Why We Need Frog And Toad More Than Ever | Circe Institute

Why We Need Frog And Toad More Than Ever

Source: Why We Need Frog And Toad More Than Ever | Circe Institute

“Like many children’s books from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, Frog and Toad stories involve the two titular characters overcoming common problems which arise from vice… In each story, the only way to beat vice is through some form of suffering. Good things do not happen in Frog and Toad stories apart from suffering, self-denial, or self-control…

“Conquering my own problems with stress and anxiety should begin with the acknowledgment that neither I nor my children are special. Special is a curse. Special is an illusion. Special is fake holy. There is nothing wrong with regular children such that mine need to be special. The pursuit of special is contempt for nature. We need to recover an understanding of the expression ‘most people,’ and we desperately need the humility to see ourselves referenced therein…

“Our problem with anxiety and stress will not end until we quit celebrating the faults of our children and teach them to fight those faults, instead. We must let our children fail when they deserve to do so—and sometimes even when they don’t deserve it. In the same way our Heavenly Father did not politick and argue His Son’s path to the top but subjected Him to the rules and allowed Him to suffer, we must also quit politicking and arguing for our children and not treat every kind of suffering as an injustice. If anyone was special, surely it was Jesus Christ, and yet He did not make Himself an exception.”

Another one to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest.

Heather MacDonald warns US colleges are breeding hate | Life, Liberty & Levin – Fox News

Heather MacDonald – political commentator, essayist, attorney and bestselling author of The Diversity Delusion – tells it like it is, on the danger of this delusion to the university, and to the nation.

What is “the diversity delusion”? In brief, the belief that America is awash in discrimination, and that any perceived inequality or lack of “parity” (equality of opportunity is no longer enough; now the expectation is equality of outcomes) in race or gender in any field is the result of systemic, institutional (or individual, or both) racism, sexism, etc.

MacDonald notes that there is a cottage industry of both pandering to and actively fomenting this fear on campus, and she is not the only one to note her fear that this may eventually lead to civil war, by breeding hate among students in our colleges and universities.


Nota Bene:  This belief may ultimately, I fear, create a self-fulfilling property.

If someone, or a group of people (in this case primarily white, heterosexual, Christian men, although white, heterosexual, Christian women are not immune, in this age of “intersectionality”) are told “You hate me, you’re prejudiced against me, you’re putting me down!” the initial response is likely to be shock and sadness: “No, man! I’m not! I don’t want to do that!”

The goal of the Left, of course, is for this message to be internalized, to “Oh, wow, man, I guess I am… what do I have to do to make up for it?” The answer to that is “There’s really nothing you can do to totally make up for it, because you’re you’re a straight white Christian male, but you can make reparation by becoming an ‘ally’ and kowtowing to us constantly.”

But unless this happens, and maybe eventually even if it does, the ultimate result is going to be resentment. “Why do you keep harassing me, man? I’m not doing anything to you!” And eventually, that resentment is going to, as I say, create a self-fulfilling prophecy: “You know what, man? I really am starting to hate you, now!”

And that is when it stops being about suppression of difference (ironically, a thing the Left used to claim was bad, but now actively utilizes to advance its agenda), and may begin to edge over into the civil war that MacDonald and many of us fear. Lord, have mercy upon us!

 

Dr. Carol M. Swain: Critical Race Theory’s Destructive Impact on America | 1776 Unites

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Under the guise of a venture called the “1619 Project,” revisionist history about race in America is being introduced into classrooms across America without undergoing the normal peer review expected of educational materials.

Source:  Critical Race Theory’s Destructive Impact on America | 1776 Unites

It is possible – and indeed, I frequently experience this feeling – given the current state of what passes for sociopolitical discourse in early-21st-century America, to feel like one is living in an insane asylum run by the inmates. Fortunately, every once in a while, one hears or reads something that gives one hope that sanity is not totally a thing of the past.

