Sunday Night Journal, June 24, 2018
First it was "the personal is the political." Now it's "the political is the personal." The politicization of everything, as this National Review writer describes it, is bad. But it's not mysterious. Consider these items from that piece:
I fear that we shall go the way of The Nation’s Liza Featherstone, who recently warned an advice-seeker against dating a man who may be (egad!) a conservative and (perish the thought!) a fan of Jordan Peterson....
In 2012, David Graham, writing in The Atlantic, noted a study that showed that a growing number of Americans would be displeased if their children married someone of the other party.
That sounds bad. It is bad. But if you change the "liberal" and "conservative" categories to "fervent atheist" and "fervent Christian," it makes sense. Even without actual animosity, two people with such seriously opposing views on such fundamental matters ought to think twice, at least, about getting involved in love and marriage with each other.
More disturbing than such views about romance are the instances I've seen of liberals not wanting to live in the same neighborhood as conservatives. Maybe the same thing happens in the other direction, but I haven't encountered it.
Once again I assert that the culture war is actually a religious conflict. I say this not for the purpose of inflaming the situation but of understanding what is actually happening. It's possible--only possible--that if people on both sides were more aware of this they might make more of an effort to tamp down their anger. Or then again it might make things worse, if people recognize that there are irreconcilable differences over first principles, not just policies. Well, even so, I prefer to have a clear understanding, even if that means recognizing that a situation is more dire than I had hoped.
In that long Facebook argument (381 comments!) I mentioned a few weeks ago in which I was taken to task for my comments about toxic femininity, I was criticized for "attempt[ing] to be reasonable" when the other person thought (apparently) that I should be emotional. I almost took this as a compliment, because I think reasonableness is in pretty short supply these days where political-cultural matters are concerned. That was certainly on display this past week in the matter of parents and children being separated when families enter the country illegally.
As I always take pains to say whenever I discuss anything having to do with Donald Trump, I did not support him, and the best I can say about his presidency is that it hasn't been as bad as I feared. But the open crusade waged by the media, the entertainment industry et.al. is so disproportionate to what he is actually doing that when some "Oh my God did you hear what Trump just did?!?" story hits the news, which it does at least once a week, I automatically assume that it's exaggerated. I wait several days before even bothering to check it out, because the chances are very good that it will turn out to be either not as bad or not as significant as reported, and sometimes that it's not entirely true. It often seems that the anti-Trump forces never heard the old fable of the boy who cried wolf. Or didn't understand its lesson, and thought that the problem was that the boy didn't scream loudly enough.
The family separations were (are?) a harsh and unjust practice and well worth objecting to. And so, the thing in question being in fact bad, nothing apparently would do but to ratchet up the emoting even further, and to ignore the legal and practical complexities that led to it. As usual, the only place left to go when you're stretching for a way of describing your enemy as the Ultimate Evil is the Nazi comparison. This requires equating the temporary incarceration of people who have entered a country without permission with slaughtering them. Even aside from the moral blindness of the comparison, its sheer stupidity ought to have kept anyone but Trump-deranged fanatics from making it. Yet a former director of the CIA made it, very publicly, and then defended it. I think Neo-neocon's rejoinder is worth quoting:
So: no, there is nothing familiar, not even vaguely, to the Holocaust, and it is a disgrace to suggest that there is.
I’m not going to go into a long post describing the Holocaust, but it is clear to all who study history that the death camps and even work camps were not refugee detention centers, and the people in them (Jews and others) were not illegal immigrants asking for asylum or seeking to become German citizens (or Polish citizens for that matter, the country where the Germans located most of the death camps).
In Nazi work camps, many people (if relatively able-bodied to begin with) were set to “work” to be starved, tortured both psychologically and physically, and killed in droves by disease and exhaustion because of the terrible conditions. In Nazi death camps they were killed at the outset, although a very small percentage were spared briefly to help with the cleanup of the mass killing in exchange for a few more months of life, or to work at certain other tasks for a while under conditions that would ordinarily kill them rather quickly (within months as a rule). The object was to eliminate them as a group from the face of the earth, and certainly from Europe.
That was the stark reality, and it is obscene to make the comparison so many people are making.
If you want to read some exasperatingly reasonable discussion of the complex immigration situation, try Damon Linker or David Frum. I'm usually not much of a fan of Frum, but I think he's on target here. Damon Linker is often interesting. He seems to consider himself on the left--"center-left" I think is the term he uses--but is willing to take conservative and/or populist concerns seriously and to characterize them fairly, which is unusual to put it mildly.
Well, I didn't intend to write that much about politics. Now I've run out of time for the music-related post I had planned. Next week.
For more than ten years we had a Meyer lemon tree growing beside our front steps. In many of those years it bore more lemons than we knew what to do with. This is a how it looked in its glory days, a picture of a few branches of a tree that was eight feet or so tall.
