“If we think of fascism as a wound from the past that had almost healed, putting Trump in the White House was like ripping off the bandage and picking at the scab,”
.. Albright has long been an optimistic exponent of American exceptionalism, a consummate establishment figure not given to alarmist diatribes. It should be shocking that she feels the need to warn us not just about fascism abroad, but also at home.
.. Albright is not accusing Trump of being a full-blown fascist. He has yet to resort to extrajudicial violence — except, of course, for encouraging his acolytes to beat up protesters at rallies — and his efforts to undermine the rule of law have had only mixed success, in part due to his own fecklessness.
.. “The herd mentality is powerful in international affairs. Leaders around the globe observe, learn from, and mimic one another.”
.. “What they do have in common,” she said, “is this assumption, or decision, that they embody the spirit of the nation and that they have the answers and that their instincts are good, that they are smarter than everybody else and can do things by themselves.”
.. I hadn’t realized that Mussolini had promised to “drenare la palude,” or “drain the swamp,” and that his crowds jeered and booed clusters of reporters at his rallies.
.. Mussolini, like Trump, thought it unsanitary to shake hands.
.. Of Chávez, Albright writes, his “communications strategy was to light rhetorical fireworks and toss them in all directions.” He gloried in dominating the media, “boasting about his accomplishments and deriding — in the crudest terms — real and suspected foes.
.. Albright is well known for her collection of brooches, which she uses like shiny emojis to send subtle diplomatic messages and make wry jokes.
.. she found out that Russia had bugged a conference room near her State Department office; at her next meeting with Russian diplomats, she wore an insect pin. When I spoke to her, she was wearing a silver brooch of a winged figure. I asked her what it was. “It is Mercury,” she said. “The messenger.”
Repeal the Second Amendment
From a law-and-order standpoint, more guns means more murder. “States with higher rates of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides,” noted one exhaustive 2013 study in the American Journal of Public Health.
.. The F.B.I. counted a total of 268 “justifiable homicides” by private citizens involving firearms in 2015; that is, felons killed in the course of committing a felony. Yet that same year, there were 489 “unintentional firearms deaths”
.. The Minutemen that will deter Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un are based in missile silos in Minot, N.D., not farmhouses in Lexington, Mass.
.. The Whiskey Rebellion of the 1790s, the New York draft riots of 1863, the coal miners’ rebellion of 1921, the Brink’s robbery of 1981 — does any serious conservative think of these as great moments in Second Amendment activism?
.. Conservatives often say that the right response to these horrors is to do more on the mental-health front. Yet by all accounts Stephen Paddock would not have raised an eyebrow with a mental-health professional before he murdered 58 people in Las Vegas last week.
.. What might have raised a red flag? I’m not the first pundit to point out that if a “Mohammad Paddock” had purchased dozens of firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition and then checked himself into a suite at the Mandalay Bay with direct views to a nearby music festival, somebody at the local F.B.I. field office would have noticed.
.. they argue their case badly and — let’s face it — in bad faith.
.. There is no “gun-show loophole” per se; it’s a private-sale loophole, in other words the right to sell your own stuff.
.. The civilian AR-15 is not a true “assault rifle,” and banning such rifles would have little effect on the overall murder rate, since most homicides are committed with handguns.
.. The N.R.A. has donated a paltry $3,533,294 to all current members of Congress since 1998
.. equivalent to about three months of Kimmel’s salary. The N.R.A. doesn’t need to buy influence: It’s powerful because it’s popular.
.. guns recovered by police are rarely in the hands of their legal owners, a 2016 study found.
.. Americans who claim to be outraged by gun crimes should want to do something more than tinker at the margins of a legal regime that most of the developed world rightly considers nuts. They should want to change it fundamentally and permanently.
.. Gun ownership should never be outlawed, just as it isn’t outlawed in Britain or Australia. But it doesn’t need a blanket Constitutional protection, either.
.. Donald Trump will likely get one more Supreme Court nomination, or two or three, before he leaves office, guaranteeing a pro-gun court for another generation.
.. Some conservatives will insist that the Second Amendment is fundamental to the structure of American liberty. They will cite James Madison, who noted in the Federalist Papers that in Europe “the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” America was supposed to be different, and better.
.. I wonder what Madison would have to say about that today, when more than twice as many Americans perished last year at the hands of their fellows as died in battle during the entire Revolutionary War.
