The Closing of the Academic Mind



From Brandeis on the Atlantic to Azusa on the Pacific, an iron curtain has descended across academia. Behind that line lie all the classrooms of the ancient schools of America. Wesleyan, Brown, Princeton, Vassar, Bryn Mawr, Berkeley, Bowdoin, and Stanford, all these famous colleges and the populations within them lie in what we must call the Liberal sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to influence but to a very high and, in many cases, increasing measure of control from the commissars of Liberal Orthodoxy. .  .  .

How can one resist the chance to echo Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech? Okay, it’s not a precise analogy. It’s true that liberalism isn’t communism. It’s true that today’s liberals deploy the wet blanket of conformity rather than the clenched fist of suppression. It’s true that communism crushed minds, while today’s liberalism is merely engaged in closing them. And it’s true that most of the denizens of our ...


Who Profits?


A raft of new Education Department regulations has been bobbing among the roiling waters of American higher education for nearly a month now, and perhaps the most sensible reaction to the controversy comes from Sen. Lamar Alexander—a former governor, college president, and ...


Colorblind Law


"As Justice Harlan observed over a century ago, ‘our Constitution is colorblind and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.’ .  .  . The people of Michigan wish the same for their governing charter. It would be shameful for us to stand in their way.”


NATO Is Still the Answer

Obama’s floundering Ukraine policy.


Gary Locke

The continuing Ukraine crisis raises both a critical “what if?” question and a pressing policy issue. What if, in April 2008, the Europeans had not rejected President Bush’s proposal to bring Ukraine and Georgia onto a clearly defined path to joining NATO? And today, urgently, should we try again for NATO membership?

When the alliance’s 2008 Bucharest Summit rejected the U.S. plan for Ukraine and Georgia, the defeat was widely attributed to Bush’s unpopularity, stemming from the Iraq war, a convenient excuse for both Europeans and America’s media. The real reason, however, was Europe’s growing reliance on Russian oil and gas, and its barely concealed fear of Moscow’s response to NATO admitting two critical constituent parts of the former USSR. 

Moscow has long understood Western cowardice. Just four months after Bucharest, in a laboratory-like causal connection rare in global politics, ...


The Obamacare Opportunity

An opening for a genuine alternative.


Obamacare’s defenders are doing their best to sustain a triumphant mood these days. In the wake of the late-March surge in exchange enrollment, many proponents of the law have insisted it can no longer be rolled back. As the president put it in his April 1 Mission Accomplished ...


Top of the List

In the GOP quest for the Senate, West Virginia looks like a done deal.


Ravenswood, W.Va.
"I bet this guy’s a hunter.” Shelley Moore Capito, the Republican congresswoman who gives every sign of winning her race for the Senate, points at a worker in the front row with a youthfully cherubic face underneath a ...


The Legalization Juggernaut

Why won’t more political leaders speak out on marijuana?


The legalization of marijuana has acquired an aura of inevitability. But is there really no choice? Must Americans resign ourselves to the social acceptability, legal entrenchment, and widespread availability (including to our kids) of marijuana? 

Hugh Hewitt

Why Not an Open Convention?

A modest proposal.


When the Republican National Committee adopted a new primary calendar in January, few people fully thought through the impact. Successfully and necessarily fighting the last war, Chairman Reince Priebus led the RNC to adopt reforms to end the mindless chewing-up of would-be ...


Mudslinger in Chief

Harry Reid takes the low road.


The Romney strategy is back. Not the flawed campaign plan of Mitt Romney for the 2012 election, but the effort by President Obama and Democrats to malign Romney, even before he’d become the GOP nominee, as morally unfit for the presidency.

Now the ...


The Wife of Jesus Tale

An investigation into the origins of a scrap of papyrus raises more questions than it resolves


Karen L. King 2012

After an 18-month trial separation, “Jesus’ wife” is back with her man. Only this time with a postnup, a distinctly limited right to the marital property she has previously claimed, and a continuing unresolved debate over whether that big diamond on her ring finger is real or fake.

On the evening of September 18, 2012, Karen L. King, a professor at Harvard Divinity School and a longtime publicizer of Gnosticism and other “alternative Christianities” of the ancient world, surprised her fellow academics attending a Coptic conference in Rome with the unveiling of a papyrus document that she said dated to the fourth century a.d. The papyrus, actually a tiny 1.5-by-3-inch scrap apparently torn or cut from a larger sheet, appeared to state—for the first time in recorded history—that Jesus of Nazareth was married. Among the eight lines of choppy, crudely lettered text in Coptic, an ancient Egyptian language, were the words “Jesus said to ...


