to the American literary landscape. Since the novel’s publication in 1868, the four March sisters and their neighbor Laurie have lived in the imaginations of generations of Americans and readers across the globe, inspiring plays, musicals, movies, television series, and even Japanese anime. Each adaptation maintains the broad strokes of the story but alters the details to emphasize, and sometimes completely reimagine, the moral of the story. Ms. Gerwig’s retelling of Little Women maintains the major aspects of Alcott’s beloved novel, but rearranges them to serve as a commentary on the very real lack of economic opportunities available to middle- and upper-class women (really, the genteel poor) in nineteenth-century America.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/06/economics-marriage-greta-gerwig-little-women-dedra-mcdonald-birzer.html