Such an example is this superb essay by Dr. Carol M. Swain, Ph.D., a former political science and law professor at Vanderbilt University (my graduate university, where I attended Divinity School). She writes, inter alia,

“Those who push white guilt and black victimhood ignore critical facts. One is that today’s white Americans are not responsible for the sins of generations ago. Second, slavery was an institution that blacks, Native Americans, and whites participated in as slaveholders. There’s plenty of guilt to go around there…”

“The 1619 Project is a misguided effort to keep open historical wounds while telling only half of the story. It is flawed because it is connected to critical race theory and the diversity-inclusion grievance industry that focuses on identity politics and division. Blaming today’s families for the mistakes of our ancestors is not a prescription for unifying the country or empowering racial and ethnic minorities.”

She adds,

“We can do better. Within Christian communities, there is a basis for countering destructive narratives that have invaded our educational institutions and the corporate world. The solution for hatred, bitterness, and distrust can be found in New Testament principles.

“Rather than wallow in the past and revisionists’ efforts to build a case for reparations, we, as Americans, need to move forward while practicing the forgiveness and love of neighbor that Jesus espoused. We need not look any further than the ‘golden rule’ (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) to find the tools that enable us to transcend racial and ethnic conflicts that keep us from working together and celebrating our victories.”

As I say, it is very encouraging to see / read / hear people in the African-American community – especially scholars of the caliber of Dr. Swain – beginning to push back against the dangerous absurdity of critical race theory. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest!

Thomas Sowell: “Artificial stupidity” and the destruction of civilization

Thomas Sowell has a lot of good things to say. This is one of them:

Ours may become the first civilization destroyed, not by the power of our enemies, but by the ignorance of our teachers and the dangerous nonsense they are teaching our children. In an age of artificial intelligence, they are creating artificial stupidity. - Thomas Sowell

A Facebook friend adds – accurately, in my opinion:

“If you are a teacher, this is on you. You may protest you are a great teacher, most do, but in fact, if you teach the drivel that public school systems dictate, then you are no more than a parrot for an evil scheme to make our children stupid enough to want to be subjects when you could be teaching them to be citizens.”

Yep. That’s one of the reasons I am not a public school teacher, despite the economic security that would give me (so long, of course, as I kept a low profile and watched what I said). But unfortunately, despite many excellent teachers – and not a few fine schools – contemporary public education is a big part of the problem.

It may be very good (usually, with some notable exceptions) at delivering its content in an effective and engaging manner. It is the content itself that is the difficulty!

QOTD: Really Real Reality | Stately McDaniel Manor

There are two striking similarities between teaching high school English and being a police officer: many people lie to you, and you must deal with reality.

Source: California: Really Real Reality | Stately McDaniel Manor

Gotta love Mike McDaniel, and his blog, Stately McDaniel Manor! The article itself is an interesting, if depressing, one which I encourage you to read, if only to appreciate how bad things are getting in California (which has historically crowed, “As goes California, so goes the nation” – let us devoutly pray that is not the case, in these days). But this quote is pure gold:

“There are two striking similarities between teaching high school English and being a police officer: many people lie to you, and you must deal with reality.  I’m speaking of real reality, like the laws of physics, not jumping off tall buildings due to the recognition of gravity, there are only two genders, men and women are different, heterosexuality is normal, Islam isn’t a “religion of peace,” evil exists, not everyone wants peace, God – not man – is in charge, and if you like toilet paper and eating, you’ll hate socialism. That reality. Real reality. Really real reality.”

Beautiful. And so true!

 

Alexandria Keyes Suspended for Posing With Gun on Snapchat | Pluralist

High School Suspends Teen Girl for Posting ‘Innocent’ Photo Where She’s Holding a Gun

Endeavor Academy, located in Centennial, told Fox 31 their decision to suspend 17-year-old Alexandria Keyes stemmed from concerns over “safety.”

Source: Alexandria Keyes Suspended for Posing With Gun on Snapchat

If there was any doubt that the lunatics are running the asylum:

“According to the school, social media posts made by Keyes ‘concerned the school community and resulted in multiple parents keeping their kids home from school out of concern for safety.'”

Seriously??? This is saying something unflattering (to put it gently), not about Keyes, but about the snowflake “multiple parents” in question. Aside from this specific incident – where she was posing with her brother, a U.S. Army veteran –

“Keyes and her mother, Kelley McCollum, told Reason they believe the other posts the school references are from much earlier in the year. Eight months ago, Keyes posted a video and picture to Snapchat showing her shooting at a local gun club.”

