Monday, July 6, 2020

FOOTBINDING

“Footbinding in China:
A Curious Look at the Male Role
in a Tool of Social Subjugation”

Melodie Dongyao Liu
The Concord Review Fall 2015

For centuries, Chinese mothers tightly bound their daughters’ feet to alter them into highly coveted “golden lotus” shapes. This included forcing up the arch and creating a cleft in the sole of the foot, requiring the bones to break and the skin to rot and peel away. After two years of torturous suffering, the girls’ feet would ideally measure only three inches in length. These mimicked the feet of famed 10th-century dancer Yaoniang, who was said to have performed atop a giant gilded lotus in the court of Li Yu, last ruler of the Southern Tang dynasty. Mothers knew that their daughters’ feet would serve as the main determinants of their future prospects. To matchmakers, rich rulers, and prospective mothers-in-law, the quality of their feet spoke volumes about  their upbringing and strength of character. By the Qing dynasty, neatly-bound feet were necessary for the navigation of almost every Chinese province’s social structure.


Historians trace mythological beginnings of the practice to the Southern Tang dynasty of the Five Dynasties period. In the course of a thousand years, footbinding became ingrained in Chinese culture, due to its erotic appeal and symbiotic relationship with class distinction. By the mid-twentieth century, criticism from Western cultures and internal nationalist pressure had eradicated the practice from China. The purpose of this essay is to explore how male forces facilitated the practice’s beginnings, institutionalization, and eventual downfall.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

WASHINGTON


The Americans also had a second advantage. They were blessed with an exceptional leader in the person of George Washington, a man of such fine character that he automatically commanded the admiration and loyalty of nearly all Americans and thereby served as a unifying force. He was a proven Patriot, as he had from the beginning strongly opposed the various coercive acts of the British Parliament, and was thoroughly committed to the preservation of the colonists’ rights and freedoms. Moreover, he was willing to leave a pleasant and comfortable life at his Mount Vernon estate to lead the colonial opposition. When he showed up at the Second Continental Convention in Philadelphia, he was wearing his military uniform, signaling for all to see that he was ready to fight for the colonial cause. The Congress acted accordingly, making him commander in chief of the Continental Army in June 1775. He accepted the position, on condition that he receive no pay for it.

His insistence upon that condition tells us a great deal about the man. Intrepid, courageous, charismatic, wise, tireless, and always learning, George Washington was the indispensable man to lead the war effort. He had extensive military experience and looked the part of a natural leader, impressively tall and muscular, with a dignified gravity in his bearing that led all to treat him with instinctive respect. But even more, he was known and admired as a man of exceptionally noble character who self-consciously modeled himself on the classical republican ideal of the unselfish, virtuous, and public-spirited leader, a man who disdained material rewards and consistently sought the public good over private interest. Like a great many other Americans of his day, Washington was deeply influenced by Joseph Addison’s 1713 play Cato, a Tragedy, a popular and powerful drama about the meaning of honor. The play depicts the virtuous life of its subject, the ancient Roman senator Cato the Younger, who sacrifices his life in opposing the incipient tyranny of Julius Caesar. It was an example Washington took to heart. He saw the play performed a great many times and frequently quoted or paraphrased it in his correspondence and had it performed in front of his soldiers. Cato’s lofty example was the example he wished to emulate; much of the American public shared his admiration and would respond well to the prospect of his leadership.

Wilfred M. McClay, Land of Hope (53-54). Encounter Books. Kindle Edition. 


Saturday, June 20, 2020

EQUALITY


With people across virtually the entire ideological spectrum being offended by inequalities and their consequences, why do these inequalities persist? Why are we not all united in determination to put an end to them?

Perhaps the most cogent explanation was that offered by Milton Friedman:

A society that puts equality—in the sense of equality of outcome—ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests.

Thomas Sowell, The Quest for Cosmic Justice (6-7).
Free Press 1999. Kindle Edition. 



 

Friday, June 19, 2020

THOUGHTCRIME



Soviet Dissidents shared this advice through samizdat 
before the fall of the Soviet Union :

DON'T THINK.
IF YOU THINK, DON'T SPEAK.
IF YOU SPEAK, DON'T WRITE.
IF YOU WRITE, DON'T SIGN.
IF YOU THINK, SPEAK, WRITE AND SIGN,
DON'T BE SURPRISED.


Tuesday, June 2, 2020

JOEL KAI-EN HOE

29 May 2020
SINGAPORE
Dear Mr. Fitzhugh,

I am incredibly overjoyed at this piece of wonderful news! To date, getting published in The Concord Review and receiving the Emerson Prize is undeniably one of my proudest achievements, and it goes without saying that I feel extremely honored and humbled to have my work published alongside a host of other brilliant pieces of historical writing. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you and The Concord Review for your efforts in championing the noble cause of bringing back serious historical research writing at the high school level. Throughout my 5 years of history education in the Singapore education system (based on the Cambridge A levels), the most extensive historical writing assignment I worked on was only approximately 2,000 words long— arguably inadequate to cover any historical topic in great detail. In contrast, my independent research paper of more than 20,000 words, was unlike any project I have ever embarked on, both in scope and depth of research. I believe that it is only through extended historical essays such as those published in the Review that students are successfully able to encapsulate the full nuance and complexity that characterizes the study of history.

Looking back, the process of researching and writing my paper on the Roman military reforms of Augustus was indeed a very enlightening and eye-opening experience for me, as I was able to delve into the intricacies of the Roman military machine that had gone on to carve a extensive empire stretching from Britain to the Middle East. Even more importantly, I am really glad that through the Review’s publication of my paper, I have been able to contribute to the body of knowledge surrounding the Augustan army reforms, which have unfortunately been overshadowed by the earlier Marian reforms, as well as the subsequent structural changes made by the Emperor Claudius. From the outset, my goal was to shed light on this period of great change in the Roman army, to credit the underrepresented yet groundbreaking reforms that were crucial in establishing the Pax Romana; but I also sought to temper any glowing praise of Augustus' reforms by acknowledging some fundamental weaknesses in the system he had created, which precipitated the outbreak of army revolts in various provinces of the empire, as well as the tumultuous period of civil wars in 69 A.D.

