Saturday, December 22, 2012

Facing 2013: Hope and Cringe

One of the few nice things about getting older is you see things come round again, and this time you know what they are.

So when I was thirteen, and Mr. James McFall, who taught "Star Science"--which was a special science course for "star students" at my junior high school--when he expressed horror at the idea that a black boy might dance with a white girl at one of our school dances--even if there was no touching involved, I thought him peculiar, but I had no category in which to place him. 
Why is he so upset about that
And when Mr. McFall shook his head and laughed in dismay at the bonehead bureaucrats up there in Rockville: The people who chose names for high schools decided to name the new high school in Bethesda, Walt Whitman, I just blinked at him, uncomprehending. 
"You know," he confided, looking around to be sure our conversation would not be overheard. "You know what he was, don't you?"  
"A poet?" I said.
"A queer," he said. "Queer as a three dollar bill."
"Oh," I said, uncomprehending.  I did not see Mr. McFall's point. 
Whitman was not a poet I liked very much. I would have preferred Emily Dickinson. But I couldn't see being queer had much to do with anything.

Now, we have people who say we should respond to the killings of six year olds at Newtown by arming teachers.  And, as Gail Collins has noted, what next? We just had a shooting at a church--should we arm the ministers next?  And how about when the shopping mall massacre occurs--arm shoppers? 

Has an armed citizen ever shot a shooter who has planned in advance, who takes everyone by surprise, is clad in armor and loaded for the kill? 

But that doesn't stop the head of the NRA from laying out a plan which has never worked in the past.

And we hear, every day, from Jim Demint or some other demented Tea Party Congressman or Senator that all we need to do to right our financial ship and sail right is to "cut spending."   What exactly does that mean?  Just scrap Medicare? Forget Social Security?  

These are the hollow me. Seen them before, still seeing them.  That's their story and they are sticking to it.

Lucky for U.S., they are not the only Americans.

 Among the 300 million of us, there are Gail Collins, Charles M. Blow, Barack Obama, Maud, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Paul Krugman, Barney Frank, Hendrick Hertzberg, The New York Times (most of the time), the New Yorker (almost always), Jill Lepore, Elizabeth Warren, the voters of Hampton, Rye and Portsmouth,  New Hampshire,  who gave Mr. Obama majorities in their towns.

So Merry Christmas, and bless us, the above named, but not the others.


  1. Your last sentence is not quite in keeping with the spirit of the season. Would you have rung the bell 26 times, 27 times or 28 times, as one church in Newtown did?

  2. Mad Dog,
    I'm flattered I'm included in such fine company-thanks! Hope you have a great Christmas...

  3. Anonymous,

    Mad Dog is often out of step with the spirit of the season. So be it.


    The list is far from complete. Bob Dylan and other artists deserve to be on it. I was thinking about those who refuse to remain silent on the great issues of the day. But there are those, like Dylan, who enrich life with their art.

    Mad Dog