Recent links of note:
“Fact-Checking Satire—Is Snopes Serious?”
Bill Zeiser, RealClearPolitics
Of all the clickbait journalists and spin doctors who congregate in the wake of the twenty-four-headed Democratic primary juggernaut, few are salivating more frothily than the adherents to the doltish brand of fact-checking that developed during the 2016 election cycle. Since then, sources like Snopes and PolitiFact, in the name of the crusade against “fake news,” have taken up the mantle of explaining, in characteristically nearsighted detail, why their groundbreaking research on goat-herding magnates in rural Uzbekistan definitively proves that President Trump is a liar. (For an illustration of how arbitrary this process can be, compare Politifact’s evaluations of two similar claims by Trump and Bernie Sanders during their 2016 campaigns.) The deeper issue, and a shining example of left-wing scientism: social media conglomerates like Facebook have begun to use these fact-checking websites to inform their newsfeed algorithms, which even progressives can see is an exercise in futility. And dangerous—to the point that RealClearPolitics has deemed it necessary to begin fact-checking the fact-checkers. As it turns out, Snopes has fired up their old Zoltar booth once more for the 2020 election, joining the regrettable number of windmill-slayers who cannot tell honest reporting from satire. The Babylon Bee—a conservative Christian satirical outlet that, according to its website, “was created ex nihilo on the eighth day of the creation week, exactly six thousand years ago”—was apparently too nimble in its social commentary for the poor, overworked fact-checkers at Snopes, who “mistook” a story spoofing Representative Erica Thomas’s grocery-store altercation for an opportunity to score points against the fake news engine. Not their first such slip, either. Add it to the “signs of the times” file.
“How Rodin Kept His Feet on the Ground”
Christopher Benfey, NYRDaily
Auguste Rodin’s Thinker, originally cast in a small plaster version in 1881 to sit over his momentous Gates of Hell (1880–1917), has become one of the most identifiable works of art in the modern world, as Christopher Benfey points out. “It has been reproduced, parodied, miniaturized, magnified,” he writes, “to the point that it’s difficult to see it, to take it in. It’s a meme, a cliché, a visual punchline. Ask teenagers to think and they will assume the pose of The Thinker.” One of the supreme tasks of the critic is to shed new light on old truths, and Benfey goes on to do just that in his brief but insightful column on the French master’s pensive sculpture. Starting at the base with a careful study of a terra cotta fragment of The Thinker’s right foot (at the Musée Rodin in Paris), he places one of the less iconic aspects of the masterpiece into its proper context as an integral part of the work. Worth a read—especially if you’ve become disenchanted with the piece, as Benfey once was.
“How Revolutions End”
Dan Hitchens, First Things
The term “cultural Marxist” has by now, with lamentable overuse, lost something of its bite. But it underscores all the same a fundamental connection, between Soviet-era Communism and the ideologies driving so many intellectual and cultural currents today. Writing for First Things, Dan Hitchens leans on that parallel to identify a trend toward the effective implosion, Soviet style, of contemporary “enlightened” sexual mores. The vanguards of our postmodern culture are finding it more and more difficult to shake free of the pesky notions on which their various outlandish beliefs are founded. Such mental obstacle courses facing down the Left include: Can one be truly “sexually liberated” and remain innocent of transphobia? Support Hollywood’s progressive agenda, but frown upon its penchant for sexualizing minors (among other transgressions)? Have one’s cake and eat it, too?
From our pages:
“Nightmare at the Museum”
James Panero and Andrew L. Shea
A conversation on cultural politics, occasioned by the resignation of Warren B. Kanders from the board of the Whitney Museum of American Art.