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The New Criterion

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The Media

November 2012

Get real

by James Bowman

On the nature of "reality" in the political arena.

A couple of years ago, I bought a Dell computer. Almost every day since then, I have received one or more spam emails from Dell offering to sell me something else. As I write, the latest one is titled: “We have unreal deals. You only have three business days.” Why should Dell think I would be interested in an unreal deal? There used to be a saying that somebody or something was “the real deal.” Now should we say instead “the unreal deal”? And if, as I suspect, “unreal” is just an ironic superlative—so good that it seems unreal, or too good to be true—what then becomes of St. Anselm’s Ontological Proof of the existence of God, which holds that no Being with the attributes of God could exist without also having the attribute of reality? Maybe, on the contrary, God is all the more perfect for not being real, or not seeming so. But then it wasn’t long ago that a learned man told me Ans ...

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James Bowman is the author of Honor: A History (Encounter Books).

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 31 November 2012, on page 60

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The Walter Duranty Prize for Journalistic Mendacity
On May 5, 2014, The New Criterion and PJ Media presented the second Walter Duranty Prize for Journalistic Mendacity. The award is given to highlight egregious examples of dishonest reporting. Also awarded this year was the Rather, a new award for lifetime achievement in mendacious journalism.
The Duranty Prize is named after Walter Duranty, the New York Times Moscow corresponded in the 1920s and 1930s who whitewashed Joseph Stalin’s forced starvation of the Ukrainians (the Holodomor) and many other aspects of Soviet oppression. Duranty was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for his efforts. It has never been revoked.
Audio copyright Ed Driscoll,

Introduction to The Kennedy Phenomenon
Roger Kimball introduces The Kennedy Phenomenon, a conference presented by The New Criterion on Tuesday, November 19.

The Kennedy Phenomenon: "Watching the Kennedy Train-Wreck"
Roger Kimball reads Peter Collier’s paper on oft-overlooked unsavory details of the Kennedys' lives. Much of the paper is drawn from Collier’s book, coauthored with David Horowitz, The Kennedys: An American Drama.