Wednesday, November 16, 2016

We're all guardians of American values now

Morgan Library, New York City


     When the Sun-Times eliminated its library, years ago, as one of the many cost-cutting measures that allowed the paper to survive to this day, I learned about it when our last librarian stuck her head into my office.
     “Well, I’ve been fired and they’re shutting down the library,” she said. “Since you’re the only person who uses it, come take what you want.”
     I liberated a hand truck, muscled a couple 7-foot bookcases into my office, then started transferring the most useful volumes. As I did this, the librarian took a yellow legal pad and began writing down which titles I was removing. She didn’t get far before an awful realization clouded her face: it didn’t matter anymore. There would be no library for these books to be missing from, and no librarian to care where they were. She left me to my task; a few days later she was gone, and I never saw her again. 

      That haunting moment came to me again this week, as protesters took to the street to decry the presidential election. To whom are they complaining? Donald Trump? The American people who just elected him? The czar? If only he knew! Like my departing librarian, they were showing fidelity to a structure of official values that had simply evaporated.
     At least she was talking to a sympathetic audience, me. What the protesters accomplished was to comfort the very person they were protesting against, serving up a chance for the false equivalence that got him elected in the first place. See? Violence! These incidents counterbalance our candidate winning office by maligning vulnerable minorities for 18 months, his campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again," itself a coded credo for nationalism.
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6 comments:

  1. Last night Jimmy Kimmel mocked the Trump protesters. At least 69 of the 112 Portland demonstrators who were arrested, weren't registered or didn't vote. Paraphrasing to the camera "What is the point? Protesting won't help, you should have voted when you had the chance. If you had, maybe things would be different now."

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    1. What does "Paraphrasing to the camera" mean?" Who are you paraphrasing?

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  2. Maybe this is just another form of denial, but I feel compelled to point out that "we" did not accept Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton got more votes, but they didn't count because of where those voters live.

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  3. The destruction of a library is a potent symbol. The Dark Ages were called that because the learning of the ancient world was cloistered.

    A library is at the heart of one of the most interesting of 20th Century novels, Umberto Eco's "The Name of the Rose." The library seems a symbol of knowledge, and its going up in flames a giving of sway to the inquisition. A lost work of Aristotle's, symbolizing the subversive nature of humor is also featured.

    Against odds, it made a good film, one of the few that allowed Sean Connery to do more than ask for martini, stirred not shaken.

    Tom Evans

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  4. A nice analogy. I'm guessing the Founding Fathers would have expected that the Electoral College would have worked against rather than for a Trump.

    john

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  5. Exactly right, and very frightening. I hear people saying that our institutions will stand firm, but I know they won't.

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