Editor & Publisher of the St. Croix Review.
Francis P. DeStefano
Jane Austen on Film
I must confess that I’m a big fan of Jane Austen, one of the great, if not the greatest, English novelists. I’ve read her novels as a young man and still enjoy them now as a senior citizen. One critic said about her perennial popularity:
“It’s no crime to be a lover of Jane Austen. . . . Apart from her gorgeous sense of humor, her vision is so fairly and evenly adjusted that you don’t have to get distracted all the time by the author’s own prejudices and neuroses subconsciously creeping in and distorting the whole thing . . .”
I believe that her novels should be required reading in schools today, especially for young men. It’s not just that they will gain insights about the way women think, but also, they may learn how to behave. Who can ever forget Elizabeth Bennett’s reproval of Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice: “If you had only behaved in a more gentleman-like manner.”
I also enjoy film adaptations of Austen novels. I’m not a snob or purist about film adaptations. Actors and film directors can tell in an instant what it took for even the best author’s pages to convey. Casting directors are equally important. Jane Austen’s novels are all about character. The right person in the right role can make a world of difference. Another critic noted:
“The initial magic, or call it her peculiar genius, is to create three-dimensional characters, characters in the round, living, speaking, faulty human beings whom you remember and enjoy forever . . .”
Who can forget these characters? It is not just the leading couples like Eliza Bennett and Mr. Darcy, but a whole host of others that make up their world. A good casting director will flesh out these character that bring family life in England to life. Of course, some film adaptations don’t work well, but here are brief reviews of four that stand out for me.
“Pride and Prejudice” — Austen’s greatest novel has received many film adaptations ranging from feature length movies to BBC miniseries. My favorite is the 1980 BBC miniseries starring Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul. In this series the casting director has done a fine job. Garvie and Rintoul are perfect as Eliza Bennett and Mr. Darcy. She is young, witty, sprightly, and fallible. He is handsome, serious, intelligent, and proud — as one character notes, “He has the right to be proud.” But as the five-part series enrolls, his humanity comes through.
The supporting cast is magnificent. Eliza’s parents are the best I have seen, and her sisters are perfect, from the beautiful Jane to the pedantic Mary. However, I particularly favor this series because of Malcolm Rennie’s portrayal of Mr. Collins, one of the great comic characters in all literature. Mr. Collins is a minister who will eventually inherit the Bennett estate because there is no male heir. Jane Austen’s father was a minister and she often portrayed them in her novels: the good, the bad, and the ordinary. Mr. Collins is an ass, and no one has ever played him better.
“Sense and Sensibility” — I much prefer the 2008 BBC three-part miniseries of “Sense and Sensibility” over the 2008 Hollywood film that starred Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, and Kate Winslet. It is not only that the extra length gave more room for development of the story, but also the casting seemed much more realistic and true to the novel. Younger actresses like Hattie Morahan and Charity Wakefield give outstanding performances. Indeed, it is a real pleasure to just hear them speak the English language.
Jane Austen wrote Sense and Sensibility in 1795 at the age of 20. She was well aware of the dawning Romantic movement that would engulf the 19th century, and the film adaptation does a very fine job of contrasting the two sisters who represent practicality and prudence on one hand, and the feelings and emotion that would characterize the new era on the other. Elinor, the eldest, is constantly holding her emotions in check. At one point, she insists that it is not our feelings that matter, but what we do or fail to do. Her sister is just the opposite, and must be chastened by life’s bitter lessons.
“Emma” — Two versions of Austen’s 1815 novel appeared in 1996. The first, a Hollywood feature film, starred Gwyneth Paltrow in the title role, while a British made-for-TV film starred a young Kate Beckinsale. Originally, I enjoyed both but now for some reason I can hardly bear to watch the Hollywood version, while I can and have viewed the British version over and over again.
Beckinsale is perfect as Emma. She is young and pretty but not gorgeous. There is a naturalism about her appearance and performance. Moreover, while charming, she comes across as a sheltered, inexperienced, know-it-all whose mistakes and foibles are nevertheless easily forgiven. The film includes a fine supporting cast including Samantha Morton as Miss Smith and Bernard Hepton, who gives an outstanding performance as Emma’s hypochondriac father.
The aptly named Mark Strong plays Mr. Knightley. Jane Austen took great pains in naming her characters, and Mr. Knightley is the perfect lord of the manor. While fully aware of his wealth and status, he also recognizes that his position brings great responsibility to his tenants and their families. He is no idle aristocrat, but a gentleman farmer who works diligently to maintain, improve, and work the land for the benefit of all. The film does a fine job of portraying his manor as an idyllic paradise. In other words, Mr. Knightley is Jane Austen’s ideal man, and Mark Strong does him justice.
“Persuasion” — I highly recommend the 1995 British made-for-TV version of Persuasion that starred Amanda Root as potential spinster Anne Eliot, and Ciarán Hinds as a dashing but socially backward naval officer, Captain Wentworth. The two are fine as the lovers who have long been separated by ill advice and war, but the supporting cast is also outstanding. Her self-centered family members are skillfully portrayed in what is essentially a Cinderella story. Corin Redgrave, in particular, is superb as the foolish baronet whose extravagance forces him to lease out the family estate.
Published shortly after Jane Austen’s death at the age of 40, the novel and Amanda Root’s portrayal of Anne Eliot in this film adaptation contain what I believe to be Jane Austen’s self-portrait.
Short Reviews of American Film-noir Classics
In the past few years, I have become a big fan of a certain kind of American film from the 1940s and ’50s. They are primarily black and white, dark, crime dramas that French film makers and critics called “film-noir,” when they rediscovered American films after the liberation of France in 1945. The term film-noir refers not only to the dark themes of these movies but also to the nighttime settings and the often-startling contrasts between light and dark, black and white.
