The Covid-19 pandemic forced the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI) to postpone a number of events scheduled for 2020 and to redirect energies toward remote learning. Members of AHI’s extended family continue, however, to host reading clusters, answer requests for interviews, and publish on the current political and cultural crisis that has swept the country.
Academic Questions, a “journal dedicated to strengthening the integrity of scholarship and teaching,” has published “Scholars v. Ideologues,” by AHI Senior Fellow Juliana Pilon. Dr. Pilon begins by noting how many of “today’s intellectuals, both inside and outside the ivy-towered temples of higher learning, sound like modern-day Jeremiahs who lament the false promise of America and capitalism while genuflecting before the prospect of a brave new world.” Her essay offers many insightful observations as to why the United States is currently in the throes of a cultural revolution. How is it, she asks, that “Wannabe martyrs of nihilism, pathetic and dangerous, morphed into pop culture superstars for the clueless.” She has in mind criminals like Susan Rosenberg, a convicted terrorist, pardoned at the eleventh hour by President Clinton, who was offered a teaching position at Hamilton College. Dr. Pilon ends with a stirring call to arms: We must be “ready to defend our civilization from its discontents.”
On July 13, The Heartland Institute, a think tank centered on developing “free-market solutions to social and economic problems,” interviewed AHI Resident Fellow Mary Grabar. Heartland’s Tim Benson asks Dr. Grabar to discuss her best-selling book Debunking Howard Zinn: Exposing the Fake History That Turned a Generation against America (Regnery 2019). Among the questions to which she responds is whether the New York Time’s 1619 Project can be seen as a lineal descendant of Zinn’s rancid, yet influential, polemic, which masquerades as historical scholarship.
On July 15, American Greatness, a website devoted to a constructive dialogue about American ideals and institutions, published “The Recycled Hatreds of ‘Racism, Inc.’” by AHI President Robert Paquette. In the essay, Paquette examines the surprising history of the word “redskins.”
Activists have appropriated a word, he observes, and infused it with a meaning it did not originally have. “‘Redskin,’” he notes “came into increasing use during the first decades of the 19th-century because a wide variety of indigenous ethnicities with whom whites were having increasing contact used it themselves in self-referential contrast to the pale-skinned with whom they were doing business.”
AHI Resident Fellow David Frisk has organized a summer reading cluster for interested Hamilton College undergraduates. Dr. Frisk holds weekly meetings using Zoom technology with about a dozen students who have been provided copies of Andrew Bacevich’s anthology American Conservatism: Reclaiming an Intellectual Tradition (Library of America, 2020). Frisk is finding the participants, an “impressive” group, the kind of young people that give hope for the future. We have had many “particularly good discussions” on a wide range of writings: traditionalist, libertarian, neoconservative, and religious.