During the process of research, I faced a host of obstacles. Most notably, it was a considerable challenge to pinpoint specific dates during which certain structural changes of the Roman military took place, since it was mainly through archaeological evidence and the works of some Roman writers that we glean information about the reforms. Moreover, I was faced with contradictory figures and statistics (say, about the size of the cavalry complement attached to the new legion). This necessitated the painstaking process of cross-referencing across as many sources as I could possibly find, and then settling on a number that was corroborated throughout multiple reliable sources. It is worth mentioning that in the process of researching for my paper, I was also exposed to a rather thorny historiographical debate between two main schools of thought regarding motivations for the far-reaching campaigns of conquest carried out both in the Republic and the early Empire. On the one hand, there was the theory of defensive imperialism, proponents of which postulated that Roman expansion was a reactionary attempt to protect themselves from foreign threats, resulting in the extension of Rome's frontiers to the conveniently defensible borders of the Danube and Rhine rivers. On the other, most contemporary historians argue in favor of the the thesis of aggressive imperialism—the active quest for resources as well as the ideological beliefs in their own superiority over their uncivilized barbarians neighbors. Indeed, when writing my paper and examining the motivations driving Augustus' program of imperial expansion, I struggled (and still struggle) to reconcile the 2 opposing schools of thought.

My point is, writing this paper for The Concord Review gave me a first-hand insight into the everyday life of history researchers and academics, and introduced me to essential research skills that I will undoubtedly put to good use in my subsequent years of tertiary education, as I am planning to pursue further studies in either History or Literature.

Given my strong belief in what The Concord Review is doing to promote academic history writing at the high school level, I have decided to donate my prize money to The Concord Review after discussion with my parents, in order to support the publication of more exemplary history research papers from around the globe! I hope that this will go a long way in allowing more budding historians to realize their potential in research writing and be recognized through the publication of their essays in this wonderful journal. As for the letter, you may send it to my home address. :)

Once again, thank you so much for this humbling recognition of my work, and I am looking forward to your reply!

Best Regards,
Joel Kai-En Hoe
Raffles Institution, Singapore
[Augustan Reforms 30/4]

Monday, May 25, 2020

INHERITED BIRTHRIGHT

I belong to the generation of patriots that fought World War II. On the occasion of Winston Churchill's death in 1965, I wrote (in Cornell's student newspaper) that those who came after us could not fully understand why we, who remember the great and terrible events of 1940-1941, should be so moved by his death; that they could not appreciate him as we did; that to them he was merely a name or, at most, a legendary figure, whereas to us he was, among other things, the embodiment of the greatest cause in our lives: the preservation of government of, by, and for the people at a time when it was most imperiled. We thought it altogether fitting and proper that (on April 9, 1963) he was made an honorary citizen of the United States. 

Britain had, of course, been fighting for more than two years by the time we went to war, and it is not to belittle her contribution to final victory to say that the war could not have been won without us; Churchill knew this and acknowledged it. We were "the arsenal of democracy"; more than that, we were, as Abraham Lincoln said-not boastfully but as a fact-"the last, best hope of earth." 


This was true in 1862 when Lincoln said it, as well as in 1941, and it is more obviously true today. Like it or not-and it is something of a burden, certainly a responsibility-America is to modern history as Rome was to ancient, and not only because we are the one remaining superpower. Modern politics began three hundred-plus years ago with the discovery or pronouncement of new principles, universal and revolutionary principles, respecting the rights of man. In 1776 we declared our right to form a new nation by appealing to these principles. Because we were the first to do so, it fell to us to be their champions, first by setting an example-this was Lincoln's point-and subsequently by defending them against their latter-day enemies, the Nazis and fascists in World War II and the communists in the cold war. Our lot is to be the one essential country, "the last, best hope of earth," and this ought to be acknowledged, beginning in our schools and universities, for it is only then that we can come to accept the responsibilities attending it. 


Our unique place in the world is recognized elsewhere, sometimes grudgingly or inadvertently. In 1987, the bicentenary of our Constitution, I was in Brazil, where the people had recently overthrown a military dictatorship and had begun the process of writing a democratic constitution. I had been invited to lecture on constitutionalism. At one place, a university in Recife, after I had finished my prepared remarks, someone got up and denounced, not me, but the local official who had who had sponsored my appearance. "Why," he shouted, "did you invite an American? What can they tell us about constitutions? They've had only one. Why didn't you invite a Bolivian? They've had a hundred!
I have enjoyed telling this story to students here, expecting them to appreciate it and hoping that they might even learn something from it. My hope is that they and their elders might learn something from this book, specifically, why this country deserves citizens who love and honor it, and are prepared to defend it. Political scientist Sheldon Wolin had this in mind when he pointed out that we are citizens not only in the formal or legal sense, but because we share a birthright "inherited from our fathers," a birthright to be cared for, improved, and passed on to future generations.

Walter Berns. Making Patriots (Kindle Locations 27-31). Kindle Edition.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

THE RIGHT STUFF

My God!—to be a part of Edwards in the late forties and early fifties!—even to be on the ground and hear one of those incredible explosions from 35,000 feet somewhere up there in the blue over the desert and know that some True Brother had commenced his rocket launch…in the X–I, the X–IA, the X–2, the D–558-1, the horrible XF–92A, the beautiful D–558-2…and to know that he would soon be at an altitude, in the thin air at the edge of space, where the stars and the moon came out at noon, in an atmosphere so thin that the ordinary laws of aerodynamics no longer applied and a plane could skid into a flat spin like a cereal bowl on a waxed Formica counter and then start tumbling, not spinning and not diving, but tumbling, end over end like a brick…In those planes, which were like chimneys with little razor-blade wings on them, you had to be “afraid to panic,” and that phrase was no joke. In the skids, the tumbles, the spins, there was, truly, as Saint-Exupéry had said, only one thing you could let yourself think about: What do I do next? 