Originally, these films were low-budget productions often designed to be seen as the second feature on traditional Hollywood double bills. Nevertheless, today many are regarded as ground-breaking classics. They featured great directors, actors, writers, and film craftsmen and craftswomen. To fill the insatiable demand for movies in America, Hollywood even imported talent from abroad. In my opinion, film-noir represents a short-lived American film renaissance that came to an end with the advent of television and technicolor.
Below, find brief descriptions of some of these films that I have viewed this year. Not only are they gripping, extremely well-told stories with masterful directing and acting, but, they also bring me back to the days of my childhood. In the background I can see a world that is no more: the dark dingy streets, the small apartments, the old telephones that people always answer, and the incessant cigarette smoking. I can imagine my parents sitting in crowded theaters, and wonder what they thought as they watched these gripping dramas.
“Where the Sidewalk Ends” — Dana Andrews and the beautiful Gene Tierney star in this 1950 film noir directed by Otto Preminger. A few years earlier, the three had collaborated on the screen classic “Laura,” but now we find them in the underworld. Andrews plays a rogue cop who mistakenly kills a suspect and tries to cover up his mistake. The black and white cinematography, artful direction, and camera work make this the epitome of film noir.
“CrissCross” — Burt Lancaster and Yvonne DeCarlo star in this 1949 heist drama directed by noir specialist Robert Siodmak, with his typical beautiful dark photography. Dan Duryea plays the hoodlum villain. One critic calls this film, which deals with obsessive love and betrayal, the second-best film noir of all time. Especially notable are the plot’s many twists and turns, a noir characteristic.
“Dangerous Crossing” — Jeanne Crain, one of Hollywood’s most beautiful stars ever, plays a new bride setting out on a transatlantic honeymoon cruise in this dark suspense thriller from 1953. When her husband vanishes, she discovers that not only can’t he be found, but that there is no evidence that he was ever on board. Joseph LaShelle’s black and white cinematography adds to the suspense, as well as the soundtrack that consists mainly of a repetitive foghorn.
“He Ran All Way” — John Garfield and Shelley Winters star in this gripping 1951 hostage drama directed by John Berry. Garfield, in his last movie before his untimely death at the age of 39, plays a hoodlum who takes a family hostage after a botched robbery. Filmed in stunning black and white by the legendary cinematographer, James Wong Howe.
“Human Desire” — Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame star in a 1954 film of love, lust, and greed. Ford plays a Korean war veteran who returns to his job on the railroad but gets involved with the boss’s wife, played by sultry Grahame. Based on a story by Émile Zola, and directed by Fritz Lang in stark black and white, the pace never lets up.
“Pushover” — This 1954 film stars Fred MacMurray and Kim Novak in her film debut. It is easy to see why Novak went on to become a big star. A police detective falls for a gangster’s moll that he has under surveillance. Hugh Carey and the lovely Dorothy Malone also appear in supporting roles.
“Vicki” — Jeanne Crain and Jean Peters star in this 1954 mystery about a glamorous model (Peters) whose murder has all New York buzzing. Equally beautiful Jeanne Crain plays Vicki’s grieving sister, who herself comes under suspicion by an obsessed police detective played by Richard Boone of later Paladin fame.
“Drive a Crooked Road” — Mickey Rooney stars in this 1954 story of an innocent mechanic and amateur race car driver who gets involved with a gang of bank robbers. Late in his career, Mickey Rooney turned to serious dramatic roles and this is one of his best performances. Dianne Foster plays the irresistible femme fatale who lures him on.
“Mystery Street” — Ricardo Montalban stars in this 1950 film that was one of the first to employ forensics in solving a crime. Montalban plays a police detective who turns to a professor at a newly formed forensics lab at Harvard to identify the remains of a body washed up on a Cape Cod beach and help find the killer. Bruce Bennett plays the professor, with Sally Forrest, Jan Sterling, Elsa Lanchester, and Betsy Blair in supporting roles.
“Nightmare Alley” — Tyrone Power stars in this 1947 tale set in a world inhabited by shady small-time carnival characters and conmen. Colleen Gray, Joan Blondell, and Helen Walker play the women in his life. Power plays against type in this film that is now regarded as one of the gems of film noir.
“Out of the Past” — Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer star in this 1947 film that some consider to be the greatest film noir of all time. Mitchum plays a private eye forced to track down a gangster’s runaway girlfriend, played by femme-fatale Greer. Kirk Douglas and the beautiful Rhonda Fleming are featured. Directed by Jacques Tourneur.
“Body and Soul” — John Garfield and Lili Palmer star in a 1947 film that became the prototype for all the great boxing films that followed. Anne Revere and William Conrad are featured in this film directed by Robert Rossen. The magnificent fight photography is by the legendary cinematographer James Wong Howe, who sometimes used roller skates to follow the boxers around the ring.
I prefer to watch these films on DVD rather than streaming. The DVDs often come with commentaries by film historians and other special features that are well worth viewing. Also, most DVDs come with close captioning for the hearing-impaired. *
The mission of the St. Croix Review is to end the destruction of America by reestablishing the family as the center of American life, restoring economic prosperity to an independent middle class, and reviving a culture of tradition.
The Issue Is Not the Issue
Barry MacDonald — Editorial
How do we reach those Americans who are open to our message while the media is daily polluting our culture with leftist propaganda? How do we overcome the barriers that stand between us and those well-meaning Americans who have been saturated with the ideology of the Left?
David Horowitz is a reformed radical who is a fierce warrior for freedom. He was raised by Communist parents, and was an editor of Rampart magazine during the Vietnam War. He wrote of revolutionizing America. He and his co-editor wrote: “The system cannot be revitalized; it must be overthrown. As humanely as possible, but by any means necessary.” But since the ’60s he has switched sides. He is a formidable intellectual powerhouse because he knows the leftist mentality intimately. David Horowitz uses the slogan “The issue is not the issue.”
