Buckley and Big Sister

William F. Buckley on Ayn Rand.  During his lifetime Buckley functioned as a gatekeeper for the conservative movement.  Get on the wrong side of Buckley and a group on the right could quickly find itself relegated to the fringes of American life.  So it was with Ayn Rand and her Objectivists, a movement whose main tenet seems to have been to say “Yes Ma’am!” to anything that came from her mouth or pen.  Rand made her reputation and fortune by writing two novels:  The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957).  The poorly written novels, with stick figure characters, were immense financial successes, combining Rand’s anti-collectivist libertarianism with heaping helpings of, for the time, explicit sex, her heroines, always Rand think-a-likes, having multiple lovers.  Between the sex Rand specialized in long, bloviating, didactic speeches:

“Did you want to see it used by whining rotters who never rouse themselves to any effort, who do not possess the ability of a filing clerk, but demand the income of a company president, who drift from failure to failure and expect you to pay their bills, who hold their wishing as an equivalent of your work and their need as a higher claim to reward than your effort, who demand that you serve them, who demand that it be the aim of your life to serve them, who demand that your strength be the voiceless, rightless, unpaid, unrewarded slave of their impotence, who proclaim that you are born to serfdom by reason of your genius, while they are born to rule by the grace of incompetence, that yours is only to give, but theirs only to take, that yours is to produce, but theirs to consume, that you are not to be paid, neither in matter nor in spirit, neither by wealth nor by recognition nor by respect nor by gratitude—so that they would ride on your rail and sneer at you and curse you, since they owe you nothing, not even the effort of taking off their hats which you paid for? Would this be what you wanted? Would you feel proud of it?”

Atlas Shrugged, page 453

Buckley assigned Whittaker Chambers to review Atlas Shrugged.  His review, entitled Big Sister is Watching You, appeared in the December 28, 1957 issue of National Review.

 

Several years ago, Miss Ayn Rand wrote The Fountainhead. Despite a generally poor press, it is said to have sold some four hundred thousand copies. Thus, it became a wonder of the book trade of a kind that publishers dream about after taxes. So Atlas Shrugged had a first printing of one hundred thousand copies. It appears to be slowly climbing the best-seller lists. (more…)

Published in: on September 30, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Buckley and Big Sister  
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Quotes Suitable for Framing: John Ireland

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Be ambitious, seek to elevate yourselves, to better your lot;  too often we are too easily satisfied.  When a man is poor, let him live in a hovel.  I esteem him;  at any moment I tend him the right hand of fellowship;  but if by labor, by energy, he can secure to his family comfort and respectability, and does not, then I despise him.

Father, later Archbishop, John Ireland, Saint Patrick’s Day sermon, St. Paul, Minnesota 1865

Published in: on September 29, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Quotes Suitable for Framing: John Ireland  
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Franklin on Chess

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Benjamin Franklin had ceaseless energy to match his brilliant mind.  In 1779 while our ambassador to France, and involved in ceaseless negotiations to make sure that the new found alliance did not founder, he found time to write a brief monograph on chess, perhaps his favorite game:

 

The game of Chess is not merely an idle amusement. Several very valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired or strengthened by it, so as to become habits, ready on all occasions.

1. Foresight, which looks a little into futurity, and considers the consequences that may attend an action; for it is continually occuring to the player, ‘If I move this piece, what will be the advantages or disadvantages of my new situation? What use can my adversary make of it to annoy me? What other moves can I make to support it, and to defend myself from his attacks?

2. Circumspection, which surveys the whole chessboard, or scene of action; the relations of the several pieces and situations, the dangers they are respectively exposed to, the several possibilities of their aiding each other, the probabilities that the adversary may make this or that move, and attack this or the other piece, and what different means can be used to avoid his stroke, or turn its consequences against him.

3. Caution, not to make our moves too hastily. This habit is best acquired, by observing strictly the laws of the game; such as, If you touch a piece, you must move it somewhere; if you set it down, you must let it stand. And it is therefore best that these rules should be observed, as the game becomes thereby more the image of human life, and particularly of war . . .

And lastly, we learn by Chess the habit of not being discouraged by present appearances in the state of our affairs, the habit of hoping for a favourable change, and that of persevering in the search of resources. The game is so full of events, there is such a variety of turns in it, the fortune of it is so subject to sudden vicissitudes, and one so frequently, after long contemplation, discovers the means of extricating one’s self from a supposed insurmountable difficulty, that one is encouraged to continue the contest to the last, in hopes of victory from our own skill, or at least of getting a stalemate from the negligence of our adversary . . .

If your adversary is long in playing, you ought not to hurry him, or express any uneasiness at his delay. You should not sing, nor whistle, nor look at your watch, not take up a book to read, nor make a tapping with your feet on the floor, or with your fingers on the table, nor do anything that may disturb his attention. For all these things displease; and they do not show your skill in playing, but your craftiness or your rudeness.

