Monday, May 30, 2005


I've started a blogroll, to the left. I haven't yet figured out how to add a header, but there it is below the archives & recent posts.

Friday, May 27, 2005

What Are Progressives?

My somewhat uncharitable take is as follows:

I distinguish between liberals and progressives. I'm not referring to people who have this or that policy difference with the administration. Nor do I mean those who have a visceral dislike of GWB. I don't even mean, despite their utter moral silliness, those types of libs who refuse to believe that we even have any enemies, that our "enemies" are really only disgruntled people whom we haven't yet given enough foreign aid.

By "progressives", I mean those people who think America is the scourge of the world, that 9/11 was the chickens coming home to roost, that the WTC leapers were all little eichmanns, except maybe for the food service staff--and who charge an ungodly sum of money to inculcate this sewage in our children at university each year.

People who wave signs saying "We support our troops when they shoot their officers" and "Support our mutineers; free Sgt. Akbar".

People for whom no national emergency will ever be severe enough to induce them to lay aside their differences and make common cause with those bourgeois earth-rapers, their fellow Americans.

People whose response to 9/11 is to print screeds in The Nation and such, defiantly ticking off America's defects all the more stridently than before.

Because not to do so, to instead admit that their beloved United Nations is full of evil slithering filth and the hated Bush administration is the best force for good in counterpart, would make their heads explode.

Such people exist, in not insignificant numbers, and they call themselves progressives. So, so do I.

Just a gut reaction, provoked by skimming the results of a search for "progressives" in FT's search box...

Monday, May 16, 2005

In The Blood

From the December 2001 issue:

"A people like us—a people who have convinced ourselves that myth never actually works—cannot understand when real myth rises up in the world again in all its violent, sacrificial, monstrous, and satanic glory. With six thousand dead on September 11, we know beyond doubt what blood is. But we have forgotten what blood means. The crowds in the streets of Cairo, the marchers in Islamabad, the Palestinians who ululated and fired off their guns to celebrate the slaughter of Americans: they still grasp what blood does and why a mythic culture needs violence for its foundation. Until we remember again what they have not forgotten, we will not be able to respond—with the right infinite justice, or the right finite justice, or even the right mercy. We will keep getting it wrong."

-- J. Bottum, "What Violence Is For"

We've been fighting--or fighting back, anyway--terrorists since 9/11 for longer than we fought in WWII. This prescient piece by J. Bottum makes clear that we're going to need all the staying power we can muster.

Monday, May 02, 2005

H. L. Mencken

I love H. L. Mencken, and I'm always glad to see that the editors of FT do also. For instance, this:

Throughout his mature life, Mencken insisted that he was not an atheist (for such a judgment would require a knowledge that was beyond "sound thought") but rather an agnostic. Asked once what he would do if on his death he found himself facing the twelve apostles, he answered (and in this instance we may be sure that beneath the humor lay deep convictions about intellectual honesty), "I would simply say, 'Gentlemen, I was mistaken.'" Imagine Carl Sagan saying such a thing about the possibility of his encounter with a postmortem minyan, and you begin to understand the difference between the agnostic Mencken and the true village atheist. ...

For if Mencken was the intrinsically lonely man suggested by Fred Hobson's biography, then his incapacity for, but appreciation of, the poetry of faith was doubly tragic. And this Menckenian, who believes that the old man did meet the twelve apostles in the early hours of January 29, 1956, would like to think that they-understanding the tragedy full well, honoring his frank acknowledgment of an invincible ignorance, and knowing his history-invited him in for a beer.

Separation of Synagogue and State

Would you really be more proud of and more connected to your Judaism if it had nothing to say about hunger or homelessness; nothing to say about capital punishment or abortion; nothing to say about euthanasia or rationing health care; nothing to say about genetic engineering or third world debt, violence or pornography, poverty or slavery? Would Judaism truly inspire you and uplift you, would it transform your soul and realize your dreams if it was merely a complete theory of candle lighting and bread blessing?