Indeed, the issue is not the issue. The battle over “gay” marriage turned into a crusade for transgenderism. The once-cherished right of freedom of speech has given way to a demand for “safe spaces,” “trigger warnings,” and the silencing of “hate speech.” In our universities, even within the mathematical domain of astrophysics and the vital realm of medical science, the objective pursuit of truth has morphed into an imperative for diversity, equity, inclusion. The patriotic ideals of sovereignty and borders have become a joke. The entirety of American history, shorn of the balancing and clarifying perspectives of world history, has been tossed on a trash heap by the government’s educational blob.
Once upon a time our young people could not drink alcohol until they reached the age of 18. Now, they are being encouraged by teachers and administrators, without the knowledge of their parents, to undergo “corrective” surgery to conform to a newly chosen “gender identity.” The parents are not allowed to know about the “transition” of their children. There are no long-term studies diagnosing the psychological effects of such irreversible surgeries. How many of these children will come to regret what was done to them by these revolutionaries pushing an inhumane agenda while posing as educators? The President of the United States, Joe Biden, has given the blessing of the bully pulpit to the slicing of innocent children’s bodies.
The gay marriage issue was not the issue during the Presidency of Barack Obama. Transgenderism is not the issue during Joe Biden’s Presidency. The issue was, and always is, power and control. The Left wants to shatter the bulwark of the family, which stands in the way of its domination.
Five years ago, who could have imagined that “gender identity” would play a central role in the theater of American politics — and yet here we are today. Who knows what freakish idiocy our intellectuals will be harping about in the next five years? What parody of enlightened wisdom will they be mouthing incessantly to promote a new hobbyhorse?
The details of each ephemeral issue are nothing, compared to the direction of the culture. Always the liberty of individuals and families is giving way to a consolidation of government power. A coterie of elite has emerged, not only within our nation but within many nations as well, with insatiable demands. In Western European democracies, the wedge issue of race has been used to discredit the legitimacy of institutions with the aim of supplanting national pride and substituting “ideals” of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Just as in America, Black Lives Matter has found a home in Great Britain. How many Britons remember the deeds of William Wilberforce?
If the American Left really cared about the welfare of American blacks, it would address the deplorable failure of the public schools in Baltimore. If our progressives truly cared about the high numbers of black homicides, they would focus on the dozens of shootings that happen in Chicago every weekend. They would take note of the killings of black children by stray bullets as they are playing in their back yards, sleeping in their beds, or while they are in a car at a McDonald’s drive thru. They would jail violent predators. The American Left doesn’t care about these ruined lives, and so we never see these news narratives broadcast on a par with that of the George Floyd incident.
The issues that are broadcast daily by the news media, in collusion with a political and cultural elite, are merely a pretext for the diminishment of human freedom and the enrichment and empowerment of a selfish, vengeful, insatiable, dissolute ruling class, epitomized by the likes of Hunter Biden. Concealed inside every transitory issue featured by “journalists” practicing “narrative journalism” is the real issue: Power and control.
The Leftists apparently believe that human nature is plastic and infinitely malleable to the dictates of their mad schemes.
We good-hearted Americans may well remember the wise words of Abraham Lincoln:
“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”
We decent and well-intended Americans need to bide our time, and rely on God, and watch for the inevitable turning of the tide, when we will crush the evil impulses of the Left. *
The following is a summary of the February 2023 issue of The St. Croix Review:
Barry MacDonald in “The Issue Is Not the Issue,” reveals the genuine dynamic of our political theater.
Mark Hendrickson, in “Democrats’ Cynical Politics and Pernicious Energy Politics,” exposes the self-dealing corruption and the tsunami waves of damage that “green” energy policies perpetuate; in “Why the Red Wave Never Came Ashore,” he cites three factors: The Trump Factor, Abortion Politics, and the Democratic Machine; in “ESG Is Evil,” he shows how the “Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) scoring system that leftists use for determining who is worthy of receiving investment capital imperils the global supply of food and energy.
Allan Brownfeld, in “Many Who Identify as “Conservatives” Don’t Know What They Want to Conserve,” offers extended quotes from the Founding Fathers to remind readers of the well-earned suspicions they had of the powers of government and pitfalls of human nature; in “Removing the Confederate Memorial from Arlington Cemetery: What Would Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant Think?” he tells the story of the great efforts that Americans took to reconcile the hard feelings left over from the Civil War — history discounted by those who tear down monuments; in “A Book Guiding Children to Be the Guardians Our Society Needs,” he cites a crisis of hardship and demoralization among our public servants on whom every American depends — including police officers, nurses and others.
Paul Kengor, in “Women for Abortion, March!” reveals the zeal for Marxism and Lenin driving the activists who organize the annual marches; in “More Democratic Socialists in Congress,” he writes of the Democratic Socialists of America who are infiltrating the Democratic Party in Congress and throughout American politics; in “Raising Turkeys,” he writes on the facts of life, and on the benefits of self-reliance for the upbringing of children.
Timothy Goeglein, in “Dividing America Through Trashing Our Past,” cites George Orwell and the 1619 Project to demonstrate how a radical takeover of American History by progressive “educators” aims to disparage the highest ideals of America’s Founding and erase the essence of what America is.
Derek Suszko, in “The Fall of the Roman Republic: A Narrative and Analytical Comparison with the Contemporary Conditions of the United States of America — (Part 3 of a Series),” ventures into an examination of the legislative “pollution” of the republican process — of addressing grievances and providing reforms — and, concerning the American republic, he exposes the slow and natural decay of legislative power over time, along with the growing power of the administrative state, as well as the problem of the internal divisions of the Republican Party, wherein the motives of the elected representatives, and their major donors, vastly differ from rank-and-file voters.
