Mistakes Were Made


I’m haunted by that sentence in Lincoln’s second inaugural: “And the war came.”
(David Brooks, “The Racial Reckoning Comes,” NYTimes, 6-6-19)

David Brooks is well haunted. Lincoln could make words punch above their weight. His mastery lends killing clout to a simple declarative sentence. The banal, intransitive verb following the copulative conjunction and naked noun-of-war implies fatalistic, repetitive consequence. It has the passivity of “mistakes were made” but without the dodginess. Both constructions erase the agent, leaving mistakes and war as their own perpetrators.

(c) 2019 JMN

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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