The Corner

Civil Wars

In the final installment of my journal from the Oslo Freedom Forum last week, I said something about Leymah Gbowee and the Liberian civil war. Actually, there have been two such wars — two civil wars in Liberia. This was the second (1999). And I wrote,

“I remember my American-history teacher in 8th grade: saying, with a tremulous voice, that there was no war like civil war — that it was the worst thing in the world.”

A reader writes me,

. . . I have been nursing my way through Shelby Foote’s trilogy, and I can’t imagine anyone reading it and disputing the judgment that a civil war is the worst thing in the world. But of course, there was a very famous claim to the contrary at the height of Watergate, when Senator Ervin pronounced from the chair of the investigating committee that he had come to regard Watergate as a greater tragedy than the Civil War. That was insane.

Yes — a touch hyperbolic, at a minimum. What “Senator Sam” said, specifically, was,

“I used to think that the Civil War was our country’s greatest tragedy, but I do remember that there were some redeeming features in the Civil War in that there was some spirit of sacrifice and heroism displayed on both sides. I see no redeeming features in Watergate.”

When I hear about the depravities of civil wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and elsewhere, I can hardly believe what the mind of man can imagine, and what he can do. As for our own civil war: yes, worse even than Watergate. (Even than Chappaquiddick!)

Most Popular

The Arson Party

About that peaceful transfer of power . . . I do not have access to my friend Mario Loyola’s Donald J. Trump super-secret decoder ring, but I am inclined to accept Loyola’s explanation that what President Trump was trying to say, but couldn’t quite manage to say, was the usual witless Trump trolling -- ... Read More

The Arson Party

About that peaceful transfer of power . . . I do not have access to my friend Mario Loyola’s Donald J. Trump super-secret decoder ring, but I am inclined to accept Loyola’s explanation that what President Trump was trying to say, but couldn’t quite manage to say, was the usual witless Trump trolling -- ... Read More
Energy & Environment

Is a ‘Climate Lockdown’ Next?

You knew they would try to pivot off the draconian COVID policies and use climate change as the pretext to deploy the same rigid controls over our lives. Now, perhaps a trial balloon is being floated for a “climate lockdown.” The noxious idea is that we are at (yet another) tipping point, and that unless ... Read More
Energy & Environment

Is a ‘Climate Lockdown’ Next?

You knew they would try to pivot off the draconian COVID policies and use climate change as the pretext to deploy the same rigid controls over our lives. Now, perhaps a trial balloon is being floated for a “climate lockdown.” The noxious idea is that we are at (yet another) tipping point, and that unless ... Read More
Law & the Courts

The Judicial Branch Ragnarök Is Upon Us

As expected, President Trump selected Amy Coney Barrett as his third nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, and now the Judicial Branch Ragnarök and Related Festival of Catholic-Bashing is upon us. Senate Democrats could argue that based upon Barrett’s past decisions, they don’t agree with her legal ... Read More
Law & the Courts

The Judicial Branch Ragnarök Is Upon Us

As expected, President Trump selected Amy Coney Barrett as his third nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, and now the Judicial Branch Ragnarök and Related Festival of Catholic-Bashing is upon us. Senate Democrats could argue that based upon Barrett’s past decisions, they don’t agree with her legal ... Read More
Elections

What’s at Stake in 2020

The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has clarified what is at stake in the 2020 election. It is not, as some believe, democracy itself. Nor is it, as others assume, our continued existence as a nation. Democracy will survive Donald Trump, and the United States of America will outlast Joe Biden. The question that 2020 ... Read More
Elections

What’s at Stake in 2020

The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has clarified what is at stake in the 2020 election. It is not, as some believe, democracy itself. Nor is it, as others assume, our continued existence as a nation. Democracy will survive Donald Trump, and the United States of America will outlast Joe Biden. The question that 2020 ... Read More