Tag Archives: America

E Pluribus Nihil

Archaeologists of the far future sifting through America’s plastic ashes will peg the collapse of its civilization to two insidious language events: (1) When America dissolved “talking about problems” into “having conversations around issues.” (2) When America demoted “national” security … Continue reading

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Native ‘Son’

A chance juxtaposition of readings* has suggested to me the perennial nature of America’s brutish policing streak. In 1941, Richard Wright’s manuscript novel “The Man Who Lived Underground” is rejected by publishers who are made queasy over scenes of violence: … Continue reading

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‘Cry of Pain’

Housman’s “To an Athlete Dying Young” ruefully ironizes over a lad clever enough to “slip betimes away / From fields where glory does not stay.” Novelists, though, get more mileage out of superannuated jocks — Updike’s Rabbit Angstrom, Malamud’s Roy … Continue reading

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The Sin of Conscience (Having One)

Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania is one of 7 Republican senators who voted to convict the former president during his impeachment trial. Toomey has said he will not run for reelection in 2022. “We did not send him there to … Continue reading

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Never Cease Not Forgetting the Alamo

Civilians who take handgun training in Texas shoot at human outlines. The practice fits the tool to its purpose, which is felling humans. The shooter aims for center body mass — a generous sweet spot housing vital organs. Fifty rounds … Continue reading

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Cruzifer

I’ve sometimes wondered what was meant by American “exceptionalism.” The term had a ring of smug superiority to it. A recent article by Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker broadened my perspective, however. Gopnik pointed out that autocracy has been … Continue reading

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Words of a Stabbing Victim

On Sept. 20, 1958, while signing copies of his first book “Stride Toward Freedom” in a Harlem department store, Dr. Martin Luther King was stabbed in the chest by a young woman. The weapon, a letter opener, grazed his aorta. … Continue reading

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Tom, Dick, and Harry

There was a fun question in my daily Spanish Quora: ¿Existe en inglés el equivalente a “fulano, mengano y zutano”? The consensus in the answer thread was that “Tom, Dick and Harry” was the closest equivalent. I’m reminded of my … Continue reading

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Irish and Not Proud

William James arrived penniless in Albany, NY from County Cavan, Ireland in the late 18th century. Over the next 30 years he created a fortune second only to that of the Astor family. His grandsons, novelist Henry and philosopher William, … Continue reading

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Bret Stephens Loses His Own Argument

The NYTimes published, then repudiated, an Op-Ed piece by a Republican senator urging deployment of active-duty troops to quell looting and rioting that intruded upon mostly peaceful protests. Bret Stephens disagrees with the politician’s incitement, but says it was proper … Continue reading

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