I Went To Hell And Have Brought It Back With Me

If you’re not reading Public Discourse every day, you should rectify that. Each day, a different professor  or intellectual takes on a pressing topic about issues in the public square. Sometimes the site hosts an ongoing debate (on the ethics of enhanced interrogation or undercover journalism).

Today, professor Anthony Esolen argues that our government has failed to admit that its own selfishness is the root …

  1. Crow

    Since we’re talking Esolen and Hell, I might mention here that his translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy is quite good–which is a rare find among Modern Library editions. I recommend it. 

    And secondly, I’ve quoted this particular lecture on a few occasions in the past on Ricochet, but Esolen happens to be responsible for one of my favorite ISI lectures. It is called Culture, What Culture and you can read it at that link, or if you have an ISI membership you can find the video or audio edition of it there. I don’t tire of recommending it not only because of its felicitous demonstration of what culture genuinely means using a Ben Johnson play as a backdrop, but also because it doesn’t confuse “mass media/entertainment wars” between progressives and conservatives with culture the genuine article. It maintains the necessary height that the liberal arts were always supposed to defend as their natural redoubt (before they became about underwater basket weaving in Progressive’s hands): that is, they are called the “liberal arts” because they are the possession of truly free men.

    Good article in Public Discourse also.

  2. Richard Fulmer

    Professor Esolen is exactly right.  We want to do whatever we want and still feel good about ourselves.  But to do that, we’ve got to destroy the notion of virtue.  And to do that, we’ve got to destroy religion.  Finally, we need to destroy those, Like Professor Esolen, who defend virtue and religion.  But then who will defend us against the monsters we create?

  3. The Mugwump

    I sometimes don’t know what to think when I read stuff like this.

    A.  Is it moral vanity dressed up in good intentions?

    B.  Is it cynical indifference in the pursuit of power?

    C.  Or is it just that so many “educators” have had their reason obliterated by leftist incoctrination? 

    Or maybe some combination of the above?

  4. Donald Todd

    I looked at the list of recommended websites on the lower right-hand side and did not see Public Discourse.  Perhaps being able to click on that site from this site, as is available for a large number of other recommended sites, would be a easy way to promote accessing that website?

  5. WI Con

    Very powerful. This is the type of material that should be discussed when reaching out (not pandering) to minorities.

    As a nation, these are the types of ‘tender mercies’ that those in poverty have been left to. When stated in these terms, I think there’s a real chance of peeling some of these people away from the Left.

  6. Matthew Hennessey
    C

    Brilliant. Very glad to have read this.

  7. Mollie Hemingway
    C
    WI Con: Very powerful. This is the type of material that should be discussed when reaching out (not pandering) to minorities.

    As a nation, these are the types of ‘tender mercies’ that those in poverty have been left to. When stated in these terms, I think there’s a real chance of peeling some of these people away from the Left. · 16 minutes ago

    I agree — and I think the political savvy of it has little to do with it. This is about helping people and many have forgotten how to express that desire to help.

  8. Joseph Eagar

    This is why the GOP has to be the populist party; Bobby Jindal was right.

  9. Joseph Eagar
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    WI Con: Very powerful. This is the type of material that should be discussed when reaching out (not pandering) to minorities.

    As a nation, these are the types of ‘tender mercies’ that those in poverty have been left to. When stated in these terms, I think there’s a real chance of peeling some of these people away from the Left. · 16 minutes ago

    I agree — and I think the political savvy of it has little to do with it. This is about helping people and many have forgotten how to express that desire to help. · 17 minutes ago

    But we must be careful not to get bogged down in the trap of thinking this only happens to minorities (leaving us open to accusations of racism).  Many of my white relatives have gone through the exact same experiences.

  10. Colin B Lane

    It’s almost as if the road to hell is, like, paved with good intentions or something.

  11. Richard Fulmer
    Joseph Eagar

    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    WI Con: Very powerful. This is the type of material that should be discussed when reaching out (not pandering) to minorities.

    As a nation, these are the types of ‘tender mercies’ that those in poverty have been left to. When stated in these terms, I think there’s a real chance of peeling some of these people away from the Left. · 16 minutes ago

    I agree — and I think the political savvy of it has little to do with it. This is about helping people and many have forgotten how to express that desire to help.

    But we must be careful not to get bogged down in the trap of thinking this only happens to minorities (leaving us open to accusations of racism).  Many of my white relatives have gone through the exact same experiences.

    Absolutely.  This messasge should be included in every stump speech that a politician delivers – not just to minority audiences.  Everyone needs to hear it.

  12. Barkha Herman

    Hurricane Katrina and the Jena Six incident happened very close to each other.  I watched both very intently on my television.

