Saturday, November 18, 2017

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Some Weekend Items

A CRIMSON TIDE?
An explosion of allegations about well-known Hollywood,
media and political figures is currently pushing other (and
more immediate) news aside in newspapers, magazines and
the internet. Allegations against GOP U.S. senate nominee
Roy Moore have disrupted the special election in Alabama on
December 12. Moore had been initially favored to win in this
very  conservative state, but latest polls have his Democratic
opponent pulling increasingly ahead. National Republicans
have denounced Moore, including the GOP senate leadership
which could lead a vote to expel him if he wins the race.
Other options for blocking his election would need the
support of the state’s new governor, but she has just declared
the special election will go as planned, and that she will vote
for Moore. Increasingly isolated from his own party, Moore
denies the charges, and vows to stay in the race.

MINNESOTA MISHMASH
The allegations uproar has hit Minnesota where incumbent
junior Senator Al Franken has been charged with improper
behavior. A photograph shows the senator apparently doing
this. A newswoman has asserted other misbehavior. Calls for
his resignation have come from several sources, some in his
own party and in previously supportive liberal media. Franken
has admitted that he acted improperly and apologized, but the
general furor over improper behavior --- and his own, and his
party’s condemnation of accused Republican officials that has
been seen as hypocrisy --- ensures that the controversy and
the political damage to him will not go away soon. Franken’s
defense is further weakened by various supposedly
humorous sketches  and statements made when he was a
career comedian prior to his election. The state also now has
additional scandals, one involving a  Democratic legislator,
and another involving a Republican. This normally staid
midwestern state is now awash, as is the nation, in
daily-revealed scandals.

SAUDI SANDSTORM
A developing and potentially region-changing series of events
is occurring in the critical mideastern kingdom of Saudi
Arabia where its new crown prince has been consolidating
power within the Saudi royal family. Prominent members of
this large and all-powerful family and their allies have been
arrested or detained. Rumors that the Saudi king will abdicate
soon abound. Behind the move is believed to be the decision 
to modernize the ancient land and its political structures in
response to extraordinary volatility and popular unrest not
only within the kingdom, but in neighboring Arab states.

BENCH BLUE FADES INTO RED
Finally responding to criticism from his own party, including
President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
has decided to ignore two “blue slip” vetoes of federal
judicial nominees by President Trump which had been held
up for six months. One of those senators whose opposition is
being bypassed is Minnesota junior Senator Al Franken who
is currently embroiled in a controversy of his own (see story
above). Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice David
Stras, one of the two nominees, will now receive a senate
hearing on November 29. Justice Stras is a widely-respected
jurist strongly supported by figures in both parties, and would
be expected to be confirmed soon after that. The logjam over
President Trump’s judicial and other appointments will
probably continue to some degree, but the senate leadership’s
decision to discontinue allowing single senators to block a
nomination should relieve some of the pressure for the time
being.

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Copyright (c) 2017 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Moon Over Alabama?

Berthold Brecht and Kurt Weill collaborated on some of
the greatest musical theater classics of the mid-twentieth
century, including the immortal Threepenny Opera. They
were politically too radical for the incoming German Nazi
regime in 1933, and had to flee to avoid the Holocaust.
Weill settled in Hollywood and New York; Brecht, an avowed
communist settled in East Germany after World War II.
Both died at a relatively young age.

No matter what your politics, Weill’s music rightfully endures
long after his death. Brecht was an artist, and became something
of a maverick in the communist world, especially in East
Germany. until his death.

One of the many great songs they wrote together (others were,
of course, Mack The Knife; and September Song) was
Alabama Song (sometimes called Moon Over Alabama) which
includes the line:

Oh moon over Alabama, we now must say goodbye.

Many great singers from Nina Simone to The Doors have
recorded this song.

Why do I mention all of this?

I do so because there is now a Moore over Alabama, i.e.,
Roy Moore who is running for the U.S. senate in a December
special election. He has twice been removed from high office,
and he has long held very controversial views. He won the
Republican primary against a sitting (but recently appointed)
senator, and now faces a moderate Democrat in the general
special election.

The GOP establishment opposes him, and now calls for him to
resign from the election following numerous new allegations
about his personal life. Denying the allegations, Mr. Moore
has claimed a last-minute smear campaign against him, but
he has become so "radioactive" for his social policy views
and his diatribes against his own party that now even some
of his most high profile supporters are abandoning him.