A Different Kind of Gas Shortage

The politics of helium


At a Harris Teeter in suburban Washington, what used to be Harry’s Balloon Corral is, to young eyes, disappointingly empty. The grocery store has posted a notice explaining why. Children accustomed to alleviating the boredom of the weekly trip to the supermarket with the serious ...

Books & Arts

The Evil of Banality

On the Nazi perversion of art.


‘Departure’ (1932) by Max Beckmann

New York 
It seems a little weird to find Adolf Hitler even mentioning the word “Dada,” let alone offering his considered opinion of that vague and anarchic movement. But so he did in a speech delivered in Munich in 1937 that officially opened the Great German Art Exhibition. “Sixty years ago,” he declared, “an exhibition of so-called Dadaist experiences would have seemed simply impossible, and its organizers would have ended up in the madhouse, whereas today they even live in artists’ associations!”

The exhibition in question was mounted by the state to offer Germans a healthy, muscular alternative to the neurotic enormities of Expressionism, which, it was thought, had endangered the nation’s well-being during the Weimar Republic. In theory, this show sought to promote paintings and sculptures based on the “Greco-Nordic” models that were seen as having inspired everyone from the ...

Alan Greenspan testifying before Congress (1998)

Just Soothsayin’

The economy acts as predicted. Except when it doesn’t.


The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office regularly revises its forecast of economic growth, the deficit, and other variables it studies. The economists at the International Monetary Fund likewise periodically revise their forecasts, at one point ...

Robert Frost and his son Carol (1916)

Frost Unplugged

The greatness revealed in the poet’s correspondence.


In a recent story published in Harper’s, Joyce Carol Oates imagines what it would have been like for an elderly Robert Frost—fat and drooling—to be interviewed by a young, female ...

Presidents Xi Jinping, Barack Obama at The Hague (2014)

Beijing Rising

The Chinese challenge to American supremacy.


Great power competition and the machinations of revisionist states have returned to international politics with a surprising ferocity. The end of the Cold War was supposed to have ended such ...

Discount Eyewash

Discount Eyewash

The coupon as emblem of consumer confidence.


Until the consumer really, really jumps back into the thick of things, the experts agree that this economy is doomed to sputter. Until the average American believes he has the wherewithal to go out and buy that new house, that new car, that new ...

Johnny Depp

Bullets Over Berkeley

Science fiction plus magic equals disaster.


In 1962, Arthur C. Clarke famously observed that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” This observation is both ...


The Reluctant Bibliophile

Joseph Epstein, bibliomaniac


david clark

I'm pleased to report that I’ve just returned from the Evanston Public Library saleroom empty-handed. The saleroom is off the main lobby and contains used books, donated to the library, which sell for a mere 50 cents. Not all the books in the saleroom are serious—junky novels predominate—but a fair number of superior books show up. The library is less than a block from my apartment. When passing it, I find it difficult not to step inside to check the saleroom for a book I don’t need but nevertheless buy. 

The reason I say I’m pleased to have returned empty-handed is that I already have enough unread books around my apartment, as the English say, to see me out. Old habits, though, die hard; and my habit of acquiring books doesn’t seem to die at all. How can I not check the sale-room? I mean, 50 cents, for heaven’s sake, and for some genuinely splendid books! 

Before I mention some of ...


‘Meet the Press’ on the Couch

AP Images

One of the stranger stories floating around Washington at the moment is the news, first reported in the Washington Post, that NBC is so concerned about the ratings collapse of its Sunday-morning talk show, Meet the Press, that it hired a “psychological consultant” to interview the friends and family of host David Gregory (in the words of a network spokesman) “to get perspective and insight from people who know him best.” What, exactly, NBC intended to do with that perspective and insight was not explained; but Meet the Press continues to fall behind its network competitors in the ratings. 

The Scrapbook must declare that it has no interest in the outcome here. David Gregory is no more or less arrogant and self-infatuated than most of his on-camera colleagues; and while conservatives tend to be annoyed by his evident left-wing bias, this does not exactly distinguish him from the bulk of his brethren. If ...

Matt -Taibbi

The Gap

Last week, a press release landed in The Scrapbook’s inbox informing us that author Matt Taibbi would be talking about his new book, The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap, at an event hosted at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) headquarters. ...


It’s All in the Name

The names of cities are not static. Even old New York was once New Amsterdam, as the song goes. And now it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople. What once was known as St. Petersburg became Petrograd in 1914, and then Leningrad in 1924—only to revert to St. Petersburg after the fall ...


Sentences We Didn’t Finish

"The state of Massachusetts doesn’t recognize three-way marriage​—​but .  .  .” (“Married lesbian ‘throuple’ expecting first child,” New York Post, April 23).

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