At one of the first planning meetings for Books & Culture, in 1994, someone cited as a model of intellectual engagement the fierce exchanges of letters that are sometimes to be found in the pages of the New York Review of Books. Another participant in the meeting strongly disagreed, suggesting that such exchanges serve largely to draw attention to the inflated egos of the writers.
No doubt that is often the case, but nevertheless we badly need more sustained debate. The notion that there is something fundamentally unedifying about such give-and-take is unsupportable. Of course disagreement can easily degenerate into personal attacks and petty quarrels, but without genuine engagement we have no solid basis for choosing between conflicting claims.
—John Wilson, editor, Books & Culture
George Grant's response to my piece in CT, available on his Web site, is embarrassing for the reader if not for the writer. In it he makes several basic errors, suggesting (for instance) that the now massive skin trade in the Philippines which grew alongside the U.S. military presence in that country has no historical connection to the occupation of the Philippines by the ...1
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