Michael Brendan Dougherty on the sad cult of esoteric Trumpism

Those who have clung to a stubborn faith in Trump look set to soon find that he has abandoned them in a world he hardly changed — a world said faith has led them to believe is run with impunity by an omnipotent, ultra-competent cabal of kiddie-diddlers.

Then again, that’s the pattern of cults, isn’t it? A revelation of truth from on high will set you free; a Gnostic secret, known only to adepts, will make the world into a prison. — Michael Brendan Dougherty

Going Old School … Blogging

I’m attempting an experiment here.  I’ve been using Tumblr to “blog” off and on for some time now and have not really used this site much.  But as I have gone through an existential crisis over at Collected Miscellany I started thinking about what I really want to do with the domains I pay for.

I kicked around the idea of just giving up, which I might still do ;-)

But I decided that the best next step was to focus the content.  I have flirted with general blogging over at CM occasionally but never really committed to it (surprising, I know).  But I think that is the wrong approach.  I think if CM has an value (and lets be blunt, the traffic is all but gone) it is in book reviews and author interviews not as a tumblr/blog. I’m going to try and clean that site up and use it just to post book reviews.  I also hope to work on writing more focused and valuable reviews as part of that process (fingers crossed).

So. I decided that if I want a place to save quotes, links and opinions, that place is here at my eponymous home.  I imported my Tumblr posts and set up this domain as a blog.

Do blogs still work?  Does anyone really care what I think?  Will I stick with this approach long enough to find out? Who knows.  Stay tuned…

If you like this sort of thing, please leave a comment and I hope you will come back and visit.


Joshua Treviño on what left and right are getting wrong about Nelson Mandela

Josh Trevino posted this to Facebook (and gave permission to share it) and I think it is well worth reading. Informed by history and an understanding of the complexity and contingency of life and human beings.  Not simply cold ideology that filters everything through the lens of today’s political battles.

The reactions to Mandela’s passing are generally what one might expect, and, as laudatory as they are, also generally deserved. But two corners are not covering themselves with glory: The first, from the right, being those who denounce him as a Communist (he was) and a friend of tyrants (most definitely) and a terrorist (debatable) and having left a legacy of ruin (not really), and therefore not worthy of the praise given him. The second, from the left, is having a marvelous time dredging up every skeptic of Mandela and his ANC prior to 1990, and getting in one last kick against those who failed to join the liberal consensus at the proper time.

Well. Historical memory is malleable and imperfect. The truth about Nelson Mandela is that one may bring the full bill of charges against him and still find a great man: and that bill exists. The implacable critics on the right, and the post-facto triumphalists on the left, both forget Burke’s admonition:

“I cannot stand forward, and give praise or blame to anything which relates to human actions, and human concerns, on a simple view of the object, as it stands stripped of every relation, in all the nakedness and solitude of metaphysical abstraction. Circumstances (which with some gentlemen pass for nothing) give in reality to every political principle its distinguishing colour and discriminating effect. The circumstances are what render every civil and political scheme beneficial or noxious to mankind.”

Those who believe Mandela was obviously a reconciliation-minded hero before 1990 willfully ignore the circumstances of nearly every one of his political type before him, from Mugabe to Nkrumah to Nasser to Indira Gandhi and much beyond. The list of left-wing figures who appealed to liberal principles while out of power, and then governed as bloody-minded authoritarians when in it, is long. In fact, it’s most of them. Caution that Mandela would prove yet another of their number, when his background was so drearily common in their ranks, was simply prediction born of empiricism.

Those who believe that Mandela was obviously at bottom a terrorist and Marxist both in and out of power willfully ignore the circumstances of what he actually did when his entire nation — including all his enemies — lay within his grasp. It’s a long list, but let me cite three illustrative things. First, he invited his Robben Island jailers to his inauguration, and even later intervened to see that one of them received a promised civil-service promotion. Second, he wore the Springboks jersey: if you don’t know the story, look it up. Third, and most important, he retired after a single term in office.

It’s the first two that set him apart as a good man. It’s that last, George Washington-style deliberate setting of precedent with the shedding of supreme power — and make no mistake, he could have died as a sitting president had he wished — that sets him apart as a great man. Acquisition of power is common. Exercise of power is too common. Restraint and refusal to use power is uncommon. Relinquishing power entirely, under no compulsion or stricture, is extraordinary. That alone, even in the absence of all else, makes a life worth celebrating — and remembering.