Wednesday, June 21, 2006


What ho! Although Lewis Lapham has stepped down as editor of Harper's, he continues to write a bi-monthly column for the magazine, and in the July issue offers a typically eloquent appreciation of William Sloane Coffin, Jr., the late antiwar activist and lifelong foe of racial and sexual discrimination who died on April 12 of this year. Coffin, who began his career as a CIA man and finished it as chaplain of Yale University, styled himself a preacher of "the uncomfortable gospel," and in the course of Mr. Lapham's splendid panegyric (not, alas, online) you will find a number of exemplary, discomfiting apothegms that should serve as models to the gormless Democratic spokespersons who are quite plainly unable to remember what the party once stood, and should yet again stand, for:
  • To show compassion for an individual without showing concern for the structures of society that make him an object of compassion is to be sentimental rather than loving.

  • The Lord forbids our using our education merely to buy our way into middle-class security.

  • Every nation makes decisions based on self-interest and then defends them in the name of morality.

  • Even if you win the rat race, you're still a rat.

  • To love effectively, we must act collectively.

  • Love measures our stature: the more we love, the bigger we are. There is no smaller package in all the world than that of a man all wrapped up in himself.

  • Those who fear disorder more than injustice invariably produce more of both.

  • Nationalism, at the expense of another nation, is just as wicked as racism at the expense of another race.

  • The police are around in large part to guarantee a peaceful digestion for the rich.

  • Hell is truth seen too late.

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