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Their Master’s Voice

From The Scrapbook

Jan 30, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 19 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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On the one hand, The Scrapbook takes a certain malicious satisfaction in the spectacle of institutions such as Harvard and the University of California​—​cathedrals of political correctness​—​running afoul of their own doctrine. For example, the Kumeyaay Nation of San Diego County, which claims some 10,000-year-old remains found in La Jolla, is no more related to these bones than the anthropologists who study them at UC San Diego. But it seems probable that the stray chips and fragments will be handed over to the Kumeyaay, and lost forever to scientific inquiry.

Meanwhile, Kennewick Man, whose 5,000 to 10,000-year-old remains are the subject of continuing study at the University of Washington, remains in limbo. A half-dozen Pacific Northwest tribes are fighting one another for the privilege of pillaging the university’s collection, and the Umatilla tribe claim that their 10,000-year-old oral history demonstrates ownership.

Which, of course, is nonsense. So, for that matter, is the argument that non-Indians would never subject their own primeval ancestors to such scrutiny. The bones and artifacts of Euro-pean settlers in Virginia and New England are routinely subject to study, and how many museums in the world contain the remains of Egyptian royalty, Danish bog people, or Anglo-Saxon tribesmen? The 5,300-year-old “ice man,” who was discovered not long ago in the Italian Alps, is now on display in his own museum in Bolzano.


Several of our favorite journals showed up recently in The Scrapbook’s mailbox (no, The Scrapbook hasn’t fully converted to the digital era yet), and they seemed to be even more chock-a-block than usual with interesting articles. The Fall 2011 issue of the New Atlantis features several Weekly Standard contributors: Nick Eberstadt on “The Global War Against Baby Girls,” Wilfred McClay on Nathaniel Hawthorne, Alan -Jacobs on “Christianity and the Future of the Book,” and Algis Valiunas on Abraham Maslow and modern America. All the pieces leave you thinking .  .  . if somewhat depressed. But in a good way​—​intelligently depressed!

The Winter 2012 National Affairs is a little more cheery. Stuart Butler is basically positive on the coming revolution in higher education, and Scott Winship’s “Bogeyman Economics” is a devastating indictment of “politics by horror story.” But The Scrapbook particularly enjoyed William Schambra’s account of the 1912 election. We’d forgotten how fundamental were the issues that were raised, how many of TR’s old associates broke with him when he took Progressivism from a kind of American reformism to an assault on the Constitution, and how thoughtful some of those associates were. We’re eager to read more on the impressive Elihu Root, whom Schambra discusses at some length.

Last but not least, the January New Criterion features one terrific piece after another, including Kevin Williamson on political economy, Keith Windschuttle, John O’Sullivan, and other worthies in a very interesting symposium on American decline, and James Piereson on George Kennan. 

The football season is coming to an end​—​so there’s more time for reading. Start with these three journals.

Thérèse Delpech, 1948-2012

Sad news from Paris: Thérèse Delpech​—​scholar, strategist, and philosopher of history​—​passed away on January 18 at the age of 63. For many years, Delpech had been the director of strategic affairs at the French Atomic Energy Commission. She was a prolific author and policy adviser, and her last two books, Iran and the Bomb: The Abdication of International Responsibility and Savage Century: Back to Barbarism, are exemplars of her erudition, technical knowledge, and fearless scrutiny of fashionable doctrines and policies. 

In Savage Century she wrote: “History does not progress in a continuous fashion, nor does it even move forward in spurts. It seems to have abandoned any intelligible pattern.” Delpech will be missed all the more by her friends, colleagues, and the policymakers she advised for her ability to provide sound guidance in such chaotic times.

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