Quelle horreure! How terrifying, that a 17-year-old should be shooting, at a shooting range, with her family. GAH!!! The stupid… it burns!!! The idiocy of these people is surreal.

“Keyes says she never intended to threaten anyone with the posts and that visiting the shooting range is something she does often with her mom and brother.”

Good family time, doing something with what the late great Aldo Leopold, called “the father of modern conservation,” would have called “split-rail value”: any activity that reminds us of our distinctive national origins and evolution. Shooting sports / recreational firearms use are among these activities.

Her mother, Kelley McCollum, is understandably outraged by the lunacy, according to the linked post, and reports that

“McCollum told Reason her daughter is scared to go back to school once her suspension ends on Friday because she’s ‘getting death threats, hate mail, and [negative] comments on her [S]napchat.'”

Think about that, please, for a moment.

This young lady, whose legal recreational firearm use – outside school hours and far away from school grounds – supposedly caused parents to keep their kids home from school out of concern for safety, is getting death threats.

Just who, here, is the threat to safety? NOT Miss Keyes, that’s for sure!

How long, O Lord – how long???

Special Snowflake Award 2nd Class
For all those parents out there (and students, too), who felt that their safety was threatened by a young lady exercising her Second Amendment rights, on her own time, in a safe location, and daring to post about it. And of course, the school administration, which REALLY should have known better (they missed a “teachable moment”). As Bill Engvall might say, “Here’s your sign!”

 

On the decline of the humanities: “Is Majoring in English Worth It?” | WSJ

The humanities have been infected by political correctness and ‘repressive tolerance.’ It’s no surprise that the English major is in decline, writes William McGurn.

Source: Is Majoring in English Worth It? – WSJ

In which American colleges and universities shoot themselves in the foot by misunderstanding the “liberal” in “liberal arts” (Latin ars liberalis) as a political stance, and not “those arts proper to a free person”:

“No one is surprised to learn that STEM majors (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) out-earn English majors. After all, the purpose of what used to be called a ‘liberal education’ has never been about a high-paying career. Even so, Jonathan Pidluzny, director of academic affairs for the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), notes that employers nevertheless prize the critical thinking, communication skills and judgment cultivated by a liberal-arts education.”

Or used to be:

“The English major was once a guarantor of effective, formal writing skills and the ability to comprehend and analyze the complex thoughts found within centuries of brilliant and challenging poetry and prose,” Pidluzny told Campus Reform. “Its decline into the epiphenomena of popular culture and identity politics is a self-inflicted wound that has rocked its credibility.”

I have long argued that what created the traditional pattern in which people with degrees in higher education made a greater income than those whose education consisted of high school or trade school was that the kind of people who were willing to undertake, and more importantly, succeed at, a rigorous academic curriculum – in which the above-mentioned skills were key – were rare, and understandably valued.

With an increasing number of people being, in effect, shoved through the doors of the Halls of Academe, that is no longer the case. The market is glutted with college and university graduates, which is why – as I have discussed elsewhere – degree inflation is such a thing: one now needs a bachelor’s degree to do what one used to be able to do with an associate’s, or even a high school diploma; a master’s degree to do what one used to do with a B.A. or B.S., and a doctorate to do things for which a master’s degree used to qualify a person.

And there are many, many holders of doctorates floating around, in many cases as “wild geese”: holding adjunct professorships at several institutions, enjoying tenure at none, having meaningful career prospects at none, and with little in the way of salary or benefits. It is one of the reasons that I stopped with a Masters of Theological Studies: I felt (correctly, as it turned out) that I had spent enough time and money on a course that had no guarantee, and few enough prospects, of advancement, or even permanency.

So liberal arts majors – and graduates – are a dime a dozen, these days, despite a continuing trend of shrinking enrollment in humanities disciplines.

But as McGurn’s essay makes clear, that is only part of the story. The other is the fact that the rigorous academic curriculum itself is increasingly a thing of the past. In part, this is to accommodate the lower caliber of student who is coming into the college or university, under the “you’ve got to get your degree to succeed” mentality: many of these folks simply lack the intellectual aptitude, temperament, or both, for academic study. But colleges and universities don’t want to get a reputation for flunking students, lest overall enrollment decline… and so we have a general dumbing-down of the curriculum.

