This week we’re discussing conspiracism and the “paranoid style” in American politics. Here’s a humorous piece from way back in 2017 by (liberal) Garrison Keillor: “The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy Against Me.”
Here’s a really interesting piece in the liberal New Republic that touches on several themes we have discussed already and several more that are coming up soon. Check it out: “Educated Fools: Why Democratic Leaders Still Misunderstand the Politics of Social Class.”
Apropos our discussion of parochial vs. cosmopolitan worldviews, see this essay by Roger Cohen in the Times: “Britain exits Europe. It will be poorer, above all in its shriveled heart.”
This piece from the editorial board at the New York Times argues that, “Distrust in science and institutions could be a major problem if the outbreak worsens.” “Is the World Ready for the Coronavirus?”
Regarding Jacoby’s claim that language in public discourse has become simplified and debased over time, see this story in the Washington Post published in the run up to the last presidential election: “‘Trump’s Grammar in Speeches ‘Just Below 6th Grade Level,’ Study Finds.”
If you’re really interested in this subject, here’s a whole book:
Lim, Elvin. T. 2008. The Anti-Intellectual Presidency: The Decline of Presidential Rhetoric from George Washington to George W. Bush. New York: Oxford University Press.
In Chapter One, Jacoby laments the degradation of language with the use of terms such as “folks” and “troops.” Here’s a timely piece by linguist John McWhorter in which he claims that “troops” amounts to an unethical euphemism.
Here are a few links indicating America’s fraught relationship with books.
From the British Independent: “Harry Potter Books Removed From School Library Because They Contain ‘Real’ Curses and Spells.”
A story at the Washington Post about how younger Americans spend their leisure time (including more time on games, less time reading books): “More Work, More Sleep: New Study Offers Glimpse of Daily Life As a Millennial.”
Also this at CNN: “Georgia College Students Burned the Books of a Latina Author.”
And one more link. It’s not about books, but we’ll also discuss this recent article from the Washington Post a bit on the first day: “‘You’re a Bunch of Dopes and Babies’: Inside Trump’s Stunning Tirade Against Generals.”
The New York Times is keeping an updated interactive list of all the candidates in the 2020 presidential race. We’ll be keeping a close eye on all of them!