To their credit, most in the national and local Republican
party have denounced his candidacy. It is very, very difficult
for any fair-minded person to defend him, recent allegations
notwithstanding.

It is time for Alabama to say goodbye to his candidacy.

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Copyright (c) 2017 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Friday, November 10, 2017

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Can The GOP Lose The U.S. House In 2018?

Many pundits are currently speculating about the political
control of the U.S. house in January, 2019 (following the 2018
national mid-term elections). Conventional wisdom now
says that it is quite possible that the Democrats could retake
control of this “people’s body” of the Congress.

Previous conventional wisdom was that Republicans had a
“lock” on control until at least 2023 when a the first U.S. house
after reapportionment takes office. That opinion was based on
the GOP voter advantage in currently-drawn districts.

Fueling the new guesswork is the notable number of retiring
conservative incumbents --- although most of those retiring
represent safe districts for their party. There likely will be
liberal gains in the next U.S. house --- although there are a few
good prospects for GOP gains, e.g. in Minnesota’s CD-1 where
the liberal incumbent is retiring to run for governor.

So which conventional wisdom is more likely to come true?

First, it must be said, any outcome is possible. Despite their
current large majority (241 to 194), the party in power often
loses many seats in the first mid-term election after they win
the presidency. On the other hand, as I recently pointed out,
the 2017 off-year elections revealed no dispositive evidence that
the Democratic victories in two “blue” states, and in the mostly
“blue” urban areas were an omen for next year. Michael Barone
further points out that the watershed “upset”election of 2016
is probably the “new normal.”

If the current debate and formulation of a new tax policy does
not result in a new tax code, as was promised by Republicans
in 2016, and combined with a failure to repeal and replace
Obamacare, also a major GOP promise, I think much of the
conservative congressional district advantage is severely
weakened. Prospects for Democrats to regain control would
then be significantly advanced.

Nonetheless, the speculation is rather premature. President
Donald Trump’s disruption of the Obama policy legacy and,
indeed, of the whole Washington, DC political culture, has
only begun. If it continues, and it is seen as an improvement,
a contrarian outcome in 2018 is possible. If his leadership
becomes mired in more stalemate in the Congress, or Mr.
Trump himself falters, next year would be a good one for the
opposition party.

More important now, I think, than any speculation about who
wins or loses in 2018 is keeping an eye on the quality of
recruitments by the two major parties for competitive seats,
the usable money they are raising (the net amounts after they
pay their fundraising consultants), and the voter ID/GOTV
strategies they are employing in the close contests. Also
important will be the opposition approach to Donald Trump.
The current strategy, as I and others have pointed out, is not
working beyond the liberal base. A refusal to take a new
strategic course may not make much headway in the “new
normal.”

When we know who is running against whom, what the
Congress accomplishes in the coming weeks, and the state
of the economy in the spring and summer of 2018, there
will be time enough for making all the political guessing
we can muster.

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Copyright (c) 2017 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Not So Fast!

There has been unrelenting disheartening news for liberals,
Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans since last year’s
general elections, so it should come as no surprise that the
results of the off-year 2017 elections would provide some
over-reactions on both sides --- the Republicans before the
election, and the Democrats (and their establishment media
pals) afterwards.

To both sides, I caution: Not so fast!

Conservatives not only won an upset presidential election
in 2016, but have also won most of the special elections since
then. The political map, for the time being, has been
transformed, but in advance of the 2017 municipal elections
and especially in the Virginia statewide elections, some
Republicans got ahead of themselves and assumed they were
stronger politically than they actually were.

The establishment media is now indulging, as well, in an orgy
of overstated liberal comeback and positive omens for 2018.

Democrats have every reason to be pleased by their wins in
November, 2017, but they did not win any upsets. New Jersey
and Virginia are solid “blue” states, both won by Hillary
Clinton in 2016, and with Democrats holding most major
statewide offices. Liberals won most of the urban races, but
this is their political stronghold.

In Utah, conservative, pro-Trump Jim Curtis won another
special congressional election replacing a conservative
incumbent who had retired. He won by the usual landslide
in that district. In Erie, PA, with its primarily Catholic, blue
collar, mainly Democratic-registered voters, Republican
challengers for mayor and country executive came close to
to winning upsets, despite the large Democratic registration
advantage in the city and county --- but Donald Trump
carried Erie County in 2016 when the state went for the
president.

