Bernie Lets his Mask Slip

Bernie Sanders’ anti-Christian hissie fit the other day is overheating the Christian chattiverse.  Sanders unloaded on Russell Vought the load of Christ-hating venom he had accumulated in a liftetime devoted to attacking  all things normal, decent, and well-groomed, describing his faith as “insulting,” “hateful,” and indefensible.”

Christians are drawing the obvious conclusion that for Sanders and his ilk—and, remember, their name is Legion—any form of orthodox Christian faith is a cause for exclusion from federal office.  First it will be cabinet posts, then federal judgeships, then college scholarships.

Unfortunately, too few Christians seem to understand that Sanders is only making explicit what has been the implicit position of his party and his ideology for decades.  Naturally, they grant an exemption to ecumenical Catholics, liberal Methodists, and faithful adherents to the Ethical Culture Society.  The old joke about Episcopalians now applies to a majority of mainstream American Christians:  “You know, Episcopalians are allowed to believe in just about anything.  It’s strange so few of them do.”

ELCA Lutherans, PECUSA Anglicans, Unite Church of Christ—-once upon a time they were stigmatized as milk-and-water Christians, but they long ago poured out the milk on the  ground.  They present no danger:  They wouldn’t pull the wings off a dead Islamic Djinn.  But those who preach Christ and Him crucified should be expecting tribulation.

Actually, we should be thankful to Crazy Bernie, for tipping off the gullible millions who still thought there was a possibility that Americans on the Left and Right (to use outmoded language) could live and let live.  That is not, however, how the Left does business, and it never was.  They are not content to control 75-85% of the cultural action in the USA:  New York and Hollywood, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, The New Republic and National Review all the networks including FOX.  No, that is not enough.  They have to have it all.

We are dealing with a totalitarian mindset that Christians have a hard time understanding.  Oh, there have been bad episodes of persecution in Christian history, but they were usually mixed up with political and ethnic struggles that were the real driving force.  I don’t want to wade into polemics on the Inquisition or the Anabaptists or the persecutions of the Protestant and Catholic Tudors.  One some other occasion, we can thrash this out, but for now I’ll content myself with saying that persecution and thought control is the perennial temptation of the Puritan mind, whether that mind is in the heads of ancient Montanists, Renaissance Catholics, or small-town Fundamentalists.  It is, however, an aberration that usually passes. For the Left—since the French Revolution—no dissent is to be permitted, and not just public dissent but any impurity of thought that might manifest itself in wearing a fur coat or engaging in “inappropriate laughter” on a college campus.

Why is this so?  There are many explanations, most of them with more than a grain of truth.  The revolutionary movement is a religion much like Islam, a ferocious monism that judges every single thing on earth according to one criteria:  Nothing can be good or bad, beautiful or ugly in itself.  All that matters is whether or not the Revolution is advanced by Veganism or solar power or electing a transgender president.

I don’t much like mixing up mysticism and politics, but I once heard a somewhat deeper answer given, decades ago, when I attended a lecture by a Southern Baptist educator (whose last name, as I recall, was Janney.)  His lecture—more like a sermon, really—was an attempt to answer the question why atheist leftists so hated Christians.  His answer was that, while light was hardly affected by patches of darkness, but that darkness could not endure one beam of light without being destroyed.   “And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.”

Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and the Harvard faculty are creatures of darkness, living on hate like some ancient monster—Grendel or Tolkien’s Balrog.  Even the scent of life, a ripple of unmalicious laughter, a beam of light send these things into rage.  We cannot live with them, and they will not live with us except on terms that spell our extinction.

Every decent American should have known this by 1970, but of all the nations of the world, we are the most unwilling to acknowledge the truth.  We have a set of platitudes to shield us from reality:  There are honest decent leftists who naively think they can make the world a better place;  Islam is really a religion of peace—we cannot permit a few bad apples to spoil a barrel of otherwise wholesome apples.   Same sex marriage is admittedly an offensive idea, but that is why we conservatives supported civil unions.  TV sitcoms may be getting a bit raunchy, but they are brilliantly funny and speak to our time.   Maybe what we need is some new slogan to conceal our weakness. I know, let’s call it the Benedict Option and pretend we’re all monks.

And on and on and on, nattering the same stupid lies until it is too late.

Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

35 Responses

  1. James D. says:

    “no dissent is to be permitted, and not just public dissent but any impurity of thought…”

    And the definition of “dissent” changes over night. Obama can oppose gay “marriage” one day and remain perfectly progressive. The next day, he’d be considered a right-wing monster for holding the view he held, just yesterday. Dr. Wilson once wrote about how the language permitted by the Left changes so rapidly that it is a wonder one can keep up. “Colored person” is intolerably offensive, but “person of color” is the correct term. Next week, “person of color” will be out and something new will be in.

    “They are not content to control 75-85% of the cultural action in the USA.”

    This is why devolution, states rights, secession, etc. can never work. Even if all of the normal, decent people agreed to pack up and move to Alaska and leave the other 49 states to the progressives, the progs would immediately begin manipulating the media, schools, elections, local governments, laws, etc. in Alaska. No corner of the world can remain untouched. Look at their liberal democracy nation-building schemes in the Middle East, or the way that Putin was relentlessly attacked during the last winter Olympics…

  2. Robert Reavis says:

    The Left is deadly serious and wise as a serpent. All the serious communist converts I have known have been consistent in saying the contemplative life is what they fear most and destroy first. The closest thing we Americans have ever recognized as contemplative houses are our colleges and Universities. They are now occupied territory after only a few hundred years. Bernie Sanders probably should have been the democratic candidate in a “fair election” and probably would have won against Trump. He is saying absolutely nothing that has not been implied or audaciously taught in our institutes of “higher learning” for the last hundred years. The best knew the conflict was theological, the brightest thought it was social and wasted time cheering for politicians and anarchy —- Bernie Sanders was simply pandering to the more “sophisticated” of a large audience.

  3. Khater M says:

    Great article as always Dr. Fleming. This is why I could never be in politics. I’ve watched the exchange between Senator Sanders and Mr. Vought several times. I’m not really surprised by Bernies anti-Christian attitude. What really angers me is Voughts spineless response to Sanders’s ridiculous questions and assertions. Vought tried to be cordial and dodge evrything. If I were in his position, I would treat Sanders the same way he treats those he disagrees with. Vought should’ve blasted Sanders verbally, and called him an anti-Christian bigot right there and then. But then he might not have gotten the cabinet position. What a coward.

  4. Robert Reavis says:

    Khater M,,
    Usually the Left employs some idiot to portray the ‘Christian’ defense. The fearless ones who can actually fight back and enjoy the soldiers burden, were usually placed on lists, silenced by their superiors and their character, rather than their body, assassinated. Take a look at Robert K. Carlson – Truth on Trial: Liberal Education Be Hanged … for just one of many, many, examples of what Tom Fleming meant when he wrote, “Every decent American should have known this by 1970, but of all the nations of the world, we are the most unwilling to acknowledge the truth.”

  5. James D. says:

    You are correct, Mr. Reavis. E. Michael Jones was fired from the faculty of St. Mary’s College for speaking out AGAINST abortion.

  6. Thomas Fleming says:

    The Left has two great advantages over the Right. The first is that they believe in their principles or at least accept them unreservedly. The second is: Most people on the Right believe in exactly the same principles but in a more moderate form. It is thus a contest between committed true-believers and the type of “conscience stricken pissants” as my later friend Jim Stockdale described the people who lost the Vietnam War for us.

  7. Khater M says:

    Dr. Fleming
    I think this quote from Rev. R. L Dabney really illustrates your point about those on the Right today.
    “American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt hath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth, and has no idea of being guilty of the folly of martyrdom. It always when about to enter a protest very blandly informs the wild beast whose path it essays to stop, that its “bark is worse than its bite,” and that it only means to save its manners by enacting its decent role of resistance: The only practical purpose which it now subserves in American politics is to give enough exercise to Radicalism to keep it “in wind,” and to prevent its becoming pursy and lazy, from having nothing to whip.”

  8. Robert Peters says:

    As I type this, there is some confusion as to whether the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution condemning the “Alt-Right” and the attendant sins condemned by the Enlightenment – racism, social injustice and nationalism. Of course, having read the metaphysics of the Enlightenment into the Bible with eisegesis, they can read it out with exegesis as “biblical” doctrine. Mr. Khater, this fits with your quote of the Rev. R. L. Dabney.