When life gives you this many lemons, limoncello, not lemonade, is the appropriate response. Several years ago my wife made a big batch of it, several quarts at least, stored in Mason jars. It's delicious and very potent, made with a base of Everclear. I've been using this neat little bottle to dispense it. It originally contained two different and delicious liqueurs, brought from Europe (France, I think) by one of our children. I liked the bottle(s) so much that I didn't want to throw it (them) away, and have been using it for limoncello for a while now. A few days ago I poured the last of the limoncello into it and took this memorial photo.
I call it a memorial because this not just the last of that big batch: it's the last ever from our lovely lemon tree. Several years ago we had an unusually cold winter which had the tree covered in ice for several days. It lost all its leaves and we thought it might be dead, but it recovered, partially, and gave us a few lemons the next year. Then the year after we had another cold spell, not quite as bad as the earlier one but enough to kill back all the leaves, and that was pretty much the end of the tree. This spring only a few living branches were left and we finally cut it down. I'll spare you the sad sight of the stump.
What a sad post, about the lemon tree that is.
All you say about the immigrant children kerkuffle is true. However, it is quite amazing the lack of compassion from the WH. And then there is Melania's jacket, whatever the heck it meant. Or did the liberal media CGI it onto her back?
Posted by: Stu | 06/25/2018 at 08:53 AM
No idea at all what to make of the jacket thing. I had the impression that things like that are kind of fashionable in some circles now. But why wear it?!? Even if she herself was oblivious to the way it would come across, surely someone on the staff would have said, "Umm...." Beats me.
Posted by: Mac | 06/25/2018 at 09:52 AM
"What the hell are his opponents thinking? Have they not noticed that their hysteria is mostly being ignored? Have they not started to worry that, worse, it might be having the opposite effect to the one intended? Do they not care that Trump’s approval is now where Ronald Reagan’s was, and where Bill Clinton’s was, and where Barack Obama’s was at the same point in their territories? That the generic ballot lead has shrunk again? Are they not aware that, when voters start to fear violence, mass-protest, and incipient mob rule, they vote for Republicans, not Democrats?"
"Congrats! Your “[Terrible thing is happening.] [Nazi analogy.] This. Is. Not. Normal. It’s 2018. Think about that.” tweet got 74,000 likes! If the aim is to drive Trump from office and win public policy arguments, they’re losing — bigly."
Posted by: Mac | 06/25/2018 at 01:35 PM
Truly, though, isn't the reality of Trump in the White House enough to make anyone slightly nuts? Take his latest tweet, for instance, in response to Maxine Waters' contemptible call for folks to harass public officials. Instead of saying something "presidential" to calm the waters, he does this:
Posted by: Marianne | 06/25/2018 at 04:09 PM
Are people in fact making a comparison to the Holocaust, or to the concentration camps of the 1930s? Because the latter comparison doesn't seem far off the unreasonableness and injustice of the policy being pursued on the US border in recent weeks. The extermination camps only got going mid-war. I can't help thinking that Neoneocon is being disingenuous in taking the reference to concentration camps to be a reference to the Holocaust.
Posted by: Paul | 06/25/2018 at 04:19 PM
That "calm the waters" was an unintended pun, by the way. :)
Posted by: Marianne | 06/25/2018 at 04:40 PM
"More disturbing than such views about romance are the instances I've seen of liberals not wanting to live in the same neighborhood as conservatives. Maybe the same thing happens in the other direction, but I haven't encountered it."
I am resigned to living among barbarians, until they kill me, but in the last year or so, I must say that I really would prefer to have nothing to do with people who support abortion and same sex fake marriage, in particular. Atheists I could also really happily live without. I do have a small number of friends who have those ghastly views, and my lingering affection for them means I won't simply cut them off. But I won't spend much time with them either.
Posted by: Louise | 06/25/2018 at 04:56 PM
I have no intention of ever becoming friends, or even friendly acquaintances with people who support abortion etc. I can't do it any more. They act like they're demon possessed, and their self-righteousness irks me far too much. I'm done with them.
Posted by: Louise | 06/25/2018 at 04:58 PM
RIP lemon tree, which is perhaps the most melancholy thing about this post.
That limoncello looks YUM!!!
Posted by: Louise | 06/25/2018 at 05:02 PM
"And then there is Melania's jacket, whatever the heck it meant."
Nobody in his right mind would care.
Posted by: Louise | 06/25/2018 at 05:03 PM
"Truly, though, isn't the reality of Trump in the White House enough to make anyone slightly nuts?"
No, I think that is OTT.
Posted by: Louise | 06/25/2018 at 05:05 PM
In completely different news, it looks like we will be headed back to Australia to live in about 6 months. the kids and I are also going back for a holiday in September. This was planned way before the move looked likely.
Posted by: Louise | 06/25/2018 at 05:06 PM
I hope that's a good thing.
I don't have a problem being friends with people of very different views as long as we can stay off Those Subjects. That's easy with some people, less so with others.
Posted by: Mac | 06/25/2018 at 05:37 PM
Marianne: "Truly, though, isn't the reality of Trump in the White House enough to make anyone slightly nuts?"
