All posts filed under: Top Stories

An Open Letter to the WHO—Industrial Animal Farming Must End

“Unprecedented and rising levels of industrial animal farming are undermining the highest attainable standard of health that is WHO’s mandate” Every year more than 55 billion land animals are raised and killed for food around the world. Most are reared in industrial factory farms in circumstances that harm human health and the environment in significant ways. Worldwide livestock production is expected to more than double between 2001 and 2050, an increase that will undermine the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) aim of achieving the highest standards of global health. Next month, as a new Director General takes over the WHO leadership, an open letter will be released calling for a reduction in factory farming and a shift towards more sustainable agricultural practices. The letter focuses on factory farming’s contribution to three pressing global health challenges: antibiotic resistance, climate change, and chronic non-communicable diseases. Here are the letter’s key points. Antibiotic resistance Factory farming is highly intensive with large farms hosting tens of thousands of animals. Infection is constant problem and most farms use large quantities of …

When Accusations Lose Their Bite

About a week ago, ABC canceled one of its most popular shows, “Last Man Standing” starring conservative comedian Tim Allen. This appears to be the belated consequence of a smear campaign directed against Allen in March, after he explained to Jimmy Kimmel why he was nervous talking about his involvement in Trump’s inauguration: “You gotta be real careful [in Hollywood]. You know, you get beat up if you don’t believe what everybody believes. It’s like 30s Germany.” Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, spearheaded the backlash. He asked: “Tim, have you lost your mind?” Apparently Allen’s comment “trivializes the horrors imposed on Jews in Nazi Germany,” and he needs to “leave [his] bubble to apologize to the Jewish people.” Just two months before Allen’s comments on Jimmy Kimmel, however, we find an interesting report in the Huffington Post: “Goldstein told HuffPost it would be hyperbolic and irresponsible to compare Trump’s actions to the Holocaust’s mass murders. ‘However, it would be equally irresponsible not to point out the similarities between …

“The EU is Essentially a German Empire”: Peter Hitchens on Geopolitics and the Future of Europe

“When the bugles call, the conservative’s instinct is to rally to the tattered…” Tattered what? Was it colours or banners? I was trying to remember the end of this line as I walked towards Café Phillies on Kensington High Street. To my surprise, the venue was unusually full, the average age of the patrons around seventy. I checked my Twitter feed. Macron had won in France and the EU bourgeoisie were predictably ecstatic. I ordered a coffee, took a table next to the door, and waited for Mr. Peter Hitchens. For those too young to remember the birth of this century, the aforementioned quote is from an essay entitled “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” published in The Spectator during the buildup to the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. I was eighteen, an idealist, fairly radical (as people usually are at that age) and an admirer of Peter’s elder brother Christopher. In the wake of the 9/11 outrage, there was a widespread feeling that we were on the cusp of a civilisational conflict that would define a generation. It was also the first …

Bald Men Fighting Over a Comb: Arguments About the Classical Tradition

Part I: A review of Classics, The Culture Wars and Beyond by Eric Adler. University of Michigan Press (1st November 2016). Classics, the study of Greek and Latin literature, involves philosophical and historical texts as well as literary works. Classicists may also be interested in the systematic study of language and expression, and (to a lesser extent) art history and archaeology. In fact, Classics encompasses virtually every aspect of ancient Greek and Roman culture between the first Olympic Games in 776 BC and the fall of the Roman Empire in AD 476. Still, classicists have traditionally focussed their attention on Athens between 508 and 323 BC, and Rome between the mid-first century BC and the late second century AD: most of the important classical texts, monuments and works of art were created in those places during those periods. Classics requires a long training: there are two ancient languages which take years to master, and a large body of impressive but often difficult literature in Greek and Latin that cannot be avoided. If you have not …

Laci Green, The Matrix, and the Future of Free Speech

Earlier this week, popular YouTuber Laci Green, with almost 1.5 million subscribers, released a video entitled “Taking the Red Pill?” The “red pill,” obviously is an allusion to the famous 1999 film The Matrix, in which one of the lead characters, Morpheus, an infamous leader within the Matrix presents Neo, a hacker seeking to explore the Matrix, with two choices—taking the blue pill or the red pill. According to Morpheus, if Neo takes the blue pill, “you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe,” but if Neo picks the red pill, “I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” Virtually everyone has seen The Matrix or has heard of the red pill meme; indeed, a Google search for red pill brings up almost 7 million results. However, what makes Green’s video particularly important and distinguishes it from the thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of other banal red pill videos is the context around which Green’s red pilling has occurred. As Laci states at the very beginning of her video, …