  9. Robert Reavis says:

    Jim,
    I don’t know him but that type of dismissal does not surprise me in the least. I think I read something by Jones years ago about Archbishop Lefebvre that was off the mark but Dr. Alice von Hildebrand and her husband have spoken often about some of these intentional examples, like the early work of Bella Dodd. But honestly some of it is simply the mystery of iniquity. I did not mean to equate my “theological conflict” with sectarian conflict. As I have often said before, we Catholics are the worst at stacking arms and heading for the tall grass upon the sound of the first gun. If you are chameleon enough there is good money in encouraging this type of behavior too. Or if need be to shout for war when instructed too.

  10. Thomas Fleming says:

    Robert P., the defection of the Southern Baptist Convention is both depressing and instructive. I know there are still many solid Baptist Christians who pay little attention to the antics of the Baptist Vatican; indeed, it is both the virtue and the vice of congregationalism that they can fission any time they like. The good side of this is that they do not have to heed the knaves and fools who are in charge of large and structured bodies. On the other hand, they are also free to fly off into heresy and folly. Members of the Alt-Right should certainly be condemned for their affectation of paganism, their cult of immorality, and their prissy mannerisms and hairstyles, but I am afraid the SBC is more interested in not offending the Washington Post. I did note with alarm that the current head of the SBC is named Janney. The man I heard is undoubtedly dead by now–I believe he was a pastor and head of Baptist schools in Florida.

  11. Allen Wilson says:

    This reminds me of something I once heard from a “mystic” or perhaps lay philosopher named Vernon Howard. He rarely mentioned politics, but he said a couple things that fit in this context. He condemned “nonviolence” in the form of “peaceful” protests as a form of violence. He said that all social crusaders are simply evil people with evil motives. I didn’t believe such things at the time, but now it looks obvious. They would destroy the entire universe and everything in it just to serve their vanity. Where then, do they wish to wind up? The objective keeps changing with the years, but hell seems the ultimate destination.

  12. Konstantin Solodov says:

    Mr. Fleming
    “until it is too late”. You believe that it’s possible to freeze or to return the culture. All known previous cultures disappeared. Why should West culture have another future?

  13. James D. says:

    The alt-right is poorly-defined. I’m not sure I can even pinpoint a few basic positions that would make a person a member of the “alt-right.” I had never even heard of Richard Spencer before his antics in the past year. For a period of time the depraved provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos and the video game nerd Vox Day seemed to be the people most associated with this group. But then, people like Steve Sailer, John Derbyshire, Kevin Michael Grace, Jared Taylor, Pat Buchanan, etc. were being labeled as part of the “alt-right.” I read at least one piece where Sam Francis, Murray Rothbard, and Pat Buchanan were blamed as the intellectual founders of the alt-right.

  14. Robert Peters says:

    James D., Paul Gottfried was lumped into the “alt-right.” I am not sure of the genesis of the term; however, it seems to be one of those terms imposed by the opposition on anything which not of them.

  15. Robert Reavis says:

    Mr. Solodov,
    That is a most excellent question. Thousands of years buried, burned, defeated, corrupted, some we have never heard about or ever will. I often wonder, why not our own culture? Your friend, Mr. Navrozov, has been hitting this theme for several years, poems have been written about it but the belief in time, especially future time, healing all . At my son’s graduation a Rabbi offered the following quote from Rabbi Hillel as a motto for the graduates —- ” if we don’t take care of ourselves, who will? If we only take care of ourselves, what are we? and If not now, when!” Applause rung out across the manicured lawn .

  16. Dot says:

    “…we are the most unwilling to acknowledge the truth.” Dr. Fleming, I’m not sure what you mean by “truth”. If you mean religious truth, there are many based upon one’s belief whether it is atheism or Christianity, or Hinduism or other religious beliefs. It is how a nation judges moral behavior that determines the direction and thus the health of that nation. In a country such as ours we are fortunate that we are allowed freedom of expression and belief. Those who argue persuasively and demonstrate, for their belief in a free and open society seem to have an upper hand. But despite differences of opinion we are all, or should be, united in actions that promote disgust such as in how we treat each other, in how animals are treated, in how we care for our surroundings. Those on the liberal left think and believe differently and argue progressively. The weakness is ours that we don’t use the tools to do the same. We are preaching to the choir.