But the piece of the puzzle which has, until recently, flown somewhat under the radar is the effect on curriculum of the increasing politicization – and Left-wing politicization, specifically – of colleges, universities, and their curricula. I have seen that in my own fields, medieval studies and theology, in which the rigorous treatment of significant historical trends, major and influential figures, and key ideas have been replaced with gender studies, LGBT studies, and an emphasis on a variety of other “marginalized” and “under-represented” populations (ignoring the fact that they may, just possibly, have been “under-represented” in traditional scholarship for good reason).

And now it is even worse – far worse! – than it was when I was in undergrad and graduate studies, with students throwing temper tantrums if anyone dares expose them to ideas that challenge their own (shouting down and in some cases even attacking the persons in question), demanding “safe spaces,” and even claiming that English literature is too white, among other charming behaviors. Sadly, as the linked essay notes, “what’s on offer today isn’t your father’s English degree. It goes on to report that

“An ACTA study of English programs reports that 48 of 52 top schools (as ranked by U.S. News & World Report) allow English majors to graduate without ever having taken a course on Shakespeare. In the past ACTA has also highlighted studies showing that the average grad, even those from prestigious flagship universities, shows little or no improvement in critical thinking for having gone to college.”

McGurn’s essay continues,

“Here the much-maligned English degree is simply a proxy for what is wrong with college today. It isn’t that STEM subjects are the only majors worth anything. It’s that the humanities have disproportionately been infected by political correctness and the malignant influence of Herbert Marcuse, father of the ‘repressive tolerance‘ so prevalent on campuses these days…

and inquires,

“So why have the sciences kept their integrity while the humanities haven’t? Mr. Pidluzny suggests it’s because the costs of a dumbed-down STEM degree can be both more obvious and more consequential.

“’The university can’t get away with not teaching engineering students differential equations because we’d then have collapsing bridges all over the place,” [Pidluzny] says.

“’But for an English major who studies Harry Potter instead of Chaucer, or spends his time on gender theory instead of reading great literature, the costs aren’t as obvious – except to the graduate who only later realizes he never developed the keen analytical mind and precise style of writing college was supposed to cultivate.’”

And of course, to society at large, who gains a professional activist, but loses a cultivated, discerning, and inquiring mind. Or to put it a little more bluntly, gains a “snowflake,” but loses a productive citizen; and in many cases, gains a source of disruption, but loses a source of stability.

Tradition is the passing down of customs, beliefs, but also knowledge and information, from one generation to the next. A liberal arts education – and the colleges and universities, originating in the Middle Ages but based on classical antecedents, which provided it – has been a primary means for passing the down the traditions of Western civilization from one generation to another, for the last thousand years.

I have commented more than once in this forum (and elsewhere) that just as a tree which is separated from its roots withers and dies, the same is true of a culture, a society, or a people. The disruption and practical destruction of the collegiate and university liberal arts tradition, and its replacement by a politically-corrected, culturally Marxist, identity-and-entitlement sandbox in which squalling children throw ideological tantrums is extremely disheartening, and blow after hacking axe-blow at the roots of our Western culture and civilization.

But it can happen, on rare occasions, that a tree which has been felled, or blown over in a gale, falls in such a way that its branches thrust into fertile ground, and themselves take root. There are glimmers of hope in this regard, from the growing number of classical Christian academies and homeschool programs, to a handful of institutions of higher learning such as Hillsdale College (nonsectarian Christian) or Magdalen College of Liberal Arts (Roman Catholic). I pray that such a near-miracle may occur for us, because frankly, without it, our future looks rather bleak!

“Biology is not bigotry”: teacher blasts bill that would force teachers to receive LGBT “training”

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An elementary school teacher packed a powerful punch in a two-minute testimony last month against a proposed law that would require teachers to affirm homosexual, lesbian, and transgender students.

Source: ‘Biology is not bigotry’: teacher blasts bill that would force teachers to receive LGBT ‘training’ | The Pulse | Lifesitenews

One of the most basic principles of my philosophy on living has been and remains this: if you don’t bother me, I won’t bother you; but your right to swing your fist ends at my nose.

