April 13, 2012

Random Friday Thoughts

1. I do not know why we continue to be surprised that initial reporting and statements on the raid to kill Osama bin Laden were innacurate. It will be a long time -- maybe even decades -- before the facts of the raid fully see the light of day. As far as journalistic accounts are concerned, I have no reason to doubt the reporting of my friend Nick Schmidle and others, but bear in mind Mark Bowden wrote his original award-winning articles on "Blackhawk Down" four years after the event. And in the case of Abbottabad, we're talking about a highly sensitive special operation that was and necessarily remains cloaked in secrecy. So caveat lector, as always.

2. I spent yesterday with the students at Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where my mother has taught for over two decades. I was really impressed by the intelligence and intellectual curiosity of the girls, which served as a nice antidote to the Tennessee state legislature's war on science. My family farm is about five miles from where John Scopes went on trial in 1925, and I would have thought we Tennesseans had come a long way since then. Most folks in my hometown with whom I spoke, to be fair, seemed depressed about the fact that we are the country's laughing stock again and spoke of their desire for the legislature to focus on issues that matter. Personally, I am just happy that Henry Mencken is dead and can't weigh in on the matter.  

If it's any consolation, though, the sponsor of the so-called Monkey Bill is an alumnus and former member of the Board of Trustees of the Baylor School. My alma mater, the McCallie School, taught me that intellectual life can live in harmony with a strong faith in Christ. McCallie has accordingly produced statesmen, captains of industry, war heroes, and some of our nation's leading public intellectuals. Our bitter rivals, meanwhile, can take now take pride in the war its alumni wage against ... the scientific method.*

3. Speaking of intellectuals, my old friend and professor Peter Stallybrass recently sent me an old article of his titled "The Mystery of Walking" from the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies. I recommend this article to all literary-minded infantrymen out there. It is delightful. 

*Problematically, Pat Robertson also went to my alma mater, but in deference to our rivals, I am not allowing trivia like "facts" or "exculpatory evidence" to get in the way of my arguments today.