Sunday, May 29, 2016

Not Porcellian!

Word is that Harvard is shutting down its final clubs. Do I have that term right? Or is it "finals" clubs? I don't even know what they are, exactly, but for some reason their demise is making national headlines. It's the sort of story that, in a rational world, you and I would never have heard of, or formed an opinion about; but seeing that we are not in such a world, chances are we did, and have. So what are the thoughts and feelings that come to mind at this news? First -- a kind of awe. One can't help but be impressed with the university for actually being willing to épater some its most well-heeled alumni by shuttering their old stomping grounds. With this, however, comes a sting of bitterness, derived from the very grandeur of the university's self-sacrifice. One of the few salves one has at one's disposal, after all, for the sting of sour grapes that inevitably accompanies mention of the word "Harvard," is the assurance of one's own superior virtue -- sure, they may be rich and powerful, we tell ourselves, but at least they're also evil. It therefore smarts to see the administration do anything that might challenge this assumption.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Scolding -- and Whiteness

I have mentioned before on this blog that the email "polls" from my Florida Congressman, Vern Buchanan, remain one of the few channels in my life through which I receive communiqués from the land of frothy right-wing scare-mongering. I believe I told you about the "Sanctuary for Illegals?" one. Well, the other emails are headlined in equally unsubtle ways. This is the sort of reverberating echo-chamber by which Vern takes the pulse of his constituents.

Given the tenor of the typical Buchanan "Instapoll," therefore -- I have in front of me now a couple of the choicest subject lines: "Amnesty for Illegals?"; "Support Syrian Refugee 'Surge'?"-- you can imagine my surprise at finding the far more benign-sounding "Confronting Addiction" in my inbox this weekend. And benign it was too! Vern was proposing additional funds for treating drug addiction. Sure, there were lines in there about increased enforcement as well, but the mood of the thing overall was one of compassion. I was reminded of the remarks we've been hearing on the campaign trail from the GOP candidates, of all people, about the need for drug rehabilitation; about how addiction is a public health issue, not a problem of law enforcement.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

It Can Happen Here

So that's it. It happened so much sooner than we had expected. Donald Trump is now the presumptive nominee of the Republican party. Those of us who used to imagine the possibility of one day writing that sentence and laugh are now running through the streets in terror. "It's really not funny anymore," is a sentence you've probably heard a lot this week, if your friends and acquaintances are anything like mine. I was having dinner with my Dad last night when the news came down that Cruz had formally withdrawn and the GOP nomination race was now all but over. It felt as if we were huddled at the edge of an abyss. The image that came to mind was one of Robert Lowell's, about another very real prospect of armageddon:
A father's no shield
for his child.
We are like a lot of wild
spiders crying together,
but without tears.