Francis P. DeStefano, in “Income Inequality: 1950-2022,” uses William Buckley Jr.’s God and Man at Yale to expose the dominance of socialist ideals among economists at Yale at the time — a dominance of thought that still exists among “democratic socialists” today.
Francis P. DeStefano, in “Jane Austen on Film,” reviews the actors and actresses who appear in the film versions of the famous English author’s novels; in “Short Reviews of American Film-noir Classics,” he covers a lot of ground with films, plots, characters, actresses, and actors.
Jigs Gardner, in “Waiting for the ’60s,” relates the dreary experience of a Men’s Monthly Reading Club wherein the gathered readers remain mired in stale ’60s counterculture pieties oblivious that the world has moved on.
Jigs Gardner, in “The Culture of Conservatives,” urges conservatives to broaden their interests beyond the transient political issues of the day, into the depths of human thought and emotion where the meaning of our experience resonates.
Robert DeStefano, in “Dandelion,” offers a charming and insightful poem, followed by an informed essay on the commonly disliked weed.
The mission of the St. Croix Review is to end the destruction of America by re-establishing the family as the center of American life, restoring economic prosperity to an independent middle class, and reviving a culture of tradition.
Comments on the Midterm Elections
Barry MacDonald — Editorial
For those of us who uphold good government, the protection of the innocent, and civic virtues, the midterm elections were a disappointment. Instead of a red wave, we received a red trickle. Many good, articulate, conservative candidates — for example, Kari Lake in Arizona — lost to Democrats who chose to forgo or minimize debates. We have to face the fact that the opposition has an effective political machine geared toward getting out their base of support.
That John Fetterman won and Kari Lake lost is a disgrace. In the purple state of Pennsylvania, John Fetterman won a senatorial race against Mehmet Oz, despite Fetterman’s far-left radical history, and his stroke-induced, severe, mental incapacity. He was able to win because his radical positions weren’t exposed by the media, and he was able to put off a single debate until late in the campaign, by which time many Pennsylvanians had already voted.
Kari Lake lost her campaign for governor in Arizona against Katie Hobbs, who was able to get away with not debating at all. There was nothing exceptional about Katie Hobbs — she was a typical Democrat. That Kari Lake lost was perhaps the most disappointing event of the election. She was aggressive and articulate about the negligence of the Democrats’ open border policy. Arizona is a border state, so one would suppose that illegal immigration would have been a decisive issue for Republicans.
J. D. Vance’s election to the Senate from Ohio, Ron DeSantis’ overwhelming reelection as Governor of Florida, and the Republicans’ recapture of the leadership of the House were the high points of the midterms for Republicans. There is now an effective block on Democratic lawmaking in Congress, and we may be witnessing the rise to national prominence of Ron DeSantis as a youthful and politically savvy leader of the Republican party. Time will tell.
What are the hard lessons we should learn from the midterm elections?
If ever there were a season when the issues favored Republicans, this was the election. There were the “Defund the Police” movement, the rampant rise in violent crime in Democratically-run big cities, the no-cash bail policies of soft-on-crime city attorneys, critical race theory and gender ideology in public schools, the open southern border, and the consequent ruination of the rule of law, along with over 100,000 American deaths due to fentanyl overdoses in 2021. Obviously, the Mexican drug cartels control our southern border, and Democrats are lying when they claim the border is secure. According to polls, most Americans believe America is on the wrong track. Inflation and the high cost of energy are rampant, and the Democrats own responsibility. There is also the overhang of the overly aggressive and ineffective COVID-19 lockdown policies perpetrated by Democrats.
Why weren’t the Democrats held responsible across the nation?
Politics in America has become extremely polarized. Americans are divided in the news we choose to consume, and the opposing side is demonized and dismissed. We ingest narrative journalism, and our youth have no notion of the distinction between news reporting and editorial opinion. The ideal of free speech is not being honored any more, and it is acceptable to shout down, censor, and persecute those who don’t agree with the Black Lives Matter talking points.
The “woke” agenda is woven into all levels of government bureaucracy, including national law enforcement agencies like the FBI. There are now reports surfacing in conservative media about collusion between the management of Facebook and Twitter and the FBI to suppress the news and fallout from Hunter Biden’s laptop previous to 2020 elections — we may suppose the collusion between social media and the FBI, advancing the progressive agenda, has been continuing ever since.
The “woke” agenda is also operating within our national corporations and financial institutions. By stealth, our energy industry is being severely impacted by the withdrawal of necessary investment funds from lending banks, which have become pawns of the Democratic “Green Energy” agenda.
The main problem for conservatives is that it’s devilishly difficult to get our message out to mainstream American voters. We American conservatives think we are doing well enough with Fox News and The New York Post, talk radio, podcasts, and a few conservative publications. This election proved that the Democrats in the news media successfully limited the extent of our ability to inform Americans of Democratic Party corruption and negligence by Democrats. So many of our Republican talking points were dismissed as “conspiracy theories.”
We have to admit that the Democrats possess a well-oiled machine that leverages early voting, ballot harvesting, and voter outreach in the months preceding election day that puts the Republicans to shame. Republicans have some catching up to do.
Too many Americans have closed minds politically. The question is how may we free America from the grip of Democrat Party propaganda? There aren’t simple answers. We have to keep chipping away in the information wars. We have to keep a grip on the platforms of communication that we have, and we have to expand where we can. The purchase and restoration of free speech on Twitter by Elon Musk is a hopeful sign. We should imitate the success of governors Ron DeSantis of Florida and Glenn Youngkin of Virginia in confronting the ideologies of critical race theory and gender fluidity being foisted on grade school children — parents are good advocates for our side.
Conservatives are stuck within our own conservative bubble. This is not easy, as polling has become a tricky and unreliable indicator — this election some polls pointed to a “red wave” that didn’t arrive.
