Unbearable Complexity

As somebody who teaches about Christopher Columbus, here’s what I have to say. And I’ve said it before but we have new readers.

He was an absolutely outstanding, brilliant, deeply courageous person.

He was also completely ruthless, heartless, and only out to enrich himself. Time and again, he defied the wishes of the Spanish crown and tried to enslave the natives. A shitty human being, completely immoral.

When we read Columbus’s diaries in class, students invariably ask why we should celebrate such an imperfect individual. And I always tell them that statues and holidays don’t celebrate individuals. They celebrate us and the impact the individuals’ achievements have on us.

The famous Pushkin Monument in Moscow doesn’t celebrate the poet’s disordered life or his ownership of slaves, some of whom he exploited sexually. It celebrates the emotions we feel when reading his poetry.

The famous statue of Churchill isn’t celebrating Churchill’s opinions on anything. It celebrates Great Britain’s heroic resistance and victory in WWII.

And the statues of Columbus is celebrating our existence. Well, not mine, obviously, but definitely of every sad fool who is now toppling them.

But this is all part of the Left’s religious thinking. They want saints and angels. They perceive these statues like Orthodox Christians perceive holy icons. And like a person of primitively Christian feelings who trashes an icon when it fails to deliver a miracle, they demolish an object that points to life’s unbearable complexity.

17 thoughts on “Unbearable Complexity”

  1. How many people voted for Obama because of his policies? Does the left want a president or some kind of mascot or ceremonial figure like the Queen of England.

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      1. I voted for Obama because he promised to regulate Wall Street (never happened, he even bailed them out), to reform health care (did not turn out the way as I was hoping), to pull troupes out of Afghanistan and Iraq (took years to get around to it, and still not done), not to start another armed conflict (they intervened in Syria). As much as I dislike Trump, he is much more consequent in making the things happen that he promised.

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        1. Even on race, outside of the symbolic value – which is important but not exclusively so – what did Obama ever do? There were still riots. There was still extreme poverty. What did he do about the opioid epidemic? What did he do for higher education other than destroying anything good about Title IX and forcing colleges to hold kangaroo courts?

          Eight years! What did he do?

          And mind you, I was a passionate supporter both times as this blog’s archives demonstrate. And both times it was yes, but Sarah Palin is too weird. Yes, but Mitt Romney is a clueless rich guy. The only argument is that the other guy is worse.

          And it’s exactly the same in this election.

          What’s great about Biden?

          Well, he’s not Trump.

          But what’s great about him?

          He’s not Trump, I’m telling you!

          What a great qualification for office, really.

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  2. the first reason I follow your writings here is because your write intelligently, clearly, and well.
    Your explanation for statues is what I have been struggling to clarify regarding the national/state flag or anthem: it is a symbol of the sum of its parts, today. Can we hold that over/ahead of all other concerns, or do we need the mighty struggle of starting over?
    Are we all Americans, or is it more important that we individuals live individually? – We know where that goes.

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  3. “And the statues of Columbus is celebrating our existence…But this is all part of the Left’s religious thinking. They want saints and angels. They perceive these statues like Orthodox Christians perceive holy icons.”

    Exactly right. For the Orthodox, icons, being ‘windows into heaven’, are not themselves worshiped as their function is representational. Many saints are well known to have been great sinners by the faithful but, in spite of this and because of this, through God’s grace their lives were redeemed to fulfill some exemplary purpose of service to humanity.

    Those post-Enlightenment doctrines that teach that God is dead and that human society can be made perfect on earth through the application of right thinking have great difficulty seeing beyond human failings. Indeed, right thinking demands a total war of annihilation against those individuals who are judged to have led humanity astray from whatever ‘true path’ to societal perfection is being promoted.

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      1. I was waiting for a long time for a good moment to ask: do you have any decent proposals for the substitute of religion for people like me, for whom traditional religions are not particularly inspiring or believable?
        This is a sincere question, I am not trying to trick or mock anybody…

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        1. “decent proposals for the substitute of religion for people like me, for whom traditional religions are not particularly inspiring or believable?”

          Do you need something like religion? Not everyone does. I don’t think I do since I’m pretty sure I’m incapable off religious belief. I respect religion(s) and recognize that most people want/need some kind of religious belief so I mostly just leave them to it (while recognizing the absurdity if some modern religion substitutes like veganism or sjw-ism).

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          1. Well, I believe that I do not need it either, but we are discussing it not in vacuum, but in the context of current events and SJW ideology exhibiting some features of religion. I am pretty sure that most SJW will disagree and would claim, just like me, that they do not need a religion either…

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        2. I know I’m not Clarissa and you’re asking her…

          It all depends on which aspect of religion you’re referring to. If it’s the feeling of the sublime, then art or nature.

          If it’s the community, then it could be a hobby that involves other people.

          If it’s trying to do good in the world or giving money like people do in church every Sunday, then it’s volunteering for or donating to a charity. Volunteering for a cause also helps form a community with like-minded people.

          If it’s something to feel righteous and judgmental about, there are so many possibilities! 🙂

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          1. MT, this is this latter aspect that seems very important to some people… (on both sides, actually. Yesterday I have re-read Dreher’s post related to Clarissa from a year or two ago, and some commenters there clearly felt that Clarissa, being pro-choice, at least at that time, did not conform to their idea of conservative purity and therefore should not be trusted.)
            I guess I am not looking for a new religion for myself, I am just wondering if there exists some safe way to channel this desire to feel righteous (which many people clearly demonstrate) into something … at least not dangerous.

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            1. Folks, the only way to survive online and not turn into a Melissa McEwan or Freddy DeBoer is to not allow members of the public to address you in any form. I only speak online to people I have chosen.

              This is why I didn’t read not only those comments but the post itself. And I don’t want to know anything about it in any form, OK?

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