Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Question: Is everyone angry with Trump for using the vulgar language we hear everyday on the street or for telling the plain truth about Haiti. I have even heard American blacks refer contemptuously to "Hessians"--and they were not talking about German mercenaries in the American Revolution. I suppose there must be some place with more hapless, dependent, filthy, and violent people, but none with a history like Haiti's. It took a witchdoctor like Papa Doc Duvalier to impose any order, and these days all they seem to be doing is to lie around waiting for another hurricane to give them one more excuse to be losers, one more claim on American tax dollars. If just a few Americans would read anything about the history of this horrible country--even a Kenneth Roberts' novel--they would understand Trump's exasperation.
Does that justify the language he allegedly used? Of course not. He ought to know better and did perhaps 10 to 20 years ago. But the President lives in the here and now, when the F-word is used regularly on television, and when porn stars are honored with Oscars.
Don't you feel sometimes that you got dropped in from another planet called The Real World?
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Many years ago I started, with the help of Clyde Wilson, a quarterly called The Southern Partisan Quarterly Review. Like every other project of Quixotic idealism, it was taken over by well-meaning mediocrities who had not the slightest idea of what we were trying to do but were convinced that they could find some way to instrumentalize our sincere efforts to serve their own limited purposes: elect the right candidates, raise money, generate what they imagined to be "influence."
At the Partisan--oh, just a sidenote that the law is finally catching up with the Republican PR guy to whom we entrusted our baby--I did a few columns under the rubric of "Between a Rock and a Hard Place." Sam Francis thought it was too common an expression. Perhaps he also thought it was too pessimistic. Like so many political cynics, Sam was also a hopeless optimist, forever dreaming of the Middle American Revolution that would throw off the shackles, break free of the fetters imposed on the American people by an unprincipled ruling class that refused to see that it was destroying itself along with the country.
Sam was a long-term pessimist and short-term optimist. I have always been the reverse. The age we live in is a sinkhole of trashy imbecility, but it has not been ever thus and some day, perhaps some day before the Second Coming, there will be people on this planet who do more than eat, drink, and stare at screens.
Our earth is a little big like the planet in a terrible science fiction movie I once watched on an airplane. The hilarious comic actor Vin Diesel is stuck on a planet with a few companions, and they realize that a long period of darkness is about to fall, and when it comes, they will be assaulted by terrifying raptors. Of course, when darkness comes, there is the consolation that if one learns to survive it, the day will come when the sun shines again. I won't see it, you won't see it, our grandchildren probably won't see it, but it will happen. And, the only thing we can do to hasten that day is to keep on doing the right thing, day after day, preserving and handing down what has been given to us, redimentes tempus quoniam dies mali sunt.
All this is preface, first to my apology for commenting very little on the passing scene. Christmas festivities, which this year included the extended visit of son Garret, and a belated Christmas present (a cold) have limited my time for work. To make matter worse, I have undertaken two very time-consuming projects, one of which is to revise and amplify my little book on Montenegro. Second, I hope to be able to produce more regularly a series of rather short pieces on the passing scene. Hence this discourse on the new rubric....