The riots of January 6 were a catastrophic blunder. As far as public opinion goes, the images of rioters despoiling the capitol were on a par with the “Defund the Police” movement of the Left. This is what the exit polls from the midterm elections showed. The January 6 riots were a propagandistic gift for the Democrats. There might have been a red wave, but for those dreadful images — which the Democrats used to full advantage.
The exit polls also showed that the continued focus on the 2020 presidential election is unpopular with the broad swath of public opinion — it’s a losing issue for us. Republicans need to address the problems of voting integrity at the local level, and also must adjust to the new demands of an election “season” — ballot harvesting, drop boxes, early voting, and the targeting of the lean-Republican voters. The Republican National Committee needs to foster a better ground game.
We need a way to more accurately gauge public opinion so that we can find and persuade those Americans whose minds are open enough to hear our messages. Is this a difficult task? Yes.
It does no good to recite the 2020 summer riots, the deaths, and the criminality perpetrated by Antifa and Black Lives Matter to people who have closed minds. The media is not telling the truth. Many Americans are profoundly ignorant of facts. We have to find a way to overcome the Leftist media advantage. It’s a real conundrum.
The Republicans in the House must use their newly-earned, subpoena-powered, investigative abilities to mount revealing hearings into big-tech censorship of conservative news and opinion, practiced by Twitter, Facebook, Google, and the legacy Media. Republicans must expose the extensive pay-for-play corruption and negligence of Joe Biden’s history with congressional hearings. The Biden family corruption, involving Hunter Biden, should be a focus, along with many other issues.
The St. Croix Review is not a news publication. We advance the principles of liberty and decency. Americans have to find and regain our balance. We conservatives have to keep chipping away at our messages — and to improve where we can. Political wars are distressing and depressing at times. We really have to place our faith in God. And we need to be as united as we can be as conservatives. *
The following is a summary of the 2022 December issue of The St. Croix Review:
Barry MacDonald, in “Comments on the Midterm Elections” assesses disappointments and successes, the present balance of power, and a conservative “bubble.”
Mark Hendrickson, in “The Destructiveness of ESG,” details the many evils of the “Environmental, Social, and Governance” (ESG) scoring system, which is a strategy of the Green Energy agenda.
Allan C. Brownfeld, in “Across America, Freedom of Speech Is Under Increasing Attack,” he cites many examples.
Paul Kengor, in “Averting Nuclear Armageddon — in October 1962 and Today,” reveals in stark detail the horror of the eager willingness of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara to instigate a worldwide nuclear war for the cause of Marxism — it was a miracle that countless millions of people were not killed.
Timothy S. Goeglein, in “A Happier Life Is a Connected Life,” reveals a increasing tendency of Americans to remain single and lonely, which he contrasts with the many benefits of married life.
Philip Vander Elst, in “Libertarianism — a Christian Critique,” lays out the merits and demerits of Libertarianism.
Derek Suszko, in “The Fall of the Roman Republic: A Narrative and Analytical Comparison with the Contemporary Conditions of the United States of America — (Part 2),” covers a huge swath of history to the fall of the Roman republic with the ascension of Augustus Caesar.
Francis DeStefano, in “Holiday Film Favorites,” reviews five holiday classics; in “All About Bette,” he reviews the entire film career of Bette Davis, the great actress of Hollywood’s Golden Age, concluding: “Self-sacrifice created the Golden Age of Hollywood, as well as the Greatest Generation.”
Jigs Gardner, in “Letters from a Conservative Farmer: The Old Countryside,” reminds us that many of our Founders were farmers, and that they were disciplined by the daunting tasks of survival imposed by the “Old Countryside.”
Jigs Gardner, in “Writers for Conservatives: 5 — Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936),” reviews the masterly and subtle depictions presented by the great British author.
The mission of the St. Croix Review is to end the destruction of America by reestablishing the family as the center of American life, restoring economic prosperity to an independent middle class, and reviving a culture of tradition.
The Lasting Impact of the 2020 Summer Riots
Barry MacDonald, Editorial
One wonders what would happen now if America suffered another terrorist assault similar to that of 9/11. In the aftermath of 9/11, Americans by and large did join together in shared patriotism, at least for a brief time. Six months later, we fell to bickering over who was responsible for our lapse of defense. By November 2002, when the congressional 9/11 Commission was underway, the blame game was in full swing again.
Twenty years is not a long time in the history of a nation, but within such a short span of time it seems that our political divisions have become dangerously exacerbated. If there were another diabolically effective attack, carried out by terrorists who infiltrated our porous southern border, it is easy to imagine that America would not unify, but would shatter — with some Americans shamelessly taking sides with the terrorists.
On September 1 this year, President Biden gave a vitriolic speech in Philadelphia, in which he castigated MAGA Republicans. He said:
“Equality and democracy are under assault . . .
“Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundation of our Republic. . . .
“They promote authoritarian leaders, and they fanned the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country. . . .
“MAGA Republicans have made their choice. They embrace anger. They thrive on chaos. They live, not in the light of truth but in the shadow of lies. . . .
“. . . there are public figures today, yesterday, and the day before, predicting, and all but calling for mass violence and rioting in the streets. . . .
“And this is a nation that rejects violence as a political tool. We do not encourage violence. We are still an America that believes in honesty and decency and respect for others. Patriotism, liberty, justice for all, hope, possibilities — we are still at our core a democracy. . . .
“MAGA Republicans are destroying American democracy.”
President Biden’s speech pivots upon the art of accusation, even as it espouses commonly held American beliefs and ideals.
It is sad and frustrating to see the words “honesty,” decency,” “respect,” “patriotism,” “liberty,” “justice,” and “hope” so misused and drained of meaning. Personal rights, the pursuit of justice, and the rule of law were referred to with the assertion that these are ideals that are cherished and upheld by the Biden Administration and the Democratic Party today.
