In 1747 Samuel Johnson announced the plan to write what became his Dictionary of the English Language. Johnson had hoped to get the job done in three years. His friend Richard Adams questioned his ability to complete such a massive undertaking in such a short time. It had taken the 40 members of the French Academy 40 years to compile their Dictionary, Adams reminded him. Boswell reported Johnson’s famous response: “Sir, thus it is. This is the proportion. Let me see; forty times forty is sixteen hundred. As three to sixteen hundred, so is the proportion of an Englishman to a Frenchman.” (In the event it took Johnson nine years.)
I think of Johnson’s gibe whenever the Star Tribune publishes a column by Katherine Kersten. Kathy makes an argument solidly grounded in fact and analysis. Within a day or two, the editorial pages are weighed down with the groans and shrieks of outraged Twin Cities leftists. They invariably make me wonder, with enemies like this, does Kathy need friends?
Most recently, the Star Tribune published Kathy’s column on the decline of the Edina public schools on the altar of racial mania and obsession. That was this past weekend.
Today the Star Tribune carries two columns and four letters responding in a fashion to Kathy’s column. Counterpoint column one by Annie Mogush Mason explodes with a profusion of shibboleths explaining why the Edina public schools must keep doing that voodoo that they are doing to such ill effect. With enemies like this…
Counterpoint column two by Edina High junior Charles Heinecke testifies that he hasn’t seen anything of concern. Ain’t nobody here but us chickens.
Four letters provide variations of ad hominem argument.
As one to six– actually, it’s more like three to 1600 — so is the proportion of Katherine Kersten to the Twin Cities left.
Quotable quote (Sue K. Hammersmith, retired president of Metropolitan State University): “Where Kersten sees a calamity; I see courage to address a problem.” (Love that semicolon.)
UPDATE: Kathy responds to the counterpoint columns in this American Experiment post.