A Johnsonian smackdown

I awakened to the greatness of Samuel Johnson — eighteenth century England’s supreme man of letters — under the tutelage of Professor Jeffrey Hart, who required us to absorb Johnson’s magnificent essay on Soame Jenyns’s Free Enquiry Into the Nature and Origin of Evil. Memory of Jenyns’s otherwise forgettable book lives on thanks to the explosion it triggered in Johnson. Johnson’s essay is available online in a form edited by Jack Lynch, a scholar of Johnson and eighteenth-century English literature.

I am put in mind of Johnson’s essay on Jenyns by Victor Davis Hanson’s comprehensive smackdown of French President Emmanuel Macron in “The Mad, Mad Meditations of Monsieur Macron.” In this November 20 National Review column Professor Hanson essentially rises to the defense of Donald Trump in the matter of Macron’s recent disquisition on nationalism. Quotable quote: “What makes a Macron reveal his idiocy so candidly, aside from his innate ignorance?”

I have a question of my own. What triggered Professor Hanson in this case? I doubt that it was Macron’s disquisition by itself. I think Macron is a stand-in for his ilk shoving their ignorance down our throats every day in the United States. Put Macron to one side and let Professor Hanson’s historical learning inspire us further to combat the ignorance as we can in our own ways.

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