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
Over the past several weeks, the questions of time have been everywhere in my life. Driving with my wife and oldest son to New Mexico (from Michigan), I saw family, family grave yards, family churches, family homes, and family land. Time became centered, even in its plurality.
I also encountered a myriad cultures—such as that of the Navajo and the Pueblo—of which I have really only read. In the deserts of the Southwest are the modern peoples, all residing in a delicate balance with a desiccated landscape, and that landscape is not merely horizontal but vertical, reaching back to the nomads, the Anasazi, and the Aztecs of many, many generations ago. Every juniper tree reveals a stark contrast between the soil, in which it clings, and the deep blue sky, to which it reaches. Every building reflects hundreds and thousands of years of traditions as well as innovations. Mesas as well as historical markers populate the landscape. Should it surprise any of us that Huxley made is one anti-modernist reservation in his Brave New World, New Mexico, or that Willa Cather had her aristocrat-hero, Bishop Latour, build his cathedral in Santa Fe, or that Walter Miller placed his one point of certainty—the abbey dedicated to St. Leibovitz—in the brush country near Taos?
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/05/time-our-present-whirligig-bradley-birzer.html
Permanent Waves was an especially important album for Rush in a few ways. It came out a mere two weeks into 1980, making it one of the initial progressive rock forays into the new decade. It was their first record recorded at Le Studio in Quebec, where they would continue to create for many years. What’s more, it signified the start of the Canadian trio’s transition away from trademark stylistic components like prolonged track durations, impenetrable arrangements, and fantastical lyricism and toward more concise and accessible radio-friendly hits with relatable messages. Naturally, its follow-up, 1981’s Moving Pictures, would cement that move by becoming arguably their most popular album, jump-started by their most widely beloved tune, “Tom Sawyer”.
— Read on www.popmatters.com/rush-permanent-waves-40-aaniversary-2646071873.html
But it’s as Jiff that Murphy gets his biggest laughs. Here is a man so grateful to be in a film, so disbelieving that he has been singled out for stardom, that he dutifully risks his life to walk across a busy expressway. Murphy shows here, as he did in “The Nutty Professor” and on “Saturday Night Live,” a gift for creating new characters out of familiar materials. Yes, Jiff looks like Kit (that’s why he got the job as a double), but the person inside is completely fresh and new, and has his own personality and appeal. Although Murphy is not usually referred to as a great actor (and comedians are never taken as seriously as they should be), how many other actors, however distinguished, could create Jiff out of whole cloth and make him such a convincing and funny original? Martin is also at the top of his form, especially in an early scene where he pitches his project to a powerful studio executive (Robert Downey Jr.). Martin steals a suit and a car to make an impressive entrance at the restaurant where Downey is having a power lunch, but undercuts the effect a little by ripping out the car phone and trying to use it like a cell phone–staging a fake call for Downey to overhear. Downey handles this scene perfectly, right down to his subdued double-take when he sees the cord dangling from the end of the phone. His performance is based on the truth that strange and desperate pitches are lobbed at studio suits every day, some of them no more bizarre than this one. Instead of overreacting to Martin’s craziness, Downey plays the scene to humor this guy
— Read on www.rogerebert.com/reviews/bowfinger-1999
When the Lewis and Clark expedition returned to St. Louis after two years not just of absence, but of complete absence, the people of America were ecstatic. The two men and their fifty-some companions were treated as royalty. Yet, even in such a climate of festive joy, no one forgot why Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and their Corps of Discovery had gone west. They had done so through the tenacity, the ingenuity, and the inspiration of the third president of the United States. The night the fair citizens of St. Louis held a dinner and a ball in honor of the returning expedition, eighteen official toasts were given. While each reveals something about the nature of American republicanism and could serve as a book in and of itself, it is the first toast, of course, that matters most.
To “the President of the United States—The friend of science, the Polar star of discovery, the philosopher, and the patriot.”
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2016/05/thomas-jefferson-polar-star-discovery-lewis-clark-bradley-birzer.html
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the late John Paul II’s birth, it’s worth underscoring that one theme which permeated his pontificate from its beginning to the end was that of truth.
Many remember Pope John Paul II as playing a crucial role in Eastern Europe’s liberation from Marxist tyranny. But he also insisted that liberty needed to be grounded in and guided by the truth knowable via reason and faith. If freedom and truth become separated—as they most certainly have in many people’s minds in our own time—we not only end up with an unhealthy and dangerous association of liberty with moral relativism. We also open the door to those who claim that the truth is whatever the most powerful or the loudest say it is.
— Read on blog.acton.org/archives/116144-how-john-paul-ii-reminded-us-that-liberty-and-truth-are-inseparable.html
From the perspective of John Quincy Adams, the United States had no right to claim or annex any part of Latin America. It also, however, had no right to deny any part of Latin America from joining its cause with that of the United States.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/05/monroe-doctrine-bradley-birzer.html
Bitterly, C.M. Kornbluth, the second presenter, vehemently disagreed, stating without equivocation that the genre “is not an important medium of social criticism.” Much like Hitler, Kornbluth complained, the adherents of science fiction treat the genre like a religion and lay claim to anything and everything they admire. Yet, for all its pretentions, science fiction rarely if ever actually criticizes anything prevalent in the world, and, when it does, its criticism remains rather tame. Anticipating the social radicals of a decade later, Kornbluth feared that science fiction fails in its power to change the consciousness of a reader, as the novels of the genre do “not turn the reader outward to action but inward to contemplation.” Then, he complained, there’s the horror genre, a supposed subset of science fiction which merely rolls all of our fears “up in one ball of muck” and thrusts “them into the reader’s face.” This is especially true in cinema, he continued, and “if the day ever comes when the shriek movie is a really major type, up there with, say the pretentious Western, the implications for the future of democracy will be bad.” Yet, one should never give any of this too much thought, he concluded, for “science fiction is socially impotent.” Tragically, Kornbluth died a year later, of a heart attack, only age 34.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/05/science-fiction-university-chicago-bradley-birzer.html
This prompts some new thoughts during her bedtime story session, in which she tells her own story, about a mother’s love and “the feelings of the unhappy parents with all of their children flown away.” Peter hates this story, but listens anyway. Wendy’s autobiographical tale features her own mother leaving open the window for her children to fly back into the house and ends with a happy reunion. Peter declares Wendy to be “wrong about mothers,” recounting his own story of finding the window barred upon his return after a long absence, “for my mother had forgotten all about me, and there was another little boy sleeping in my bed.” This tale frightens Wendy’s brothers, who then beg to go home. The Darling children have lost track of time and of their own identities. They must return home immediately. The Lost Boys, having now experienced a mother’s love and care, try all manner of threats and pleas to keep Wendy from leaving.
As they exit the underground lair, the children and Wendy are captured by the pirates. Hook proceeds with the “princely scheme” to force the children to walk the plank and then make Wendy the pirate mother. Offering words of farewell to the boys, she declares: “These are my last words, dear boys . . . . I feel that I have a message to you from your real mothers, and it is this: ‘We hope our sons will die like English gentlemen.’” These final words impress even the pirates, who declare they also will do what their mothers hope. Smee tries to bargain with Wendy. He will save her if she will promise to be his mother. “‘I would almost rather have no children at all,’ she said disdainfully.”
— Read on www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/searching-for-mother-in-peter-pans-neverland/