 Sometimes at Edwards they used to play the tapes of pilots going into the final dive, the one that killed them, and the man would be tumbling, going end over end in a fifteen-ton length of pipe, with all aerodynamics long gone, and not one prayer left, and he knew it, and he would be screaming into the microphone, but not for Mother or for God or the nameless spirit of Ahor, but for one last hopeless crumb of information about the loop: “I’ve tried A! I’ve tried B! I’ve tried C! I’ve tried D! Tell me what else I can try!” And then that truly spooky click on the machine. What do I do next? (In this moment when the Halusian Gulp is opening?) And everybody around the table would look at one another and nod ever so slightly, and the unspoken message was: Too bad! There was a man with the right stuff. There was no national mourning in such cases, of course. Nobody outside of Edwards knew the man’s name. If he were well liked, he might get one of those dusty stretches of road named for him on the base. He was probably a junior officer doing all this for four or five thousand a year.

Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff (47-48). Farrar, Straus and Giroux. [1983] Kindle Edition.

Monday, May 11, 2020

WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE

The policymaker undertakes multiple tasks, many of them shaped by his society’s history and culture. He must first of all make an analysis of where his society finds itself. This is inherently where the past meets the future; therefore such a judgment cannot be made without an instinct for both of these elements. He must then try to understand where that trajectory will take him and his society. He must resist the temptation to identify policymaking with projecting the familiar into the future, for on that road lies stagnation and then decline. Increasingly in a time of technological and political upheaval, wisdom counsels that a different path must be chosen. By definition, in leading a society from where it is to where it has never been, a new course presents advantages and disadvantages that will always seem closely balanced. To undertake a journey on a road never before traveled requires character and courage: character because the choice is not obvious; courage because the road will be lonely at first. And the statesman must then inspire his people to persist in the endeavor. Great statesmen (Churchill, both Roosevelts, de Gaulle, and Adenauer) had these qualities of vision and determination; in today’s society, it is increasingly difficult to develop them.

For all the great and indispensable achievements the Internet has brought to our era, its emphasis is on the actual more than the contingent, on the factual rather than the conceptual, on values shaped by consensus rather than by introspection. Knowledge of history and geography is not essential for those who can evoke their data with the touch of a button. The mindset for walking lonely political paths may not be self-evident to those who seek confirmation by hundreds, sometimes thousands of friends on Facebook.

In the Internet age, world order has often been equated with the proposition that if people have the ability to freely know and exchange the world’s information, the natural human drive toward freedom will take root and fulfill itself, and history will run on autopilot, as it were. But philosophers and poets have long separated the mind’s purview into three components: information, knowledge, and wisdom. The Internet focuses on the realm of information, whose spread it facilitates exponentially. Ever-more-complex functions are devised, particularly capable of responding to questions of fact, which are not themselves altered by the passage of time. Search engines are able to handle increasingly complex questions with increasing speed. Yet a surfeit of information may paradoxically inhibit the acquisition of knowledge and push wisdom even further away than it was before.

The poet T. S. Eliot captured this in his “Choruses from ‘The Rock’”: “Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”

Facts are rarely self-explanatory; their significance, analysis, and interpretation—at least in the foreign policy world—depend on context and relevance. As ever more issues are treated as if of a factual nature, the premise becomes established that for every question there must be a researchable answer, that problems and solutions are not so much to be thought through as to be “looked up.” But in the relations between states—and in many other fields—information, to be truly useful, must be placed within a broader context of history and experience to emerge as actual knowledge. And a society is fortunate if its leaders can occasionally rise to the level of wisdom.
 

Henry Kissinger, (9-9-2014). World Order (348-350). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Friday, May 8, 2020

THE ENGLISH SENTENCE

We were considered such dunces, [he recalls in My Early Life] that we could only learn English. Mr Somervell—a most delightful man, to whom my debt is great—was charged with the duty of teaching the stupidest boys the most disregarded thing—namely, to write mere English. He knew how to do it. He taught it as no one else has ever taught it. Not only did we learn English parsing thoroughly, but we also practised continually English analysis. 

Mr Somervell had a system of his own. He took a fairly long sentence and broke it up into its components by means of black, red, blue and green inks. Subject, verb, object: Relative Clauses, Conditional Clauses, Conjunctive and Disjunctive Clauses! Each had its colour and its bracket. It was a kind of drill. We did it almost daily. 

As I remained in the Third Fourth (β) three times as long as anyone else, I had three times as much of it. I learned it thoroughly. Thus I got into my bones the essential structure of the ordinary English sentence—which is a noble thing. And when in after years my schoolfellows who had won prizes and distinction for writing such beautiful Latin poetry and pithy Greek epigrams had to come down again to common English, to earn their living or make their way, I did not feel myself at any disadvantage.


Randolph S. Churchill, Winston S. Churchill: Youth, 1874–1900 (Volume I) (Churchill Biography) (129). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

CARRIED AWAY BY HISTORY


“Getting Carried Away With History”
Marcia Reecer, American Educator, [AFT] Winter 1993/1994, pp. 19-23

“Wanted: Essays for a history quarterly devoted to the work of students.” Will Fitzhugh has been putting out calls like this since 1987 when he embarked on the first issue. One of the few magazines that prints only the work of students—and the only one that specializes in scholarly articles—the Review has published essays from as far away as Tasmania and Singapore, but most come from American high school students.

You might not know this if you picked up the magazine—or read it. It is all type, including the cover, and has the old-fashioned (some might say stuffy) look of a scholarly journal. But there is nothing stuffy about the articles. They are lively, straightforward explorations of ideas and events that obviously fascinated the writers. One of Will Fitzhugh’s favorite stories is about the officer of a foundation who, having turned down the Review’s application for financial support, glanced at one of the essays. Before he knew it, he had read the whole 150-page issue [386 pages in Summer 2020 issue].

Fitzhugh got the idea for The Concord Review when he was teaching history at Concord High School in Concord, Massachusetts. Every year there were a couple of students who really got into the long essays he assigned them. They caught fire, and for these kids, it was no longer a question of how many pages they were supposed to produce or the number of books required for their reference list. The subject took over, and the students were hungry to find out all they could. 

But when the essays came in, Will Fitzhugh was struck by how little he could do to recognize their excellence. Of course, he could give the writers As, and that was important, but it didn’t seem commensurate with what they had accomplished. There must be some other and better way to recognize this kind of achievement. Also, he reflected that if his students wrote essays like this, there must be lots of kids all over the country doing similar things. And so The Concord Review was on its way [1987]. The idea was neat and obvious—the way a lot of the best ideas are: Give high school students a vehicle for publishing their excellent history essays and an audience of their peers. 

