Our new house in Northern Mississippi had previously been the home of a fairly distinguished female regional author, Sherwood Bonner, who had also been secretary, friend, and muse to the very famous poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Sherwood Bonner wrote mostly (now unpopular) dialect stories, and essays and sketches for periodicals like Harper’s and Lippincott’s. She left only one novel, Like Unto Like, whose plot superficially resembles Miss Ravenel’s Conversion: patriotic Southern belle, in aftermath of defeat, falls in love with Yankee.
I’ve just started Like Unto Like, and I find Sherwood Bonner a pretty good read. Her descriptions of her Southern town are perceptive and interesting and I like her active and observant outlook.
At the point I reached late last night, it is summer, a year or so after the war, Yankee troops are being transferred from New Orleans to “Yariba” in northern Mississippi (Holly Springs, fictionalized) to escape the summer heat. The Tollivers are in bad odor with local Society, having been forced by financial stress to accept a Yankee officer, Colonel Dexter, and his family as boarders. Our heroine, Blythe Herndon (recognizable as Sherwood Bonner’s fictional alter ego) is destined to fall in love with Roger Ellis, a Northern friend visiting the Dexters.
The tension in town is alleviated when old Mrs. Oglethorpe (the acknowledged head of Yariba society) makes a point of calling upon (and thereby accepting the society of) Mrs. Dexter. Mrs. Oglethorpe has decided that it is her Christian duty to promote reconciliation.
Mrs. Oglethorpe’s gesture provokes a conversation between Blythe and the Tolliver family. Blythe explains her family has put off calling on Mrs. Dexter due to her grandmother’s irredentist attitudes. She lost a son, William, and the South’s defeat caused the old woman to break down emotionally, lose interest in everything, nearly to lose her mind. She paced the halls at night, walking in her sleep, “as white as a ghost.” A year later, she has only slightly improved.
Poor soul!” said Mrs. Tolliver. “If William had been spared she wouldn’t have felt so. I’m sure I don’t think I could have had them in in my house if Van had been killed.”
“I don’t think Uncle Will’s death made any special difference; I think it’s the ‘Lost Cause’ grandma mourns. I can’t understand it. I think it is a great deal better to forgive and forget; don’t you, Van?”
“I don’t want to forget,” said Van throwing back his head with a spirited action peculiar to him. “We made a good fight for our rights, and I’m glad and proud to have been in it. But as for bearing any malice against the men that whipped us –not I. The war ended. I would just as soon have shaken hands with General Sherman as with Joe Johnston.”
“Or with Grant as with Robert E. Lee?”
“No,” said the young man, with a sudden reverence in his tone, “for I would have knelt to Lee.”
Dinos, Antimenes Painter, c. 520-515 BC, Cleveland Museum of Art: Greek and Roman Art
A wealthy, educated man would have served wine from such a vessel at an all-male party (symposium) in his home. In addition to drinking, the men would recite poetry and argue politics or philosophy. A favorite poet was Homer, who lived about 850 BC, and is credited with having written the Iliad, the epic poem of the Trojan War, and the Odyssey, the book of Ulysses (Odysseus in Greek) travels after the war. When the dinos was filled to the rim, the ships painted on the inside appeared to float on the “wine-dark sea,” one of Homer’s most famous poetic descriptions. The decorations on the rim of this vessel include battle scenes, perhaps from the Trojan War, and scenes from mythology. Look at the rim as if it were a clock’s face. In addition to the nine scenes of warrior combat, at 4:00 there is a scene of Herakles Fighting a Centaur; at 6:00, Theseus Slaying the Cretan Minotaur; and at 10:00, Herakles Wrestling the Nemean Lion. On the interior rim five warships with boar-head prows sail over a wavy sea.
Size: Diameter: 50.8 cm (20 in.); Overall: 33.6 cm (13 ¼ in.); Diameter of rim: 34 cm (13 3/8 in.)
Medium: black-figure terracotta
The NY Post has today’s daily story of leftist ideological fanaticism.
The company that publishes Dr. Seuss’ children’s books said it will stop selling six of his titles because they contain racist and insensitive images.
Dr. Seuss Enterprises — the firm charged with preserving and protecting the beloved author’s legacy — said it scrapped the books because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”
“Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families,” the company said in a statement Tuesday, which is also the author’s birthday.
