Reply To: Suggestions of how discussions might be framed

  • Whit Blauvelt

    May 28, 2023 at 4:56 pm

    Charles, Have you read The Dawn of Everything, by Graeber & Wengrow? Their claim — with abundant evidence — is that there have been many more forms of human societies than in any of our “just so” stories. Your gangster hypothesis strikes me as one of those “just so” stories.

    Any broad-brush account oversimplifies. Trump learned much of his approach from Roy Cohn, attorney to Mafia bosses Fat Tony Salerno, Carmine Galante, and John Gotti as well as to Senator Joseph McCarthy. The GOP wants to gut IRS enforcement of tax laws, remembering how they were used to bring down Al Capone. So yes, we have gangsters in American politics.

    But we’ve also got people in high places who aren’t. I knew Van Galbraith, Reagan’s ambassador to France — not a gangster. My wife has known Jill Biden for years — not a gangster, and I’m pretty sure Joe’s not. (My wife would recognize a gangster; her grandfather was acquainted with a few as a longshoreman’s union official.) The notion that it’s all gangsters is promoted by gangsters, who would have the population believe there is no one better than them. There are lots of us better than them. While the Confederate states are still largely run by gangsters, New England decidedly is not, despite Mafia presence in Boston and Providence. Here in Vermont nearly all the political leaders at every level and party are honest, good people. Abe Lincoln was not a gangster, nor was FDR. Truman had been, but got over it. JFK’s dad had been, but the sons were straight. Obama’s clean.

    As for whether Zen priests could have in any way put the brakes on Japan’s imperial goals … how? The emperor was largely Shinto-aligned, and the population’s Buddhism more Pure Land. Have I mentioned I’m named for an uncle killed by the Japanese? No culture, nor person, has ever been purely virtuous. Yet virtue is real. To claim it’s not because it’s never displayed in pure form is to falsely renounce it.