With regard to this specific issue, that means that what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own home(s) is their business, unless they make it my business: either by requesting my personal or professional (as a Christian clergyman) opinion on the matter, or more generally, by insisting that I “affirm” or even “celebrate” their life choices. That’s when the fist impacts the nasal structure. Continue reading ““Biology is not bigotry”: teacher blasts bill that would force teachers to receive LGBT “training””

The Demon in Middlebury by ​Ryszard Legutko | Articles | First Things

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The invitation from Middlebury College to speak about my book The Demon in Democracy came last year. I was pleased to receive it…

Source: The Demon in Middlebury by ​Ryszard Legutko | Articles | First Things

This just isn’t funny anymore, if it ever was.

I used to like Middlebury College; heck, I used to want to go there, or teach there, or both. I like Vermont. I like the town of Middlebury. I especially like the “secret” recipe for a maple syrup vinaigrette that I got from someone there, during my brief stint teaching outdoor education nearby! But I do not like what Middlebury College has become.

This is from Ryszard Legutko, author of the book The Demon in Democracy, which I referenced in a previous post, but have not yet had the chance to read. Now I want to, all the more! Because there is a demon lurking at the heart of liberal democracy, one whose existence is unsuspected by many, studiously ignored by others, and actively fed and worshiped by some. And I am not sure that I am using that term entirely metaphorically!

At any rate, Legutko comments, inter alia, on the socialist-fascist-cultural Marxist mess our academic world has become; and he does so using Middlebury as his personal example, since the college soviet unloaded on him, there. I will let you read his account of the incident in question! But he follows that account with this analysis:

“By comparing the clichés with the realities they supposedly describe, we find that the aim of this language is to reverse the meanings of words. ‘Marginalized people’ are not people who are marginalized, but people who set the college’s agenda and can get away with just about anything, including physically assaulting their professors. ‘Respectful and non-disruptive counter-space’ means subjecting a lecturer to insults and humiliations. ‘Inclusivity’ is the systemic censuring of people and ideas. I don’t know what ‘healing’ is supposed to mean, but I suspect it might refer to the joy a hooligan feels in his acts of vandalism.”

This is precisely the sort of warping of language Orwell tried to warn us about! Newspeak, the memory hole, some animals are more equal than others… but I digress:

“Am I exaggerating? Am I unjust to the students and their faculty mentors, people who may be misguided but are sincere in their desire for a better world? Let us see what their better world would look like. Here is one of the demands that the SGA (Student Government Association) at Middlebury made after the incident:

Any organization or academic department that invites a speaker to campus will be required to fill out a due diligence form created by the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in coordination with the SGA Institutional Diversity Committee. These questions should be created to determine whether a speaker’s beliefs align with Middlebury’s community standards [emphasis added by The Anglophilic Anglican], removing the burden of researching speakers from the student body.

“I learned from this statement that Middlebury has two offices (at least) to monitor diversity, equity, and inclusion at the college. Student activists seem to find it an undue burden to have to do the work of policing invited speakers. They insist that the institution do their bidding. And Middlebury is not an anomaly. Similar bodies are everywhere, at every college, university, and corporation in the U.S. and many European countries, all of them surveilling the words and actions of their members and implementing ideological directives with bureaucratic ruthlessness.”

So, only speakers whose “beliefs align with Middlebury’s community standards” (thank you, Facebook, or as some now call it, Fascistbook) will be allowed on campus? Or if others somehow manage to be permitted, they can expect to experience protest, heckling, or worse? All in the guise of diversity, equity, and inclusion?

Alles klar, Herr Kommisar?

How is this not Communist? Marxist? Fascist? Totalitarian? Did we live through the 20th century, defeating both the Nazis in the Second World War and the Soviets in the Cold War, in vain? Did my father fight and earn the Bronze Star and Purple Heart in the first, and defend our country via signals intelligence in the second, in vain? I begin to fear so, to my deep dismay!

