Outside Paradise, government will never be perfect. But that's no reason to give up
on it—any more than the fact that we can't love our children perfectly entails giving up on loving them as well as we can.
In 1859, an 11-year-old Catholic boy, Thomas Whall, refused to recite the Ten Commandments from the King James Bible in a public school. McLaurin Cooke, an assistant principal, whipped Whall's hands with a rattan rod for 30 minutes. With his hands bleeding and swollen, the boy finally gave in. Police arrested Cooke, but a court dismissed charges of assault and battery.
To European visitors in the first half of the 19th century, Americans were like their newfangled steamboats: noisy, combustible, always on the move—and dirty. "I hardly know any annoyance so deeply repugnant to English feelings as the incessant, remorseless spitting of Americans," Frances Trollope reported.
Reading a book by Terry Eagleton is like watching fireworks. The reader can become so delighted with the rhetorical pyrotechnics that the force of the argument is lost. But for all the literary razzle-dazzle, Eagleton is a serious and determined critic of the capitalist status quo.
Last August, Darryl Jackson Jr., a 24-year-old African American, was arrested in Valparaiso, Indiana, for resisting arrest and failure to identify himself. Jackson was approached by a white police officer while parked by a curb waiting for a friend. Criminal charges were dropped, but the mayor objected to the police action, and activists at Valparaiso University came to Jackson’s defense. Through mediation by citizens, the mayor, the sheriff, and Jackson had collaborative discussion, resulting in a joint statement of apology and reconciliation (WBEZ, November 10).