  17. Thomas Fleming says:

    In reverse order, let me answer the questions very briefly. “Truth is a difficult word in English, more difficult than in Greek, Latin, Italian, where the words ordinarily translated as true and truth refer to reality and not sincerity. Here the context shows that “truth” is used in the sense of the reality of American life, where leftist revolution is being imposed step by step and encountering only resentment but not hard opposition.

    Alt-Right was coined by the people themselves to distinguish them from soft-headed Christians, traditionalists, people who preferred monogamy and love to “the game” of seduction. To me, however, it always suggested “alternative life style” which forced the American Conservative to drop a title that got them confused with hairdressers etc. So far as I know, Gottfried is the presiding intellectual, the grand old man. This is largely because of his hostility to Christianity.

    I’m always happy to hear from our mystical Russian, though I am not quite sure what Mr. Solodov has teased out of my brief screed. All cultural traditions certainly change and most die out, though things do not always turn out that way. In one way or another, there are still Jews speaking Hebrew in Israel. A veritable miracle that started with one man who decided to speak Hebrew and teach it to his children.

    One of Toynbee’s last books was a meditation on the way the Greeks kept on reinventing themselves, haunted always by earlier incarnations–Homeric, classical, Hellenistic, Byzantine…. I don’t know what he thought of the 20th century poet Kabaphys/Cavafy, but one senses in some of his poems a mind that encompassed the entire Greek tradition. In 15th century Constantinople, after a thousand years of anti-Hellenism, historians were telling the story of their devastation in the manner of Thucydides. Are you familiar with the passage of Aristoxenus the ancient music-philosopher? It is well worth reflecting on the people of Paestum who lamented their loss of Hellenism just as Aristoxenus lamented the degeneration of Greek music after the classical period. Imagine a lover of Haydn forced to listen to Berlioz, or Aaron Copland, or Taylor Swift.

    So, there are two answers: One is that some cultural traditions are revived, though in the revival they take on new shapes, forms, and even substances. Some early Protestants thought they were recreating the Church of the Apostles–a subject on which they actually knew very little, and Marsilio Ficino and his friends would greet each other with, “Salus in Platone,” imagining they were reliving the days of the Academy. Second, and perhaps more to the point: All cultures die. So what? All people die, too. Does that mean we should sit in the dark, sucking our thumbs and watching TV? A man, as the West has understood man, is obliged to defend and preserve his inheritance. Of course, everyone and every good human thing loses in the end. Of course, there is the ee Cummings poem, “Nobody loses all the time…”

  18. Robert Reavis says:

    Toynbee had it all backwards.

  19. Thomas Fleming says:

    Had what all backwards?

  20. Khater M says:

    Gottfried is anti-Christian?

  21. Robert Reavis says:

    Dr Fleming,
    I was thinking of Toynbee’s suggestion that ” man, as the West has understood man, obliged to defend and preserve his inheritance” , was the cause of his own decline not nihilism and despair. I have read his Reith Lectures and the ensuing debate they stirred but never his major work, A Study of History. So I am no judge. I was thinking too of his prediction the East would rise as the West declined and wondering what he must have meant by The West.

  22. Thomas Fleming says:

    I was speaking strictly and only of his interesting treatment of the Greeks’ burden of their past, though constantly shifting and growing–in the 19th and 20th centuries it was the Megale Idea, that is the reconquest of Constantinople and Asia Minor as 1500 years earlier it had been the memory of Athens. I don’t have much or any use for universal history, so I have only looked at Toynbee’works on a more limited scale, like his study of Constantine Porphyrogenitus. He was, after all, trained as a Byzantinist, and that is what in my view he should have stuck to.

  23. Thomas Fleming says:

    Robert R, I am guessing you will not be with us in July? Save up your stamps and join us in Rome and Umbria!

  24. Robert Reavis says:

    No, I am still planning. Shariff and RW are out but I am just down, not out yet.

  25. Thomas Fleming says:

    Maybe I can lure Sharif for a day as our guest.

  26. Raymond Olson says:

    Perhaps you are right about Sanders and his closest supporters. But Vought certainly failed to cover himself with glory. Congressional hearings are almost invariably carnivals of impertinence and evasion. This one was not the rare exception.

