Sunday, November 2, 2008

Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture & the NYT OpEd Page

If we started today it would be difficult to match the culture in New York City within fifty years. It is, beyond doubt, the premier city in America, yet the incompetence and corruption of its oligarchs are a threat to the liberty of all Americans and the prosperity of the entire world. The economic tremors from Wall Street during September 2008 have rocked financial markets around the world, and the subsequent looting of the U.S. Treasury by Wall Street will burden our children and grandchildren.

Intellectual insight is one area we can begin competing in now. The Op-Ed pages of the New York Times (NYT) and the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) are zombies, the living dead. Unfortunately, the Op-Ed pages of the Dallas Morning News (DMN) are stone dead. We need an independent magazine providing intelligent, thoughtful commentary and cultural analysis in contrast to the mindless, repetitive, and blatant propaganda crowding the Op-Ed pages of the NYT, WSJ, and DMN.

A cultural magazine published in Texas could be done online to save money. The Mayborn is an example of an online magazine produced in Texas. The Mayborn publishes narrative non-fiction as its mission, not social analysis, not cultural critique. No one in Texas does. Google "Texas" with combinations of "social/cultural" and "commentary/critique", for example: Texas social commentary. Try these searches and you will find nothing. And when we do get a source of cultural critique in Texas, it needs to have an online presence that turns up in a Google search. The Emerson Institute for Freedom and Culture has an online magazine and it might eventually include social commentary. It is worth watching.

Seeing the need for cultural commentary in Texas, I was pleased and excited to discover the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture was sponsoring a Festival of Ideas. Then I was disappointed to learn David Brooks and Nicholas Kristof, Op-Ed writers from the NYT were featured speakers. I had hoped the sponsors of the Festival of Ideas were presenting thinking people from Texas. Brooks and Kristof are trite. Their bios sound impressive, Brooks is articulate and Kristof probably is too, but their work is worthless. They are minions of the oligarchs, paid to promote the corporate program.

Texans cannot be kowtowing to New York Times Op-Ed writers. This is exactly how to fail in developing culture in Dallas. The first step to compete against New York City is to free ourselves from this servile grovelling before employees of the New York Times.

It is great that the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture exits and that it is sponsoring a Festival of Ideas. I hope they have better luck next year in promoting culture in Texas, instead of fawning over New Yorkers.

Robert Canright

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