President Biden says that America’s foundations, its equality and democracy, are threatened by MAGA extremism, and that Republicans promote “authoritarian leaders” who “fan the flames of political violence.”
Given the 500-plus riots that spread over America in the summer of 2020, the dozens of deaths, the billions of dollars of destruction — of property, and of livelihoods — the toppling of statues — including those of Fredrick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln — it’s impossible to take Biden’s words at face value. A federal court in Portland, Oregon, was assaulted nightly for over a hundred days by Antifa thugs, while Democratic mayor Ted Wheeler and Democratic Governor Kate Brown did not enforce the law and put down the riots. Hundreds of police officers have been murdered and injured, demonized and defunded, throughout America ever since the George Floyd incident — all while Democratic members of the “Squad” in the House have continued to call for the further defunding of the police.
An entire section of downtown Seattle, Washington, was held hostage for a month by a mob who terrorized residents and businesses owners. A police precinct was emptied of officers and abandoned by the city government, and the rule of law was given over to thugs who fancied themselves outside the jurisdiction of the United States. These thugs perpetrated a genuine insurrection. A young man was shot and died, as emergency personnel were prevented from rescuing him by the mob. Democrats were in charge of the Seattle City Council. The mayor of Seattle was Democratic Jenny Durkan, and the governor of Washington was Democratic Jay Inslee — they turned their backs on the rule of law.
Vice President Kamala Harris said of the death of George Floyd and the summer riots “. . . It’s no wonder people are taking to the streets, and I support them . . .” She said:
“They’re not going to stop. They’re not going to stop. This is a movement, I’m telling you. They’re not gonna stop. And everyone beware because they’re not gonna stop. They’re not gonna let up and they should not.”
The George Floyd incident was a catalyst for an explosion of crime throughout America. The riots of 2020 were followed by the purposeful non-prosecution of criminals. The streets of New York City, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Chicago, Portland, and Seattle are overcome with the dread of violence as criminals are released, due to the dubious “no-cash bail” innovations of progressive city and district attorneys and Democratic state legislatures. Every day in America the numbers of carjackings, assaults, and murders are rising. Innocent children are shot to death by the stray bullets of rampaging gangs.
Added to the neglect of law and order within our big cities is the purposeful surrender of our southern border to the Mexican drug cartels. The drug cartels control who enters our country, as every illegal immigrant pays the cartels a fee. The immigrants suffer immensely as children and women are raped, and people die along the way into America. Democratic governors and mayors have accommodated this illegal traffic of human beings by establishing sanctuary cities and states. Fentanyl, an extremely dangerous drug that enters America through the southern border, poisoned to death more than 100,000 Americans in 2001, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and President Biden have the effrontery to say that the southern border is closed and secure.
Homelessness has been a problem in Democratically run major metropolitan areas for years now, but in the last two years these unfortunate and desperate people have become more violent and dangerous. In the suburbs of Portland, homeless encampments have begun to drive people out of their homes. Democratic mayors and city councils have no effective means of alleviating the misery of either the residents or the homeless — more importantly, they lack the will to act.
Much of the deterioration of the rule of law and safety can be laid at the doorstep of the Democratic Party and the Biden Administration. Instead of squarely acknowledging and addressing these problems, they choose to blame their political opponents.
President Biden gave an angry speech denouncing anger. He accused Republicans of being authoritarians while using the rhetoric of an authoritarian himself. He invoked the rule of law and justice while his party has busied itself undermining law and justice. He lauded “decency” in a most indecent way.
President Biden did himself and his party no favor, by offering such a bitter speech. His words are saturated with accusation and hatred, and his characterization of Republicans is outrageously at odds with the facts of law and order and justice as they are in America today under his and Democratic Party leadership.
President Biden is relying on the precarious assumption that a majority of the American people are enormously naïve and forgetful of our recent, and profound, national trauma. There is an air of berserk lunacy about President Biden’s speech. Does he really expect that most Americans believe that the 2020 riots were justified, and that the Democrats were innocent bystanders? *
The following is a summary of the October 2022 issue of the St. Croix Review:
Barry MacDonald, in “The Lasting Impact of the 2020 Summer Riots,” compares an angry speech by President Biden in Philadelphia with the results of the riots of 2020.
Timothy S. Goeglein, in “We Are Reliving the Lord of the Flies,” remarks on the devastating impact broken families have on children, especially on boys who lack the presence of a father in the home.
Paul Kengor, in “Remember the Cold War’s Witness,” tells the moving story of Whittaker Chambers, the once-Soviet spy who broke from Communism and who testified against another American who was a Soviet spy, Alger Hiss; and in “Mikhail Gorbachev Meets His Maker,” gives a summation of the last leader of the Soviet Union, where he addresses a most surprising question — was Gorbachev a “closet Christian?”
Mark Hendrickson in “Children Are Less a Cost Than a Blessing,” responds to a study that says “It Now Costs $300,000 to Raise a Child”; in “The Orwellian Inflation Reduction Act,” he exposes the many dishonesties and distortions to the economy in the latest tax-and-spend bill coming from Congress; in “Corporate Social Responsibility and Its Newest Version: ESG,” he comments on the foolish and harmful effects that result when CEOs allow outside political activists to bully corporations into assuming controversial political positions.
Allan C. Brownfeld in “The Growing Threat to American Democracy Will Not Be Reversed Until We Recognize Its Reality,” warns of the danger of government by brute force; in “Fears Grow of a Society Coming Apart; Some Even Predict the Possibility of Civil War,” he details the many ways Americans are at odds with each other; in “Ending Race-Based Affirmative Action Programs: A Chance to Move Toward a Genuinely Color Blind Society,” on the verge of a Supreme Court ruling on the race-based admissions policies of American universities, he examines the differences between color blind verses quota-based systems.
