Century Marks

Century Marks

Arms and the state

Arms manufacturers like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Gruman, General Motors and Raytheon are the largest, most powerful interest groups in the U.S., claims Andrew Feinstein (The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade). The arms industry is driving foreign and domestic policies and is involved in shady and illegal business deals at home and abroad. The American arms industry lobbied for the war in Iraq. Halliburton, which gave over $1 million to the Republican Party between 1998 and 2003, was a huge beneficiary of that war. Lockheed Martin pushed for the expansion of NATO, because it called for Eastern European countries to upgrade their militaries, often buying from U.S. companies. Congressional members with defense contractors in their districts find it nearly impossible to oppose America’s going to war (review in TLS, March 30).

Along for the ride

Imagine someone came up to you on the street and said: "My bus leaves in two minutes. Tell me about the resurrection in the time remaining." Elizabeth Templeton, who posed that challenge to the Church of England's House of Bishops, said her own response would be: "If you really want to hear about the resurrection, be prepared to miss your bus." Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams had another suggestion: "I think I'd have asked the man where he was going, then said that I'd accompany him on the journey" (Benjamin Myers, Christ the Stran­ger: The Theology of Rowan Williams).

Class warfare

The Great Recession did nothing to reverse the gross inequality of wealth and income. The superrich households (the top one-tenth of the top 1 percent) received 37 percent of all the economic gains made during 2010. The rest of the top 10 percent received all the other gains. Last year the richest 1 percent of taxpayers saved more money from the Bush tax cuts than the rest of the 141 million taxpaying Americans made in total income (NationofChange.org).

Attic treasures

A treasure trove of artifacts was uncovered at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg when workers broke through the walls and ceilings during the renovation of a 180-year-old dormitory. Found were a nearly century-old wardrobe signed by decades of students, letters to Civil War soldiers, a plaster relief of Martin Luther and four men's shoes, the oldest dating to 1830. The shoes were deliberately damaged before being stored in the walls, apparently a folk custom intended to bring good luck. In one of the letters, a father encouraged his soldier son to kill "Old Jeff," meaning Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy. Known as the Old Dorm, the building was converted into a hospital during the Civil War. It is being turned into an interpretive museum showing neglected dimensions of the Civil War (Evening Sun, March 12).

Due diligence

Nigerian-born novelist Teju Cole has issued a series of tweets critiquing what he calls the White Savior Industrial Complex. Among them: "This world exists simply to satisfy the needs—including, importantly, the sentimental needs—of white people and Oprah." "The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege." If you're going to involve yourself in the lives of others, Cole argues, ask them what they think they need. Look at the broader issues in African countries—the need for a more equitable civil society, robust democracy and a fairer system of justice. U.S. policy is determined by its need for Nigerian oil rather than by the plight of ordinary Nigerians, Cole says (Atlantic, March 21).