Friday, December 18, 2015

Service Advisory

The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. 
 In a word, Jihad!

I don't know where the guy with the beard was radicalized, but he was certainly a bloodthirsty extremist if anybody was.  Notice also the beard, which he probably began growing in whatever madrassa turned him to the Dark Side.  But there is no question that he used religion to justify a war in which he killed 600,000 of his own people, a war whose consequences we are still living with a century and a half later.

Yes, that war had one positive outcome, in that slavery was ended in the United States.  It was a very hard choice, but we think the price is worth it.

I've been procrastinating lately because there's so much I think I ought to write about, but I just haven't felt like writing.  Or reading, most of the time.  It happens.  And now I'll be going out of town for the weekend, which will not contribute directly to productivity.  My apologies. But as inadequate recompense, let me refer you to John Scalzi's post today about the Toronto Star's recent decision to turn off comments on their website.  Scalzi then discusses his own comments policy, which led me to reflect again on why I don't enable comments here.  The discussion in comments (which Scalzi moderates) is pretty good -- Whatever is one of the sites where that happens.

One commenter wrote, "It’s amazing how polar opposite a 'comments section' is to what I hear of the current politically correct state of college classrooms with their 'trigger warnings' and such."  Ah, there's a topic I need to write about here.  Instead I replied to him there.

Perhaps you should be more skeptical about what you hear, but even if what you hear is true, imagine a classroom where the discussion was like the comments sections of most newspapers, Youtube, etc.  I avoid them, not because I'm a special snowflake, but because they're useless for learning anything.  There's nothing "politically correct" about not wanting to wade naked in an open sewer. 

Classrooms have never been open spaces like an unmoderated comments section; discussion there has always been moderated by the instructors.  And nobody's as special a snowflake as the legions of reactionaries who are furious that white heterosexual males are no longer given the special status they think they deserve, and feel they must react by verbal and often physical violence. (This is not really new.  In Virginia Woolf's Three Guineas, she recounts that male students rioted when it was proposed that female students should be admitted to the elite English universities.  And I don't need, do I, to remind you how American whites reacted to the politically-incorrect presence of free blacks in what they believed was "their" country, thereby triggering terrible anxieties that could only be assuaged by rioting, dismemberment, and lynching of the offenders?)  Again, imagine a classroom where the students yelled death and rape threats at each other, which is the state of too much of the Internet today.  Again, there's nothing "politically correct" about not wanting to be subjected to that.

So.  Back in a few days, I hope.