See Infra

Digging at the confluence of culture and everything else

Tag Archives: Andrew Sullivan

Don’t let Columnists Arrogate your Moral Agency

A week and change ago, a group is Islamist militants called ISIS (or ISIL), stormed Mosul, Iraq, conquering considerable land while the Iraqi army fled. ISIS has since instituted brutal and repressive governance, murdered many Iraqis in religio-enthic cleansing, and has declared its intent to wage war in order to destroy rival religious shrines. They are now marching towards Baghdad and may have in fact started a regional war that will be temporally coterminous with a massive spree of ethnic cleansing.

Anytime something horrible happens in Iraq, you can count on the usual suspects saying the usual things and so they have. We’ve had two genres of column filling the papers and the blogs: “why we must militarily intervene in Iraq” and “how can you possibly consider military intervention in Iraq?!?!?!!” Even with the bias of being an interventionist in my heart-of-hearts, I’m pretty sure all of the slaughter creates a natural, even healthy impulse to intervene. I’m reminded of the famous lines of the serenity prayer.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

You’ll note that the call for serenity is not a call for a hardened heart. It may not be wise to intervene in Iraq, but there is a particular cruelty in dismissing the case outright. Read more of this post


Reading (and Paying) the Two Andrew Sullivans

Considering I live in a world where 5 dollar cups of coffee factor into my household budget (or soon will, once the Starbucks in my wife’s office building opens up) a 20 dollar year long subscription to the Dish shouldn’t an issue. Yet, my inner bean-counter is pretty unimpressed by the absurdity of coffee, and demanded an accounting. For those of you who don’t know, the Dish is the blogazine headed by Andrew Sullivan. The Dish relies on two sources of content: a carefully curated stream of the best reading on the web chosen by Sullivan and his team, and original opinion writing by Sullivan.

At the opening of 2008, Alan Jacobs described two Sullivans: a kindly, reasonable and fair-minded Dr. Jekyll, and a ravenous Mr. Hyde, with no patience, tolerance or human decency (my words) for those who disagree with him. I think it’s more useful to think of two Sullivans in the two roles he plays at the Dish: the Jekyll-like editor, a fair-minded thinker with impeccable taste and 50 years of life experience and the Hyde-like writer, an obsessively passionate advocate pounding the table, exactly as he did when he a young man at the New Republic.
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