'The digital magazine that inspired the Boston Marathon bombers and…“lone wolf” terrorists around the world.'
It’s this bio—a military brat with a white wife…an…ambitious 23-year-old black man who frequently mentions law school and post-football political aspirations but refuses to name his political orientation—that has fascinated so many people and confused not a few others. None more so, perhaps, than Rob Parker, a former commentator on ESPN’s First Take. One day last December, after RG3 had given an interview in which he said, for about the millionth time, that he didn’t want to be “defined” by his race, Parker shocked…when he said, “My question, which is just a straight honest question: Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?… He’s black, he kind of does his thing, but he’s not really down with the cause. He’s not one of us.” The comments leaped off the show and into the national conversation, sparking an ugly debate about RG3’s “blackness.” Parker was suspended and eventually let go.
more of a long read, here.
Then, one night in June 2009, two men were caught trying to enter a neighbor’s home. The two ratted out a few friends and, falling like a house of cards, a group of nine Manitoba men, ages 19 to 43, eventually confessed that they had been raping Colony families since 2005. To incapacitate their victims and any possible witnesses, the men used a spray created by a veterinarian from a neighboring Mennonite community that he had adapted from a chemical used to anesthetize cows. According to their initial confessions…the rapists admitted to—sometimes in groups, sometimes alone—hiding outside bedroom windows at night, spraying the substance through the screens to drug entire families, and then crawling inside…Though it’s never discussed and was not part of the legal case, residents privately told me that men and boys were raped, too.
The words we constantly use and the narratives we write reinforce a drama of selfhood that we in the West complacently celebrate. There is also much consolation taken in the way in which writing and narrative can transform emotional pain into a form of entertainment, wise and poignant in its vision of our passage through the world, intense and thrilled by its own intensity. Narrative is so often the narrative of misery and of the passage through misery. What silence and meditation leaves us wondering…is whether there isn’t something deeply perverse in this culture of ours, even in its greatest achievements in narrative and art. So much of what we read, even when it is great entertainment, is deeply unhelpful.
One in two adult American women is a former Girl Scout—a statistic I had thought very unreal when I first came across it, despite falling on the positive side of it myself. Say what you will about the vests, but those goody-goody girls I had worried would tarnish my cool? They have become one of the world’s most powerful and progressive women’s organizations.
The administration’s engagement with Vietnam has been amplified by Secretary of State John Kerry, a Vietnam veteran who has traveled there repeatedly since the war. On Wednesday, Mr. Kerry was the host of a luncheon for Mr. Sang at the State Department, during which he pointed out that Mr. Sang was a guerrilla leader south of Saigon in 1969, the same time Mr. Kerry was a Navy officer in the Mekong Delta.
In this sense, their historical precedents are not so much the Gingrich revolutionaries, or even their tea-party selves of a few years ago; the movement is more like the radical left of the sixties, had it occupied a position of power in Congress. And so the terms we traditionally use to scold bad Congresses—partisanship, obstruction, gridlock—don’t come close to describing this situation. The hard right’s extremism has bent back upon itself, leaving an inscrutable void of paranoia and formless rage and twisting the Republican Party into a band of anarchists. And the worst is not behind us.
A different case is “negative concord,” recorded all over the United States in some African American English…as in “I don’t see him no more” and “Don’t nothing come to a sleeper but a dream.” In these sentences, the negatives reinforce each other instead of canceling each other out. And consider this expression from fourteenth-century England: “There nas [was not] no man nowhere so virtuous.” It’s by Chaucer, and is just one example of many from his era and earlier. But there is no direct relation. Negative concord, as wrong as it sounds to those who grew up without it, is common among the world’s languages.