Confusing the Profane for Sacred

Contempt, not compassion.

Befitting our post-literate political age, in which the American president and his courtiers actively deride expertise and activists across the political spectrum reject thoughtfulness in favor of ornery truculence, Donald Trump’s style of reasonably communicative grumbles seems to be supplanting more formal forms of language. The all-consuming presidential cult has now sunk its hooks into the American Dialect Society. The nearly 130-year-old organization of linguists, lexicographers,  and grammarians revealed that 2017’s “word of the year” was “fake news,” a label the president applies to anything of which he disapproves—demonstrable or dubious—that finds its way into a journalist’s copy. But ADS saved a saucier “word of the year” for the internet crowd, and it far better exemplifies the rapid deterioration of the national discourse.

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Confusing the Profane for Sacred

Must-Reads from Magazine

The Confused and the Confusing

"I don't get confused."

Nikki Haley, America’s ambassador to the United Nations, is not confused. “With all due respect,” she said in a pithy and empowering statement to Fox News anchor Dana Perino, “I don’t get confused.”

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Identity Politics in the Hereafter

Grievance even in grieving.

As if the peddlers of identity politics hadn’t done enough to poison Western culture in the here and now, they have now set their sights on the afterlife.

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Pompeo and Circumstance

Podcast: North Korea talks and Trump's legal troubles.

On our latest COMMENTARY podcast we wonder at the fact that Democrats are going to vote en masse against Mike Pompeo as secretary of state for no real reason other than that they don’t like Trump—and how this marks the fulfillment of a degradation in the advise-and-consent process that’s been accelerating for the past couple of decades. Also, we talk about Stormy Daniels, alas. Give a listen.

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Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistical Deficits

The other last refuge.

Someone in the 19th century (Mark Twain attributed it to Benjamin Disraeli, but that’s dubious) said that there are three forms of lying: lies, damned lies, and statistics. If you would like a beautiful example of the last category of mendacity, check out David Leonhardt’s April 15th column in the New York Times,  entitled (try not to laugh) “The Democrats Are the Party of Fiscal Responsibility.”

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Eating Their Own

A frontal assault on soft targets.

The ubiquitous coffeehouse chain Starbucks is at the center of a scandal—the familiar kind fueled by new media’s obsessive litigation of grievances that have a perceived societal dimension. This one occurred in Philadelphia where two young black men were humiliated and led out of the café in handcuffs by police. They were accused of trespassing and declined to leave when asked, saying that they were merely waiting for a friend. The story of the incident went viral, and it became a scandal—justifiably so. The decision to prosecute this episode of harmless loitering is suspicious, and the insult these men suffered deserves redress. Asking whether racial bias was a factor here is a perfectly valid question, and that deserved to be investigated. But that’s not what has happened.

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