I was maybe 10 years old when this happened.
Mom is driving, I'm in the back seat. It's night. She's trying to cross Vermont, a busy L.A. thoroughfare, from a side street. Southbound traffic is jammed, but a guy in a truck makes a hole and waves us through. We've almost cleared the intersection when a car, speeding northbound, clips us. We go spinning up over a low brick wall onto somebody's lawn. My head smacks the window hard enough to crack it. And I remember thinking -- I may have even screamed it -- "This can't happen to us!"
You may, if you are old enough, recall a TV actor named Foster Brooks.
What if he's right?
Granted, no militias are massing. No declarations of separation have been read.
So one is tempted to dismiss Donald Trump's recent evocation of America's great 19th-century rupture as just more bushwa from a human bushwa machine.
Only the ball bearings were missing. The reference, for those who don't know, is to Humphrey Bogart's performance as the emotionally unstable Captain Queeg in the 1954 film "The Caine Mutiny." In a pivotal scene, Bogart vividly etches the captain's mental disintegration, rambling on the witness stand about strawberries and tow lines and the supposed lies of his subordinates. All the while he toys, ceaselessly, unconsciously obsessively, with a handful of ball bearings.
With apologies to Stevie Wonder, for whom it was once an album title, nothing is "hotter than July." July was the hottest month.
Our subject today is a word.
It seems to be the word of the moment, at least on the political left. One can hardly read an opinion page or watch cable news without confronting this tiresome term, this irksome idiom.
In 1879, on the road leading into Dodge City, there stood a sign. "The Carrying of Fire Arms Strictly Prohibited," it said.
As recounted in the book "Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America" by Adam Winkler, the gun control ordinance was the first law passed when the city was organized in 1873. Nor was Dodge unique. Many other western towns, Wichita and Tombstone among them, had similar laws.
"I am tired of the dying," said Greg Abbotton Sunday. And well he should be. The Texas governor was in Odessa, in the western part of his state, to preside over a mass shooting there: seven dead, not counting the shooter, and 22 wounded, one of them a toddler.
"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."
So says Dick the Butcher in Shakespeare's "Henry VI, Part 2."
We meet, my friends, in the face of evil.
You'd think it would be the one thing we could all agree upon.
Perhaps you've heard of white fragility. The term was popularized by sociologist Robin DiAngelo in her 2018 book of the same name that seeks to explain why white people often find it so hard to discuss race, why the subject frequently makes them angry and defensive. Well, a textbook example of that fragility recently roiled social media.
Jeffrey Epstein didn't commit suicide. He was murdered by Hillary and/or Bill Clinton. Or he was assassinated by the Russians. Or Donald Trump killed him. Or he isn't dead at all, having been spirited into the Witness Protection Program, where he presumably now shares an island mansion with Tupac Shakur and 84-year-old Elvis Presley.
If you are a regular here, you may have heard this story before. But it bears repeating. In 1958, George Wallace ran for governor of Alabama against John Patterson, a fire-breathing segregationist. Wallace, though also a segregationist, was considered enough of a racial moderate to be endorsed by the NAACP.
"Hold tight to your anger, don't fall to your fears." Bruce Springsteen, "Wrecking Ball" It never should have come to this.
Here's how The Southern Poverty Law Center defines a hate group.
It is, they say, "an organization that -- based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities -- has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics."
A man named Josef Buzhminski told this story at the trial of Adolf Eichmann.
A few words about my sexism.
Elmo Cook knew nothing about it.
He'd heard the sirens in the middle of the night alerting all of Abilene that something had happened, but when he tried to turn on the radio, he found that his power was out. And when he left for work in the morning, the paperboy had not yet made his rounds.
The truth is dead, and Facebook killed it.
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