When I was a little kid, I always enjoyed going through the monthly National Geographic, once the Old Man had read it and passed it down through my siblings to me. It was a quality publication in those days, full of fascinating insights into exotic locales. Somewhere around here I still have an October 1961 edition, and it’s neat to look through that and see the state of the world the month I was born.
The current National Geographic – currently going by the childishly stupid NatGeo – is none of these things. Law & Liberty’s Mark Judge describes the fall of this magazine. Excerpt:
Today, National Geographic, like so much of the rest of the culture, seems gripped in a mania focused on guilt over race and gender. As part of the magazine’s April 2018 “The Race Issue,” editor Susan Goldberg offered this headline: “For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist. To Rise Above Our Past, We Must Acknowledge It.” Goldberg hired a scholar, John Edwin Mason of the University of Virginia, to dig through the archives and find white supremacy. Interviewed by Vox, Mason announced that “the magazine was born at the height of so-called ‘scientific’ racism and imperialism — including American imperialism. This culture of white supremacy shaped the outlook of the magazine’s editors, writers, and photographers, who were always white and almost always men.” Responding to a 2018 cover featuring a cowboy on horseback, Mason argues that “the image of the white cowboy reproduces and romanticizes the mythic iconography of settler colonialism and white supremacy.”
And then there was the ridiculous hagiographic Fauci, a documentary that gives the impression that the proper response to public authority is unquestioning obedience and unceasing praise.
It’s sad – read the whole thing, because Mr. Judge describes his father’s work and how he met many of the leading lights of the original National Geographic. But I think this, like so many things, is a sign of the descent of American society into kakistocracy. There are so many signs that it’s difficult to name them all, but I’ll give an example: Written English. In my business I have occasion to read written work, such as work instructions, investigation plans and reports, and so on, written in many cases by recent college graduates but also at times by experienced people with ten or fifteen years of industry experience. And the average writing skill? It ranges from middling to absolutely awful, with a few stellar exceptions that I can only assume are self-taught.
National Geographic is just another example. When I reached adulthood, I had bought my own subscription to this old periodical and maintained it until sometime in the late Nineties. The last straw was their cable TV channel, the mostly terrible programming thereon, and the descent of the magazine as Mr. Judge describes. Not to mention the stupid “NatGeo” appellation.
It was once a fine American periodical, professional, fact-based, scrupulously edited and fascinating. No longer. And that’s too bad.