What kinds of articles appear in The Concord Review, and who writes them? Fitzhugh asks for 4,000-6,000-word essays, but he has accepted ones that are shorter [and longer ones up to 14,000 words]…Essays are sent in by students from private and public schools (about fifty-fifty), and American history is the most popular subject. Some writers try to answer difficult questions about recent history. For example: Was the United States soft in its treatment of Nazis after World War II? What were the origins of U.S. involvement in Vietnam? Is U.S. immigration policy traditionally racist? Others go for constitutional issues or topics in social history, or the implications of historical movements or events. The essays vary in quality—the way they do in any magazine—but the general level is extraordinarily high. 

It is no surprise that The Concord Review has gotten a lot of praise. Al Shanker devoted two of his “Where We Stand” columns (New York Times) to it, and Will Fitzhugh has gotten warm letters from famous names in education like Theodore Sizer and Diane Ravitch as well as from teachers and students from all over the world. The Review has been called a hopeful sign—in the midst of much gloom—of what our kids can accomplish. And many people have noted its relevance to proposed education reforms. It is right in line with the idea of performance-based assessments. And, at a time when there is talk about setting standards for excellence by locking some people in a room and asking them to define excellence, The Concord Review demonstrates what high standards are in the most concrete way possible: It shows the kind of work that pre-college students can do—and are doing.

Perhaps most important is the assumption it makes about writing. Writing is, or is supposed to be, a way of telling an audience something you want them to know. But it’s all too easy for students to think of writing as an assignment, a sort of trick they perform for the teacher. In fact, the way writing is taught often encourages this attitude, and as John Bruer points out in Schools for Thought, his book on cognitive psychology and learning, even the best students often suffer from it. In making the assumption that students can produce serious and excellent pieces of writing based on intellectual work they have done, the Review demonstrates a simple and elegant way to get around the destructive practice of treating student writing like exercises.

But how relevant is all this to the real world of what goes on in most classrooms? How many American students write long essays? And if they did, how many teachers in this country would have time to grade the essays, much less supervise kids as they did the research and the writing? Unfortunately, there is a lot of substance to these questions.

The simplest response is that the thousands of students who take AP history every year are working to a standard comparable to the one represented by the Review, and every AP history class must produce essays as good as the ones Will Fitzhugh got from his students in Concord High School. Giving these kids a chance to read The Concord Review would show them what students their own age can do and give them a standard and a reward to aim for. 

To respond on a more fundamental level, The Concord Review may seem to have little relevance for the many students in our high schools who can’t even produce a good paragraph. But if we believe in high standards for all our students—not just the ones who are currently doing excellent work—the standard the Review sets has a great deal of long-term relevance.

In a speech given to the Urban League, its president, John Jacob, said that instead of lowering our ideas of what students can do, we must raise them and demand high academic performance of every student. Among the specific standards Jacob mentioned is that every African-American student, and in fact every student, be required to write a 25-page paper in order to graduate from high school. And Al Shanker sees The Concord Review as a possible catalyst in this effort. Why not, he says, organize large school districts to work toward producing special issues of the Review. This would take a number of years, but it would focus resources and attention where they’re really needed—toward getting students to work and think and write.

In the meantime (and to come back to planet Earth), The Concord Review is in financial trouble, despite its soundness and promise. Will Fitzhugh has never had the money to promote it properly. As a result, his subscription list is too small to support the magazine. And, though the number of teachers who know about the Review and use it as a teaching tool and submit their excellent student essays grows year by year, it is smaller than it should be. Will the magazine fold after this year? So far, Will Fitzhugh has found a way to scrape together the money for each issue, but each issue could be the last.

Fitzhugh remarks that we have many ways of rewarding and encouraging excellence in non-academic areas like sports but few in academic areas, and he likes to compare the idea behind The Concord Review to the Westinghouse science competition. Perhaps his magazine for kids who love history—and love to write it—will find a well-heeled corporation to offer it long-term support. Fitzhugh hasn’t given up hope, but a financial angel, however important, wouldn’t take the place of what he’s really after—a bunch of faithful subscribers and a flood of papers by kids who can hardly wait to tell other kids what they’ve discovered about Oliver Cromwell or the Harlem Renaissance or the sinking of the Titanic or glasnost or…
Marcia Reecer, Ph.D. [Bryn Mawr], is assistant director in the Office of the President of the American Federation of Teachers. She has been an elementary, high school and college teacher.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

PANDEMIC SCHOLAR

National Association of Scholars

Coronavirus and High School History


David Randall  April 5, 2020


NAS champions a proper education with a rigorous emphasis on writing and history—but we would never have dreamed to argue that it’s a good preparation for fighting the coronavirus pandemic. A bit of a stretch, we’d have thought. Special pleading; no one will believe us.


But then we checked in with The Concord Review.


The Concord Review, run by Will Fitzhugh, has dedicated itself since 1987 to training high school students to write lengthy, well-researched history papers, and to publishing the best of these papers. Fitzhugh and The Concord Review work nigh singlehandedly to repair a terrible gap in American high school education. Most high schools substitute fact-free “social studies” for history, and most of these social studies classes don’t assign long research papers to their students. High school students who arrive in college usually know little history, and even less of the basic skills of writing and research, without which it is impossible to even think about history in any rigorous manner. Students who study with and/or publish in The Concord Review are among the rare exceptions.


It turns out that The Concord Review doesn’t just prepare you for history classes, but for everything in life—including the coronavirus pandemic. Will Fitzhugh just received a lovely letter from a 2003 Concord Review author, Dr. Alex Peters.


Dear Professor Fitzhugh,


Almost 20 years ago, when I was in high school, you published my article on the Spanish Influenza in the Winter 2003 (Vol 14, Issue 2) The Concord Review. I went on to pursue an MD and am now a surgical resident at Weill Cornell Medical Center, having gained an MPH as well during a hiatus last year at Harvard. That 2003 paper remains one of my proudest achievements, and given the looming catastrophe facing New York, I refer to it frequently. Among one of my core conclusions was that lackadaisical politicians (in addition to overshadowing by the war efforts) resulted in downplaying of the pandemic in New York at the time. …


Thank you again for your faith in me way back then. You could not begin to imagine the positive impact that very first publication experience has had on me throughout the years.