You ought not to endeavour to amuse and deceive your adversary, by pretending to have made bad moves, and saying that you have now lost the game, in order to make him secure and careless, and inattentive to your schemes: for this is fraud and deceit, not skill in the game. (more…)

Published in: on September 28, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Franklin on Chess  
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September 27, 1945: Hirohito Comes to MacArthur

Emperor and Shogun

 

When MacArthur took up his command as Supreme Commander Allied Powers it was suggested by aides that he summon Hirohito to appear before him.  MacArthur rejected that suggestion, stating that it was important that Hirohito come to him voluntarily.  That he did on September 27, 1945, the first of eight meetings between the Emperor and the American Shogun.  The meeting lasted only a few minutes with Hirohito taking complete responsibility for the War and requesting that any punishment for the War fall on him.  MacArthur said that the War was over and that he wished to work with the Emperor for the betterment of Japan.  (more…)

Published in: on September 27, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
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Old Soldiers Never Die

I am closing my fifty-two years of military service. When I joined the army, even before the turn of the century, it was the fulfillment of all my boyish hopes and dreams.

The world has turned over many times since I took the oath on the plain at West Point, and the hopes and dreams have long since vanished, but I still remember the refrain of one of the most popular barracks ballads of that day which proclaimed most proudly that old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty. Good-by.

General Douglas MacArthur, Conclusion to speech to Congress-April 19, 1951

 

Something for the weekend.  A parody of the hymn Kind Words Never Die, the Army ballad Old Soldiers Never Die enjoyed new popularity when General MacArthur mentioned it in his farewell address.  The version at the beginning of this post was the seventh most popular song based on sales in 1951.

Published in: on September 26, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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No Irish Need Apply

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(I originally posted this at The American Catholic, and I thought the history mavens of Almost Chosen People would enjoy it.)

It is always a matter of rejoicing when bad history bites the dust:

The Internet has been buzzing about how discrimination against the Irish was a myth. All it took was a high schooler to prove them wrong.
Rebecca Fried had no intention of preserving the record of a persecuted people whose strife was ready to be permanently written off in the eyes of history as exaggerated, imagined, or even invented.

That’s because Rebecca was too busy trying to get through the 8th grade.

In 2002, University of Illinois-Chicago history professor Richard J. Jensen printed “No Irish Need Apply: A Myth of Victimization.” His abstract begins:

“Irish Catholics in America have a vibrant memory of humiliating job discrimination, which featured omnipresent signs proclaiming ‘Help Wanted—No Irish Need Apply!’ No one has ever seen one of these NINA signs because they were extremely rare or nonexistent.”

In short, those famous “No Irish Need Apply” signs—ones that proved Irish Americans faced explicit job discrimination in the 19th and 20th centuries? Professor Jensen came to the blockbuster conclusion that they never existed.

The theory picked up traction over the last decade, but seemed to reach an unexpected fever pitch in the last few months. Explainer websites this year used it to highlight popular myths of persecution complexes that are, as Vox put it, “stand-ins for an entire narrative about how immigrants are treated in America.” That’s from the lede of an article printed in March called “‘No Irish Need Apply’: the fake sign at the heart of a real movement.”

Here, of course, is the problem: After only couple of hours Googling it, Rebecca, a 14-year-old, had found out these signs had, in fact, existed all along. Not only in newspaper listings—in which they appeared in droves—but, after further research, in shop windows, too.

The Irish were persecuted in the American job market—and precisely in the overt, literally written-down way that was always believed.

All of this would have been written off as a myth if it weren’t for Rebecca Fried, a rising high school freshman—who one of the preeminent scholars on the Irish diaspora in the United States now calls a “hero” and “quite extraordinary”—and who simply couldn’t believe it, either.

Rebecca never set out to prove the thesis wrong. She was just interested in an article her dad brought home from work one day.

“Now and then I bring home stuff for the kids to read if I think they will find it interesting or will convey some lesson,” says Michael Fried, Rebecca’s father. “Half the time they don’t read them at all. Sometimes they’ll read something if I suggest it. Nothing has ever come of any of these things other than this one.”

Rebecca wasn’t even trying to disprove her dad—let alone an academic at the University of Illiniois-Chicago. She just figured she’d Google the words and see what came up over 100 years ago. (more…)

Published in: on September 25, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on No Irish Need Apply  
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Quotes Suitable for Framing: Calvin Coolidge

 

The immigrant who comes to us from a life of oppression must be made to realize that he assumes an obligation; otherwise, he is not wanted. Either he must live with us in the light of the highest citizenship, or else society will impose upon him the very restrictions he has sought to escape by coming here. It is the wolf in sheep’s clothing who has cast a slur on immigration. There are many who land here who really never get to America. They become Americanized in everything but in heart. To teach the foreigner English is a necessary step; but it is not an end in itself; it is merely one of the implements of Americanization. This may hold divers peoples together for a while, just as economic opportunity and financial reward may cover their isolation. But unless, in their living—rather than in then livelihood—they daily exercise the principles on which the Republic rests, we have among us a shell of citizenship liable to explode at the least upsetting of economic balance, rather than the vital spirit which is at the basis of American life.

