To a Canadian of good will and fair disposition, the hostility of “protesters” who vandalize or tear down statues commemorating Canada’s past is as mysterious as it is unnerving. Where does such anger come from? And short of unconditional surrender and abject self-abasement, what is to be done to satisfy these urges? Applying a veteran educator’s perspective, Patrick Keeney finds the problem rooted in progressive reforms that have gradually debased the education of four generations of North American children, leaving the youth of today not just willfully ignorant of their past but openly hostile towards it. With a necessary note of optimism, Keeney proposes the solution is to be found – and the battle must be joined – in the soil whence it sprang.
Vilifying critics of accepted dogma as irrational extremists has become standard. Wondering whether Donald Trump is entirely bad? You’re a sexist and a xenophobe. Noticed that the always-predicted climate conflagration never quite shows up? You’re like a Holocaust denier. Think that critical race theory takes things a little too far? White supremacist! And if you question “the science”, you must be a conspiracy theorist (maybe even a Christian). Patrick Keeney is willing to go there, however, reviewing the work of a scholar whose burning commitment to real science has driven him to chronicle the malfeasance among today’s scientists and the politicians who bob along in their wake.
Talk, as they say, is cheap. But the right kind of talk can be priceless. Higher education began as a conversation between a tutor and a single student or a small group. It has been this way from the time of Plato onwards. Only in our era has higher education become a mass-market phenomenon. And while some regard online or remote learning as education’s apotheosis − bringing access to advanced degrees within anyone’s reach − others worry it’s accelerating the decline of thoughtful pedagogy. Drawing on his own professional background, deep love of the Western Canon and cheerful optimism, Patrick Keeney reflects on the timeless value of a real, in-depth conversation.
Most of us have heard it said that a lot of science and engineering went into bringing you the automobile gleaming beneath your gaze in the showroom. A lot goes into the act of driving as well. And while many people no doubt find driving banal or worse, Patrick Keeney believes there’s also a lot at stake. To drive, he writes, is to exercise our skill at being free, to display our competence, to accelerate for the sheer joy of it, and to negate the technocrats who strive to make our lives idiot-proof and safe. To steer our very lives, as it were. To Keeney and the author of the book he reviews in this essay, few places are better than behind the wheel, breathing the heady air of freedom.
Covid-19 poses a grave threat to many things: nursing homes, music festivals and café culture among them. But what of its broader implications? The coronavirus cares nothing for identity, imaginative individual rights or past grievances. It is severely undermining globalist fantasies. And recovering from its ravages seems likely to reward countries that focus on conservative values of pragmatism, frugality, duty, markets and tradition. Patrick Keeney charts the likely fortunes of conservative and liberal convictions once the pandemic recedes.
Canadians have been hectored into essentially hunkering down in their homes. Nearly all of us at least have a home. But what if you found yourself halfway around the world, with nowhere to live, the situation changing almost hourly, and lacking even the legal rights of a local citizen? Patrick Keeney not only maintained his equanimity but found time on the fly to explain how one man adapted to the life of an expatriate vagabond. Keeney shares his observations about the pandemic’s impact on a vulnerable culture and shows us all how, amidst the many exigencies, it’s possible to continuing finding joy.
Disasters – natural or otherwise – have a way of bringing out extremes in human behaviour and emotions. And so it was with the Easter Week fire at Cathédrale Notre-Dame in Paris: from the Catholic priest who risked his life to save irreplaceable relics and artwork, to French businessmen pledging grandiose sums for rebuilding, to the almost psychotic architecture some proposed for the restoration. For Patrick Keeney, the near-catastrophe triggered deep reflection on our era’s tense relationship between science and spirituality.
A tour of Southeast Asia brought Patrick Keeney to the city of Yangon in Myanmar and its clutch of used bookstores on Pansodan Street. He writes of the joy of his literary discoveries there, in language echoing Orwell’s beautiful prose in Burmese Days.
God knows why Christians still go into politics. For every good, honest, ethical one there’s a holier-than-thou hypocrite like Roy Moore, the Donald Trump acolyte who deservedly lost one of the safest Republican Senate seats in the U.S. So, not only do they have to endure the vicious smears of the secular left, but also guilt-by-association with fallen Christian pols. In Canada, Preston Manning achieved remarkable success as an explicitly Christian politician despite all these liabilities. In a new book, reviewed for C2C Journal by Patrick Keeney, Manning summons the faithful to redeem politics by running on platforms of public service and sacrifice.
Most mainstream conservative commentators in Canada and the United States were hostile toward Donald Trump when he was running for the presidency, and still are. Almost alone among the right-wing commentariat, Conrad Black backed him early, and often, and still does. But contrarian is the way it’s always been with Black, writes Patrick Keeney in a review of a new collection of Black columns; he never fails to challenge, inform, entertain – and surprise.