One of the pleasures of reading Hersh’s account is the way it elegantly dismantles aspects of the story that seemed suspect from the beginning, and first among these is the notion that bin Laden, had he surrendered, would have been taken alive. “Let’s face it,” the retired intelligence officer told Hersh. “We’re going to commit a murder.”
The Intellectual Situation
B’s utilitarian assumption was just a version of what we’d all learn later — either in “cost-benefit” analyses (that charged euphemism) in economics and public-policy classes, or else in nonsensical “moral compass” tests in job interviews. B intuited a principle that underlies so many political decisions, from drone strikes to the building of World Cup stadiums. His stupidity was to say it out loud.
Fiction and Drama
He wanted the reader to think to himself: “I just read about the Holocaust. Why am I picturing this fern? What is the matter with me?” Such was the literary effect he was aiming for.
Perhaps you should be asking yourselves different questions. Why do you sometimes treat other people as humans and sometimes as animals? And why do you sometimes treat creatures as animals and sometimes as humans?
It struck me on starting the first page of Historical Miniatures that Mazen had terribly misjudged my Arabic ability. I was ready for a challenge, but this was real literature, wildly above my level of comprehension.
But we always grow up into a world different from the one we dreamed of. And isn’t every work of art, like every utterance, like every piece of advice, a wish?
Annals of Activism
How far beyond the academy do our commitments extend? Are we defending our right to teach and study things that might be useless? Or are we insisting on our usefulness?
What happened in those years can’t be contained in a coda. Nor can it be credited with all the victories that came later — but it was an era in which AIDS activism began winning remarkable victories in the global arena, and the era in which the AIDS and LGBT agendas cleaved apart.
To use Myles’s metaphor: Nelson is half a scholar with a downturned cup, attempting to trap something scuttling uncooperatively around, and half a writer-bug, trying to dodge the cup.
The architecture of the modern movement could not solve the problems generated by developmentalism, and in its proponents’ zeal to inflict enormous, increasingly standardized solutions on the urban landscape, it might even exacerbate them.
Dear Editors, I used to be a cop in Manhattan. By the close of 2011, I had spent countless hours policing Occupy Wall Street, traversing lower Manhattan alongside people shouting the same five or six things, day after day, accompanied by drums and sometimes brass instruments. In the beginning, there was a nervous anticipation among my fellow officers; we sensed that the protesters had tapped into a zeitgeist. If they could get even a few percent of the people of the metro area to come out on a single day to march, the crowd would be too large to regulate. They would have seized on ideas powerful enough to get the police themselves to join their ranks, and they would be on the path to a revolution.