Author: Derek Hopper

Platitudes About Terrorism Are Not Helping

Yesterday afternoon, a terrorist drove a 4×4 car onto the footpath of Westminster Bridge, mowing down pedestrians, maiming dozens and killing four people. Among the dead was a British police officer, Keith Palmer, a husband and a father. The British Prime Minister Theresa May called the attack “sick and depraved”. Yet it did not take long for others to put forward defensive statements: To an alien newly arrived from Jupiter it would appear that we humans on Earth merely have to say what we are and we magically become that thing. Witness all the debates about on campus about gender and racial and disabled identity. But terrorists who memorise the Quran, shout Allahu Akbar as they plough into pedestrians and—most importantly—self-identify as Muslim, are told by the liberal left “Nope, sorry. Not a Muslim”. When someone says “terrorism has no religion” they need to start by defining religion. Is Scientology religion? Is Scientology pure and virtuous and the people who do evil things in its name simply not real Scientologists? Were the Crusaders not real …

On Truth and Beauty

To my great surprise I found myself reading a Buzzfeed listicle the other day. The piece: “Women’s ideal body types through history.” The contents: various images of a diverse cast of models showing how beauty standards have changed over time. One of the first things that struck me as I skimmed the article was that while female beauty standards do seem to have changed over time (though not too much — almost all the models were slim) it’s curious that the ideal male form hasn’t changed at all; Michelangelo’s David is as beautiful in 2017 as he was in 1517 and can expect to be in 2517. I learned that the Ancient Egyptians believed long braided hair was an important aspect of female beauty. Braids “framed a symmetrical face”, and the most desired women were slender, with high waists and slim shoulders. (The “Ancient Egyptian” model was African-American, although Ancient Egyptians are more likely to have resembled other Mediterranean peoples.) Chinese women of the Han Dynasty (c.206BC – 220AD) were expected to have long black hair, red lips and white …