Calvin Coolidge

Published in: on September 24, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Quotes Suitable for Framing: Calvin Coolidge  
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September 23, 1952: Checkers Speech

The  “Checkers Speech” given by Richard Nixon which allowed him to stay on the ticket as Vice-President on September 23, 1952.  The speech got its name from Nixon’s use of the pet dog given to his daughters, Checkers, to gain sympathy by stating that the girls had gotten fond of the dog and he would not return it.  The speech was classic Nixon:  go on the offensive, self-pitying, maudlin and oh so effective.  Nixon was never a great orator, but until Watergate he never lost the touch of appealing to the average American.  His high brow, usually left wing, critics savaged him, but Nixon never forgot that the purpose of a political speech is  persuasion.

 

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A classic anti-Nixon poster asked if you would buy a used car from him.  For most of his career, Nixon could have sold a car with a shot transmission and four bald tires to to a substantial segment of the American population and they would have thanked him for it.  Whence this power?  I think Nixon early tapped into the resentment that a growing number of average Americans had toward the chattering classes that were rapidly losing touch with them, and looked down on them.  That Nixon privately shared many of the views of the chattering classes that despised him as the ultimate enemy is one of the greater ironies of American political life during Nixon’s career.

 

The “Checkers Speech” will always be remembered for this peroration:

One other thing I probably should tell you because if we don’t they’ll probably be saying this about me too, we did get something—a gift—after the election. A man down in Texas heard Pat on the radio mention the fact that our two youngsters would like to have a dog. And, believe it or not, the day before we left on this campaign trip we got a message from Union Station in Baltimore saying they had a package for us. We went down to get it. You know what it was? It was a little cocker spaniel dog in a crate that he’d sent all the way from Texas. Black and white spotted. And our little girl—Tricia, the 6-year-old—named it Checkers. And you know, the kids, like all kids, love the dog and I just want to say this right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we’re gonna keep it.

 

 

(more…)

Published in: on September 23, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on September 23, 1952: Checkers Speech  
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September 22, 1776: Nathan Hale’s Only Regret

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How beautiful is death, when earn’d by virtue!
Who would not be that youth? What pity is it
That we can die but once to serve our country.

Joseph Addison, Cato (1712)

 

Death at 21 is always a tragedy, but Nathan Hale’s heroic death 239 years ago today ensured him Earthly immortality.  A schoolmaster before the Revolution, he was a Captain in the 7th Connecticut when he volunteered to take on the immensely dangerous task of being a spy, at the request of General Washington, behind enemy lines in New York City.  He was soon captured by the British, perhaps betrayed by his Tory cousin Samuel Hale.  Interviewed by General Howe, his fate was a foregone conclusion:  spies were always to be executed.

The night before he died he requested a Bible and a member of the clergy.  Both requests were denied.  According to British officer Frederick MacKensie, who was present, Hale met his death with great fortitude:

He behaved with great composure and resolution, saying he thought it the duty of every good Officer, to obey any orders given him by his Commander-in-Chief; and desired the Spectators to be at all times prepared to meet death in whatever shape it might appear.

At the foot of the gallows, before he entered eternity, he uttered the comment that has ensured that his memory will be cherished as long as their is a United States of America.  British Captain John Montresor, who was present, told under a flag of truce to American Captain William Hull the next day:

“On the morning of his execution, my station was near the fatal spot, and I requested the Provost Marshal to permit the prisoner to sit in my marquee, while he was making the necessary preparations. Captain Hale entered: he was calm, and bore himself with gentle dignity, in the consciousness of rectitude and high intentions. He asked for writing materials, which I furnished him: he wrote two letters, one to his mother and one to a brother officer. He was shortly after summoned to the gallows. But a few persons were around him, yet his characteristic dying words were remembered. He said, “I only regret, that I have but one life to lose for my country.””

Then the light of the rising sun vanished before the eyes of Nathan Hale, but not, I trust, either  the light of the Grace of God or the light of the American Revolution.

Published in: on September 22, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on September 22, 1776: Nathan Hale’s Only Regret  
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Japan Remains One Country

01General Derevyanko1

 

One of the more decisive decisions of the Occupation of Japan, that Japan would remain one state, was made early in the process by General MacArthur.  The Soviets planned to occupy the northern island of Hokkaido and establish a puppet Soviet regime, identical to what was occurring in East Germany.  If this had succeeded, Japan could have been divided into a Communist North Japan and a Democratic South Japan for the length of the Cold War.  Appeasement of the Soviets was still very much in favor at the State Department, and it is possible that if the Soviets had simply begun landing in Hokkaido, that Washington may have capitulated on that point.  After all, the Soviets were full members, with Great Britain, in the Allied commission to supervise and monitor the Supreme Commander in Tokyo.  The Soviets also insisted upon a tri-partite division of Tokyo, similar to what was being done in Berlin.  MacArthur would have none of it. (more…)

Published in: on September 21, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Japan Remains One Country  
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