There's a Codicil Involved

You Should Extend it to Others

Bari Weiss gave the "State of World Jewry Address" at New York City's 92nd Street Y: What It Means to Choose Freedom. It rates a 9.8/10 on the "Read the Whole Thing" recommendation scale. And it's really difficult to excerpt, but I'll try:

In one of the beautiful letters Alexei Navalny sent from a prison cell in the Arctic Circle to Natan Sharansky in Jerusalem, he wrote of how strange it was to be reading Sharansky’s memoir, Fear No Evil, about his time in the gulag 40 years before.

“I was amused by the fact that neither the essence of the system nor the pattern of its acts has changed,” Navalny writes. “In the current situation, it is not them who are to blame,” writing of the KGB, “but us, who naively thought that there was no going back to the old ways.”

Let me repeat that: us. . . who naively thought that there was no going back to the old ways.

Can the same not be said of us?

Because freedom isn’t only under siege in Russia and Iran and Hong Kong. It is also under siege here at home.

By leftists who glorify terrorists. . . and by rightists who glorify tyrants. By technology companies that revise history and tell us it’s justice. By demagogues who point to the grocery stores and the subway system in Putin’s Russia and insist that they are symbols of human flourishing. And by an elite culture that has so lost all sense of right and wrong, good and bad, or has so cunningly transformed those categories, that it can call a massacre “resistance.” A genocidal chant, a call for “freedom.” And a just war of self-defense “genocide.”

“Human nature is full of riddles,” wrote the famous Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn. “One of those riddles is: how is it that the people who have been crushed by the sheer weight of slavery and cast to the bottom of the pit can nevertheless find strength in themselves to rise up and free themselves first in spirit and then in body, while those who soar unhampered over the peaks of freedom suddenly lose the taste for it, lose the will to defend it, and, hopelessly confused and lost, almost begin to crave slavery?”

He wrote those words in another place and time but their warning rings like an alarm across our own. Ours has been the freest country in the history of the world, and yet so many today seem to long for slavery—or at the very least have lost their ability to tell freedom from servitude.

Also note this sobering fact from her article's intro:

But for a sense of the state of Jewish life in America these days, you need only to have walked by the building that night. You would’ve found that police had cordoned off the entire block—and for good reason. Anti-Israel protesters, many wearing masks, gathered to intimidate those who came to the lecture. On the way in, you would’ve been screamed at—told you were a “baby killer” and “genocide supporter” among other choice phrases. You might have even glimpsed Jerry Seinfeld being heckled and called “Nazi scum” on his way out of the talk. (Classy.)

You just have to ask: What is wrong with these people?

Also of note:

  • No argument here. Especially since I worked at one for 30-odd years. Sergiu Klainerman at Tablet asserts: Universities Are Making Us Dumber.

    In the wake of Harvard, Penn, and MIT’s congressional testimony debacle, followed by the plagiarizing travails of Harvard’s President Claudine Gay and her reluctant and ungracious resignation, it is broadly recognized that America’s elite universities are afflicted by a rapidly metastasizing cancer. Harvard, our oldest and most admired university, is now the poster child for this terrible affliction.

    Calls for reform are widespread, with some pointing, correctly, to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives as a uniquely destructive bureaucratic instrument that needs to be abolished. Specific measures to improve our campuses include reviving free speech, institutional neutrality, viewpoint diversity, and individual merit as the only admissible criteria of selection for hiring and promotion. Such reforms are all self-evident within the framework of the traditional telos of the university, which prizes uncompromising dedication to truth and the pursuit of wisdom. If these ideas are controversial at all, it is only because the old telos has been eroded by new demands made in the name of social justice, in which every visible disparity between groups has its origin in discrimination.

    As direct forms of discrimination are now virtually nonexistent in academia, discrimination has been redefined as an invisible, structural form of bigotry that is suddenly everywhere. Like witchcraft, this form of prejudice cannot be observed directly. Rather, it manifests instead through unequal outcomes. Once justice was reformulated in terms of equality of results, it became untenable to insist on merit and the pursuit of truth; these values had to be abandoned or redefined, whenever they came into conflict with the new orthodoxy.

    In case you missed it, I recently read “Whatever It Is, I’m Against It”, a book by Brian Rosenberg, a college ex-President, which purported to examine the "resistance to change in higher education". The book had many valuable insights, but failed to address the illiberal foundations of the prevailing campus DEI orthodoxy. As near as I could tell, he was all for that. That didn't need "reform" at all.

  • When considering your career options… you might want to check out a guest post by "Stephanie Sherman" at Jeff Maurer's substack: I Never Thought I'd Write an Embarrassing Tell-All Article About My Bizarre Life, but Then I Realized: There's Money in that.

    I didn’t plan for things to happen like this. I always considered myself the type of journalist who would work her way up the ladder with pluck and moxie. But as I entered my fifth year at New York-based women’s magazine, I didn’t have a single feature article to my name. Meanwhile, my colleagues were landing 4,000-word cover stories about their bizarre marriages and the time they gave $50,000 to a scammer in a car. At first, I couldn’t understand the mindset that would cause someone to willingly publish tales of their most humiliating moments. But when my colleagues started landing book deals and seeing their articles go viral, suddenly, I could understand.

    The more I thought about it, the more I concluded that the world needed to know about the multiple times that I smacked into rock bottom face-first and somehow kept right on plunging. For example: I lost my daughter’s college fund playing online slots. Telling that story would be a cautionary tale about how gambling addiction affects ordinary people…is what I told myself. I pitched the idea to my editor and I swear he got visibly aroused. “Yes, HARDSHIP,” he said, wiping some drool from his lip. “People must hear about the HARDSHIP!” He gave the Ukraine piece I was working on to an intern and had the magazine put me in a hotel, all expenses paid, to work on a draft.

    I'm not sure what the male examples might be. Maybe Adam Rubenstein? "I Thought I'd Fit In at the New York Times"?

  • Better late than never. John Sexton on the Przybyla Watch notes a half-hearted mea culpa: Heidi Przybyla Concedes Her Definition of 'Christian Nationalism' Was Pretty Bad. From her Politico article (first sentence in the eighth paragraph):

    Due to some clumsy words, I was interpreted by some people as making arguments that are quite different from what I believe.

    OK, it's too generous to call that "half-hearted". Eighth-hearted perhaps?