In this scroll:
- Quotes of the Week
- Sorry, Mom: Rant of the Week
- Final Thought on the Rant
- Doing the Right Thing: Returning Ancient Artifacts
- On Religion and the Vicissitudes of the English Language
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
Joe Biden has a lot of talented and qualified women he can rely on to make good his pledge to select a woman as his running mate. My choice is Stacey Abrams. Any black woman who came so close to winning the governorship of Georgia is damn near an icon of the power and appeal of black women in their demanding roles. But that notwithstanding, she nailed it for me with the following quote vis a vis her interest in running because there is nothing coy about it:
“Yes, I would be willing to serve.” – NYTimes, May 20, 2020
As Donald Trump approaches 18,000 lies, I thought this quote from Paul Krugman’s “Arguing With Zombies” most appropriate:
“The immediate threat (to our nation) is the Republican contempt for the truth and a rush to demonize any and all criticism.”
Note: I considered skipping posting this week because so much has happened this week that it is hard to put it into a five paragraph perspective without being redundant. Even the pundits are having a problem finding things to say that don’t sound like what they wrote last week or said this morning. So am I. With nothing much to add to the discussion, I decided to do what ordinarily I would shy away from simply because it is distasteful to me and violates one of the first rules my mother taught me: “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything.” Good advice, Mom, but hard to live up to. Especially now. What I did was follow the first part of another piece of her advice: “If you can’t say anything good, then write it down and when you’ve ventilated, tear it up and throw it away.”
Once I have written it down, I do what I nearly always do. I give it to a couple of people whose advice I value and respect to see if its suitable for posting. One suggested I post it because “It needs to be said.” and the other said, “Well, it’s another rant.” I took the latter to mean that another rant about things most people already know and have already made their mind up about is not going to make much difference. It may be one thing for Steve Schmidt to rant about Trump because he is a part of a GOP establishment that somehow picked Sarah Palin to run as Vice-President. But he is not only right when he rants, he’s entertaining. I’d settle for being right, but who cares what an 82 year old knee-jerk liberal thinks? I’m not trying to lead a revolt and I’m largely preaching to a choir that’s already in tune.
But what’s the alternative? To stay silent about what’s happening in our nation doesn’t seem right. We are a democracy and democracy depends upon an engaged and appropriately enraged citizenry, if not always a universally well-informed one. So, with my productive days behind me, I have the time to try to become informed and it isn’t always easy with failing eyesight if some prime sources are printed in six-point agate. Anyway, I have opted to share with you a compromised version of my original rant. Less rant, but, hopefully, mildly entertaining.
There is something tragic about a nation as great as ours being unable to rid itself of the morass of stultifying incompetence and divisions that seem to permeate every facet of our society these days as we deal with a pestilence that never should have happened if XXXXXXXXXX. A nation that can’t keep toilet paper on the shelves or a poseur who has to carry an automatic weapon into a state capitol to register a protest is a nation under siege of broken-downitis.
This is not to diminish the unbelievable personal sacrifices and dedication of our health care providers and first responders in their struggle against the coronavirus; only to suggest that they, too, are caught in a broken system that didn’t even have enough masks on hand to protect them and who should be led by a Maskless Man who instead sets a bad example by taking a drug that experts have warned against and has even speculated that taking bleach or injecting a disinfectant as a preventative could help. Are we really the kind of a people who would tolerate 100,000 folks dying for the Dow? I have read a lot of ads saying “Thank You” to the heroes in white, green and blue, but not one that says “We’re Sorry We Let You Down.”
What this rant is about are the people who have become – and which history will judge them to be – the enablers of a man who has lied to the nation almost 18,000 times (an average of six times a day since in office) and whose accomplishments in office will have to be undone by the next poor soul who is elected to the highest office and inherits the dubious task of trying to unite the country.
So isn’t it time we said to all those who enable the divider that we reject their XXX, their XXX, their XXX, their XXX, their XXX, their XXX, and their XXX? Is it not time that we hold them accountable for finding something of value in a man that even those who were up close and personal to him called him a XXX and worse? Hasn’t enough time passed for the shock to the system they wanted to register be recognized as accomplishing nothing but to put our very democracy at risk, lined the pockets of the 1%, imprisoned children, forced a bailout of farmers, manipulated our Federal court system, and failed to meet even the lowest standard of preparedness when something they ignored was about to attack our economy and our most vulnerable?
How do we hold them accountable? WE VOTE.
This piece of conventional advice was followed by two more paragraphs of rant that failed to meet the standards of my reviewers. At least I kept this rant to five paragraphs.
A FINAL THOUGHT (ON THE ABOVE.)
I am rereading Gore Vidal’s Burr. In a new introduction to the edition I am reading, he writes: “Burr’s popularity with that small public which reads books voluntarily was the first sign that there does exist an intelligent public highly dissatisfied with the way history is taught in the schools…” Having taught history, I was immediately offended by his judgment. However, on really mature reflection, I remembered that E. H. Carr said that the facts of history are like fish on a fishmonger’s slab. You pick and choose the ones you want. What Mr. Vidal has done is to fictionalize and, in the process, humanize the giants of another age and make them all the more believable. And smaller. And more interesting.
DOING THE RIGHT THING
I was relieved to read that the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. is supportive of returning to Iraq an ancient cuneiform tablet that has a part of the Epic of Gilgamesh scratched into it. It was purchased illegally by the president of Hobby Lobby, who claims he “trusted the wrong people.”
I have had the privilege of holding ancient artifacts in my grubby hands while digging in Greece and Sicily and there is a kind of reverence about the experience for me, a sort of spiritual connection with the past. I can understand a person wanting to own one and I had to resist the temptation of taking off with a ceramic loom weight that, with dozens of others, helped sink an ancient fish net into the waters off the island of Kea. What I can’t understand is someone willing to buy a bunch of artifacts that had nothing to do with Christianity except that they came from the Middle East and use them to proselytize a point of view.
Now I appreciate Hobby Lobby being a convenient source for Testors glue, essential to my hobby of modeling, and they certainly have a right to combine their business values with their religious values as long as they don’t discriminate. Still, I wonder why I feel a faint uneasiness when I go into the store, as if I’m doing something wrong. Especially when I run out of glue on a Sunday and the store is closed.
SPEAKING OF RELIGION AND THE VICISSITUDES OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
Daughter Alyson is working from home and she and her colleagues use the office chat board to exchange work information. Sometimes, however, someone posts a joke. I liked these two:
“Did you hear about that cult of atheists? They claimed to be a Non-Prophet religion (for tax purposes.)”
“Working from home has made me realize that no matter how hard you push the envelope it will always remain stationary.” (Funny, but would it have been as funny if it had been spelled with the “e”?)
I also received another joke from another source that wasn’t quite as original as the ones above, but which struck a cord.
“What is life in Hell like?”
“A pandemic during a Trump Administration.”