Bear in mind, Legutko is a person who grew up in Communist Poland, having been born there in 1949. He is Professor of philosophy at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, specializing in ancient philosophy and political theory, and a Member of the European Parliament. He knows whereof he speaks, when it comes to totalitarianism and dictatorship: historically, philosophically, and personally. He continues,

“The growing power of these offices would not be possible without the corruption of language. Diversity, equity, and inclusion have ceased to mean what they always meant and now mean the opposite. They now mean rigidity, dogmatism, conformity, intimidation, control, arbitrariness, and censorship. The offices of diversity, equity, and inclusion are in fact guardians of the regnant ­ideology — ‘Middlebury’s community standards’ — and their job is to censure all ‘beliefs’ that do not ‘align; with those standards. In ­Orwell’s world, war was peace, freedom slavery, and ignorance strength. At Middlebury, diversity is monopoly, equity bias, and inclusion censorship.”

So now we have student soviets, sitting in judgement on both their professors (most of whom are cultural Marxists themselves, anyway, and most of the few who aren’t, are – understandably, it must be confessed – interested in protecting their jobs, their incomes, and their families’ futures), and on anyone who might be invited to speak to them?

What can we call these, other than academic soviets? How did we allow colleges and universities to become neo-bolshevik? What happened to academic freedom, to freedom of inquiry? What happened to a challenging intellectual environment (for anyone other than conservatives and traditionalists, who are to be actively ghettoed)?

I knew the situation was bad, and getting worse. I knew it was already heading in that direction when I was last directly involved with the academic world, in the mid-1990s; and I knew it had only tanked still further since. But I have to admit, even I did not know it was this bad. Heaven help us.

The only bright spot is Legutko’s concluding paragraph. I am tempted to reproduce it here, but I shall refrain: better you should read the whole article!

 

Why Don’t Schools Teach Children Morality and Empathy? | The Atlantic

The pressures of national academic standards have pushed character education out of the classroom.

Source: Why Don’t Schools Teach Children Morality and Empathy? – The Atlantic

“By omission, are U.S. schools teaching their students that character, morality, and ethics aren’t important in becoming productive, successful citizens?”

Most of my reader would at once answer some variation on “sadly, yes” – and we can see many of the bitter fruits of this in our society – but the fact that the question is even being asked is significant. You know the situation is bad when a mainstream, Left-leaning journal like The Atlantic is wondering whether we’re doing a poor job of teaching character, ethics, and morality to our students!

Granted, that is a job that is best done by parents and church, not schools. But like many other once-common life skills (I’m thinking of things like gardening, the use of simple tools, and home economics), ethics, morality, and character are things that many contemporary parents are ill-equipped to teach their sons and daughters, because they’re not too well-versed in them, themselves.

Despite the old tongue-in-cheek adage that “those who can’t do, teach,” you can’t teach what you don’t know, yourself.

What is interesting (though not surprising) to me is that students are hungry for such instruction, or at least discussion and guided exploration:

“‘Do you think you should discuss morality and ethics more often in school?’ I asked the class. The vast majority of heads nodded in agreement. Engaging in this type of discourse, it seemed, was a mostly foreign concept for the kids… As my students seemed to crave more meaningful discussions and instruction relating to character, morality, and ethics, it struck me how invisible these issues have become in many schools.”

This is indicative of an abject failure in our educational system. In an earlier and wiser age, the formation of students into not only good citizens, but good persons, was a primary – perhaps the primary – function of schooling. There may not have been a formal class called “ethics,” but moral lesson permeated the academic ones.

Duty to God and country, respect for duly-constituted authority, and compassion towards others were part of the curriculum: from the Pledge of Allegiance and Lord’s Prayer in the morning, through “reading and ‘riting and ‘rithmatic, taught to the tune of a hickory stick,” throughout the day. Stories (and poems, which tend to be especially memorable) selected for reading, reciting, and expostulating upon in various forms invariably carried a moral message.

That was already starting to go away by the time I got into school, in the early 1970s, and the trend has only accelerated.

Unfortunately, some of what it has been replaced by has been of questionable merit – the starkly utilitarian teaching-to-the-test of “No Child Left Behind,” and its successor, “Common Core” (as the linked essay describes) – or even frankly morally vicious, as in the moral relativism and intentional sidelining of traditional morality that has become the dominant ethos in the contemporary educational establishment over the last four or five decades.

We didn’t get where we are now overnight, and we won’t get back to a place of greater sanity overnight, either; but if reflections like the linked essay can be published in “mainstream” media outlets like The Atlantic, that at least gives some grounds for hope that pendulum may be starting, however slowly, to swing back. God grant it! It needs to.