Sincerely,
Alex Peters


At Peters’ request, The Concord Review has now posted and made freely available his 2003 paper. Everyone should read it.


Peters’ letter wonderfully makes the case for The Concord Review, for history education, and for intensive writing. They prepare you for anything—and the spark they give, the love of learning, matters as much as the array of skills they instill. They even prepare you for a coronavirus pandemic.


We’d make a larger argument at NAS—that the rigorous liberal arts education, which transmits the long conversation of Western civilization, is equally necessary for our citizens to prepare for any unexpected challenge. Dr. Peters’ letter is good evidence for that larger argument as well.


But that’s an argument to make at greater length another time. For now, we hope that readers appreciate just how much good work Will Fitzhugh has done at The Concord Review these thirty years and more—and how much good work Dr. Peters and his colleagues are doing at the hospitals around our country. 


David Randall is Director of Research at the National Association of Scholars
============================
Varsity Academics® is a registered trademark of The Concord Review, Inc. 730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24, Sudbury, MA 01776  [tcr.org]


Thursday, April 2, 2020

CHORUS

Henry V
Chorus

O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!
Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,
Assume the port of Mars; and at his heels,
Leash’d in like hounds, should famine, sword and fire
Crouch for employment. But pardon, and gentles all,
The flat unraised spirits that have dared
On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth
So great an object: can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of France? or may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?
O, pardon! since a crooked figure may
Attest in little place a million;
And let us, ciphers to this great accompt,
On your imaginary forces work.
Suppose within the girdle of these walls
Are now confined two mighty monarchies,
Whose high upreared and abutting fronts
The perilous narrow ocean parts asunder:
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts;
Into a thousand parts divide one man, 


And make imaginary puissance;
Think when we talk of horses, that you see them
Printing their proud hoofs i’ the receiving earth;
For ’tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
Carry them here and there; jumping o’er times,
Turning the accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glass: for the which supply,
Admit me Chorus to this history;
Who prologue-like your humble patience pray,
Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.

William Shakespeare. The Complete Works of Shakespeare
(Kindle Locations 48274-483036). Latus ePublishing. Kindle Edition.

Friday, March 27, 2020

IS THIS A JOKE?

When the academy is forced to explain the value of the humanities, the language that it uses is pathetically insipid. You may have heard the defense du jour, tossed out en route to the next gender studies conference. The humanities, we are told, teach “critical thinking.” Is this a joke? These are the professorial critical thinkers who write sentences like this: 

It is because the proper names are already no longer proper names because their production is their obliteration, because the erasure and the imposition of the letter are originary, because they do not supervene upon a proper inscription; it is because the proper name has never been anything but the original myth of a transparent legibility present under the obliteration; it is because the proper name was never possible except through its functioning within a classification and therefore within a system of differences, within a writing retaining the traces of difference, that the interdict was possible, could come into play, and, when the time came, as we shall see, could be transgressed; transgressed, that is to say restored to the obliteration and the non-self-awareness at the origin.

 And we’re supposed to believe that they can think? Moreover, the sciences provide critical thinking skills as well—far more rigorous ones, in fact, than the hackneyed deconstructions of advertising that the left-wing academy usually means by critical thinking. It is no wonder, then, that we have been hearing that the humanities are in crisis. A 2013 Harvard report, co-chaired by the school’s premier postcolonial studies theorist, Homi Bhabha, lamented that 57 percent of incoming Harvard students who initially declare interest in a humanities major eventually change concentrations. Why may that be? Imagine an intending literature major who is assigned something by Professor Bhabha: “If the problematic ‘closure’ of textuality questions the totalization of national culture.…” How soon before that student concludes that a psychology major is more up his alley? 

No, the only true justification for the humanities is that they provide the thing that Faust sold his soul for: knowledge. It is knowledge of a particular kind, concerning what men have done and created over the ages.
 

from Heather Mac Donald, The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture. St. Martin’s Press. Kindle Edition.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

ANYTHING BUT KNOWLEDGE

Anything But Knowledge
“Why Johnny’s Teacher Can’t Teach” (1998)
from The Burden of  Bad Ideas
Heather Mac Donald
Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2000, pp. 82ff.

Once you dismiss real knowledge as the goal of education, you have to find something else to do.


    America’s nearly last-place finish in the Third International Mathematics and Sciences Study of student achievement caused widespread consternation this February, except in the one place it should have mattered most: the nation’s teacher education schools. Those schools have far more important things to do than worrying about test scores—things like stamping out racism in aspiring teachers. “Let’s be honest,” darkly commanded Professor Valerie Henning-Piedmont to a lecture hall of education students at Columbia University’s Teachers College last February. “What labels do you place on young people based on your biases?” It would be difficult to imagine a less likely group of bigots than these idealistic young people, happily toting around their handbooks of multicultural education and their exposés of sexism in the classroom. But Teachers College knows better. It knows that most of its students, by virtue of being white, are complicitous in an unjust power structure.


    The crusade against racism is just the latest irrelevancy to seize the nation’s teacher education schools. For over eighty years, teacher education in America has been in the grip of an immutable dogma, responsible for endless educational nonsense. That dogma may be summed up in the phrase: Anything But Knowledge. Schools are about many things, teacher educators say (depending on the decade)—self-actualization, following one’s joy, social adjustment, or multicultural sensitivity—but the one thing they are not about is knowledge. Oh, sure, educators will occasionally allow the word to pass their lips, but it is always in a compromised position, as in “constructing one’s own knowledge,” or “contextualized knowledge.” Plain old knowledge, the kind passed down in books, the kind for which Faust sold his soul, that is out.


    The education profession currently stands ready to tighten its already viselike grip on teacher credentialing, persuading both the federal government and the states to “professionalize” teaching further. In New York, as elsewhere, that means closing off routes to the classroom that do not pass through an education school. But before caving in to the educrats’ pressure, we had better take a hard look at what education schools teach.


    The course in “Curriculum and Teaching in Elementary Education” that Professor Anne Nelson (a pseudonym) teaches at the City College of New York is a good place to start. Dressed in a tailored brown suit, and with close-cropped hair, Nelson is a charismatic teacher, with a commanding repertoire of voices and personae. And yet, for all her obvious experience and common sense, her course is a remarkable exercise in vacuousness.


