Category Archives: Rhetoric

History of an Idea: Civil War

The editors of the Blog of the Journal of the History of Ideas have kindly published my essay on Nicole Loraux.

image of web page from the Blog of the Journal of the History of Ideas

British Journalism Victorious

We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight on the fonts.

Deeper Worries than “Ideological Confusion”

Enjoy a belly laugh over Tories claiming to fret that increasing taxes will cause “ideological confusion” after, for instance, they found it perfectly sensible and non-confusing that a cabinet member wondering about his eyesight would then hop in a car for a long drive to test the extent of his poor vision — and took people in the car with him.

graphic of Twitter comment about Tories and taxes

Deliberate Ignorance about a Killer

Dr. Michael Mina from Harvard takes aim at how miserably the U.S. has done with the pandemic:

We have a country that likes to bury its head in the sand. Look at testing in the medical centers in the U.S. How many medical hospitals and clinics actually tested their staff and their physicians regularly? Nobody. I mean, it’s just astounding. But they’d rather bury their head in the sand so that they didn’t even know if transmission was happening in their hospital, because they’d rather not know, because there’s economic cost to that . . . The lack of genomic surveillance is another part of not caring.

photo of person with head in sand

An Embarrassment of Riches

The Queen successfully lobbied the government to change a draft law in order to conceal her “embarrassing” private wealth from the public.

photo of Queen Elizabeth

From Zero to “You Must Die” in Three Seconds

How many stories do we have about people killing others over trivialities, over things, like the case of the “neighbor” who killed others over snow being thrown onto his property? A robber enters someone’s house and is shot and killed. The people inside the house weren’t threatened with harm. Only things were being taken. A driver gets cuts off by another vehicle on a highway, and then the driver whips out a gun and begins shooting. These examples are far from an “eye for an eye” biblical directive. So, how did it become acceptable to end other people’s lives when others simply disagree with us or do something that enrages us? When did it become a commonplace to end a person’s life over the theft of a big screen television?

image of film poster "Why Must I Die?"

In the example below, readers need to keep in mind that internet divisions are sometimes driven by outside forces intent on fomenting divisions at the national level for political reasons. These are cases in which neighbors are not the agents of murderous threats and hate, but that won’t likely be evident at first glance. However, it’s also likely that some participants in attacks on the internet are neighbors and fellow citizens. Below is a lament from an Oxfordshire (UK) doctor about what she has endured for describing to others what is happening with the virus at her hospital:

During the first wave, I knew the public had our backs. This time round, being an NHS doctor makes you a target. For the crime of asserting on social media that Covid is real and deadly, I earn daily abuse from a vitriolic minority. I’ve been called Hitler, Shipman, Satan and Mengele for insisting on Twitter that our hospitals aren’t empty. Last night a charming “Covid sceptic” sent me this: “You are paid to lie and a disgrace to your profession. You have clearly sold your soul and are nothing more than a child abuser destroying futures. I do not consent to your satanic ways.” A friend, herself an intensive care doctor, has just been told by another male “sceptic” that he intends to sexually abuse her until she requires one of her own ventilators. And this morning, another colleague, also female, was told: “You evil criminal lying piece of government shit. You need to be executed immediately for treason and genocide.”

The Age of Aquarius, but with Pelagius

The editors of the Blog of the American Philosophical Association have been kind enough to publish a piece I wrote about “The Age of Pelagius.”

photo of Senator Josh Hawley delivering address at Kings College

Quotation of the Day

We just can’t accept that building communities [on the internet] around insane conspiracy theories is OK.

From a splendid interview with Bellingcat’s Eliot Higgins.

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Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Tires of Sovereignty

Graphic of BBC News headline about UK government telling businesses to set up shop in EU

Former Right-wing Supporters on both sides of the Atlantic Discover They’ve Been Deceived

Graphic of Twitter posting from David Schmeider about Devon fisherman's regrets about voting to leave the EU
Jacob Chansley says he regrets supporting Donald Trump