Month: February 2016

FDR, Warts and All

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At The Weekly Standard, I have reviewed an excellent new biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt by the historian Alonzo Hamby. Ultimately I admire Roosevelt but can’t get past my first impression of him as a power-hungry chief executive:

Of course, the best populists are usually elitists who possess both the means and self-regard to speak for the people. Born into a patrician New York family, FDR was convinced of his own righteousness and felt entitled to exercise it over others, displaying all the qualities of someone who recognized no limit to translating his outsized will into political power.

The review is available in the March 7 issue. Read the whole piece here.

How The Need for Validation Took Over Our Culture

A month or so ago, Ace at Ace of Spades HQ drew attention to this Reddit comment in which a former “social-justice warrior” (SJW) describes how he fled from the lunacy of identity politics.

One of this young man’s thoughts — his description of how he initially fell into the SJW mindset — jumped out at me:

I was depressed at the time, and being applauded for being progressive definitely was an ego boost. Fighting people I perceived as bigoted made me feel better about myself. My SJW tendencies were based mostly out of self loathing — I felt weird, like an outcast, had never had a girlfriend, hated myself, and thought that I was fixing myself by jumping deep into feminism.

What struck me was this young man’s need to be applauded by his peers. Of course, in itself, this is not surprising: it is not a new thing to crave validation from other people, especially from one’s peer group. It wasn’t just that he was seeking approval from others, however; it was that he absolutely needed this approval to survive. He needed it in two respects. First, he would feel miserable and alienated without it. Second, since his social circle was defined solely by groupthink, there was no way to be a part of that culture without the constant approval of others within the culture. (more…)

Why Are Iran and the Vatican Cooperating?

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I’m a bit late in posting this, but I have written the cover story for the January 29 issue of The Catholic Herald on the curious relationship between Iran and the Holy See. Here’s a taste:

Tiny though it is, the Holy See is an important sovereign entity – one with immense influence and moral force within the West. While not afraid to pour scorn on American-style capitalism, the Pope can influence US public opinion: witness the crowds of non-Catholics who gathered to applaud his stance on climate change. The influence works both ways, however. Without the 70 million American Catholics, the Vatican would struggle to keep afloat financially.

Iran seems to have concluded that courting the Holy See allows it to tap into the complex and important relations between the Catholic Church and America. Moreover, this week’s Francis-Rouhani dialogue serves to soften the image of Iran in countries all over the world with significant numbers of Catholics.

Read the whole thing here.