What Eastern Bloc Dissidents Can Teach Us About ‘Living in Truth’

“Fake news” may be getting lots of headlines, but it is as old as the hills. Propagandists have relied on false evidence for centuries. Of course, not all propaganda campaigns are dishonest; indeed many efforts at persuading people of things are laudable. But the phenomenon of fake news and the “post-truth” culture in which it thrives are clearly a threat to democracy, and to the public sphere that democracy depends on to survive. Everyone has a part to play in pushing back. Most of us probably assume that only other people fall prey to false or exaggerated news stories. This is complacent. Media historians emphasise that propaganda often exploits already-existing trends rather than creating new ones, making subtle use of half-truths as well as outright falsehoods – and it can be much harder to unpick half-truths than to demolish lies. Fortunately, a few decades ago, matters of truth-telling and lying were a major concern for Soviet and Eastern European dissidents living under communism, where propaganda was all-pervasive. Their ideas have long outlasted their times, and …

The De-Professionalization of the Academy

The author of the following essay is a Professor at a top-ranking, metropolitan U.S. university. The names of both university and professor have been fictionalized to protect the professor from retaliation. In the fall of 2005, I began working as a full-time faculty member in the General Studies program at Hudson University. I was promoted to full Professor last year. Thus, the tale I tell does not represent sour grapes. Rather, what follows is a jeremiad decrying the direction that academia has taken in order to underscore the threats posed to academic integrity and institutional legitimacy. Over twelve years, I have watched with increasing dismay and incredulity as academic integrity, fairness, and intellectual rigor have been eroded, with the implicit endorsement of administration and faculty alike. I have witnessed the de-professionalization of the professoriate—hiring policies based on tokenized identity politics and cronyism, the increasing intellectual and ideological conformity expected from faculty and students, and the subsequent curtailment of academic freedom. Just to be clear, most of my faculty colleagues are well-educated, bright, and dedicated teachers. …

Reviving “Essentialism” and Other Scientific Straw Men

Cordelia Fine’s latest attempt at human exceptionalism and biology denial Testosterone Rex has drawn rave reviews from (almost) everyone, from the popular press to Nature. Happy to go against this grain, I would like to suggest that these much-circulated rumours of the death of human nature have been somewhat exaggerated. Most of Fine’s targets are probably quite well deserved chunks of popular science, male chauvinism, and journalistic overreach. However, when she turns her sights on serious science she makes some rather egregious blunders. This is a pity—because there is much in the public understanding of sex differences that could really use some popular explication and myth busting. Let’s start with what is positive about the book. Many will find her anecdotal approach to be engaging and charming. I didn’t, but I’m a miserable old curmudgeon who wants to get to grips with the facts, not be reassured via an anecdote about kangaroo testicles that that the writer “doesn’t hate men really”. On this point: I’m always a little unsettled by people who feel the need …

Q and A on the Syrian Airstrike with Sumantra Maitra

Sumantra Maitra is a regular contributor to Quillette, and is a PhD candidate in International Relations at the University of Nottingham and is a member of the Centre for Conflict, Security and Terrorism (CST). His area of research is in Great power politics and NeoRealism, with a focus on Russian foreign policy and military strategy. What follows is a QandA session regarding the US strikes on Syria. Hi Sumantra. Thanks for chatting with Quillette. You’ve said that the airstrike on Syria is a good show of deterrence from the US? Can you expand on this – who do you think this message of deterrence is aimed at? The airstrike on Syria is a fall back to a more conventional US foreign policy. Since 1993, the United States has been a leader of the Western liberal order, and has often used airstrikes and missile strikes to deter principal adversaries as well as defend liberal norms. It is, of course, questionable how effective that strategy was, but it has been standard practice. That changed during the second …

Islam Has Become Toxic in the West

On 20th September 2015, Republican contender Dr Ben Carson averred in an interview with NBC that Islam is not consistent with the US constitution and “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.” It would have been interesting to know of Carson’s reasoning. Moreover, we might have expected what may itself be an unconstitutional stance to have damaged his campaign. But quite the reverse happened. Five weeks later, a CBS/New York Times poll showed that he had taken the lead from Donald Trump to become the Republican frontrunner. Perhaps Trump and his team drew an important lesson from this, for on December 7th 2015, in the aftermath of Islamist terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Trump made a forthright pronouncement in which he called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” This boosted his ratings so that by December 21st, according to a CNN/ORC poll, he was once again in the lead; a lead he would not …