The Corner

Newtown & Us

Crime of the awful dimensions we saw in Newtown is, thank God, rare. But the human brain isn’t made for statistics, and it’s only natural to imagine that we are seeing a mass-murder epidemic and to demand action. Although we are too apt to call mass-murderers crazy rather than evil, this crime does seem like a lunatic’s work. A propos, it’s hard not to wonder about the long-term effects of a project the cultural revolution put over in the 1960s and ’70s: de-institutionalizing the insane so long as they were (supposedly) not dangerous, and building legal and bureaucratic obstacles to keep mentally ill persons from being committed to hospitals or asylums, for society’s and their own good. 

Of course we don’t yet know all the facts about Newtown. Nor do we know the extent of the social catastrophe decades after the asylums were mostly closed, the inmates sent home and told to take their medicine and be nice to their mothers. We don’t know the size of the catastrophe because conservatives tend to lose interest in social revolutions after a year or two (abortion is the rare exception), and we can hardly expect anyone else to care. The only response that seems appropriate to a heart-rending tragedy like Newtown is prayer and silence. But for America at large, far more is required.

Most Popular

Why Trump’s Losing

President Trump pulled an inside straight to win in 2016, and now he needs another one. The good news for Trump is that his approval rating has stopped falling recently. The bad news is that it has stabilized in the low 40s. Election-watcher Harry Enten points out that no president since Harry Truman has won ... Read More

Why Trump’s Losing

President Trump pulled an inside straight to win in 2016, and now he needs another one. The good news for Trump is that his approval rating has stopped falling recently. The bad news is that it has stabilized in the low 40s. Election-watcher Harry Enten points out that no president since Harry Truman has won ... Read More
Elections

Ilhan Omar’s Got a Little Competition

Ilhan Omar, the Democratic U.S. congresswoman from Minnesota’s fifth congressional district, has been described as a “rising star” of the progressive movement and as President Donald Trump’s “worst nightmare.” So she surely did not expect to face much opposition during her reelection campaign. ... Read More
Elections

Ilhan Omar’s Got a Little Competition

Ilhan Omar, the Democratic U.S. congresswoman from Minnesota’s fifth congressional district, has been described as a “rising star” of the progressive movement and as President Donald Trump’s “worst nightmare.” So she surely did not expect to face much opposition during her reelection campaign. ... Read More
Politics & Policy

What Next?

Imagine this: You have a friend who has never saved a penny for his retirement. You ask him about it when he is in his twenties, and he says, “No problem — I’m going to win the lottery.” Years go by. You ask him about it in his thirties, in his forties, in his fifties, etc., and get the same answer. At ... Read More
Politics & Policy

What Next?

Imagine this: You have a friend who has never saved a penny for his retirement. You ask him about it when he is in his twenties, and he says, “No problem — I’m going to win the lottery.” Years go by. You ask him about it in his thirties, in his forties, in his fifties, etc., and get the same answer. At ... Read More