.. The true foundation of American exceptionalism should be our capacity for moral and constitutional renewal, not our instinct for self-destruction.
A Personal Perspective on Black and White Evangelicalism
he American media tend to portray American evangelicalism as exclusively white, male-led, nationalistic (American exceptionalism) and ultra-conservative socially and politically.
.. I never heard the word “inerrancy” until I attended a mainstream, evangelical Baptist seminary. Only then did I learn that “women should not be pastors or teach men.”
.. I saw and experienced that fundamentalism was gradually inserting itself into mainstream evangelicalism and pushed back against that as best I could. I was taught that “we evangelicals” were not fundamentalists. Gradually, however, the line between the two communities of relatively conservative American Protestants began to blur and even dissolve.
.. I have developed strong resistance to any identification of true, authentic “evangelical Christianity” with American nationalism, conservative political ideologies, “whiteness” and “maleness.”
.. What I have done is state very publicly (on my blog, in books and articles, in papers read at professional society meetings, etc.) that, in my own personal opinion, the American evangelical movement is dead and gone. The major reason is the divisive influence of ultra-conservative neo-fundamentalists who have somehow managed to capture the label “evangelical” in the public mind.
.. When I call myself “evangelical,” and when my seminary calls itself “evangelical,” I/we are not identifying with any movement; I/we are identifying ourselves with a historical-theological-spiritual ethos deeply shaped by post-Reformation: pietism, revivalism, missions, and profound emphasis on the gospel of Jesus Christ as the only message that brings true and holistic transformation—both individually and socially.
Big patriotism is poisoning America
Though I suggest Trump and his supporters on this issue are missing the protesters’ point — and, in some cases, doing so willfully — I have no doubt that, for Trump’s part, patriotism is indeed at stake. The trouble is the sort of patriotism that informs their ire, for patriotism is not of a single kind.
.. Frodo does not love the Shire because it is the best country in Middle-earth. It does not boast the striking scenery and deep knowledge of the elven kingdoms, or the security and wealth of the dwarves, or the cosmopolitanism and architecture of the cities of men. The Shire does not have to be the best, for it is already home and already good in its own way.
If the patriotism Tolkien depicts is small, the patriotism most prevalent in America today is a poisonous variety we might call “big patriotism,” or, less charitably, nationalism. Its contrast with more modest variants is vast.
.. Small patriotism is the love of home because it is home.
.. Big patriotism is all abstract ideals and national mythology, easily bent to fit any political agenda. It is centered on the state, not the people, and certainly not any concrete community in which we are thoroughly engaged.
.. Big patriotism is a top-down phenomenon, anchored in the self-declared glory of government and the idolatrous liturgies of civil religion.
- When small patriotism thinks of America, it conjures an image of some local vista and the people who populate it.
- Big patriotism pictures the hulking forms of federal monuments and the grim grandeur of war.
.. “Once you have realized that the Frenchmen like café complet just as we like bacon and eggs — why, good luck to them and let them have it,” C.S. Lewis wrote in The Four Loves.
.. “[h]ow can I love my home without coming to realize that other men, no less rightly, love theirs?” Their love in no way detracts from mine, for we are not in competition.
.. Big patriotism is always a matter of comparison. It is, as Lewis put it, “a firm, even prosaic belief that our own nation, in sober fact, has long been, and still is markedly superior to all others.” Big patriotism is incapable of appreciating our home’s good qualities except at the expense of other places. Foreign lands and people must be put down if we are to be held up.
.. It is the foundation of jingoistic American exceptionalism and a constant siren song to empire — for why shouldn’t the world be ruled by the best?
Small patriotism is humble and open to constructive critique. Just as we would welcome an exterminator telling us our house has termites, so in small patriotism we can give a hearing to those who see some problem with our home. Big patriotism cannot hear a word against country, however gentle or wise. The best, by definition, cannot be wrong.
.. It does not ask to be valued above more significant loyalties, like those to God or family or concrete community. Big patriotism demands pre-eminence.
.. Big patriotism is incessantly self-serious and therefore always on the brink of offense.
.. But however natural it can feel, big patriotism is poisonous, and it leads to the type of shallow outrage we now see over these athletes’ attempt to respectfully call attention to a grave concern.