    As with most education classes, the title of Professor Nelson’s course doesn’t give a clear sense of what it is about. Unfortunately, Professor Nelson doesn’t either. The semester began, she said in a pre-class interview, by “building a community, rich of talk, in which students look at what they themselves are doing by in-class writing.” On this, the third meeting of the semester, Professor Nelson said that she would be “getting the students to develop the subtext of what they’re doing.” I would soon discover why Professor Nelson was so vague.


    “Developing the subtext” turns out to involve a chain reaction of solipsistic moments. After taking attendance and—most admirably—quickly checking the students’ weekly handwriting practice, Professor Nelson begins the main work of the day: generating feather-light “texts,” both written and oral, for immediate group analysis. She asks the students to write for seven minutes on each of three questions; “What excites me about teaching?” “What concerns me about teaching?” and then, the moment that brands this class as hopelessly steeped in the Anything But Knowledge credo: “What was it like to do this writing?”


    This last question triggers a quickening volley of self-reflexive turns. After the students read aloud their predictable reflections on teaching, Professor Nelson asks: “What are you hearing?” A young man states the obvious: “Everyone seems to be reflecting on what their anxieties are.” This is too straightforward an answer. Professor Nelson translates into ed-speak: “So writing gave you permission to think on paper about what’s there.” Ed-speak dresses up the most mundane processes in dramatic terminology—one doesn’t just write, one is “given permission to think on paper”; one doesn’t converse, one “negotiates meaning.” Then, like a champion tennis player finishing off a set, Nelson reaches for the ultimate level of self-reflexivity and drives it home: “What was it like to listen to each other’s responses?”


    The self-reflection isn’t over yet, however. The class next moves into small groups—along with in-class writing, the most pervasive gimmick in progressive classrooms today—to discuss a set of student-teaching guidelines. After ten minutes, Nelson interrupts the by-now lively and largely off-topic conversations, and asks: “Let’s talk about how you felt in these small groups.” The students are picking up ed-speak. “It shifted the comfort zone,” reveals one. “It was just acceptance; I felt the vibe going through the group.” Another adds: “I felt really comfortable; I had trust there.” Nelson senses a “teachable moment.” “Let’s talk about that,” she interjects. “We are building trust in this class; we are learning how to work with each other.”


    Now, let us note what this class was not: it was not about how to keep the attention of eight-year-olds or plan a lesson or make the Pilgrims real to first-graders. It did not, in other words, contain any material (with the exception of the student-teacher guidelines) from the outside world. Instead, it continuously spun its own subject matter out of itself. Like a relationship that consists of obsessively analyzing the relationship, the only content of the course was the course itself.


    How did such navel-gazing come to be central to teacher education? It is the almost inevitable consequence of the Anything But Knowledge doctrine, born in a burst of quintessentially American anti-intellectual fervor in the wake of World War I. Educators within the federal government and at Columbia’s Teachers College issued a clarion call to schools: cast off the traditional academic curriculum and start preparing young people for the demands of modern life. America is a forward-looking country, they boasted; what need have we for such impractical disciplines as Greek, Latin, and higher math? Instead, let the students then flooding the schools take such useful courses as family membership, hygiene, and the worthy use of leisure time. “Life adjustment,” not wisdom or learning, was to be the goal of education.


    The early decades of this century forged the central educational fallacy of our time: that one can think without having anything to think about. Knowledge is changing too fast to be transmitted usefully to students, argued William Heard Kilpatrick of Teachers College, the most influential American educator of the century; instead of teaching children dead facts and figures, schools should teach them “critical thinking,” he wrote in 1925. What matters is not what you know, but whether you know how to look it up, so that you can be a “lifelong learner.”


    Two final doctrines rounded out the indelible legacy of progressivism. First, Harold Rugg’s The Child-Centered School (1928) shifted the locus of power in the classroom from the teacher to the student. In a child-centered class, the child determines what he wants to learn. Forcing children into an existing curriculum inhibits their self-actualization, Rugg argued, just as forcing them into neat rows of chairs and desks inhibits their creativity. The teacher becomes an enabler, an advisor; not, heaven forbid, the transmitter of a pre-existing body of ideas, texts, or worst of all, facts. In today’s jargon, the child should “construct” his own knowledge rather than passively receive it. Bu the late 1920s, students were moving their chairs around to form groups of “active learners” pursuing their own individual interests, and, instead of a curriculum, the student-centered classroom followed just one principle: “activity leading to further activity without badness,” in Kilpatrick’s words. Today’s educators still present these seven-decades-old practices as cutting-edge.


    As E.D. Hirsch observes, the child-centered doctrines grew out of the romantic idealization of children. If the child was, in Wordsworth’s words, a “Mighty Prophet! Seer Blest!” then who needs teachers? But the Mighty Prophet emerged from student-centered schools ever more ignorant and incurious as the schools became more vacuous. By the 1940s and 1950s, schools were offering classes in how to put on nail polish and how to act on a date. The notion that learning should push students out of their narrow world had been lost.


    The final cornerstone of progressive theory was the disdain for report cards and objective tests of knowledge. These inhibit authentic learning, Kilpatrick argued; and he carried the day, to the eternal joy of students everywhere.


    The foregoing doctrines are complete bunk, but bunk that has survived virtually unchanged to the present. The notion that one can teach “metacognitive” thinking in the abstract is senseless. Students need to learn something to learn how to learn at all. The claim that prior knowledge is superfluous because one can always look it up, preferably on the Internet, is equally senseless. Effective research depends on preexisting knowledge. Moreover, if you don’t know in what century the atomic bomb was dropped without rushing to an encyclopedia, you cannot fully participate in society. Lastly, Kilpatrick’s influential assertion that knowledge was changing too fast to be taught presupposes a blinkered definition of knowledge that excludes the great works and enterprises of the past.


