Journal Entry #27

Discernment

NORFOLK, CONN., NOVEMBER 26— I spent a very agreeable evening Friday, day after Thanksgiving, at a friend’s house in Hartford—he a professor of Iberian studies at Trinity College. A few hours before arriving, I had filed a column now posted at Salon under the headline, “Something to celebrate: The war in Syria is over, and America lost.” Being among kindred sensibilities and in a mischievous mood, I raised a glass and proposed a toast: “To victory in Syria.” Other glasses rose.

I confess to that taste for contrariness not uncommon among those of Irish descent. But, setting this trait aside, I meant what I said and took pleasure in saying it plainly. The Syrian tragedy, which has been driven for some years by Washington’s ambition to induce another of the coups it thinks nothing of inflicting on others, can now draw to a close because said operation has failed. The loss of life can be stemmed. Cities can be rebuilt. A political solution appears to lie ahead. To applaud this is nothing more than ordinarily humane. The column now available at Salon explains this reasoning well enough.

Now this column prompts more than the usual number of comments. Some come from people who would have raised a glass with us last Friday, had they been there. Other remarks are disapproving, if I can use so mild a word. They denounce. In the mode of our time, many tilt toward character assassination—the shoot-the-messenger strategy: Do not engage what the writer said. Better to attack the writer.

Someone named Jett Goldsmith writes, “Next up, @thefloutist writes a think piece celebrating the systematic murder of six million of my people by the Nazi party.” Another reader, one Shane Bauer, puts in, “Salon is celebrating the victory of a genocidal dictator.” Alex Ruthauff, another reader, seems to have decided to touch all bases on his way around: Not only did Lawrence write an objectionable column, but there is the one Lawrence wrote last August on the DNC mail leak—“a really flimsy piece that didn’t withstand the slightest scrutiny.”

There were other comments along of this kind. The above arrived via Twitter. Others are appended to the column in the comment thread. Here is the column, incidentally.

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