Derek Suszko, in “The Fall of the Roman Republic: A Narrative and Analytical Comparison with the Contemporary Conditions of the United States of America — (Part 1 of a Series), launches a detailed account of two abiding republics for the purpose of determining how great republics fall to ruin.
Henry Alley, a recent graduate of Beechwood High School, in “Manipulation,” exposes the means by with clever narcissists perpetrate abuse and exert power over people — on an individual and societal basis.
Francis DeStefano, in “Income Inequality: 1950-2022,” uses William Buckley Jr.’s God and Man at Yale to expose the dominance of socialist ideals among economists at Yale at the time — a dominance of thought that still exists among “democratic socialists” today.
Francis DeStefano, in “The First Churchills,” reviews a British film about Winston Churchill’s ancestors, John Churchill and Sarah Jennings, who rose from the fringes of high society to be the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough; in “The Painted Veil,” he reviews both the film adaptation and the novel of the same title. The Painted Veil is a story about an English socialite wife who travels with her husband (whom she doesn’t love) to China, where she encounters the faithful and self-service of Catholic nuns in a convent orphanage.
Jigs Gardner, in “Letters from a Conservative Farmer — Greenism vs. Mankind,” compares the sensibility and practicality of environmentalism with the leftist ideology of “Greenism.”
Jigs Gardner, in “Writers for Conservatives: 4, Scott Nearing,” examines the writings of one of the original Communists in America who posed as a smug Green apostle.
The mission of the St. Croix Review is to end the destruction of America by re-establishing the family as the center of American life, restoring economic prosperity to an independent middle class, and reviving a culture of tradition.
Barry MacDonald — Editorial
The Marxist Left, going by the name of the “Progressive” movement, has been on the march for over a century in America, and it now dominates many of our precious institutions. Our liberties are at risk. The St. Croix Review is sharpening its message. You will note that we have an evolved mission statement at the top of this page.
The Progressive movement includes politicians, public intellectuals, entertainers, artists, writers, academics, lawyers, news organizations, cartoonists, think tanks, bureaucrats, educators, churches and synagogues, corporations, and the tech barons of Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Facebook.
Progressives behave as an exclusionary ruling class, and they manipulate the United States through the government and bureaucracy centered in Washington, D.C., using: The institutions of law; the education of children and adolescents; the selection and matriculation of future leaders through entrance into the nation’s so-called elite universities; the messages communicated in news and entertainment; the instructions imparted by some of our religious institutions; the presentation of content to be viewed in museums; the enticement, management, and sanctuary given to illegal immigrants; and the abandonment of rigorous scientific method that subjects findings to trials of disproof, in favor of agenda-based “science.”
The ruthless Progressives have adopted revolutionary means to manipulate mass consciousness, to grasp power for themselves, to maintain a system of control, and to undermine and overthrow liberty-enhancing traditional American values, using:
The ruling class is hostile to:
Religion and Society, and The St. Croix Review, oppose Progressives by means of:
Religion and Society, and The St. Croix Review, uphold:
The progressives have become so brazen as to suppose that they have the leverage to impose gender ideology and “drag queen” shows, on kindergarten students in public schools.
When the Florida Legislature and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis opposed them with a prohibitory law, these crazed Progressives believed they could win the battle by smearing the “Parental Rights in Education” bill with a vitriolic label: the “Don’t Say Gay” law.
Unlike so many of the laws that issue from Washington, D.C. (for example, The Inflation Reduction Act and The Affordable Care Act), the wording of “The Parental Rights in Education” bill is a fair rendering of what’s in the law. The law prohibits the imposition of gender-identity propaganda on students from kindergarten through third grade in Florida schools. The bill protects “the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing and control of the children.”
That such a law is necessary today is a measure of Progressive hutzpah and delusion and wickedness. It’s also a measure of how far the Progressives have gone in dominating our institutions.
We should be grateful. For many decades, the Marxist Left took such calculated and exquisite pains to disguise their lust for power with the subterfuge of fair-seeming rhetoric. But now the essential ugliness of their motives and programs is exposed for all to see. Progressives underestimate the intelligence and resolve of the good-hearted American people — that will be their undoing. *
The following is a summary of the August/September issue of the St. Croix Review:
Barry MacDonald, in the “America’s Challenge,” presents the mission of The St. Croix Review.
Derek Suszko, in “The Problem of Libertarianism,” compares and contrasts Libertarianism, Marxism, and Conservatism.
John A. Sparks, in “The Dobbs Case: Justice Alito Leads the Court Back to the Constitution,” summarizes the case that overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and returned the public debate over abortion to its rightful place: state government.
Paul Kengor, in “What Reversing Roe Really Means,” looks at the consequences of the deeply flawed Roe, and he predicts the likely outcomes; in “1776 and Slavery,” he provides an accurate historical accounting of the Founder’s attitudes and written words about slavery, and the immense cost in blood of eradicating it in America; in “Ukraine’s Freedom Fighter,” on the occasion of the visit to America by the first lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, he remarks on the transcending importance of an American principle: “all men are created equal by a loving God who has blessed us with freedom.”
Mark Hendrickson, in “The Supreme Court’s Principled Decision in West Virginia v. EPA,” is grateful the Supreme Court prevented the EPA from making overarching decisions that only Congress has authority to make, and he wishes the court had gone further concerning the classification of CO2 as a pollutant; in “Washington’s Corn-based Ethanol Mandates Are Poorly Timed,” he castigates the President and the EPA for mandating that American refineries produce an increase of ethanol fuel at a time of high inflation, which will reduce the available supplies of corn needed for food in America and abroad; in “Congress Is Going After the Alleged Price Gougers — Again,” he explains what congressional Democrats refuse to contemplate — the law of supply and demand — and he points out that the Biden administration is purposely restricting the supply of available fuel.
