The Left’s Problem with Free Speech

It didn’t take long for opposition to Harper’s Magazine letter featuring 153 heavyweight intellectuals, largely academics and writers protesting censorship, to engage counter protest. Not from the Right as one might suppose, but from the Left in a counter letter featuring 160 signatories, published in the online site, The Objective. Some argued the Harper signatories were white, economically privileged, academic elitists who don’t merit any … Continue reading The Left’s Problem with Free Speech

Unlearning Mt. Rushmore: Legacy of Injustice

I just downloaded the late Howard Zinn’s masterful A People’s History of the United States. You might say I’m divesting myself of the whitewash of American history handed down to me by a white culture. As I write, Trump plans to visit Mt. Rushmore today, July 3, replete with flyover and fireworks, 7500 lottery selected attendees not observing social distancing, few wearing masks.  It sits … Continue reading Unlearning Mt. Rushmore: Legacy of Injustice

70th Anniversary: Korea, the Forgotten War

Seventy years ago today, North Korean troops crossed the 38th parallel, invading South Korea. I was ten years old, but my father would send me up Front Street in Philly to get the Inquirer or Bulletin. I think it was five cents in those days, fifteen on Sundays. Pa would split the paper with me. I knew the details intimately and followed the battle lines … Continue reading 70th Anniversary: Korea, the Forgotten War

Business as Usual: Lockdown Unenforced

As experts have warned and a rogue president, prioritizing reelection, has ignored, recharging the economy when Covid-19 continues to ravage has exacted a surge in the pandemic’s victims, with a new wave anticipated this fall. But Americans are its lead cause, a spoiled populace ignoring the laws governing exit from the crisis, wearing a mask in public, practicing social distancing, limiting unnecessary activity. Fifty states, … Continue reading Business as Usual: Lockdown Unenforced

Reflections on Patti Smith’s Devotion

I hadn’t heard of Patti Smith before reading Devotion, her slim volume of 112 pages that expands upon her lecture presentation at Yale (2016), initiating the Windham-Campbell series, “Why I Write.” Rock aficionados remember Smith for her punk-rock as singer with her own band and award-winning albums.  Politically, her “People Have the Power” became the theme song for Ralph Nader in his 2000 campaign for … Continue reading Reflections on Patti Smith’s Devotion

Emily Brontë’s Faith Poem: “No Coward Soul is Mine”

I’ve always admired Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights as a supreme literary achievement. In teaching it over the years, its structural complexity, thematic depth, and passionate intensity never failed to astound me. Putting it another way, Wuthering Heights has haunted me, much like Catherine’s ghost at Heathcliff’s window. Years ago, I had the good fortune to visit the parsonage where she lived out her brief life … Continue reading Emily Brontë’s Faith Poem: “No Coward Soul is Mine”

The Fate of our Animal Friends in Pandemic Times

The untold suffering of our animal friends, victims of collapsing slaughter houses in the wake of mass worker viral infections, is so manifest it shouldn’t be ignored. It isn’t just Asian wet markets that need closing, though China bristles in denial, but industrial farming here at home, latent with cruelty, harbinger of disease, pervasive in despoiling the earth and advancing climate change. We rightly become … Continue reading The Fate of our Animal Friends in Pandemic Times

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring: An Earth Day Tribute

  I’ve just finished reading Rachel Carson’s classic Silent Spring, written back in 1962, but still timely. President Kennedy read it eagerly, followed by Nixon in a time when presidents read books. (President Obama is another omnivorous reader in our own time.) Nixon was so deeply affected, that he founded the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a safeguard. I first became aware of the book … Continue reading Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring: An Earth Day Tribute

Sally Rooney: Up to the Hype?

I took up reading Irish literary sensation Sally Rooney to find out what the fuss was all about. After all, she’s only twenty-eight and has written two novels that have rocked the literary world, Conversations with Friends (2017) and Normal People (2018), dubbing her the gatekeeper of the millennial generation. Saying you’ve read Rooney is the new chic. Where does such youthful sagacity come from, … Continue reading Sally Rooney: Up to the Hype?