Readings, July 20, 2016

Rémi Brague ends his book, The Law of God, on a melancholy note: “There is nothing to prove that the Western conception of the political is secure, or even viable in the long run. Whether human action can unfold freely, with no reference to the divine, rather than losing its way in suicidal dialectics, remains to be seen.” From a book review by AARON TUGENDHAFT

At the moment I’m watching, or trying not to lose too much time by watching, the Republican Party Nominating Convention in Cleveland. These people, Trump, the Trump family, et al. are “losing their way,” not by avoiding reference to but by making too much of the divine (and not enough of the human).

For all the disruption and damage that Donald Trump has meant for Republicans, the party’s statement of its views [the newly written GOP platform] rivals Mr. Trump himself for shock value….It is as though, rather than trying to reconcile Mr. Trump’s heretical views with conservative orthodoxy, the writers of the platform simply opted to go with the most extreme version of every position….Mr. Trump’s anti-Muslim phobia and fantasy wall across the Mexican border are front and center, along with his protectionist views,… along with securing retrograde positions that include making no exceptions for rape or women’s health in cases of abortion; …rejecting the need for stronger gun controls — despite the mass shootings afflicting the nation every week….The platform also makes homophobia and the denial of basic civil rights to gays, lesbians and transgender people a centerpiece. It repudiates same-sex marriage, despite strong support for this constitutional right in the nation at large….The G.O.P. used to insist it was the “big tent” open to one and all. Now it’s the “big wall” party braced by a destructive platform out of touch with American lives and devoid of the common sense the nation needs for any form of political progress. From a NYTimes editorial.

How can this be? The Republicans’ nearly complete rejection of the very progressive and liberal elements that have at earlier times characterized the life of the entire country, accounted for the country’s exceptional status in the world? How can they reject the very best elements of their own party, the party of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan? Yes, the Republicans are losing their way, again by making too much of the “divine” and not enough of the human.


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