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Archive for the ‘justice’ Category

OK, so a long election cycle is over. I wondered if the chattering class – a class to which I aspire – would have much left to say. I mean, seriously, so much has been said already. I’m of course wrong. I should have known that the big and apparently only question would be raised: will this election lead people to say that racism is over?

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I’m really not enjoying the strange journey of race in the presidential election thing. I doubt many people are, save for the occasional Karl Rove, for whom it is a fabulous tactic – if you’re creative. I must admit to being surprised, though, to see the issue of reparations come up. It’s a nuanced and compelling issue, if one has the time to examine all of the folds. It’s about memory, state history, back wages, social justice, economics, the nature of representation, and so on. But that’s too much to ask. Turns out, sometimes a non-reparation actually is one.

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Reprinted from The Public Humanist. It is always a nice thing to see Socrates made contemporary. Or at least have something to say about about contemporary things, so I’m just so pleased to see Robert Meagher write this piece about fear and hope. The range – and so the possibilities – of human emotion is one of those perennial philosophical issues. And too much evidence points to the constant presence of fear, too little presence of hope. I find a small thread of both hope and fear in the same place these days: race and all those companion emotions.

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I’ll add to the huge number of editorials and blogs on Obama’s “big speech on race.” I read the transcript and watched a bit of it, but not without some regret that it had come to this moment. Why did Obama have to give this sort of speech? Who provoked it and why? But it was provoked. No going back from that. And he gave what, to my mind, was a solid and actually quite brave account of his relation to all sorts of pain. (more…)

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Two things struck me in recent campaign commentary and “controversy.” They say a lot about how, even at a moment when we are witnessing an unthinkable, the pain of the past seems to fog our vision. Yes, I’m talking about how it is entirely possible that we will have a black president. I wonder if we’ve even begun to register how the once unthinkable is almost mundanely becoming, well, thinkable (don’t we expect a bigger soundtrack?). The moment it becomes so momentous, however, that moment is being sunk by how painful the history that makes it “a moment” actually is… (more…)

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No one following the Democratic primary will be surprised that John Edwards stepped out of the race today. It didn’t happen and certainly wasn’t just wasn’t about to happen. I find his withdrawal sad, not because I’m especially enthused about him, the Democratic party, or our particular brand of democracy, but only because he was such an uncanny presence – he talked about poverty. And this is part though not nearly enough, of the Time magazine story on his candidacy: why Edwards did not catch on… (more…)

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I’ve been teaching about friendship for the past couple of weeks – Jacques Derrida’s utterly enigmatic Politics of Friendship, to be specific – so I was thrilled to read a reflection by my cross-campus colleague Robert Meagher on where friendship might lead us. There is much to say about friendship. Most of it, if we read the canonical texts on friendship in the Western tradition, places an insanely high standard on “true” friendship. So much so that we hardly think it possible to have such a friend. Or, maybe wonder if, as a student of mine once did after reading Montaigne’s account of his friendship with Etienne de la Boetie, “you really want that much f@#!ing human in your life. We gotta live, man!” No doubt.

But I’m not one to give up on ideals, even when they appear, to those of us living short of the ideal, as smothering or a bit too dreamy. After all, it is an impoverished imagination that measures life’s meaning only according to where we find ourselves. This can’t be all there is, really. Let’s get real. Read on…

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