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In Prospect

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In Prospect

Summer 2022
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Heather Mac Donald has reported for City Journal on the spread of identity politics into numerous areas of American life, from law enforcement to university campuses to high culture. In “The Corruption of Medicine,” she shows how racialist ideology is now consuming health care. The demographics of the medical profession and racial disparities in health outcomes must result from systemic racism, the new common wisdom holds—and woe to anyone who dares question it. The race obsession dominates major health-care organizations, including the American Medical Association. And, as Mac Donald documents, public and private research funding is flowing away from basic science toward the politics of fighting “white supremacy.” The quality of medical care and scientific progress will inevitably suffer.

Progressives have lately zigzagged between rage and despair over, among other things, the abandonment of enforced masking to fight Covid, Elon Musk’s bid to buy Twitter, and the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. Underlying “The Elite Panic of 2022,” argues Martin Gurri, is the Left’s fear that its control of American culture is slipping—and the wailing will get only more intense if Republicans retake Congress in November. As Andrey Mir explains in “How the Media Polarized Us,” the shift from ad-based revenue to digital subscriptions has made news outlets more partisan, fueling the general sense of outrage.

New contributing editor James B. Meigs shows in “The Green War on Clean Energy” how radical environmentalists work to block the very technologies—above all, nuclear power—that could effectively reduce humanity’s carbon emissions without killing economic growth. The green commitment to wind and solar power ignores the environmental costs of these alternatives, while vastly overestimating their capacity to produce the energy we need. Thankfully, a more pragmatic school of environmentalism is emerging, Meigs notes.

America is enduring a plague of homeless deaths—in Los Angeles, up to 2,000 a year—caused primarily by drug overdoses and rampant street violence. It’s an ongoing tragedy that bad policies are making much worse, writes Judge Glock in “Subsidizing Addiction.” Instead of encouraging the down-and-out to get sober and live responsibly, government programs in many cities, following a no-judgment philosophy of “harm reduction,” are actively rewarding destructive behavior—even criminal acts—by homeless people, offering them extra services, from free needles and drug paraphernalia to rent-free apartments. It’s past time for a rethink, Glock advises—and most taxpayers would agree.

Steven Malanga has a cheerier story to tell in “School Choice Rising.” Many school systems shut down in-person instruction for unreasonably long periods during the pandemic, even as they embraced controversial curricula informed by the ideas of critical race theory. The result: widespread parental dissatisfaction with public education and a boom in educational options, with 18 states launching new school-choice initiatives or expanding existing ones in 2021, and more on the way in 2022. If the GOP indeed does well in the November elections, expect even greater momentum for choice.

This issue features two essays on major contemporary intellectual figures. Robert VerBruggen’s “The Influencer” assesses the life and work of social theorist Charles Murray, whose often-controversial research on welfare dependency, IQ, race and class, and education has shaped the national debate several times over a generation or so. Brian Allen’s “A Serious Critic for Unserious Times” profiles the late Hilton Kramer, whose defense of high standards in art and culture and unrelenting opposition to political correctness, both as editor and writer, offer a model of critical acumen.

Our issue also contains two fascinating tales from the annals of criminology: Theodore Dalrymple’s “Raven’s End” revisits a haunting 1949 British murder case and reflects on its ambiguities. And Daniel Edward Rosen’s rollicking “The Deacon and the Dog” retells—in time for the event’s 50th anniversary—the saga of one of New York City’s most bizarre bank robberies, which inspired Hollywood’s classic Dog Day Afternoon.

—Brian C. Anderson

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