What's Tony Thinking

This, That and Another Thing


We, Linda, Laura, and I, had a beautiful hike along the Imnaha River yesterday. We camped the night before in one of our favorite campgrounds, Indian Crossing. Then in the morning set out for Imnaha Falls, 5.7 miles from the campground. So the roundtrip was a good bit of exertion, but the temperatures were in the mid-70’s and there was a steady breeze, so really quite pleasant.

Here are a couple photos of the river, one in a narrow, rocky place, and another were the river flattens out and does some big turns. Note how wonderfully clear the water is in the first photo (photo credits to Laura Robinson). Particularly in the latter photo you can detect evidence of the 1994 forest fire in the area.

There were lots of thimbleberries and some huckleberries on the trail. Laura made a little video of Linda and I, at a distance, picking huckleberries. She imitated the low tones of a wildlife biologist observing primates. “There they are foraging for their lunch . . . the Robinsons.” Very deadpan.

On other fronts, the epidemiologist whose predictions have been more dire, but also more accurate than almost everyone else, Mike Osterholm, has called for an immediate six-week lock-down to get control of the virus. The first lock-down (March/ April) might have worked, but we stopped too soon. Without determined action, winter could be very bad and the economy taking a far more severe hit. Should Biden win, the pattern continues: an economic mess handed from Republicans to incoming Democrats.

The politics of a possible lock-down are interesting though hardly encouraging. Congress has gone home for the August recess having accomplished nothing on the House sponsored relief package. I hope the Republicans get an earful if they dare to have “Town Hall Meetings” during the recess.

Imagine if President Trump ordered and led a six week lock-down starting now. He might not save his Presidency, but he would shock everyone and alter his legacy by putting the interests of the nation ahead of his own. On the other hand, would Biden, if elected, dare to enact a six-week lock-down as his first act, saying, “I know, this is tough medicine, and it has to be done.” The chances of the former seem infinitesimal. Of the latter, unlikely. Ironically, a Trump led lockdown would probably have a better chance of buy-in and therefore success, as most of the skeptics are in his base.

I wrote earlier this week about “the roots of woke-ness.” Here’s a case-in-point follow up: Flannery O’Connor’s name stricken from the Loyola University campus. The author of this piece, from Commonweal, is also the author of the book that was cherry-picked for a New Yorker article that led to the erasure on the Jesuit campus. The author of the book strenuously objects to the use (mis-use) made of it by Philip Elie for a New Yorker article titled, “How Racist Was Flannery O’Connor?” (thanks to reader Roy Howard for drawing my attention to the Commonweal article.)

There’s something disgusting about the way so many are making hay and garnering clicks by subjecting writers, artists, politicians and leaders of the past by the newly-enlightened standards of the present. It calls to mind the tart observation of G. K. Chesterton about the importance of tradition.

“Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.” (Shout out to Mike Bennett for running down that wonderful Chesterton quote for me.)

That small, arrogant oligarchy is definitely throwing its weight around these days. Which is curious to me. One might on reviewing the shortcomings of those who have preceded us be moved to humility. As in, “Seems likely that we too are limited by our time and place and have some blind spots of our own.” But no, the impulse seems to be, “We are the Enlightened now called to point out the ignorance and ignominy of those awful people,”  who can no longer defend themselves. As the author of the Commonweal piece laments, Philip Elie eschewed complex thought to make his trumped up case against one of our greatest writers. One expects better from The New Yorker.




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