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Adversary Culture in 2020

The unrest that erupted in late May 2020 started in ­Minneapolis, my hometown, with the death of George Floyd in police custody. In the protests and riots that followed, Black Lives Matter and Antifa were the shock troops, “police brutality” the rallying cry. It seemed at first an uprising from . . . . Continue Reading »

Beyond the Grave

The idea that one can report on one’s own death is paradoxical, if not preposterous. As ­Epicurus wrote in his Letter to Menoeceus, “When we exist, death is not; and when death exists, we are not.” To which Woody Allen added the ­footnote, “I don’t mind dying . . . as long as I . . . . Continue Reading »

Lamb to the Slaughter

George Frazier had a story about the first time he met John O’Hara. The journalist and clotheshorse Frazier was introduced to the novelist O’Hara while hanging out at a Greenwich Village jazz club. The famously cranky O’Hara looked Frazier up and down before inviting him to have a drink. . . . . Continue Reading »

Style Reveals the Man

Writing cannot be taught, as I came to realize after attempting to teach it for thirty years to university students, but it can be learned. One can only teach the mistakes bad writers make and provide examples of what makes good writers good. One cannot teach a love of language, the power of . . . . Continue Reading »

Monumental Contrast

In the annals of monumental sculpture, James Earle Fraser’s equestrian statue of Theodore Roosevelt hardly ranks as a masterpiece. The Rough Rider is portrayed in frontiersman’s garb and flanked by two figures on foot: a Plains Indian and an African tribesman. Prominently sited before the august . . . . Continue Reading »

Prudence in the Pandemic

We do not exercise moral judgment in the same manner in every instance. Broadly, there are three basic situations in the moral life, which require three different ways of thinking. The recent pandemic, and the ensuing reflections on our moral responsibilities as civic leaders and citizens, . . . . Continue Reading »

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