We are delighted to welcome our readers back after our annual period of aestivation. A lot has happened since we wrapped up our June issue at the end of May. We will pass over the frothy economic news. By every traditional measure, the country headed into a recession over the summer. But if economic growth was negative, inflation—tame for decades—shot up to the highest level in forty years. Such things, along with rising interest rates, spiking energy costs, and a volatile stock market, contributed heavily to the mood and drama of the summer.
It would be pleasant to report that things were cheerier in the realm of culture. Alas, there, too, we saw various sorts of recessionary and inflationary forces simultaneously at work, eating away at the substance and legitimacy of premier civilizational institutions. At the University of Pennsylvania Law School, for example, the distinguished professor (and occasional contributor to The New Criterion) Amy L. Wax was set up by her dean, Theodore Ruger, to be the latest casualty of the “woke” vendetta against scholarly independence and freedom of expression. Wax, the holder of a named chair and one of Penn’s most popular teachers, was singled out for a “major sanction” by Dean Ruger, disciplinary action that might involve the revocation of her tenure and hence her position at the law school. Her tort? Expressing heterodox opinions of which Dean Ruger disapproves, including one whose truth furnishes part of the raison d’être of this magazine: “All cultures are not equal,” Wax wrote. Imagine! And as if that were not bad enough, she also had the temerity to invite to campus people who persist in expressing opinions of which Dean Ruger disapproves.
We hope it will not come to that, but it is entirely possible that Wax will join that eminent fraternity of the “canceled” that includes such academic stars as Joshua T. Katz, who was driven out of the Princeton University classics department for writing an article that fell afoul of the woke racialist censors at that super-rich Ivy League ghetto. We are delighted to report that Princeton’s loss is The New Criterion’s gain, since Katz joins us, along with Victor Davis Hanson, as a Visiting Critic for the 2022–23 season.
The summer featured other depressing assaults on civilization. Some were symbolic, like the school board in Fargo, North Dakota, which voted 7–2 to cancel recitation of the pledge of allegiance at future board meetings because it violates the state’s “equity mandate.” Seth Holden, the vice president of the board, advanced the measure, explaining that since the word “God” is capitalized in the pledge, it is “clearly referring to the Judeo-Christian god.”
As the United States was founded on principles drawn from the Judeo-Christian tradition, you might think that was a good thing, not a bad thing. We feel certain that Hadi Matar, the young Muslim who stabbed and almost killed the novelist Salman Rushdie as he was about to deliver a talk in upstate New York, would agree with Seth Holden. Many American news outlets expressed puzzlement over the assault. “Authorities,” cbs reported, “are working to determine a motive for the attack.” We can help. The Ayatollah Khomeini told the world more than thirty years ago when he issued a fatwa against Rushdie because he didn’t like passages in his novel The Satanic Verses. He demanded that Rushdie be killed and offered a reward of $1 million to any follower of the religion of peace who accomplished the deed ($3 million if the killer was Iranian). Some things never change.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 41 Number 1, on page 1
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