What's Tony Thinking

At Week’s End: The Good, the Bad and the Cold


I’m not sure I ever thought I would say this, but two cheers for the abortion debate. How so? Aren’t we desperately fatigued by our polarized positions? Not to mention the one-ups-you-ship of Republican controlled states trying to outdo one another with the extremity of their anti-abortion legislation . . .

I’m thinking of Oklahoma which now considers life to begin at the moment of fertilization. That will create some serious conundrums, like, what about IVF, and the embryos that are not implanted? It would seem that IVF is off the table for Oklahomans. Or, to imagine the absurd, will we have peeping Tom’s watching for the moment of “fertilization,” in order to report to state authorities?

Okay, sorry, I said this was the good news section. Here it is. You readers know I am a big fan of Ezra Klein’s podcast. The most recent is a conversation with Oxford ethicist, Kate Greasley, about the ethical, religious and philosophical questions surrounding abortion. So much of the discussion of the issue isn’t discussion, not really, let alone reflection. It is simply running the flag up the flagpole and saluting the banner of your team. But in this podcast you will be invited to really, deeply, carefully THINK. Okay, you say, “I’m tired of thinking about this!” Gotcha. Still, give it a listen. The careful thinking and probing questions were, at least for me, refreshing.

On to the bad. In a blog earlier this week I noted two of the week’s mass shootings. There were three. In Dallas three Korean women were shot at their hair salon. The alleged shooter was an African-American man. Then there was the shooting at the Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Southern California, where the alleged shooter was Chinese. So far as I can tell, these two have gone largely unreported while the focus has fallen on the hideous killing of ten African-Americans by a “white supremacist” in Buffalo.

What happened to Dallas or California incidents? Well, maybe it’s a matter of lethality? Many more people were killed in Buffalo. But I wonder if there’s something else. Buffalo fits the dominant narrative of white on black violence and America as a “white supremacist” nation. The others don’t fit that narrative, they complexify it it. As such, do they then go unreported?

The economist, Glenn Loury, who is generally conservative, also African-American, remarked before the 2016 election something I found insightful at the time, and haunting since then. “Those who live by the sword of identity politics, may die by it.” Which I took to mean that seeing everyone in terms of their racial identity (called “racial essentialism”) could fuel a new more virulent strain of white identity politics. And then came Trump.

Somehow we have to deal with racism, and our painful history, without seeing people first, last and always in terms of their race. Can we see Americans? Human beings? Or do we see only white, black, Asian, Latino, Jew, Arab, etc. Only groups and not individuals?

Now for the cold. I was over at our cabin in Eastern Oregon this week to do what we call “opening up.” The little cabin, now nearly 100 years old, always looks pretty forlorn when we first return in the spring. I decided this year not to blame the cabin. No home/ house/ cabin wants to be unoccupied for seven months especially during a harsh winter season. No wonder it looks bereft . . . it is! “Where you guys been!?”

But this winter season has been a especially long one. On Thursday morning, i.e. May 19, it snowed two inches there. It was beautiful. Just not kind of what you think when you think “May,” and almost Memorial Day. I will say this, however, everything is really, really green (when it isn’t white), but the 30 degree temperatures and snow chased me home a day or two early.

Have a great weekend.

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