"The more we read," writes James Fallows, "the more we see reminders that experiences or perceptions we thought were distinctive to us are in fact widespread, even banal." And here I thought I was the only one who ever noticed that!
Fallows has in mind his admiration of the Book of Common Prayer.
I don't get that excited about the perennial calls for civility in politics. Treating others with respect is important, and I certainly have no problem with political discourse that's even friendly and good-humored. But it's not clear that the latter serves any purpose beyond itself—that it builds understanding or encourages useful moderation or enables compromise. Chatting may be generally preferable to yelling, but it's not really a solution to division and gridlock.
I do, however, appreciate timely reminders that our neighbors include those we disagree with.
James Bennet's post from earlier this week made an important and timely point. First he observes that a lot of political reporting has taken a turn from the destructive banality of he-said-she-said false equivalency stuff and toward playing an explicit fact-checking role. (I'm among those who welcome this enthusiastically.)
Then he poses this somewhat chilling question: "What if it turns out that when the press calls a lie a lie, nobody cares?"
Bennet was talking about the Romney campaign's ads misrepresenting the Obama administration's policy on welfare-to-work. But his post seems all the more relevant today, in the wake of Congressman Ryan's speech at the RNC last night.
The Jerusalem Post, reporting today on a Haifa court's verdict supporting the Israeli government's position on the 2003 death of U.S. activist Rachel Corrie:
A Haifa District Court invoked the "combatant activities" exception, and said on Tuesday that the US activist who was killed in disputed circumstances involving an IDF bulldozer on March 16, 2003, while protesting an IDF home demolition in Rafah, could have avoided the dangerous situation. The court nonetheless called her death a "regrettable accident."
Musician and activist Tom Morello has gotten a lot of pats on the back for his strongly worded rebuke of Congressman Paul Ryan in Rolling Stone last week. And sure, it's hard to resist a hook that juicy: Morello's best-known project, the leftist and often polemical Rage Against the Machine, is one of Ryan's favorite bands.
It's hard to imagine a more efficient way to rack up diverse denunciations than Rep. Todd Akin's approach in an interview on Sunday, when in one breath he both promoted a foul bit of junk science alleging that rape victims don't generally get pregnant (and thus don't need abortion services) and coined the term "legitimate rape." Pretty much everyone everywhere has condemned his comments, and rightly so.
A number of rape victims have written responses, including Shauna Prewitt, whose post at xoJane went viral and taught a lot of us something appalling that we didn't know.
Yesterday, the First Family attended worship at St. John's Episcopal Church in DC. I'm on a press advisory e-mail list from the White House Communications Office, which was kind enough to send out this short note:
The gospel in today's mass is John 6:51-58.
Jesus said, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever ...
I don't usually nitpick weak media coverage of electoral politics, but I take it personally when it's about the place where I grew up. Yesterday Renee Montagne interviewed Brad Lichtenstein, who recently shot a documentary about Janesville, WI.
A few hours ago, a man walked into the Family Research Council's headquarters in DC, where he shot and wounded a security guard before guards and bystanders subdued him. This should go without saying, but that was a despicable, cowardly, immoral thing to do. There is categorically no place for this kind of violence.
Among my writerly friends and kin, debates about language rules are routine. I tend to wave the descriptivist flag, arguing various versions of the point that if almost everyone defines / conjugates / pronounces a word a particular way, there just isn't any coherent reason to call it wrong anymore.
I've so far declined to comment on Wheaton College's decision to join the election-year culture war skirmish du jour by suing the feds for stomping all over its religious freedom requiring insurers to cover basic women's health needs while allowing faith-based employers to themselves stay out of it. I was sad but not surprised to learn of this move. Wheaton takes it as not only one legitimate view but an article of evangelical conviction that the morning after pill is unacceptable? Sure, okay. I disagree with my alma mater, but it's hardly the first time.
I've had a convert's fervor for liturgical worship ever since I stumbled upon an ELCA music position as a recent Wheaton College grad with a very low-church background. (When my much-younger sister advanced pretty far in the state spelling bee but didn't win, my dad told her to call me. "I lost on a word I've never heard of: 'liturgy,'" she said. "Dad said you'd know why that was funny.")