  27. Thomas Fleming says:

    Ray, I agree with you entirely. Vought came across as smug and smarmy, hardly the picture of the virtuous Christian under torture. But it is not just Sanders and his supporters–close or not. The committed Left, including the media celebrities who feel free to ape their mentors, is filled entirely with hate. Now, it goes without saying that in a country where a majority of the more affluent citizens have had their minds washed, permed, and blow-dried by the Revolution, there are plenty of well-intentioned otherwise normal people who say they believe in the most preposterous nonsense or do believe it for good reasons. The liberal Christians in the pews are not necessarily hypocrites. They often seem to believe quite seriously that Jesus was a proto-Marxist and accept the proposition that European males have plundered the planet and exploited all the kind and good people of the Third World. They are not evil–though they give their votes and money to the Evil Ones–they are simply dumb, as most people are dumb. Eveil there has always be and must be, but woe to them by whom it comes! Sanders, in his childish performance, showed that while he is surely dumb as any rock, has also embraced hate as a way of life. I don’t believe that is a recent development.

  28. Raymond Olson says:

    Well, Sanders is a politician, an habitual and professional teller of partial truths, at best, and also of lies made for a “higher” purpose,. He plays with hate more than he produces it. His performance vis-a-vis Vought seems no better or worse than those of generations of his sort. The same can be said, of course, of Vought, Sessions, Franken, Warren, et al., ad nauseam.

  29. Thomas Fleming says:

    Indeed, but usually they are wise enough not to concentrate their fire directly on the victim’s religious professions. It’s a kind of unspoken rule that we live in a society where people of diverse religions try to get along, the exception being groups that explicitly espouse hatred and violence or transgress some sentimental conviction, e.g. those strange characters who went around disrupting military funerals, rogue Mormons who marry several teenage girls. You can attack a Fundamentalist for condemning miscegenation or homosexuality, but one is not supposed to attack an Orthodox Jew or Evangelical for believing his religion is superior to all others. It is admittedly, at times, a fine line, but Bernie crossed it, not only by the words he used but by the irrational passion he displayed.

    Naturally, he is not going to get in any trouble–he is a wealthy exploiter of the vulnerable–and he may actually have enhanced his prestige. The Left is collectively going on a rampage, not–as Rush and Sean seem to think–because they are losing: I see no sign that they have lost an inch of what they have gained even in the past five years. No, they are winning on every front, but they are so used to having their way all the time they refuse to believe there may be a pause. F-bombs, insults, death threats have become routine in the media and in Congress. Superficial commentators like Peggy Noonan and Pat Buchanan are making much too much of this. There is no civil war, because that would take two sides.

  30. Dominick says:

    This is all true and really unfortunate. Forget a public expose on theology and doctrine, even when such a thing is presented on a silver platter.
    From what I can tell, admittedly filtered through the mass media to which I pay as little attention as possible, Bernie is godless. I didn’t bother to watch the whole exchange, but he seemed to set himself up by making his Jewishness part of the argument – i.e. fair game. Bernie may well act scandalized that Christians would hold him condemned for his Jewishness, but any such condemnation would concern the world to come and not at all his standing in this one. Even a layman’s reading of the Prophets makes it clear that Bernie’s public acts make him a leper among the Scriptural Jewish moral tradition. And the tradition of the Prophets , unlike the Christian tradition, bore vicious and almost exclusively temporal consequences.
    “Tell it to Malachi, Senator!”
    Perhaps I am ignorant of American Judaism’s Scriptural canon. But it’s an entertaining fantasy.

  31. Robert Reavis says:

    “The Left is collectively going on a rampage, not–as Rush and Sean seem to think–because they are losing: I see no sign that they have lost an inch of what they have gained ….. No, they are winning on every front, but they are so used to having their way all the time they refuse to believe there may be a pause. F-bombs, insults, death threats have become routine in the media and in Congress. Superficial commentators like Peggy Noonan and Pat Buchanan are making much too much of this. There is no civil war, because that would take two sides.”

    Just thought this solid truth needed repeating.

    “The Left is collectively going on a rampage, not–as Rush and Sean seem to think–because they are losing: I see no sign that they have lost an inch of what they have gained ….. No, they are winning on every front, but they are so used to having their way all the time they refuse to believe there may be a pause. F-bombs, insults, death threats have become routine in the media and in Congress. Superficial commentators like Peggy Noonan and Pat Buchanan are making much too much of this. There is no civil war, because that would take two sides.”

