Phi Beta Cons

A Christmas Truce

Today is the 101st anniversary of the informal “Christmas truce” during the first winter of World War I. Just after midnight on Christmas eve, German soldiers sang Christmas carols and in the morning came out of their trenches calling “Merry Christmas.” They and their counterparts in the allied forces exchanged cigarettes and snacks before returning to fighting.

Probably half those soldiers died or were wounded in the ensuing miserable four years, and nothing good happened as a result of the truce. The war went on until all the belligerents were exhausted and the United States army brought in 2 million troops to end it.

But Christmas provided a brief peace.

Now, thanks to a generous holiday schedule, those in higher education are experiencing a Christmas truce of their own. Higher education has long been beset by “culture wars”—originally a conflict over the values of Western civilization, starting perhaps with the 1988 chants at Stanford, “Hey hey, ho ho, Western Civ has got to go!” But they have reached something of a crescendo with this season’s silly skirmishes: warnings against Christmas parties “in disguise” at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville; demands to erase the legacy of Woodrow Wilson at Princeton; pressure to oust a teacher at Yale for asking students to be tolerant. (You can read about most of them at the College Fix.)

It’s not clear that there is much left to fight over, though. College education doesn’t delve much into Western values any more, so the wars are all about rhetoric, not reality, and they pick up other issues as they roll along, such as “jobs” vs. “education.” But they are still mean and divisive.

In the Great War, the conflict went on as long as the countries could conscript enough soldiers and force them onto the battlefield. In a parallel way, we are conscripting students for our college campuses, by means of ever-increasing federal aid and loans and the “college for all” mantra. Like the soldiers in the Christmas truce, those students may have a long war ahead of them, with little benefit in the end.

Merry Christmas.

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

Most Popular

Media

About That ‘Uncoverable’ Biden Story

Journalists claim they can’t cover the New York Post’s Hunter Biden email scoop because the underlying evidence has yet to been verified. Also, they won’t look for any verifying evidence because there isn’t enough evidence. It’s quite the conundrum. Because other than the now-corroborated emails, ... Read More
Media

About That ‘Uncoverable’ Biden Story

Journalists claim they can’t cover the New York Post’s Hunter Biden email scoop because the underlying evidence has yet to been verified. Also, they won’t look for any verifying evidence because there isn’t enough evidence. It’s quite the conundrum. Because other than the now-corroborated emails, ... Read More
White House

Hell, Yes

Editor’s Note: If you would like to read more pros and cons on voting for President Trump, further essays on the subject, each from a different perspective, can be found here, here, here, here, and here. These articles, and the one below, reflect the views of the individual authors, not of the National ... Read More
White House

Hell, Yes

Editor’s Note: If you would like to read more pros and cons on voting for President Trump, further essays on the subject, each from a different perspective, can be found here, here, here, here, and here. These articles, and the one below, reflect the views of the individual authors, not of the National ... Read More
Elections

Late Campaign Stops Don’t Seem to Do Much

Growing up in New Jersey, we called nights like tonight – where there were expectations for hooliganism -- vandalism, breaking windows, and perhaps even arson, “Mischief Night.” In Detroit, they called it “Devil’s Night.” In 2020, Americans just call it “Friday.” On the menu today: wondering ... Read More
Elections

Late Campaign Stops Don’t Seem to Do Much

Growing up in New Jersey, we called nights like tonight – where there were expectations for hooliganism -- vandalism, breaking windows, and perhaps even arson, “Mischief Night.” In Detroit, they called it “Devil’s Night.” In 2020, Americans just call it “Friday.” On the menu today: wondering ... Read More

Searching for a Sign

I’ve been waiting for almost six months to see a Biden-Harris yard sign in my neighborhood. Finally one -- just one -- appeared about two weeks ago. It is large and proud. The homeowners even equipped it with a spotlight, so that it is visible at night. I’m surprised, because liberal political yard signs ... Read More

Searching for a Sign

I’ve been waiting for almost six months to see a Biden-Harris yard sign in my neighborhood. Finally one -- just one -- appeared about two weeks ago. It is large and proud. The homeowners even equipped it with a spotlight, so that it is visible at night. I’m surprised, because liberal political yard signs ... Read More
Economy & Business

Daylight Savings Forever

Before I became a parent, I didn't have especially strong feelings about the time shifting by an hour twice a year. Like most people I was aware of the downsides -- increased car accidents, schedule confusion, etc. -- and I figured it would be better to knock it off. But I didn't feel personally offended by ... Read More
Economy & Business

Daylight Savings Forever

Before I became a parent, I didn't have especially strong feelings about the time shifting by an hour twice a year. Like most people I was aware of the downsides -- increased car accidents, schedule confusion, etc. -- and I figured it would be better to knock it off. But I didn't feel personally offended by ... Read More

Another Pollster Sees a Trump Win

The Trafalgar Group’s Robert Cahaly is an outlier among pollsters in that he thinks President Trump will carry Michigan, Pennsylvania, or both, and hence be reelected with roughly 280 electoral votes. (I explained his thinking here.) Last week another pollster, Jim Lee of Susquehanna Polling and Research, ... Read More

Another Pollster Sees a Trump Win

The Trafalgar Group’s Robert Cahaly is an outlier among pollsters in that he thinks President Trump will carry Michigan, Pennsylvania, or both, and hence be reelected with roughly 280 electoral votes. (I explained his thinking here.) Last week another pollster, Jim Lee of Susquehanna Polling and Research, ... Read More