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The New Criterion

It operates as a refuge for a civilizing element in short supply in contemporary America: honest criticism
- The Wall Street Journal


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Dear Reader

Several weeks ago I found myself in a packed auditorium at Yale University with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born American activist and noted critic of Islamic fundamentalism whose fearless career we have often admired in the pages of The New Criterion. Politically correct elites have labelled her “hateful” and “bigoted.” Hardcore Islamists call her an “apostate” or worse. We call her courageous.


It was something of a miracle that Hirsi Ali was allowed to speak at all. Last spring, Brandeis University, to its shame, capitulated to pressure to rescind its offer to have her deliver an address at Commencement. Many other colleges have bowed to similar pressures and have disinvited speakers who challenge the current orthodoxy on some hot-button issue. As we observed last May in our “Notes & Comments,” “The disgusting exhibition of intolerance at Brandeis has implications far beyond Ayaan Hirsi Ali. . . . What we are witnessing is the establishment of a network of intolerance that employs the rhetoric of liberalism in order to pursue an illiberal agenda of conformity.”


I am pleased to report that, unlike Brandeis, Yale lived up to its motto, lux et veritas, “light and truth.” Despite the efforts of some thirty student organizations to silence her, Hirsi Ali was able to address an overflowing audience in one of Yale’s largest lecture halls. Her topic was “Clash of Civilizations: Islam and the West.”


The uproar over the appearance of Hirsi Ali made me think about the fate of free speech in our culture. John Milton published Areopagitica, his classic defense of free speech, in 1644. The American Founding Fathers added the First Amendment to the Constitution at the end of the eighteenth century. For a time, it seemed that the battle over free speech had been waged and won. But the opposition to Hirsi Ali, like the opposition to so many other figures who challenge the prevailing orthodoxy, shows that the battle over free speech, like the battle over other freedoms, is never permanently won. It is a battle that must be fought anew by every generation. 


This was the sort of insight that Edmund Burke promulgated in his blistering attack on the anti-civilizational energies of the French Revolution. And it is also an insight that is at the heart of what we are about at The New Criterion. Civilization, as Burke saw it, was a fragile achievement that was constantly besieged, easily lost, and, once lost, most difficult to restore. 


The battle for civilization is the battle we wage monthly in the pages of The New Criterion, and daily in the virtual pages of our website and weblog. From its beginning, more than thirty years ago, The New Criterion has offered cultural criticism that is eloquent, independent, and above all honest. Our writers, young and old, up-and-coming and celebrated, call things as they see them. In a world increasingly under the sway of timid, antiseptic political correctness, The New Criterion stands as a beacon of forthrightness and intelligent dissent. 


We are proud of what we have achieved—of the enemies we have made as much as the plaudits we have garnered—but we would never have survived without the generous support of you, our readers. For a nonprofit magazine like ours, a contribution of any amount makes a difference.


Since its founding in 1982, The New Criterion has striven to defend the rich heritage of our culture and excoriate those who would seek to destroy it. Now, as we continue in our thirty-third season, the characters and current terms may have changed, but the core battle remains the same. It is thanks to the generous support of readers like you that we are still here after so many years, carrying the standard of free thought and powerful speech. The fact that the number of individual donations we receive increases every year speaks to the strong connections we have with our readers. We hope that we can continue to rely on your support as we move forward.


This year’s joint conference with the Social Affairs Unit, held in Winchester, England, dealt with many of the same issues that came to light in the controversy surrounding Hirsi Ali’s address. Michael Mosbacher, Jeremy Black, Keith Windschuttle, Daniel Hannan, Andrew C. McCarthy, John O’Sullivan, Douglas Murray, and I, among others, met to discuss “Threats to Free Speech,” and we look forward to sharing the conference papers with you in our January 2015 issue.


As always, it has been a pleasure to see so many of our staunchest supporters at Friends events throughout the season. Last year these included a Bushwick gallery evening curated by James Panero, a private recital with the pianist Simone Dinnerstein, a book launch with the philosopher and novelist Roger Scruton, and a private tour of the Met’s European Painting Galleries with Marco Grassi. Our launch party this September was an exciting start to our season, and we look forward to another terrific slate of events with the Friends and Young Friends of The New Criterion. We have already hosted an exciting election night party, our second “Beat Nite” gallery crawl, and a book party to celebrate the release of Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts. Plans for a major conference, a private recital, and, of course, our annual holiday party are in the works. These are just a sample of the sorts of events we offer to the Friends of The New Criterion; I hope you will consider joining their ranks with a donation of $2,000 or more.


We are now in the process of a major redesign of our website,, to bring our online presence up to the current standards of journalism and, more importantly, of our readers. Our website has served us well since its last redesign in 2006, but it has already begun to show its age. We are currently working on a ground-up rebuild of the site that we hope to unveil early in the new year. The print version of the magazine remains the core of our editorial effort, but in today’s publishing environment, our website has become the primary means of attracting new readers. A new site, built to modern standards but still representative of our bold aesthetic and ideas, will ensure that our authors reach the wide audiences that they deserve.


But even as we secure our place in journalism’s digital age, many of our basic costs remain. Printing, salaries, and authors’ fees—not to mention office overhead—still make up the vast majority of our expenses, and those costs are only increasing. Each year at this time, we rely on you to help us close our budget shortfall; your support is more important now than ever. 


Now in its second year, our Hilton Kramer Fellowship continues to support the development of the next generation of young journalists and critics. It certainly has brought a welcome infusion of young talent into our office, and our first Fellow, Eric Simpson, has joined us full-time as an Assistant Editor. In June, we welcomed our second Hilton Kramer Fellow, Christine Emba, to our ranks. It is a point of pride for us that our editors, past and present, make their voices heard in major publications everywhere. Through initiatives like the Hilton Kramer Fellowship, which is made possible by your support, we ensure that the spring of bright, young, critical writers never runs dry.


There is no other publication in America that offers the critical perspective of The New Criterion. It is our constant ambition to provide the high level of critical analysis that our readers deserve. After more than thirty years, it is with gratitude and humility that we reflect on our devoted readership, whose support has made, and continues to make, all of our work possible. We are proud of the past achievements of The New Criterion, and we are tremendously excited about what the future holds for the magazine. As alarming developments both at home and abroad intensify, we know that our struggle for civilization is far from over. Please join us in that fight.


Yours Faithfully,

Roger Kimball Editor & Publisher


P.S. Contributions of any size can help us to maintain a robust support structure. We need to raise $388,000 by December 31; find your place on the following!


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P.P.S. Please consider joining us as a Friend of The New Criterion with a donation of $2,000 or more. Leadership gifts of $25,000 or more will receive special mention in “Notes and Comments.” The New Criterion could not survive without sustainers like you. Thank you.


The New Criterion is published by The Foundation for Cultural Review, 900 Broadway, New York, NY 10003, a nonprofit public foundation as described in Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code, which solicits and accepts contributions from a wide range of sources, including public and private foundations, corporations, and the general public. Contributions to The New Criterion are tax deductible according to the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. All gifts in excess of $75 will be acknowledged with a written disclosure statement describing the “quid pro quo” deductibility under section 6115 of the Internal Revenue Code.




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April 29, 2015

Edmund Burke Award Gala

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