Some in the media are trying peddle the notion that the
2017 elections were a big defeat for Donald Trump. There
is, however, no real evidence of this. Most of the venues, as
I have pointed out, were anti-Trump to begin with, In the
pro-Trump areas, he continues to be strong as before.

In other words, nothing is really changed. There are still a lot
of Democrats, especially in the urban centers and on the two
coasts. They still do not like Donald Trump. They might be
frustrated, but they can still be turned out, as was just
demonstrated in Virginia, even for a lackluster candidate.
Former working class Democratic voters who voted for Mr.
Trump still like him, and continue to vote for the GOP.

One more note: Off-year elections often do not predict trends
in following mid-term and presidential elections.

Victories are victories. Democrats should be pleased by most of
the 2017 results, but should be careful about misinterpreting
WHY they won those races. They might make a big mistake if
they see their wins as proof that the old liberal tactics are still
valid, including “identity” and “redistributionist” politics.

On the other hand, most state Republican parties have ignored
developing their constituencies in large and medium-sized
cities, and should not presume they can do well there without
the hard political work and investment necessary. Nor should
conservatives and the GOP presume it will do well in 2018
and 2020 if it does not keep its promises made to voters in
2016.

I think the most important results of 2017 are some of the many
new political faces, men and women, who ran for office for the
first time. Not all of them won this time, but as we know so well
from history, some of our most  important political leaders
did not win on their first try.

Are there new Abe Lincolns (lost his first race) on the horizon?
Probably yes, but they will come later.

For now, it’s on to 2018. Let the political games begin.

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Copyright (C) 2017 by Barry Casselman. All rights reerved.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: When Are Words Important?

[This first appeared in Intellectual Takeout --- see link at right]

‘Tis well said again;
and it is a kind of good deed to say well;
and yet words are not deeds.

               William Shakespeare in King Henry VIII

As someone who has spent virtually his whole life in the
labor of words, spoken and written, prose and poetry
and political commentary, I could hardly assert that what
a person says and writes is not important. Language is
something all of us share and participate in, and there is
no doubt that speaking well and writing well begins as a
gift, and when nurtured and developed, is something to be
grateful for and admired.

But words alone do not make most machines work properly,
nor do they fix them. We do not eat them. they do not make
our bodies grow. Words have an important part in every
human life, but they do not make decisions, and act on
them. Self government in democratic republics such as
ours employ words, but words are not what happens. Words
have a place, but they are not the  place themselves.

I say all of that as an author and as a person whose working
tools are words. I say this as  someone who writes a great
deal about politics and government.

We happen to live at a moment in our nation when our
president’s best qualities are not what he says, particularly
“off the cuff,” responding to criticism, or in his inimitable
signature “tweets” in the social media. To many, especially
his opponents, his language is unfit for a president, provokes
disdain and embarrassment, and arouses dislike. To his
supporters, his words and comments are inspiring as
rebuking the political establishment and the fashion of
“political correctness,” but few, including those who support
him, would assess his words as eloquent or polished or
temperate.

Curiously, most of his prepared speeches, when faithful to
their text, are quite good. That is the result of a talented
team of speechwriters. Except for Abraham Lincoln, most
presidents have had speechwriters, and in the cases of
Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan,
they are remembered well for their prepared speeches ---
although each of them were graceful and able speakers on
their own.

President Trump is not a naturally graceful or eloquent
public speaker. But since he operates now in politics, that
does not mean he is not often an “effective” speaker.
The 2016 Republican presidential debates  were a case in
point. Mr. Trump won most of those debates. His support
grew after each of them. The judges of a formal debate
would not have graded him well --- and certainly not the
winner. But the real judges of those debates were the
Republican voters, and they determined that he spoke best
about the issues which were on their minds.

In the general election, this phenomenon continued as the
Democratic nominee uttered platitudes and other
predictable comments while Mr. Trump continued to
disrupt conventional wisdom and “safe” conversation.

Elected president, Mr. Trump has continued to speak in
much the same manner that he did during the campaign.
He, as the saying goes,  drives most Democrats “crazy” ---
as he does some Republicans. The most common criticism
is that “he does not speak like a president should.”