Allan Brownfeld, in “The Decline of Civility Threatens American Democracy,” notes the increasingly violent political rhetoric in America and warns of dire consequences; in “Assaults on Thomas Jefferson Ignore His Complexity and His Contributions to American Freedom,” he presents Jefferson as a flawed but fierce advocate for the abolition of the slave trade and slavery; in “What Did the Framers of the Constitution Really Think About Church-State Relations?” he writes: [The Founders] broke new ground in providing religious freedom and ensuring religious neutrality, but did not intend to remove God, whom they viewed as the author of our liberty, from society.”
David Ayers, in “What Is Another Word for ‘Pride?’” offers a meditation on the meaning of the word.
Carl R. Trueman, in “Do I Teach at a Woke School?” defends the honor of Grove City College, and he highlights the ideological warfare taking place at American colleges, including at Christian colleges.
Joseph Laconte, in “100 Years Ago, ‘Following the Science’ Meant Supporting Eugenics,” recalls the dominance and high regard eugenics enjoyed by the respectable intellectuals of the day.
Philip Vander Elst, in “‘Social Liberalism’ Versus Liberty,” exposes the totalitarian aims that accompany the progressive movement’s insistence on ridding itself of traditional, Christian values in the name of “sexual liberation.” He asserts that a free society needs to be founded on “true values.”
Francis P. DeStefano, in “The Declaration of Independence,” elucidates the essence of the grievances of the Founding Fathers that moved them to rebel against the British government.
Francis P. DeStefano, in “Foreign Film Favorites,” reviews eight classic foreign films from Australia, China, Denmark, France, Japan, Italy, and Taiwan; in “Barcelona,” a 1994 American film, two Americans in Barcelona — both cousins, one a salesman, the other a naval officer — encounter anti-Americanism from the city people until a sudden turn of events.
Jigs Gardner, in “The Diogenes Club,” identifies the beginning of the loss of self-confidence and the brutalization of Democrats and the Progressive movement.
Jigs Gardner, in “Writers for Conservatives: 3, J. F. Powers,” reviews the work of the American author of short stories and novels who won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1963.
Unhelpful Accusations Follow
The School Shooting in Uvalde
Barry MacDonald is the editor of The St. Croix Review.
Our culture has turned toxic in many ways. The Left has been successful in fashioning news narratives into dynamic tools of propaganda. A tragic event happens, such as the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and an emotionally charged attack is instantly composed.
Demons are specified and targeted: in this case it is the AR-15 “assault” rifle, the “gun lobby,” Republicans, the Second Amendment, the National Rifle Association, and “toxic masculinity.” The accusations are cast with sickening predictability. All forms of media are saturated with hysterical harangues and tearful outrage against the usual scapegoats.
The news business has evolved into a daily assault of Saul Alinsky dirty tricks. Saul Alinsky was the clever community organizer of the 20th century who invented modern methods of seizing power through means of effective propaganda. His manual, Rules for Radicals, spells out the techniques: target the opposition, polarize the argument, demonize the opposition, rub emotions raw, and keep the pressure on with repeated assaults.
Alinsky’s methods are now an American institution for the political Left. All the facets of the intellectual, managerial, ruling class have memorized the playbook. It is really very simple: accuse, accuse, accuse, and the nation’s attention fixes on the scapegoat and ignores the ignoble motives of the accuser.
Let me declare the obvious: The Republican Party is not responsible for the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and gun control is not a workable solution to America’s epidemic of violence, because gun control doesn’t address the underlying psychological factors that prompt violence.
Narrative focus is a key element of control for the Leftist media and Democrats. Saturation coverage is lavished on mass shootings when Republicans are easy targets, and so President Biden will visit Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York, where he may disparage “white supremacy” and gun makers.
But notice how scant the news coverage is when the perpetrators don’t fit the left-wing formula: When Darrell Brooks Jr. deliberately drives and smashes a suburban vehicle through a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, killing six, and injuring many more; or when Frank James shoots and gases 10 people on a subway in Brooklyn, New York. Both Darrell Brooks and Frank James are career criminals with a documented animus toward white people. The media coverage in both these incidents were brief and perfunctory.
President Biden didn’t visit Brooklyn or Waukesha because those killings don’t advance the Left’s agenda.
What is also ignored is the burgeoning gang violence in our major metropolitan areas. Every weekend dozens of people, including innocent bystanders and children, are shot, maimed, and killed in Chicago, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and New York. The continuing slaughter in America’s big cities far surpasses the numbers killed in school shootings, and the victims are often black, killed by black criminals — these tragic deaths and injuries are ignored by the media because the details don’t make for useful, hysterical, weaponized narratives.
The violence afflicting America is perpetrated by disturbed young men. What isn’t being attended to is the long-term effect of fatherlessness, and the absence of positive male role models in the lives of these young men. One can only imagine the depth of brokenness and prolonged isolation that warps the souls of the men who commit these heinous atrocities. The devaluation of American men is part of our modern American pathology. Fractured families and castaway children are at the root of America’s social malaise.
America is sick, but not beyond redemption. We must have faith in the continuing presence of good-hearted Americans who permeate our nation from shore to shore. The news media and the Leftist ruling class are capable of brainwashing a large portion of the American public. If you pay attention to the daily propaganda, you are bound to be discouraged and dispirited.
Nevertheless, we must put our faith in God and remember, that as mischievous and arrogant as Leftist agitators are, they are not almighty. We must have faith in the decency of the majority of the American people.
We must have faith that a good-hearted, stalwart, open-eyed majority of the American people are not hypnotized by Alinsky-style tricks.
Please put your faith in God’s justice, attend to your business, and don’t be fascinated by the news. *