    What struck me as the difference was that, after Katrina, blonde blue eyed kids from Oregon and Main as well as Florida were pouring in to Louisiana,  but not one African American I knew went to volunteer.  

    I kept looking for black faces;  I didn’t see it (granted, mine is a very unscientific research).  Google image search Katrina Volunteers if you don’t believe me. 

    Then, for Jena Six incident, there were all these African Americans marching in protest….  The crowd was all black.

    So what motivates African Americans march in Jena but not volunteer in New Orleans?

  13. Frozen Chosen

    “Great Society” indeed…

  14. Astonishing

    The problem will persist until blacks solve it, because it is a black problem, politically, socially, culturally.

    Nothing will change as long as poor blacks vote 95% for the leftist candidate.

    The root of the problem and the cure involve urban teachers unions, whose membership is largely black. They live quite nicely. Their male students learn little or nothing, go to prison, and/or die young. 

    What’s needed is more class warfare: poor blacks against middle and upper class blacks, like:

    –Michelle Obama, who soaked up millions of patient dollars and taxpayer dollars as a University of Chicago Hospital do-nothing, Vice President of Community Affairs.

    –Karen Lewis, head of the teachers union in Chicago, where teachers are among the highest paid and students are among the worst performing.

    –Jessie Jackson Sr., who milked millions from companies in tacit exchange for protection from discrimination claims.

    These are more prominent parasites, but along with Karen Lewis include most urban middle class black teachers as well, and also most of the middle class blacks living comfortably as welfare state bureaucrats administering the misery of their brothers and sisters.

    They thrive serving as black overseers on the paternalistic white liberal plantation.

  15. ConservativeFred

    I have spent the last 25 attempting to reconcile the hopeless dependency I saw on the streets of the inner city, which has not changed, with the mindless liberalism that wants to do more of it.  

    How do you get to a point where you believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that a few more dollars of tax revenue will alleviate the plight of the urban poor?  Secondly, if you are one of those poor people, how do you reconcile voting for a continuation of those policies with the waste and misery all around you?

  16. Western Chauvinist

    But, but, liberals care! Rahm Emmanuel got beat up as a kid because he tanned easily and could pass for a black kid. And, and, he tears up when a 15-year-old gets killed in Chicago. So, you know, you should let the Godfather make a man out of your kid, since there aren’t any real fathers around.

    I’d like to say I just hate the sin of moral vanity, but sometimes I’m not so sure it’s not the sinner I loathe.

  17. Colin B Lane
    Western Chauvinist: But, but, liberalscare! Rahm Emmanuel got beat up as a kid because he tanned easily and could pass for a black kid. 

    I don’t know why, but I just can’t escape that feeling that this little tale of youthly oppression is nothing but a complete, bald-faced lie.

    Western Chauvinist: I’d like to say I just hate thesin of moral vanity, but sometimes I’m not so sure it’s not thesinner I loathe. 

    Wish I had said that.

  18. Sabrdance

    I am slowly reaching the point where I want to throw decorum to the wind and have our politicians just start running on this speech.

    “You careThat’s your defense?  Millions thrown into destitution, families destroyed, lives ruined -the ones that aren’t brutally cut short at the hands of another victim of your tender mercies -cities despoiled, homes pillaged, and an entire generation left to rot in filth.  But you care.  You pay your taxes and consider yourself a virtuous person, because you care.  What matter that many would rather die than suffer your third person ministrations?

    “But you care.  Well perhaps you have a different definition of caring than I do.”

    It’s rude, it’s impolitic, but there are days when I think that if we’re going to lose anyway, we might as well avoid shaking hands with the devil while we’re doing it.

    Who knows, maybe we get lucky.

  19. Nick Stuart
    Astonishing: The problem will persist until blacks solve it, because it is a black problem, politically, socially, culturally.

    Astonishing gets it right, although I’ll generalize it to “The people of the inner city will continue to have what they have as long as they continue to vote the way they vote.”

    But what to do? Make a campaign stop in the inner city and get picketed? Speak at the NAACP convention and get booed?

  20. Richard Fulmer
    Nick Stuart

    Astonishing: The problem will persist until blacks solve it, because it is a black problem, politically, socially, culturally.

    Astonishing gets it right, although I’ll generalize it to “The people of the inner city will continue to have what they have as long as they continue to vote the way they vote.”

    But what to do? Make a campaign stop in the inner city and get picketed? Speak at the NAACP convention and get booed?

    Yes!  Get picketed, get booed, but keep telling the truth.

Want to comment on stories like these? Become a member today!

You'll have access to:

  • All Ricochet articles, posts and podcasts.
  • The conversation amongst our members.
  • The opportunity share your Ricochet experiences.

Join Today!

Already a Member? Sign In