Trendier than Thou?

April 1990

Back in its October 1986 issue, Crisis, the neoconservative Catholic monthly, announced editorially that it regarded the NEW OXFORD RE­VIEW as a competitor. Both Crisis and the NOR share a commitment to Catholic orthodoxy, so why competitors? Because Crisis strongly dis­approves of our political leftism, which it item­ized with reckless overstatement. The sugges­tion was even made that maybe the NEW OXFORD REVIEW should rename itself the New Trendy-Left Review.

Trendy? Sure, it was trendy to be on the Left in the late 1960s and early 1970s. But the NOR didn’t exist then. Who really thinks it was trendy to be on the Left in the mid-1980s, when Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were riding high in their saddles? But let that point pass.

Curiously, the January 1990 Crisis, in the person of its Publisher, Michael Novak, has taken the NOR to task for being “far out of touch” with the political realities of the 1980s and 1990s. (And again, we are presented with a wildly exaggerated list of particulars. But let that pass too.)

We don’t mind being attacked by Crisis, but we do wish Crisis would make up its mind about what we’re guilty of. Are we trendy or out of touch? It’s a question that impinges on Crisis too, for if we’re trendy, then maybe it’s Crisis that is out of touch, or if we’re out of touch, then perhaps Crisis is the trendy one.

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