How Leo Strauss and a Great African American Jazz Critic Came to Parallel Conclusions about the Limits of Liberalism

Like Theodor Herzl before him, the German Jewish scholar Leo Strauss formed his ideas about politics after witnessing the failure of the “liberal solution” to what in the 19th century was called “the Jewish question.” That is, granting Jews equality before the law in Germany, Austria, or France failed to eliminate anti-Semitism. Aryeh Tepper sees a similar line of reasoning vis-à-vis racism in the U.S. in the writings of Albert Murray, one of America’s foremost writers on jazz. But the parallels go deeper:

Strauss championed liberal education, whose aim he identified as “reminding oneself of human excellence, of human greatness.” Murray would have nodded in agreement. . . . Most importantly for our story, both thinkers celebrated the virtue of fortitude, or resilience. They were acutely aware of the abiding reality of bigotry—for Strauss, anti-Semitism, for Murray, racism—but it didn’t define their self-perception.

On confronting bigotry, Murray in effect picked up where Strauss left off. And in his writings on music, literature, and culture, Murray offered a sustained reflection on facing adversity in a liberal democratic context—a heroic response that implicitly extends and elaborates Herzl’s recognition that “the enemy is necessary for the highest effort of the personality.”

Murray’s fundamental approach is to cast the challenges one faces in life as opportunities for heroic action: “We’re supposed to live life as if the dragon exists in order to make heroes.” This principle remains true even if the dragon happens to be a bigot. Fighting bigots is a given (that’s how you become a hero), but protesting their existence? Murray isn’t interested: “To protest the existence of dragons (or even hooded or unhooded Grand Dragons for that matter) is . . . naïve.” Naïve, because dragons are a part of life, and protesting isn’t going to change the (Grand) Dragon’s ways.

Murray was well aware that his heroic view cut against the grain of attitudes that were beginning to penetrate the liberal mainstream. Those attitudes don’t embrace stress and strain—struggle—as the condition for self-discovery and self-realization.

Indeed, Murray criticized the approach of the “social science-oriented” thinkers who sought to rid life “of ambivalence, complexity, and strife.” Yet, also like Strauss, Murray was a critic of the liberalism of his day who never abandoned his basic faith in liberal democracy.

Read more at Moment

More about: African Americans, Anti-Semitism, Leo Strauss, liberal democracy, Racism

Why Saturday Was a Resounding Defeat for Iran

Yaakov Lappin provides a concise and useful overview of what transpired on Saturday. For him, the bottom line is this:

Iran and its jihadist Middle Eastern axis sustained a resounding strategic defeat. . . . The fact that 99 percent of the threats were intercepted means that a central pillar of Iranian force projection—its missile and UAV arsenals—has been proven to be no match for Israel’s air force, for its multilayered air-defense system, or for regional cooperation with allies.

Iran must now await Israel’s retaliation, and unlike Israel, Iranian air defenses are by comparison limited in scope. After its own failure on Sunday, Iran now relies almost exclusively on Hizballah for an ability to threaten Israel.

And even as Iran continues to work on developing newer and deadlier missiles, the IDF is staying a few steps ahead:

Israel is expecting its Iron Beam laser-interception system, which can shoot down rockets, mortars, and UAVs, to become operational soon, and is developing an interceptor (Sky Sonic) for Iran’s future hypersonic missile (Fattah), which is in development.

The Iron Beam will change the situation in a crucial way. Israell’s defensive response on Saturday reportedly cost it around $1 billion. While Iron Beam may have to be used in concert with other systems, it is far cheaper and doesn’t run the risk of running out of ammunition.

Read more at JNS

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Iron Dome, Israeli Security, Israeli technology