The Best Of The Dish This Weekend

You can’t beat Cleese and Maher on PC bullshit:

Money quote from Cleese:

Any kind of fundamentalism is terribly funny.

Of course it is. I particularly liked Cleese’s comment about the condescension involved in ruling certain groups as impermissible targets of humor. There’s this deeply patronizing idea that minorities are fragile, terribly vulnerable, unable to laugh at themselves, and incapable of the to-and-fro of democratic debate and conversation. One reason I find the latest upsurge in identity politics on the left so dispiriting (and boring) is the assumption that minorities of a few kinds are so vulnerable, so oppressed, so burdened by majoritarian prejudice that they have to go through life demanding safe zones from “micro-aggressions” and other terrible assaults on their delicate sensibilities. Members of a minority are reduced to quivering recipients of “hate”, rather than actual living, breathing, thinking people who can surely give as good as they get in public discourse. But it appears an entire generation has now been educated into this mindless, maudlin mush.

I had a fantastically lazy long weekend, napping with the pups, watching movies, and playing Angry Birds. I did manage to finish Paul Gottfried’s book on Leo Strauss and American conservatism, and recommend it. I’ve always wanted to read a critique of Strauss – and more particularly, of Straussianism – which didn’t devolve into leftist hyperbole or paranoia. This is the first I’ve read. Gottfried’s critique is really from the right – against Strauss’s postmodern reading of texts (presented as the very opposite), against the abolition of history as well as historicism, against the reclusiveness and defensiveness of the Straussian enclave, and against their fixation with Western weakness in which the world is forever 1938. He persuaded me that the core of Straussianism is political, not philosophical – and a true competitor to what I would call conservatism, properly understood.  None of this takes away from the truly remarkable scholarship that Strauss and Straussians have given us, or their useful antidote to the idea that all our core debates about the world have been resolved. But it helps reveal the deeply un-conservative and profoundly radical nature of neoconservatism, and its mania for imperialism and Israel.

Some posts worth revisiting from the weekend: how marijuana can help end addiction; the first film of a Black Seadevil from the deep; a devastating poem about love and kids by Jane Kenyon; how brands become cults; some thoughts of mine on affirmative action; André Dubus on the Eucharist; and a must-read Sharon Olds poem on welcoming a daughter on Thanksgiving.

Many of our recent posts were updated with your emails – read them all here.  You can always leave your unfiltered comments at our Facebook page and @sullydish. 16 more readers became subscribers this weekend. You can join them here – and get access to all the readons and Deep Dish – for a little as $1.99 month. Holiday shopping is kicking into full gear, so Dish gift subscriptions could be a great fit for a friend or family member. Dish t-shirts are available here and our new coffee mugs here. A reader writes:

This is a thank you letter.  Thank you, or whoever on the Dish staff selects short stories, for running Tillie Olsen’s “I Stand Here Ironing,” which lead to “Tell Me A Riddle,” which lead to the other stories in that collection, which will lead to much more reading as the winter goes on. These stories are precise and inexorable and a little jagged-edged, and you deeply and quickly care about the people in them.  So thank you, again, for introducing me to them.

Thanks goes to Matt Sitman, the Dish’s literary editor, who selects all of our weekly short stories.

See you in the morning.