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Culture

The Power of Refutation

Laura Hazard Owen writes When’s the best time to correct fake news? After someone’s already read it, apparently: Debunking > prebunking. If you want someone to not believe that false or misleading headline they just read, when’s the best time to correct it? We hear a lot about inoculating people against fake news or “prebunking”…

Consequences, Accountability, Repentance, Redemption

David Frum, writing of Trump & Trumpism in The Conservative Cult of Victimhood, observes that There is no redemption without repentance. There is no repentance without accountability. There is no accountability without consequences. He rightly concludes that for the Trumpists, the absence of a moral order of accountability and repentance has meant that Even as Trump commits…

Local 2021 Races in the Whitewater Area

Update: this post about local politics, with an optimistic final sentence, was published before the morning and afternoon events in Washington. It has always been true – and always will be true – that what harms the country harms the city; what stains the nation stains the city. Every moment of opposition to Trump and…

For Whitewater, the Pandemic Reveals What Was Already There

For Whitewater – and other places – the pandemic hasn’t changed contemporary politics or culture, it has revealed plainly the character of contemporary politics and culture: divided, debilitated. Whitewater’s meaningful changes began years ago, with the Great Recession (2007-2009). For small towns like Whitewater, that recession never ended. It’s as if a man with poor…

Private Meetings in Public Monuments During a Pandemic

The Washington Post reports that Interior [Department] shuts Washington Monument after interior secretary tests positive for the coronavirus (‘Park Service staff say they may have been exposed when David Bernhardt led a private, after-hours tour’): Officials have taken the extraordinary step of closing the Washington Monument starting Friday as a precaution after Interior Secretary David Bernhardt —…

Before Man & Movement, That Which Paved the Way

Trump did not spring from the ground; he did not fall from the stars. Neither horticulture nor astrophysics played any role in his rise. Before Trump and Trumpism, there were towns and cities into which he and his movement found receptive audiences. Patients already ill are often susceptible of worse maladies. So it has been…

They’ve Become What They Once Despised

The greatest tragedies are injuries inflicted on the innocent. There are, however, other sad moments of our time, among them the collapse of responsibile conservatism into Trumpian irresponsibility & dishonesty. So many conservatives have become what they once despised. A local example would be proud conservatives who now insist, nationally or locally, that government is…

Frontline: A Nation in Turmoil (Full Film)

Filmed across the country this past year by a production team headed by Mike Shum and Blair Woodbury, “American Voices: A Nation in Turmoil” captures the diverse perspectives of a number of people — a pastor, a barber, a doctor, an activist and more — as they deal with COVID-19 in their communities, respond to…

Boosterism’s Cousin, Toxic Positivity

In political life, boosterism is the overzealous promotion of officials or programs while ignoring actual conditions (particularly conditions of the disadvantaged). It’s wrong and repulsive. (An acknowledgement worth making: I have never criticized boosterism because of a personal concern. My life is comfortable; objections to political boosterism are deep-seated in me as a matter of learning.) Civilizations…

In Whitewater, Three Recent Trespasses Against Public Comment

Whitewater’s public comment periods are lawful rights worth defending, and there has never been a time when respecting public comment – humbly and gratefully – has been more important for the city. Since June, there have been three meetings during which Whitewater’s current council president has deprecated public comment, or wrongly set the order of…

Whitewater’s Local Government: Always Literally, Not as Often Seriously

It was the Trump apologist Salena Zito who, by way of defending Trump, suggested that his words should be taken ‘seriously, not literally.’ (She offered this defense in a deceitful effort to absolve Trump from the plain meaning of what he said, at any moment. Instead of considering his statements, one was supposed to take…