Monday 8/14/17

  1. Charlottesville Evil Cosplayer commentary
  2. The Judgment of History?
  3. How to get to Charlottesville
  4. Castro and Kim Jong-un
  5. Established A.D. 33


Is it just me, or are the media skipping over some basic facts to mythologize the weekend’s events in Charlottesville?

  • How many neo-Nazis and white nationalists (the press overuses epithets when describing the Right, but those pictures tell a pretty powerful story) showed up? Maybe there would have been more on Saturday, but there should at least be a good estimate of Friday’s preliminary Tiki-Torch-lit rally. It looked to me from photos like hundreds, fewer than a thousand. I don’t recall a figure being reported, though I think projections were for high-hundreds.
  • How many counter-protesters showed up? More than the protesters?
  • Is it clear which side resorted to violence first (actual violence, not just repulsive preening)? I don’t think it absolves the organizers if the antifa went violent first, since this was a deliberate provocation with evocative optics like those torches (I saw Nazi salutes, too), but this story is a hotbed of Hatfield versus McCoy grievance-tracing (Right demonstrates because Left was succeeding in getting a Robert E. Lee statue removed, but Right protesters’ white nationalism and neo-Nazi elements tend to buttress the case that the statue is functionally sinister today, etc.).
  • Does anyone know why the neo-Nazis and white nationalists chose Charlottesville? Confederate-figure statues are being taken down in many places in the south. Was it just the invitation of the Charlottesville activist, or did someone realize that a puny crowd by D.C. or NYC standards would be big by Charlottesville standards?

My suspicion is that this group of crackers is still small. Since many of them showed up barefaced and armed, though, I’m disturbed by their shamelessness and very supportive of the DOJ directing an intensive investigation for federal criminal violations this weekend or more generally. It wouldn’t hurt to put the antifa portion of the counter-demonstrators under that microscope, too.

Be it noted, too, that today’s far Right is notably anti-Christian. That’s a new thing. The older far Right feigned Christian piety.

I think it was Ross Douthat who first said “If you don’t like the Religious Right, just wait for the irreligious Right.”

Prepublication update:




How does a culture get to Charlottesville?

In a new book coming out this week, “The Once and Future Liberal,” [Mark Lilla] asserts that “classroom conversations that once might have begun, I think A, and here is my argument, now take the form, Speaking as an X, I am offended that you claim B. This makes perfect sense if you believe that identity determines everything. It means that there is no impartial space for dialogue. White men have one ‘epistemology,’ black women have another. So what remains to be said?”

(Frank Bruni)


Here’s the good news, America: The Donald Trump versus Kim Jong-un showdown may be making you nervous, but it isn’t the first time a reckless, lecherous U.S. president obsessed with his own vigor and out of his depth on foreign policy faced off against a thirtysomething di ctator armed with nukes. If we survived the Cuban missile crisis without a thermonuclear war, there’s probably a way to get through this one, too.

… In reality, the Cuban missile crisis was the kind of scenario many of us feared could follow the election of Donald Trump: An inexperienced president gets elected on promises of toughness and flagrant lies, makes a series of bad decisions that provoke escalation from our foes, at which point political considerations make him feel he can’t back down, and suddenly we’re staring at nuclear war.

There are ways in which Donald Trump is a kind of Dorian Gray’s portrait of J.F.K. — with the same appetitiveness and clannishness (swap Ivanka for R.F.K.) and personal secrets (tax returns for Trump, medical records for Kennedy), but without the youthful looks and eloquence and a patina of intellectualism and idealism to clean those failings up. And in the Korean crisis as in Cuba, our new president’s obsession with looking tough risks making an already dangerous situation worse.

(Ross Douthat) The ellipses replace even more iconoclastic stuff about St. Jack the Good.


“Established A.D. 33.” So say the signs outside many a “Church of Christ” building. Born in the burned-over district, somehow the Campbellites took several clicks more seriously than the countless other sects born of that same mother the notion that they were throwing out human tradition and going back to the original Bible-based New Testament Church.

They are the most conspicuous example of what I call Jurassic Church. In fact, although they clearly were established in A.D. 18xx, I’m strangely fond of them.

But there’s a problem. Well, there’s more than one, but let’s limit it to one right now. In A.D. 33, there was no New Testament. Zero. Zip. Zilch. The “Old Testament” canon wasn’t even decisively fixed yet. Yet there was a thriving Church — the “New Testament Church” that functioned without a New Testament.

Think about that paradox a while. And yes, it is a paradox; it’s not just equivocation about “New Testament” in its adjectival and noun senses.

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Fiat justitia ruat caelum

There is no epistemological Switzerland. (Via Mars Hill Audio Journal Volume 134)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.