In fact, it must be said that Donald Trump does not speak
most of the time like any president of either party before
him did.

As the universally astute and timelessly canny Mr.
Shakespeare wrote in the quote above, however, words are
not to be mistaken for deeds. This is especially important
to note when discussing the work of government and public
policy. Politicians are frequently notorious for how they employ
words --- words that sound good and reassuring and even
eloquent, but all too often lead to no action, no decisions, and
no change.

In that regard, President Trump seems almost prodigious in
his accomplishments so far, especially in reversing, undoing
and changing the policies and actions of his predecessor
Barack Obama. Mr. Trump has, in a very short time, disrupted
not only the status quo of the previous liberal administration,
but also not a little quantity of what previous Republican and
Democratic administrations did.

My admonition to readers to pay more attention to Donald
Trump’s actions than his words is not meant to change anyone’s
ideology, or to make anyone agree with him. It is, however,
intended to remind all --- friend of Donald Trump, his foes, and
those who have not yet made up their minds about him --- that
beneath the flurries of words, some very serious political
actions and transformations are taking place.

Mr. Trump’s unprecedented upset of the large field of his own
party’s candidates, and then his defeat of Hillary Clinton was
not some inexplicable accident. Nor was Mr, Trump’s strategy
that of some brilliant advisors. Donald Trump made most of it
happen himself,, often against the advice of his own staff and
friends.

This does not mean that Donald Trump will be a successful
president, nor that he will be re-elected in 2020. He has only begun
to govern in a volatile domestic economy and a global period of
uncertainty. His disruption of U.S. political establishments
might fall short or fail outright. His and his party’s policy
promises might remain stalemated.

It does mean, however, that his words, tweets, and hypersensitive
need to hit back at his critics, are not the determining factors in
his conduct of the presidency. Failure to understand this, in my
opinion, only fuels his continued domination of the political
marketplace, and his hold on the key voters who want something
to get done now in Washington, DC.

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Copyright (c) 2017 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Local Politics 2017 --- Any Portents?

The off-year elections of 2017 are almost all local elections,
i.e., for mayor, city council, sheriff and other municipal and
county races. They are often ignored by national pundits, but
in spite of the liberal hegemony of most urban areas,
especially in the northeast, midwest and far west, I think
some might offer some clues about next year’s national
mid-term elections.

A small number of congressional special elections to fill
unexpected vacancies, including a U.S. senate race in Alabama,
and two statewide elections, in Virginia and New Jersey, also
will take place. They seem to be receiving the most media
attention. Democrats are heavily favored to win in New Jersey,
less favored in Virginia, and the Alabama senate race is too
close to call. Democrats have made serious efforts in a series
of congressional special elections, but so far have not won any
upsets.

The twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are holding their
municipal elections in about a week, and since they are the
contests closest to me this year, I have been following these
races particularly for political clues and portents.

Although for the past three decades I have turned my
journalistic attention primarily to national politics. For 15 years
prior to that I edited and published a local newspaper that
had its focus on local Minneapolis elections and government.
I “cut my media teeth” (as the saying goes), on ward-by-ward
politics in this growing midwestern city, the largest in the
state.

When I first arrived here, twelve of the thirteen city council
members were Republicans. Today, there are no Republicans
on the city council, and have not been any for years. The
Democrats (here called the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party
or DFL) routinely win about 75% of the city vote; more
conservative and independent voters number about 25% of
the vote. There is a local GOP, but it is mostly a volunteer
effort, and the state party (unwisely, I think) pays it little
attention. The Twin Cities supply the DFL with large margins
in statewide races which, until recently, easily overcame and
GOP margins in the suburbs and rural outstate.

When I first arrived here, Minneapolis was primarily
Scandinavian-American, Protestant and insular. Over time,
large numbers of American blacks, southeast Asian refugees,
Hispanic-Americans, and Somali refugees moved to the city
to replace the hitherto largest minority population of Native
Americans. Today, Minneapolis has a distinct international
aspect --- its Somali and southeast Asian groups are among
the largest in any American city. Many of these recent
emigres have now become citizens --- and voters. The fifth
congressional district (mostly Minneapolis) is represented in
Congress by a black Muslim. Several local elected officials
are from the Somali and other minority communities. For
years, Minneapolis has been a center for women’s issues,
and numerous woman of all ethnic and religious backgrounds
have held, and now hold, elective office. The current mayor is
Betsy Hodges. A previous mayor was a black woman.

