February 18, 2012, 5:35 pm
It’s hard to be piercingly heterodox when heterodoxy is the culture’s orthodoxy—heterodoxy of a certain sort, anyway. Heterodoxy is not inherently instructive, accurate, or interesting. It’s pure reaction. If you tell a small child to be quiet and he yammers more loudly, his rebellion is a form of bondage. It’s hopelessly tethered to what it rejects. It’s wholly predictable and adds no value. It’s provocation whose point is to provoke, but not for any particular reason other than provocation itself. It’s reverse-the-sign heterodoxy—change the plus sign to minus, or vice versa. If conventional opinion condemns al-Qaeda and you defend them because the imperialists attack them, you’re a useless idiot. Much of the worst thinking of the last century has been of this form.
Bill Maher has on occasion made trenchant objections to orthodoxies of the moment, and last fall did herald…
September 19, 2011, 9:21 pm
The New York Daily News reports that squeegee men are back on the streets of New York. (H/t: Josh Petri of TPM.) Granted, the Daily News found only five of them. Granted, the squeegee men have cropped up every once in a while (here’s a NYT sighting from last year) even in a city that was supposed to have been definitely
cleansed squeegeed by Rudy Giuliani during his heroic metropolitan period. But I am wondering why there are so few squeegee men, and so orderly, and at that, so mannerly as to speak respectfully to reporters.
Last year, driving through the valley town of Gilroy, California, I was struck by the profusion of men shuffling down the streets pushing supermarket carts bearing their possessions. They moved slowly. Nothing much showed in their faces. The San Francisco Chronicle recently reports two sightings of aggressive panhandlers. Nothing new about that: Around 1994,…
June 27, 2011, 9:27 pm
I’m proud to say that Kate Coleman is a friend of mine. She is also a fearless, indefatigable Berkeley-based journalist who resisted fashions for more than 30 years while writing penetrating and courageous reports on the Black Panther Party, both when it was lionized (well, pantherized) and when it was demonized. Now she’s done it again, for The New Republic, on Elmer (“Geronimo”) Pratt, who died earlier this month in Tanzania, where he went after serving 27 years in prison for the Santa Monica murder of a woman named Caroline Olsen, the first eight of those years in solitary. He was, she writes, “denied parole 16 times before his sentence was vacated and he was freed.” Some of this was reported in obits, but the worst of it was missing.
Here’s her nut graf about how it happened that Pratt was denied the alibi he had earned because of the vileness of the sometimes still lionized …