By Kyle | March 19, 2012
Amazing true story: I was walking on Broadway up by Columbia University yesterday afternoon when I came across a beautifully done color chalked portraits of economist Thomas Sowell, about four feet square, right on the sidewalk on the west side of Broadway at (I think) 105th Street.
I wished I’d had a smart phone, but I don’t so I didn’t get a picture of it. My three-year-old daughter enjoyed running a few laps around the portrait, though (being properly careful not to step on it).
By Kyle | January 1, 2012
In my Sunday column I make the case for Margaret Thatcher as a feminist icon. Happy New Year and check out “The Iron Lady.”
By Kyle | August 19, 2011
I was wondering what Christopher Hitchens would say about the gleeful spate of mob destruction in his native land. I suspected he wouldn’t be able to take a full-on conservative position because, as I’ve explained before, his style is generally to automatically defend the perceived underdog.
Being an old Marxist, naturally he would see the underdog here in economic terms — the yob classes who are well alienated from their work and yet not particularly beholden to the state that lovingly writes them welfare checks. The real underdog is of course the innocent bourgeois shopkeeper trying to defend his turf against hooting arsonist mobs with no weapons to speak of and ineffectual or absent policing.
Hitchens can’t in good conscience make an affirmative case for arsonists, thugs and looters, though. So he punts. He produces, somewhat fatuously, an anecdotal list of previous instances of mob crime in England.
This is a bit of a cosmic shrug. And it is an uneasy gesture from such a thoroughly “engaged” public intellectual. The key line of his piece is, after he calls the “there is nothing new under the sun theory” too “callous” and a failure of explanation, his U-turn question, “So how much fresh bad news is there really under the sun?” Rhetorical jiujitsu!
The direct implication of this argument is that no policy change is needed, except maybe a little something should be done about gangs. There were Catholic-Protestant disturbances in the 1700s, same-o, same-o, right? (This is what Christopher means when he tells us to look up our Dickens: “Barnaby Rudge” is about vicious mob attacks against Catholics in the Gordon Riots of the 1780s.)
Yet organized gangs, with secret handshakes and cool insignia, are a bit passe, aren’t they? Anyone can organize what amounts to a gang instantly, via Twitter, advising any opportunists of the moment about where to go for their fix of “pure terror & havoc & free stuff.”
So how can Christopher also admit that his brother Peter’s stern arguments are “cogent”? (Or at least cogent for “the British right,” an odd qualifier. Does Peter’s case make sense or not?) Peter Hitchens has been saying for years that crime and disorder are out of control and getting worse due to utter fecklessness on the part of the authorities and a general moral rot. Christopher, who begins his piece (in incongruous cheerful-weatherman-mode) with some less than reassuring anecdotal good news about the mob scene, is telling us essentially to suck it up.
That will not do, not to anyone who loves England.
By Kyle | August 17, 2011
I have an op-ed today in The Post called “The Clockwork Riots.” Riot isn’t the word I’d choose, but didn’t “A Clockwork Orange” see all this coming?
By Kyle | August 16, 2011
Just as George Harrison’s tax policy (of a top marginal rate smaller than 95 percent) was well to the right of the UK’s 1960s government policy, Oasis singer-songwriter Noel Gallagher makes surprising sense when he says:
“The prisons are already full? Then build new ones!”
He added: ”It’s crazy! It’s just violence for the sake of violence. The people who are at these riots aren’t poor. These are kids with f*cking mobile phones and all sorts of s**t. The police and government have to take drastic measures. These idiots destroy their own communities. In six weeks, when everything is forgotten, they will look stupid and realise that the houses are still destroyed, burned down or whatever. These people aren’t demanding anything, they have no goals. They just destroy their own s**t. How stupid can you be?”
Well, no, they’re not destroying their own stuff, are they? They’re looting other people’s stuff and burning things randomly along the way. Also I fail to see the evidence that violent video games lead to violent behavior. (H/t Big Hollywood). I am writing a column about the utterly feckless response to the UK’s recent troubles.
By Kyle | August 14, 2011
Peter Hitchens has been holding back about the rampage of criminality in the UK, but today he holds forth:
“As the polluted flood (it is not a tide; it will not go back down again) of spite, greed and violence washes on to their very doorsteps, well-off and influential Left-wingers at last meet the filthy thing they have created, and which they ignored when it did not affect them personally.
No doubt they will find ways to save themselves. But they will not save the country. Because even now they will not admit that all their ideas are wrong, and that the policies of the past 50 years – the policies they love – have been a terrible mistake. I have heard them in the past few days clinging to their old excuses of non-existent ‘poverty’ and ‘exclusion’.
Take our Prime Minister, who is once again defrauding far too many people. He uses his expensive voice, his expensive clothes, his well-learned tone of public-school command, to give the impression of being an effective and decisive person. But it is all false. He has no real idea of what to do. He thinks the actual solutions to the problem are ‘fascist’. Deep down, he still wants to ‘understand’ the hoodies.”
By Kyle | August 11, 2011
Peter Hitchens has been writing about rampant hooliganism and the breakdown in civil society in Britain with more clarity than anyone I’m aware of. He’s been working on other projects in the last few days but contributes his first thoughts on the crime crisis taking place there now. He promises more in his Sunday column. I’ve written before that I think Christopher Hitchens generally has knee-jerk sympathy for whoever appears to be the underdog in any given situation so it’ll be interesting to hear what he says.
I was in London in February and was startled by the generally dismal, defeated air about the place. It was saddening. My friend Chris had a flat on a gated street in a posh part of Fulham, near the Chelsea football stadium. A neighbor down the street returned home one day to find that burglars had removed her door and cleaned out her apartment in broad daylight. The police response was risible. After a few drinks one night, we talked to some cops at the gas station/minimart down the street. Chris asked the constables, “If they break into my house, I have the right to defend myself. Right?” The police said, “Our advice is to call the police and wait.” Chris found that answer inadequate and said, “I’ll tell you what. I’m going to defend my home and we’ll sort out the consequences later. Good night!”
By Kyle | May 25, 2011
Note how David Cameron is comfortable getting to Barack Obama’s left.