  32. Robert Reavis says:

    “Here the critic may ask whether cruelty were not more the note of
    Christian men in the past than it is today. Is not all the history of our
    two thousand years a history of armed conflict, massacre, judicial
    tortures and horrible executions, the sack of towns, and all the rest of
    it?

    The reply to this objection is that there is a capital distinction
    between cruelty exceptional, and cruelty the rule. When men apply cruel
    punishments, depend on physical power to obtain effects, let loose
    violence in the passions of war, if all this is done in violation of their
    own accepted morals, it is one thing; if it is done as part of a whole
    mental attitude taken for granted, it is another.

    Therein lies the radical distinction between this new, modern,
    cruelty and the sporadic cruelty of earlier Christian times. Not cruel
    vengeance, nor cruelty in excitement, nor cruelty in punishment against
    acknowledged evil, nor cruelty in repression of what admittedly must be
    repressed, is the fruit of an evil philosophy; though such things are
    excesses or sins they do not come from false doctrine. But the cruelty
    which accompanies the modern abandonment of our ancestral religion is a
    cruelty native to the Modern Attack; a cruelty which is part of its
    philosophy.

    The proof lies in this: that men are not shocked at cruelty but
    indifferent to it.
    There is no universal cry of indignation, there is no sufficient protest,
    because there is no longer in force the conception that man as man is
    something sacred. That same force which ignores human dignity also ignores
    human suffering.

    I say again, the Modern Attack on the Faith will have in the moral
    field a thousand evil fruits, and of these many are apparent today, but
    the characteristic one, the one presumably the most permanent, is the
    institution everywhere of cruelty accompanied by a contempt for justice.”

  33. Dot says:

    I don’t know if we have a common religious faith anymore. At one time the common religious faith was Christian. I think the Christian faith is now weakened and fragmented and a secularist religion is now filling the void. The reason I think that is because my brother-in-law recently passed away. I sent some money to the church where he said Mass. Yesterday I received the card with check. It was undeliverable. I guess it was only a church while he pastored there in retirement. The Christian faith is weakening. With no common faith, there is no moral guidance in which to travel life’s road. The members of the church probably go to some other church. I imagine this situation is repeated over and over again. This leaves a void to be exploited.

  34. Khater M says:

    Dot
    Great point. I’m not a huge fan of Revilo P. Oliver, but I’ve listened to a few speeches he gave while he was alive. I remember in one speech, Dr. Oliver said something like this.( paraphrasing)

    ” We can not use the politics of 1920 today. In 1920, a majority of American adults were Christian. They believed in the divinity of Christ. I would estimate that today, only 5-10% of American adults ( either fundamentalist Protestants or Traditional Catholics) truly believe in the divinity of Christ.”

    Keep in mind, Dr. Oliver said this in the 60s. It’s surely gotten much worse since. I laughed at what he said at first, but now I completely agree. Dr. Oliver’s point was that America is no longer a Christian country.

  35. Thomas Fleming says:

    One should bear in mind that Oliver, as a devout anti-Christian, was always happy to point this out. His many eccentricities limited his appeal and his utility, but he was a good Latin scholar–perhaps not as significant as he liked to think, but, then, we’re all guilty of wishful thinking–and had an original mind. I never met him, though I did know his daughter a bit and I wrote a little bit of Latin for a friend who spoke at his funeral. I may be wrong, but I have always thought that Oliver’s hatred of Jews was the result of his revulsion from Christianity, which he regarded as a Jewish sect. I first heard of him when I was an undergraduate, and he got fired from University of Illinois for wearing a gun to class. His perfectly reasonable justification was the large number of threats made against his life, and even the AAUP took up his case and got him reinstated. I cannot imagine the AAUP coming to the defense of a neoliberal, these days. One way of measuring how rotten our world has become is to consider the tragic cases of intelligent and principled men who fall into one or another form of insanity. For Oliver, his intelligence was all that mattered, and when a brain tumor threatened his lucidity, he blew his brains out, taking care to wrap his head with a towel and to arrange for a friend to pick him up for breakfast, so that his wife did not find him.