Oh yes. There was some faint hope when Trump was first elected that he would become more "presidential", but that seems to have been dashed. It's entirely possible that he's "trolling" people. Probable in fact. And it works, insofar as it drives his opponents crazy and gets some of his own supporters fired up. He doesn't miss a chance to pour gasoline on the fire, nor do his frenzied opponents. It's a vicious circle. There's a school of opinion that thinks people like Maxine Waters are going to get him re-elected, as those C Cooke quotes above suggest.
Trump also went off on how "filthy" the restaurant that refused service to Sarah Sanders is.
Posted by: Mac | 06/25/2018 at 05:51 PM
Paul: "Are people in fact making a comparison to the Holocaust, or to the concentration camps of the 1930s?"
Oh yes, they very much are. You give way too much credit to the level of discourse going on here. I'd venture to say that not one person in 50 making the Nazi comparison is even aware of the distinction you make. That tweet from the general (!) makes its point with a picture of Auschwitz.
Posted by: Mac | 06/25/2018 at 05:54 PM
The probable move is more or less a good thing. There are advantages and disadvantages.
Posted by: Louise | 06/25/2018 at 07:08 PM
I hope it ends up being mostly good.
Posted by: Mac | 06/25/2018 at 10:34 PM
"I don't have a problem being friends with people of very different views as long as we can stay off Those Subjects. That's easy with some people, less so with others."
I have friends that are way to the left of me on this stuff, and relatives that are way to the right (Obama birther types). I've learned to steer clear of talking about certain things. Fortunately the lefties I know are mostly hippie types; broadly progressively socially but mostly apolitical. To them the Dems and the GOP are all "The Man." LOL
My relatives are another story. They simply can't understand why I don't care about the latest Clinton conspiracy theory or new piece of evidence about something unsavory that happened in the Obama administration. This is what comes of staying up late at night and listening to alt-right podcasts. That stuff will rot your brain (as will its leftie counterparts).
Posted by: Rob G | 06/26/2018 at 05:55 AM
Fair enough. That is over the top (and fairly offensive).
Posted by: Paul | 06/26/2018 at 08:23 AM
My "one in 50" is probably too high. One in 100 might be closer. The reasoning, so to speak, being applied in current political rhetoric is that if you can find anything in common between fascists and your enemy, you can equate them.
"That stuff will rot your brain." During the Clinton administration I was on an email list that discussed Clinton administration scandals. Some of it was plausible, though unprovable. But mixed in with that was a lot of preposterous stuff. At some point a guy who was determined to stick to verifiable facts took over the management of the list and culled out the wilder stuff, which really irritated a lot of the subscribers.
Posted by: Mac | 06/26/2018 at 08:45 AM
This morning Adolph is attacking the beloved US institution of Harley Davidson, one in which it would seem that most of the buyers of their products might be supporters of his. They think he is right about everything, so he probably is about this too.
Posted by: Stu | 06/26/2018 at 09:28 AM
Everybody on both sides would be happier if they would ignore this stuff. He's like the bully who will keep on as long as he knows he's getting to you.
Posted by: Mac | 06/26/2018 at 10:57 AM
There is probably some comedy gold out there in a parody of Hitler tweeting on various subjects.
Posted by: Stu | 06/26/2018 at 11:06 AM
Apparently prior to the rise of the Nazi party in Germany, when people had the need to compare someone to the most despicable in history they would say "Pharaoh".
In a few years people will have forgotten about Hitler, and "Trump" will replace he and the Nazis. :)
Posted by: Stu | 06/26/2018 at 11:10 AM
In that long Facebook argument (381 comments!) I mentioned a few weeks ago in which I was taken to task for my comments about toxic femininity, I was criticized for "attempt[ing] to be reasonable" when the other person thought (apparently) that I should be emotional.
I must have missed that.
Posted by: Janet | 06/26/2018 at 01:57 PM
Well then, I guess you just need to read the whole thing again. :-)
"In a few years people will have forgotten about Hitler, and "Trump" will replace he and the Nazis. :)"
And in a hundred years historians will be appalled that we picked a two-bit wannabe like him instead of true monsters like Stalin.
Posted by: Mac | 06/26/2018 at 02:35 PM
Advantage 1: Being close to ageing parents.
Disadvantage 1: Leaving behind an amazing and large network of very committed, good Catholic home schoolers.
Posted by: Louise | 06/26/2018 at 02:44 PM
Well then, I guess you just need to read the whole thing again. :-)
Thanks, I needed a good laugh.
Posted by: Janet | 06/26/2018 at 03:56 PM
http://thethreeprayers.blogspot.com/2018/06/thinking-and-friendship-in-dark-time.html?, but pertinent, I think, to some of what you say above.
Posted by: Janet | 06/26/2018 at 04:00 PM
So much for my html.
Posted by: Janet | 06/26/2018 at 04:01 PM
Nothing wrong with it, the link works. I read your post but don't have time to listen to the interview. Not sure when I will have, unfortunately. It does sound worthwhile.
Posted by: Mac | 06/26/2018 at 08:26 PM