It isn’t easy to keep discussion going in a period when you’re in a different continent and it is against the law to meet. But in the last year, National Review Institute — the nonprofit journalistic think tank that supports the NR mission — has done as much as anyone could in not just keeping the discussion going but taking it forward. My fellowship at the Institute has allowed me to engage in important conversations with conservatives all over. NRI’s work is paramount, and I hope you will consider supporting their programs before June 30 with a tax-deductible contribution.
Today’s woke agenda and the cancel-culture madness are weighing our societies down. This was a major theme of my latest book, The Madness of Crowds. NRI gave me the opportunity to discuss the book in three sessions of their virtual book club. More than intimate conversations with NRI members, these sessions were (for me at any rate) great fun as well. We bounced around ideas, swapped information, and all with a desire to actually get somewhere.
Last month, I had the opportunity to participate in the 2021 Ideas Summit Part II, streamed live from NRI’s Patron Retreat at The Greenbrier. There I had the pleasure of joining Vivek Ramaswamy and Madeleine Kearns for a conversation on woke culture. Vivek focused on wokeness in the C-Suite while Madeleine encouraged us to offer solutions — that is, not just how to grouse about the problem but how to actually fix it. I love the practicality of such discussions.
And while there’s great benefit to focusing on solutions, not every forum has to be so action-oriented. One of the hallmarks of civilized society is the possibility of just conversing with someone who is learned, witty, with a great range of historical reference and a sense that the world is mad. That is why among my favorite discussions of the last year have been my regular “Across the Pond” sessions. In these hour-long conversations, NRI fellow John O’Sullivan and I are given a platform to mull over a whole range of subjects in a more leisurely format. As John rightly said when discussing cancel culture in a recent session, he has the advantage over many of the rest of us — in that he has seen this all happen before. And not just the attempt to cancel people for errant opinion but the crusade for “equity,” the push for uniformity, and much, much more.
And it is that sense of historical knowledge — not to mention memory — that is so valuable today. There is the daily rage of opinion. But there is also the institutional memory that allows these issues to be put in their proper context and understood in their proper place. I value this space National Review Institute has offered to me. And I have been deeply heartened in the last year to see how many of you value it too.
NRI’s fiscal year is ending, and I encourage you to consider making a tax-deductible contribution before June 30 to support these important programs. I hope more people will join us in the next year, as we move from the virtual to the real worlds and keep ourselves sane even as the world continues maddening around us.