Magazine | September 10, 2012, Issue


The Iraqi Rotary

Yuval Levin hit the nail on the head with “The Hollow Republic” (August 13). I was reminded of a speech I heard in 2004 by an administrator in Paul Bremer’s Coalition Provisional Authority after the Iraq invasion. He said that one of the biggest problems to overcome was the absence of a tradition among the Iraqi people of doing things for themselves, at the local level.

The Iraqis had no Rotary clubs, no PTAs, no Little League baseball in which people selected leaders for themselves and solved problems peaceably through voting or consensus. All they knew was the family patriarch and the supreme leader, who for a generation had been Saddam Hussein. His dictatorship decided and directed everything. Under President Obama and the Democrats, this would be our fate: an all-powerful federal government controlling everything about the lives of its residents. (“Citizens” is too meaningful a term to apply to the subjects of such a government.)

This tendency of socialists was perfectly summarized in an essay called “The Law” by the Frenchman Frédéric Bastiat, written over 150 years ago. Socialists claim, he wrote, “that we reject fraternity, solidarity, organization, and association; and they brand us with the name of individualists. We can assure them that what we repudiate is not natural organization, but forced organization. It is not free association, but the forms of association that they would impose upon us. It is not spontaneous fraternity, but legal fraternity. It is not providential solidarity, but artificial solidarity, which is only an unjust displacement of responsibility. Socialism . . . confounds Government and society.”

Unjust displacement of responsibility — it’s hard to say it better.

Derek Lane

Via e-mail

Romney, Evolved

In “Like a Boss” (August 27), Kevin D. Williamson uses evolutionary biology to assert Romney’s superiority as a presidential candidate — especially where women are concerned. Noting that the man has great wealth and five sons, Williamson concludes that “from an evolutionary point of view, Mitt Romney should get 100 percent of the female vote.”

Actually, from an evolutionary point of view, at his age, Mitt Romney should be dead. From an evolutionary standpoint, America would be run by the biggest, strongest male. We could settle the presidential race in the UFC Octagon.

I know, I know: Williamson isn’t being literal. He does say that “given that we are no longer roaming the veldt for the most part, money is a reasonable stand-in for social status.” But that’s the problem with using evolutionary biology to score points in debate: There’s always a “reasonable” exception to its harsher laws for the people you want to win.

Jodi Compton

Morro Bay, Calif.

Kevin D. Williamson Replies: Ms. Compton argues that we “could settle the presidential race in the UFC Octagon.” Beats the hell out of Ohio.

NR Staff — Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

In This Issue

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

Rubio Rising

Immediately after Mitt Romney clinched the Republican nomination in May, we political analysts found ourselves immersed in the veepstakes. This is essentially a gussied-up form of entrail reading, and the ...
Politics & Policy

Regime Change

Sometime in 2007, a documentary filmmaker named Lauren Greenfield insinuated herself into the lives of David and Jackie Siegel, a septuagenarian time-share tycoon and his middle-aged, much-augmented wife. At the ...
City Desk


People are not the only immigrants in the world. The age of discovery began a transatlantic exchange of animals, plants, and germs. Most of us know about the devastating effects ...


Politics & Policy


MEMORIES OF ENGLAND So, having tackled most of Churchill’s History, Surfed the net for tickets and a book, Hopped a jet and, spellbound by the mystery Of dynasty and tomb, gulped with a look The ...
Politics & Policy


The Iraqi Rotary Yuval Levin hit the nail on the head with “The Hollow Republic” (August 13). I was reminded of a speech I heard in 2004 by an administrator in ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ When Harry Reid said the candidate was “light-skinned” and had “no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,” who knew he was talking about Biden? ‐ You want to ...

Most Popular


The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More