    The rejection of testing rests on premises as flawed as the push for “critical thinking skills.” Progressives argue that if tests exist, then teachers will “teach to the test”—a bad thing, in their view. But why would “teaching to a test” that asked for, say, the causes of the [U.S.] Civil War be bad for students? Additionally, progressives complain that testing provokes rote memorization—again, a bad thing. One of the most tragically influential education professors today, Columbia’s Linda Darling-Hammond, director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, an advocacy group for increased teacher “professionalization,” gives a telling example of what she considers a criminally bad test in her hackneyed 1997 brief for progressive education, The Right to Learn. She points disdainfully to the following question from the 1995 New York State Regents Exam in biology (required for high school graduation) as “a rote recall of isolated facts and vocabulary terms”: “The tissue which conducts organic food through a vascular plant is composed of: (1) Cambium cells; (2) Xylem cells; (3) Phloem cells; (4) Epidermal cells.”


    Only a know-nothing could be offended by so innocent a question. It never occurs to Darling-Hammond that there may be a joy in mastering the parts of a plant or the organelles of a cell, and that such memorization constitutes learning. Moreover, when, in the progressives’ view, will a student ever be held accountable for such knowledge? Does Darling-Hammond believe that a student can pursue a career in, say, molecular biology or in medicine without it? And how else will that learning be demonstrated, if not in a test? But of course such testing will produce unequal results, and that is the real target of Darling-Hammond’s animus.


     Once you dismiss real knowledge as the goal of education, you have to find something else to do.That’s why the Anything But Knowledge doctrine leads directly to Professor Nelson’s odd course. In thousands of education schools across the country, teachers are generating little moments of meaning, which they then subject to instant replay. Educators call this “constructing knowledge,” a fatuous label for something that is neither construction nor knowledge but mere game-playing. Teacher educators, though, posses a primitive relationship to words. They believe that if they just label something “critical thinking” or “community-building,” these activities will magically occur...


    The Anything But Knowledge credo leaves education professors and their acolytes free to concentrate on more pressing matters than how to teach the facts of history or the rules of sentence construction. “Community-building” is one of their most urgent concerns. Teacher educators conceive of their classes as sites of profound political engagement, out of which the new egalitarian order will emerge. A case in point is Columbia’s required class, “Teaching English in Diverse Social and Cultural Contexts,” taught by Professor Barbara Tenney (a pseudonym). “I want to work at a very conscious level with you to build community in this class,” Tenney tells her attentive students on the first day of the semester this spring. “You can do it consciously, and you ought to do it in your own classes.” Community-building starts by making nameplates for our desks. Then we all find a partner to interview about each other’s “identity.” Over the course of the semester, each student will conduct two more “identity” interviews with different partners. After the interview, the inevitable self-reflexive moment arrives, when Tenney asks: “How did it work?” This is a sign that we are on our way to “constructing knowledge.”...


    All this artificial “community-building,” however gratifying to the professors, has nothing to do with learning. Learning is ultimately a solitary activity: we have only one brain, and at some point we must exercise it in private. One could learn an immense amount about Schubert’s lieder or calculus without ever knowing the name of one’s seatmate. Such a view is heresy to the education establishment, determined, as Rita Kramer has noted, to eradicate any opportunity for individual accomplishment, with its sinister risk of superior achievement. For the educrats, the group is the irreducible unit of learning. Fueling this principle is the gap in achievement between whites and Asians, on the one hand, and other minorities on the other. Unwilling to adopt the discipline and teaching practices that would help reduce the gap, the education establishment tries to conceal it under group projects....


    The consequences of the Anything But Knowledge credo for intellectual standards have been dire. Education professors are remarkably casual when it comes to determining whether their students actually know anything, rarely asking them, for example, what can you tell us about the American Revolution? The ed schools incorrectly presume that students have learned everything they need to know in their other or previous college courses, and that the teacher certification exam will screen out people who didn’t.


    Even if college education were reliably rigorous and comprehensive, education majors aren’t the students most likely to profit from it. Nationally, undergraduate education majors have lower SAT and ACT scores than students in any other program of study. Only 16 percent of education majors scored in the top quartile of 1992-1993 graduates, compared with 33 percent of humanities majors. Education majors were overrepresented in the bottom quartile, at 30 percent. In New York City, many education majors have an uncertain command of English—I saw one education student at City College repeatedly write “choce” for “choice”—and appear altogether ill at ease in a classroom. To presume anything about this population without a rigorous content exit exam is unwarranted.


    The laissez-faire attitude toward student knowledge rests on “principled” grounds, as well as on see-no-evil inertia. Many education professors embrace the facile post-structuralist view that knowledge is always political. “An education program can’t have content [knowledge] specifics,” explains Migdalia Romero, chair of Hunter College’s Department of Curriculum and Teaching, “because then you have a point of view. Once you define exactly what finite knowledge is, it becomes a perspective.” The notion that culture could possess a pre-political common store of texts and idea is anathema to the modern academic.


    The most powerful dodge regurgitates William Heard Kilpatrick’s classic “critical thinking” scam. Asked whether a future teacher should know the date of the 1812 war, Professor Romero replied: “Teaching and learning is not about dates, facts, and figures, but about developing critical thinking.” When pressed if there were not some core facts that a teacher or student should know, she valiantly held her ground. “There are two ways of looking at teaching and learning,” she replied. “Either you are imparting knowledge, giving an absolute knowledge base, or teaching and learning is about dialogue, a dialogue that helps to internalize and to raise questions.” Though she offered the disclaimer “of course you need both,” Romero added that teachers don’t have to know everything, because they can always look things up....


    Disregard for language runs deep in the teacher education profession, so much so that ed school professors tolerate glaring language deficiencies in schoolchildren. Last January, Manhattan’s Park West High School shut down for a day, so that its faculty could bone up on progressive pedagogy. One of the more popular staff development seminars was “Using Journals and Learning Logs.” The presenters—two Park West teachers and a representative from the New York City Writing Project, an anti-grammar initiative run by the Lehman College’s Education School—proudly passed around their students’ journal writing, including the following representative entry on “Matriarchys v. pratiarchys [sic]”: “The different between Matriarchys and patriarchys is that when the mother is in charge of the house. sometime the children do whatever they want. But sometimes the mother can do both roll as mother and as a father too and they can do it very good.” A more personal entry described how the author met her boyfriend: “He said you are so kind I said you noticed and then he hit me on my head. I made-believe I was crying and when he came naire me I slaped him right in his head and than I ran...to my grandparients home and he was right behind me. Thats when he asked did I have a boyfriend.”


