by Callahan Jones
Jonah Goldberg, opinion columnist for the LA Times and senior editor for the National Review, presented a lecture at Cedarville University on Tuesday night. The event was put on with the assistance of The Young Americans Foundation.
In his talk, titled “Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Nationalism, Populism, and Identity Politics Is Destroying American Democracy,” Goldberg focused on how society has evolved over the last 300 years. He tied these theories into his belief that the current political landscape is causing our society to slide back into a version from human’s past. He said that as the politics in America become more divided, it simply causes for tribalism, a natural instinct, to emerge. This tribalism then manifests itself in phenomenons such as populism and nationalism.
Despite the heavy topic, the lecture was not academic and stuffy. Goldberg often kept the audience laughing with jokes about both sides of the political aisle and with silly anecdotes, including one about the classic B-level 80s sci-fi film, “They Live”.
“I think Mr. Goldberg was typically provocative,” said Dr. Mark Smith, the head of Cedarville’s history and government department. “I think he has a pretty compelling view of the past and the present of American society. I think it’s good for students at Cedarville to hear from a different perspective and voice than they might normally hear here at Cedarville.”
Following the lecture, there was a short question and answer time with Goldberg, led by Smith. The questions were provided by the audience via texting and then chosen by Smith, who also asked some questions of his own. The questions focused on President Trump and his actions, how the recent Supreme Court confirmations will affect the political landscape in the future and if Goldberg could see there being less political decisiveness in America in the future.
Many Cedarville students were in attendance. The crowd had many middle aged and elderly attendants as well. James Osborne, a computer science student at Cedarville enjoyed the event.
“Goldberg presented many clear insights about our current political climate,” said Osborne. “American politics prove that there is nothing new under the sun.”
Other students copied this sentiment, saying they enjoyed the lecture and that Goldberg brought unique thoughts to the table.
“It was interesting to get the perspective of someone outside the typical Cedarville wheelhouse who emphasized the importance of decency and gratitude in politics,” said Stephen White, a music student at Cedarville.
Autumn Greer, a visual communication design major, was a bit more skeptical.
“While he didn’t seem to offer many concrete solutions to the problems he identified, Goldberg offered fair insight into the nature of humanity, said Greer. “He supported the idea that the Natural State of mankind is evil and prone to destruction and explored how this influences politics in America.”
Overall, the audience seemed pleased with the event.
“We had good attendance tonight,” said Smith. “I think the event went very well.”