Dr. Seuss Enterprises said it decided last year to stop publishing and licensing the titles — which include “If I Ran the Zoo,” “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!” and “The Cat’s Quizzer” — after consulting with a panel of educators and other experts.
While Dr. Seuss — whose real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel — remains one of the world’s most popular children’s authors three decades after his death, his books have come under fire in recent years for how they portray black people, Asian people and other groups.
“If I Ran the Zoo,” for instance, has been panned for depicting Africans as “potbellied” and “thick-lipped,” as one biography of Seuss put it. It also describes Asian characters as “helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant” from “countries no one can spell,” notes a 2019 paper on Geisel’s work published in the journal Research on Diversity in Youth Literature.
And “Mulberry Street,” the first children’s book Geisel published under his pen name, contains a controversial illustration of an Asian man holding chopsticks and a bowl of rice whom the text called a “Chinaman who eats with sticks.”
It’s too late to do anything about this international epidemic of insanity. It is apparent that, decades ago, badly-educated fanatics with their heads full of leftist egalitarian religiosity were permitted to take over the great bulk of petty educational institutions, and over the course of a generation, they successfully brain-washed the children irresponsibly committed into theirs hands.
Today, all those former little toddlers are the young adults operating as managers of media organizations, consumer product companies, and publishing houses, and they remain faithful Young Communists, seeing the whole world in terms of Colonialist Oppression, White Injustice, and Racialist Wickedness.
The mere sight of a whimsical cartoon referencing old-timey cultural stereotypes brings a tear to their eyes as they imagine humiliated and mortally offended representatives of groups sacred on the basis of their historical wrongs suffering afresh indignities.
These people have a bee in their bonnet that is driving them to regular outbursts of pure insanity. In the end, there is nothing more dangerous and destructive that a madman infected with delusions of absolute righteousness bent on punishing those he understands to be deliberately evil.
The British Spectator recorded the latest triumph of Woke-ism in commercial culture.
Another pillar of the patriarchy has fallen. His name is Mr Potato Head – or rather, it was Mr Potato Head. US toy giant Hasbro has decided to make the branding for this nearly 70-year-old range gender-neutral, so it will just be Potato Head from now on. According to Hasbro, this is all part of an effort to ensure that ‘all feel welcome in the Potato Head world’ and to ‘promote gender equality and inclusion’.
Neither Mr Potato Head nor his wife, Mrs Potato Head, are being shelved entirely as characters, Hasbro was later forced to clarify. But the overall brand will change, and a new family set will allow kids to create their own Potato Head families without being bound by the old range’s apparently outdated assumptions about gender and sexuality. Or something. It seems all those outraged letters from genderfluid three-year-olds forced Hasbro’s hand.
UPDATE, March 1st:
Stung by widespread mockery, Hasbro announced on Twitter several days ago cancellation of its decision to rename Mr. Potato Head in gender neutral form.
Hold that Tot – your main spud, MR. POTATO HEAD isn’t going anywhere! While it was announced today that the POTATO HEAD brand name & logo are dropping the ‘MR.’ I yam proud to confirm that MR. & MRS. POTATO HEAD aren’t going anywhere and will remain MR. & MRS. POTATO HEAD pic.twitter.com/6I84KrxOLQ
Alexander Zubatov takes a walk through the Dante’s Hell that is Bill de Blasio’s New York City and reflects on the experience of living in the ruins of a formerly great civiization.
The subway is on the next block, and there should be at least two or three more trains stopping here before the 1 a.m. post-pandemic subway curfew hits. I descend one flight of steps, turn the corner past the curled-up form at their base, take another flight down and arrive at the turnstiles by what I know no name for other than the manned “token booth,” though tokens have not existed in years, the function of dispensing their MetroCard replacements (themselves already on the way out) was ceded to machines long ago and, so far as I can tell, the individual “manning” these booths does little more than grudgingly give out occasional traveling directions. As though to prove the point, a young thug wearing an expensive jacket and sneakers rushes past me and vaults the turnstile, sagging jeans and all, and the bloated woman in the booth sits stone-faced. I flash my hands in a half-hearted “are you really gonna do nothing?” gesture. She fails to manifest so much as recognition.