    The ubiquitous journal-writing cult holds that such writing should go uncorrected. Fortunately, some Park West teachers bridled at the notion. “At some point, the students go into the job market, and they’re not being judged ‘holistically,’” protested a black teacher, responding to the invocation of the state’s “holistic” model for grading writing. Another teacher bemoaned the Board of Ed’s failure to provide guidance on teaching grammar. “My kids are graduating without skills,” he lamented.


    Such views, however, were decidedly in the minority. “Grammar is related to purpose,” soothed the Lehman College representative, educrat code for the proposition that asking students to write grammatically on topics they are not personally “invested in” is unrealistic. A Park West presenter burst out with a more direct explanation for his chilling indifference to student incompetence. “I’m not going to spend my life doing error diagnosis! I’m not going to spend my weekend on that!” Correcting papers used to be part of the necessary drudgery of a teacher’s job. No more, with the advent of enlightened views about “self-expression” and “writing with intentionality.”


    However easygoing the educational establishment is regarding future teachers’ knowledge of history, literature, and science, there is one topic that it assiduously monitors: their awareness of racism. To many teacher educators, such an awareness is the most important tool a young teacher can bring to the classroom. It cannot be developed too early. Rosa, a bouncy and enthusiastic junior at Hunter College, has completed only her first semester of education courses, but already she has mastered the most important lesson: American is a racist, imperialist country, most like, say, Nazi Germany. “We are lied to by the very institutions we have come to trust,” she recalls from her first-semester reading. “It’s all government that’s inventing these lies, such as Western heritage.”


    The source of Rosa’s newfound wisdom, Donald Macedo’s Literacies of Power: What Americans Are Not Allowed to Know, is an execrable book by any measure. But given its target audience—impressionable education students—it comes close to being a crime. Widely assigned at Hunter, and in use in approximately 150 education schools nationally, it is an illiterate, barbarically ignorant Marxist-inspired screed against America. Macedo opens his first chapter, “Literacy for Stupidification: The Pedagogy of Big Lies,” with a quote from Hitler and quickly segues to Ronald Reagan: “While busily calling out slogans from their patriotic vocabulary memory warehouse, these same Americans dutifully vote…for Ronald Reagan…giving him a landslide victory…These same voters ascended [sic] to Bush’s morally high-minded call to apply international laws against Saddam Hussein’s tyranny and his invasion of Kuwait.” Standing against this wave of ignorance and imperialism is a lone 12-year-old from Boston, whom Macedo celebrates for his courageous refusal to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.


    What does any of this have to do with teaching? Everything, it turns out. In the 1960s, educational progressivism took on an explicitly political cast: schools were to fight institutional racism and redistribute power. Today, Columbia’s Teachers College holds workshops on cultural and political “oppression,” in which students role-play ways to “usurp the existing power structure,” and the New York State Regents happily call teachers “the ultimate change agents.” To be a change agent, one must first learn to “critique” the existing social structure. Hence, the assignment of such propaganda as Macedo’s book.


    But Macedo is just one of the political tracts that Hunter force-fed the innocent Rosa in her first semester. She also learned about the evils of traditional children’s stories from the education radical Herbert Kohl. In Should We Burn Babar? Kohl weighs the case for and against the dearly beloved children’s classic, Babar the Elephant, noting in passing that it prevented him from “questioning the patriarchy earlier.” He decides—but let Rosa expound the meaning of Kohl’s book: “[Babar]’s like a children’s book, right? [But] there’s an underlying meaning about colonialism, about like colonialism, and is it OK, it’s really like it’s OK, but it’s like really offensive to the people.” Better burn Babar now!...


    Though the current diversity battle cry is “All students can learn,” the educationists continually lower expectations of what they should learn. No longer are students expected to learn all their multiplication tables in the third grade, as has been traditional. But while American educators come up with various theories about fixed cognitive phases to explain why our children should go slow, other nationalities trounce us. Sometimes, we’re trounced in our own backyards, causing cognitive dissonance in local teachers.     


    A young student at Teachers College named Susan describes incredulously a Korean-run preschool in Queens. To her horror, the school, the Holy Mountain School, violates every progressive tenet: rather than being “student-centered” and allowing each child to do whatever he chooses, the school imposes a curriculum on the children, based on the alphabet. “Each week, the children get a different letter,” Susan recalls grimly. Such an approach violates “whole language” doctrine, which holds that students can’t “grasp the [alphabetic] symbols without the whole word or the meaning or any context in their lives.” In Susan’s words, Holy Mountain’s further infractions include teaching its wildly international students only in English and failing to provide an “anti-bias multicultural curriculum.” The result? By the end of preschool the children learn English and are writing words. Here is the true belief in the ability of all children to learn, for it is backed up by action.…


    Given progressive education’s dismal record, all New Yorkers should tremble at what the Regents have in store for the state. The state’s teacher education establishment, led by Columbia’s Linda Darling-Hammond, has persuaded the Regents to make its monopoly on teacher credentialing total. Starting in 2003, according to the Regents plan steaming inexorably toward adoption, all teacher candidates must pass through an education school to be admitted to a classroom. We know, alas, what will happen to them there.


    This power grab will be a disaster for children. By making ed school inescapable, the Regents will drive away every last educated adult who may not be willing to sit still for its foolishness but who could bring to the classroom unusual knowledge or experience. The nation’s elite private schools are full of such people, and parents eagerly proffer tens of thousands of dollars to give their children the benefit of such skill and wisdom.


    Amazingly, even the Regents, among the nation’s most addled education bodies, sporadically acknowledge what works in the classroom. A Task Force on Teaching paper cites some of the factors that allow other countries to wallop us routinely in international tests: a high amount of lesson content (in other words, teacher-centered, not student-centered, learning), individual tracking of students, and a coherent curriculum. The state should cling steadfastly to its momentary insight, at odds with its usual policies, and discard its foolish plan to enshrine Anything But Knowledge as its sole education dogma. Instead of permanently establishing the teacher education status quo, it should search tirelessly for alternatives and for potential teachers with a firm grasp of subject matter and basic skills. Otherwise ed school claptrap will continue to stunt the intellectual growth of the Empire State’s children.

[Heather Mac Donald graduated summa cum laude from Yale, and earned an M.A. at Cambridge University. She holds the J.D. degree from Stanford Law School, and is a John M. Olin Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor to City Journal]