Mar 08, 2000
Before the outbreak of World War I, the Century, not unlike many other American journals, regularly expressed an idealistic and basically isolationist position when considering America’s role in the world. In this approach, the magazine reflected the attitudes of Presidents William Howard Taft (1909-1913) and Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921), both idealists who were shaped by the period of isolation enjoyed by America before the Spanish-American War of 1898.
I imagine it like this. We put up signs all over the Northeast Kingdom, that region of Vermont in which my neighbors and I continue to enjoy the distinction of being outnumbered by Holstein cows. The signs invite anyone with a chainsaw, and especially those who make a living with one, to come to a Monday sunrise service to have their saws blessed.
"The politics of death is a bottomless pit that sucks everybody in.” This judgment, offered by a California attorney who has tried more than 100 capital cases, aptly summarizes the complicated arguments for and against the death penalty in American culture. After all, who can deny the horrors of a Ted Bundy or a Jeffrey Dahmer? Who can deny the pain of parents whose children are slaughtered by unrepentant murderers? Yet how many innocent people have died in the midst of a politics of revenge? How do we account for racial and economic disparities among those sentenced to death?