As you've probably noticed by now, I'm a fan of Theodore Dalrymple's writing. It's always worth reading his articles, even if you disgree with his premises, because he's reporting on a side of life most of us don't see close-up. The latest issue of City Journal has plenty of Dalrymple content, including a brief article titled The Triumph of Reason?:
In Australia recently, I shared a public platform with an educationist, who had won awards for social innovation in the field of education for disadvantaged minorities. I was looking forward to what she had to say.
I was soon in a towering rage, however. She uttered some of the most foolish cliches of radical education theory, now about 40 years old — theories that I had fondly thought were now behind us, such as the harmful effects upon the children of disadvantaged ethnic groups or families of an emphasis on education as learning, with particular reference to the damage done to their self-esteem by the dominant culture's fetish about reading and writing.
A second article, titled P*ss Off, Copper:
Public drunkenness en masse being now the Britonís most fundamental human right, and it having been noticed that urine is eroding the fabric of Sohoís old buildings, the local council has wisely ordained that white plastic urinals be placed in the streets on Friday and Saturday nights for the use of revelers. That way, the ancient brickwork will be preserved and the sweetness of the air restored by Sunday morning, after the urinals have been collected.
However, as the German sage once remarked, of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made. Competent observers have noticed that many of those for whose use the plastic urinals are placed in Soho each weekend approach them and then — miss.
Third is a look at Malaysia:
When you arrive into Kuala Lumpur airport, you are warned in writing and by the air stewards that the mandatory death penalty is in force for drug smugglers in Malaysia. For some strange reason, this warning makes you feel guilty: could someone have secretly loaded your luggage with drugs between check-in and boarding?
Surely the policy keeps Malaysia drug-free? But I learnt, in the first newspaper that I read after arriving, that Malaysia intends to start a needle-exchange scheme and institute a methadone-substitution program for its drug addicts, all in the name of harm reduction. The death penalty for drug smugglers notwithstanding, Malaysia seems to have quite an HIV problem: officially 60,000 people are seropositive, though unofficial estimates put the real number at 300,000 — 5 times the rate of the United States.
A much longer article on Ibsen rounds out the Dalrymple-fest.Posted by Nicholas at July 28, 2005 11:09 AM
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