What an inspiring and uplifting memoir—all the more so because the author is probably not someone you've ever heard of. For those of us who still feelWhat an inspiring and uplifting memoir—all the more so because the author is probably not someone you've ever heard of. For those of us who still feel awestruck by the unwavering effort and personal sacrifice of 1960s Civil Rights leaders and protesters, this book offers an insider's view from someone who worked tirelessly behind the scenes and avoided the limelight. Many of the passages and stories will bring you to tears. Mr. Brown deserves congratulations for his laudable life's work. ...more
I was going to give A Warning five glowing stars. It is compelling, well-argued, well-written and singularly engrossing. And despite the fact that (asI was going to give A Warning five glowing stars. It is compelling, well-argued, well-written and singularly engrossing. And despite the fact that (as noted by other reviewers) there is “nothing new” here, if anything should breathe renewed life into our comatose, war-weary national debate, the “same-old” alarm bells blaring on these pages should, as they are being submitted for our consideration by the proverbial “fly on the wall”. Any voter of rational sensibility who cares a whit about Democracy ought to be staggered and disgusted anew.
My one-star “ding” is due to the following derelictions:
First, the author suggests that some anti-Trumpers suffer from “Trump derangement syndrome” because we reject everything and anything the pr*sident says. Granted, even a broken clock is right twice a day, as the saying goes. But when right-thinking Americans are subjected to so much idiocy, inanity and malice from the pr*sident on a daily basis, we cannot be expected to give a fair and impartial assessment to each bit of drivel emitted from Donald Trump’s foul mouth. Frankly, the author speaks out of both sides of their own mouth when, on the one hand, they (I refer to Anonymous as “they” since we do not know their gender) invest 272 pages trying to scare the citizenry straight by confirming that, indeed, the so-called commander-in-chief is an unstable, unfit, dishonest and corrupt thug; but on the other hand, those who consistently react negatively to Trump are deranged and suffer from a “syndrome”. Puh-lease. Unless you are part of Trump’s “cult”, you, your friends and loved ones and all that you hold dear are being attacked from the bully pulpit on a daily basis. From where I stand, a strong, repulsed knee-jerk reaction to those attacks is 100% appropriate. Trump forfeited the right to any “benefit of the doubt” the day of his inauguration (which Anonymous recognizes as the acrimonious tragedy it was)—if not before.
Second, the author argues that, despite Trump’s innumerable naked disqualifications, impeachment is too divisive, and the next election should determine whether this so-called pr*sidency terminates or continues for four more years. I might be swayed by that argument if the pr*sident were not attempting to tamper with said upcoming election. It has been well established—as the author concedes—that Russia tipped the scales in 2016. Those of us who voted for the qualified candidate in 2016 are still reeling from the fact that our election was attacked, and nothing is being done about it. Not only are we being asked to accept the “legitimate” electoral distorters (e.g., gerrymandering, voter suppression, the Electoral College), we are now supposed to ignore Donald Trump’s flagrant solicitation of a foreign power (Ukraine) to investigate a political opponent—not to mention his not-so-subtle nods to Russia and China for a repeat performance of 2016. Having lost all faith in the legitimacy of the upcoming election, I for one feel strongly that impeachment—successful or not—is imperative as a symbol of resistance, if nothing else.
Third, I question the author’s final “warning” that Democrats must nominate a centrist as their candidate in 2020, in order to win over “swing voters” and “moderates”. That point might have some validity had Mitch McConnell not blocked Barack Obama’s centrist nominee to the Supreme Court (Merrick Garland) in 2016. Democrats consistently try to appease phantom “moderates” and “swing voters”, and lose whenever they do (think Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, John Kerry). The last best example of the Democrats’ star power was Barack Obama, the first Black president and a two-term winner. The sad reality is that Republicans don’t play by the rules (and haven’t for decades); until they clean up their act and “play fair”, Anonymous has zero right (or credibility) to offer advice to Democrats. The fact is, an overwhelming majority of Americans support progressive Democratic policies—a woman’s right to choose, affordable housing and health care, preservation of the environment, and a living wage. Anonymous, an admitted Republican enabler of Trump’s tyrannical minority rule—has no right to opine on who the next Democratic nominee should be.
Despite the above failings—and they are significant—I commend the author for making a chilling and earnest case for ousting the thug-in-chief pronto. I hope Trump supporters—whether voters or elected officials—take heed (though I seriously doubt they will). The author also makes an excellent point that Congress reflects the electorate at large; until we (as in the respective “bases”) stop being so uncompromising and polarized, there is little chance that Congress will rise above our own gridlock, as they merely reflect back at us the behavior we demand of them. (However, we will gain no ground in our national healing until Russia is made to stay out of the mix by whatever means necessary. I see no signs of Republicans supporting that effort. So again, don’t ask those of us on the right side of history to embrace our fellow countrymen and women until they unequivocally get behind this most uncontroversial mandate.)
I will offer my own parting shot to voters: If by some miracle Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren manages to win the Democratic nomination, we’d better make damned sure to also take back the Senate and hold the House. Anything less, and it won’t really matter who the president is. We will spend four (or eight) more years helplessly watching America crumble....more
The Coddling of the American Mind offers a crucial summation of "where we are" as a nation. The book tears down the "Three Great Untruths" that have The Coddling of the American Mind offers a crucial summation of "where we are" as a nation. The book tears down the "Three Great Untruths" that have overtaken our public discourse: (1) “What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker,” (2) “Always trust your feelings,” and (3) “Life is a battle between good people and evil people.” The authors explain how these "untruths" are the polar opposite of the conventional wisdom needed to fairly evaluate opposing points of view with logic, critical thinking, empathy and open-mindedness, and are in fact based on various cognitive distortions.
The Coddling of the American Mind also discusses how tribalism is driving a wedge between various identity groups in this country. The authors do not downplay the realities of hate speech and verbal intimidation, but hail the virtues of the "sticks and stones" philosophy, where true strength and resiliency come not from "safe spaces" where people can shield themselves from speech they find distasteful, but by feeling "safe" in their own skin despite whatever someone else might be saying. Particular emphasis is given to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which the authors maintain can "correct" the cognitive distortions that cause "emotional triggers." There is even a short guide at the end of the book that explains how to practice this therapeutic technique.
Particular emphasis is given to the chilling of free speech on college campuses—the result of college students' emotional fragility and its resultant "otherizing" opposing points of view and the people who hold them. The authors make a strong case that the various developmental disadvantages suffered by the current generation of college kids ("iGen") was caused by excessive early childhood "screen time," overprotective parenting and the elimination of free, unsupervised play (with all of its attendant risks). As the parent of a college sophomore, this book spoke to me; I may have, indeed, been guilty of overprotective parenting.
In spite of the polarization we are experiencing in this country—along with the threats of climate change and social injustice—this book ends on a positive note offering an optimistic perspective for the future. I would recommend The Coddling of the American Mind to iGen kids and their parents, as well as anyone else concerned about the devolution of discourse plaguing our nation during these troubled times.