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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review December 11, 2013/ 8 Teves, 5774

Where we are now

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | A real crisis was looming, not the kind that today's headline-writers regularly invoke, and so devalue. ("Red Sox Face Pitching Crisis") No, this was a real crisis -- the Crisis of the House Divided, when the Union was about to be riven by the one issue that the country had failed to confront squarely year after year, decade after decade, compromise after unsatisfying compromise. At its heart lay the long accepted, deeply ingrained evil some Americans referred to as The Peculiar Institution rather than call by its right name: human slavery.

The year was 1858, and all sensed that disunion threatened, with civil war in its train. A candidate for the U.S. Senate in Illinois that year began his campaign with these words:

"If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it." --A. Lincoln, June 16, 1858, Springfield, Ill.

Where are we now? What is the state of the Union as the year 2013 draws to a close? And whither are we tending?

There are those who assume that the future will be only a projection of present trends. Even sophisticated scholars have been known to make that mistake.

Consider an eloquent essay published in 1950. It was written by that exemplary teacher and critic of American literature, Lionel Trilling of Columbia University. He began his fine study of "The Liberal Imagination" that year by noting how liberalism had come to dominate American thought. Conservatism, he saw, had dwindled and almost disappeared among the country's intellectuals. And since ideas have consequences, he anticipated a future dominated by the liberal impulse. And clearly welcomed it.

Professor Trilling's conclusion was completely in accord with the tendency of American politics and culture at the time. Harry Truman had just upset all the oddsmakers by winning a presidential election the pollsters had all but conceded to his Republican opponent. Thomas E. Dewey was supposed to have been a shoo-in in 1948, but if there's one thing you can count on in American politics, it's that you can't count on anything,

One can understand why the professor felt the liberal tide was not only running strong, but would prove irreversible. Franklin D. Roosevelt's two decades and four terms in the presidency had ushered in a liberal political era that was sure to be extended as his New Deal was continued and then extended by Harry Truman's Fair Deal. It was a time when progress was thought of as just more of the same thing. As for conservative thought, to quote the professor's memorable phrase, it had been reduced to only "irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas."

But soon the pendulum would begin to swing back. Washington would be caught unawares when war broke out on the Korean peninsula and, not for the first time, the country would find itself unprepared. American confidence in general would be shaken by what seemed the inexorable spread of Communism across the globe -- from the European heartland to the Far East. And the American economy, struggling to find its footing after the war years, would be paralyzed by successive national strikes. An era of bad feelings was about to dawn.

As the decade ebbed, an obscure ex-Communist named Whittaker Chambers exposed a Communist spy ring that included Alger Hiss, a model of Ivy League respectability. Alger Hiss' record of public service first as a New Deal lawyer and then State Department official seemed impeccable. Who would have believed he was a Red spy? If he couldn't be trusted, who could be?

Whittaker Chambers would write a book detailing and expanding his testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee. It wasn't just a book but a deeply personal confession, a work of art that sounded an alarm about the existential crisis that America faced as what would be a long, long Cold War began. Called "Witness," his book would alert and galvanize a rising generation of Americans, who began to realize they were conservatives.

Liberals reacted to Whittaker Chambers' revelations with a mixture of disbelief and disdain, outrage and contempt. The Hiss-Chambers Affair threatened to become our own Dreyfus Affair, dividing not just a generation of Americans, but generations. A new Crisis of the House Divided was upon us.



In the next presidential election, America turned to a respected old general with a beaming countenance but no panaceas to offer. He promised to end a stalemated war, bring us together again, stand by our allies and commitments around the world, and restore American confidence at home and abroad. He did. He would also preside over a decade that would see a rebirth of American conservative thought

Russell Kirk would publish his "The Conservative Mind" in 1953, a time when many an American intellectual had no idea there was such a thing. There was, and is. Russell Kirk's book would trace the development of the conservative tradition back to the writings of Edmund Burke and Alexis de Tocqueville and make the case for its continuance.

On another intellectual front, that of the little magazines that used to be such a big influence, William F. Buckley's upstart National Review would begin publication in 1955, defending conservatism not only from the fashionable left but from right-wing caricatures of it like Ayn Rand and the John Birch Society.

American conservatism began to stir back to life in the Fifties. It seems Lionel Trilling's report of its death had been premature.

American politics and American thought in general have gone through many another revolution since then -- if by revolution we use the word in its original sense: a complete turn of the wheel as it comes back to its original position. Today it is liberalism that begins to seem devoid of ideas, or at least new ones. And of energy. If there is a single word to sum up liberalism's condition today, it is entropy.

The misadventures of Obamacare day after day would seem to exemplify a political philosophy that is fast losing traction. By now it would be a mercy if the whole, misconceived scheme would wear out all at once and disappear in a puff of smoke, like Oliver Wendell Holmes' wonderful one-hoss shay. Instead, it's collapsing part by part, day after day. It's painful to watch.

As it grows weaker, liberalism resorts to shows of strength. A president who's supposed to be a liberal resorts to changing laws by executive fiat instead of seeking the consent of the governed. The liberal majority in the U.S. Senate decides to emasculate the filibuster rather than respect the minority's traditional right to extended debate.

Like any other failing ideology, liberalism turns to authoritarian measures as it loses its power to persuade. Conservatives carp and criticize, but have yet to rejuvenate the great ideas that would offer a convincing alternative to the country's sense of drift.

That is where we are now, conservatives and liberals, and whither we are tending.

Paul Greenberg Archives

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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

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