Recent links of note:
“Will Saudi Arabia Free Its Women?”
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, The Wall Street Journal
This week, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, one of today’s most indispensable feminist thinkers (and the fourth recipient of The New Criterion’s annual Edmund Burke Award for Culture and Society), penned an article for The Wall Street Journal’s Opinion page that calls for the abolition of retrograde “guardianship” laws in Saudi Arabia. The article was published amidst news that Mohammed bin Salman, in his restrained efforts to reform and modernize the anti-women culture of Saudi Arabia, met with the two female leaders of the United Kingdom: Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth II. Despite recent royal decrees (such as the removal of the ban on female drivers), Hirsi Ali is right to argue that far more substantive reforms can be made to liberate Saudi women. Central among these, Hirsi Ali writes, is the abolition of laws that require a woman to live under the authority of a male guardian (wali al-amr)—usually a husband, father, or brother—who has the power to restrict female movement and self-determination. Only then can Saudi Arabia truly hope to join the modern era. You can read (and watch) her remarks at 2016’s Edmund Burke Award Gala here.
“What Drove Ulysses Grant to Write about the Civil War”
Meredith Hindly, Humanities
In the winter issue of Humanities comes an article by Meredith Hindly on the last months of Ulysses S. Grant’s life, during which the celebrated general and former president finally decided to write and publish his much–anticipated personal memoirs. The tale begins in 1884, when a serendipitous encounter with Samuel Clemens (AKA Mark Twain) led Clemens to convince Grant that he could command a more lucrative publishing contract than that which he had then been offered. Clemens’s intervention proved critical to Grant, who was then facing financial collapse after a series of disastrous investments. Hindly recounts how Grant, a self-proclaimed “non–literary person,” toiled over his memoirs even as terminal throat cancer rendered speaking and eating more difficult by the day. The book, which ran 336,00 words and was published in two volumes, ultimately provided his wife more than $420,000 dollars—equivalent to the value of about $11 million today. More importantly, however, is the book’s wealth of historical and personal insight into one of the greatest heroes of our nation’s history.
“How a 14th-century Arab thinker influenced Ronald Reagan’s fiscal policy”
Francis Ghilès, The Spectator
Although Ibn Khaldun continues to be “all things to all men” (as the French orientalist Émil-Félix Gautier put it in 1927) it seems that the ideas and worldview of the Arab historian, historiographer, economist, and sociologist were far more localized and specific to his own time than his many followers would suggest. Khaldun’s embrace of a proto–classically liberal philosophy has prompted many to place him within a canon of Western political theory. Ronald Reagan, for instance, adopted Khaldun’s theory of taxation and civilization during a 1981 press conference in support of supply-side economics. Francis Ghilès review of Robert Irwin’s new book on the Maghreb thinker argues that although Khaldun’s ideas were shaped more by local Sufi mystics than by the writings of Aristotle and Plato, he remains a fascinating and brilliant figure worth studying by scholars and laymen alike.
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“A thousand words”