I turn away, pay my fare, and go through. I think of the politicians who’ve betrayed us, who’ve shamelessly lied to us and told us that punishing fare evasion penalizes poverty, as if it’s the poverty of put-upon unfortunates rather than the apathy of an entire society that has led to a whopping 13.6 percent of subway riders not bothering to pay their fair share, costing the MTA nearly $40 million a year even as it faces a near-unprecedented budget crisis and contemplates fare increases that only we paying customers will have to shoulder.
This is what this entire city, this nation, has become: a shrinking reserve of law-abiding citizens shouldering every burden for a growing mass of fat, lazy leeches, slugs, thugs, gangbangers, rule-breakers, whiners, and perpetual ne’er-do-wells comically beatified by walled-off, gated-away elites who never set foot in the subway and spin out contemporary fantasias on Rousseau’s theme of the “noble savage,” virtuous “oppressed,” “marginalized” and “vulnerable” victims heroically bearing their daily yoke while living in fear of the mythical, perpetual great white crackdown. This is our modern-day version of Joseph Goebbels’ “big lie”—an audacious, supremely ironic, 180-degree reversal of reality that only a well-off, sheltered, would-be white savior could possibly believe, blinded by opaque layers of ideology and inexperience borne of never having walked warily alone through a sketchy urban neighborhood at night.
A moment’s reflection—bolstered, if need be, by reams of statistical data that would only prove the obvious—would reveal that we are the ones living in fear, of course. The chances that an unarmed civilian, regardless of his race, will be brutalized, much less killed, by police is vanishingly low (particularly if he avoids doing the kinds of things that tend to garner police attention) when weighed against the chances that that same blameless civilian passing through the same urban neighborhood will be the victim of a crime.
The biggest duh-story of the past several years that somehow remains less than perfectly apparent to many muddle-headed blatherers today is that the far greater danger all of us face is from criminals, not from cops. But because that simple truism would tend to reverse the racial polarity of the media’s favored narrative, this is not a question facts and science can be brought into the picture to address. To do so would dispel the hysterical conspiracy theories on the Left—“systemic,” “institutional” and/or “structural” racism, “white supremacy” and so forth—that are the equivalent of Trump’s election fraud and his supporters’ Q-Anon conspiracies on the Right.
Michael Anton (famous for the 2016 “Flight 93 Election” essay) reflects on all the arm-twisting going on anent acceptance of the 2020 Election’s legitimacy and he has plenty of intelligent observations.
Recently, I appeared as a guest on Andrew Sullivan’s podcast. Sullivan is vociferously anti-Trump, so I expected us to disagree—which, naturally, we did. But I was surprised by the extent to which he insisted I assent to his assertion that the 2020 election was totally on the level. That is to say, I wasn’t surprised that Sullivan thinks it was; I was surprised by his evident yearning to hear me say so, too.
Which I could not do.
Sullivan badgered me on this at length before finally accusing me of being fixated on the topic, to which I responded, truthfully, that I was only talking about it because he asked. As far as I’m concerned, the 2020 election is well and truly over. I have, I said, “moved on.”
So I thought. Then I received two emails from a friendly acquaintance who is a recognized Republican expert on elections that suggested he, too, is troubled by my lack of belief. Then came two other data points, which I noticed only after the first draft this essay had been completed. Ramesh Ponnuru snarked (snark seems to be the go-to, indeed the only, device his in literary quiver) that one of the anomalies I cited in my most recent article in the Claremont Review of Books had been “debunked” by the partisan left-wing FactCheck.org. While I appreciate the insight into the sources from which National Review editors get their “facts” these days, the quote provided admits that the statistic I cited is, well, accurate. Ponurru naturally ignores all of the other points raised in my earlier article.
Jonathan Chait wrote yet another (his 12th?) article denouncing me, for this same sin of disbelief. Why did he bother? Is there even a remote chance that a single one of his New York magazine readers either read my article or encountered its argument? Or is he worried that the “narrative” of the election is so fragile that it needs to be shored up?
I wanted to move on, I really did. But when Left (Chait), center (Sullivan), faux-right anti-conservative ankle-biter (Ponnuru), and genuine, if establishment, Right (my correspondent) all agree that my lack of belief is a problem, I wondered why this should be so, and the following observations came to mind. Read the rest of this entry »