The city is also the corporate and financial center of the state,
and many corporate leaders are liberals, and contribute to a
long-standing booming preforming arts and socially tolerant
municipal culture.

Recently, however, tensions and problems have increased in
the city. Security in the downtown center and in some city
neighborhoods has become an issue. The very liberal city
council and mayor have enacted tough transportation, parking,
tax and regulatory policies that are making it difficult for small
businesses and restaurants to thrive. Many of them are closing
or moving to more welcoming areas. The city’s famed Nicollet
Mall has been undergoing repair for so long that many of its
prime tenants are leaving. The mayor has been held responsible
for the delays by many critics.

It is interesting that the incumbent first-term DFL mayor,
usually a shoo-in for re-election, has many serious DFL
opponents, three of which have a chance to win. In the 13 city
council races, some very liberal incumbents face upsets by
other DFL or independent challengers. Also opposed is the
excellent moderate city council president.

Minneapolis, like St. Paul, is continuing to experiment with
“ranked-choice” voting. This controversial method has
eliminated primaries, and if any candidate for mayor or city
council receives less than 50% of the November vote, a
mathematical process of counting second and third choice
votes eventually creates a winner by a series of eliminating
the candidates with the lowest number of votes. This system
has made predicting any outcomes difficult, since it is
possible that the candidate who comes in second or even third
in first choice votes could win the election.

There are many candidates for mayor on the Minneapolis
November ballot. But only four of them, the incumbent, a
current council member (in the ward where I live), a long-time
non-profit leader (who has had much to do with the thriving
arts revival), and an architect who is also a member of the
legislature. All are DFLers, and liberals, but only one, Tom
Hoch, has also spoken up realistically about downtown
security and as an advocate for the small business and retail
communities which now feel threatened and might continue
to abandon the downtown center. The mayor and the legislator-
architect espouse far left policies, The council member has
shown competence in his council term, but when push-came-
to-shove, turned his back on key small business concerns.

Tom Hoch, in my opinion, is the best candidate, and he has
run a professional campaign, but if he won it, would be a
(welcome) upset. In this election, ranked choice voting favors
the most well-known candidates. The city’s largest newspaper
endorsed the council member, but also recommended Mr. Hoch.

The more portentous races, however, might be in the city council
races.

In my own ward, there are three candidates, A DFL-endorsee, a
far left independent, and a liberal independent. The latter, Tim
Bildsoe, is a former city council member (for 12 years) in a large
suburb with a strong background in professional municipal
finance. His background and policy ideas are head-and-shoulders
above his opponents --- so much so that the city’s newspaper
endorsed him above his DFL opponent.

In a neighboring ward, there are several candidates, including
an incumbent DFLer. Although this northside ward, like all
others now in the city is heavily DFL, it has historically been
more moderate than many southside wards. In this election, a
very interesting independent candidate, John Hayden, is
running as a “No Labels” independent. At first, it seemed a
hopeless effort against an entrenched incumbent, but when a
successful former Republican governor and a former DFL city
council president actively joined his campaign, and Mr. Hayden
put together a serious team effort, his chances improved. Like
Mr. Bildsoe in my ward, John Hayden is defying establishment
DFL orthodoxy, and proposing innovative and  pragmatic new
municipal policy ideas.

Like Mr. Bildsoe, Mr. Hayden is an underdog in a citywide field
dominated by establishment DFL figures. There is, however,
an anti-incumbent mood in the city this year, fostered by
failed public works, security and traffic issues. How strong
this mood is will be made evident on November 7, and perhaps
the voters will also signal what they will do next year in the
mid-term elections.

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Copyright (c) 2017 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Common Phrases "Uncommon" Shakespeare Gave Us

In a time when some of our secondary public schools, and
so many colleges and universities, are attempting to ignore
or diminish studying history and literary classics in the
name of political correctness, I think it might be instructive
just to list some of the most notable phrases that first were
invented, read or said more than four hundred years ago
in the works of the greatest writer of all in English ---
William Shakespeare.

The “Bard of Avon” personifies why literary classics still
matter. Shakespeare, for example, dominates any book of
quotations. I simply went through his entries in Bartlett’s
Familiar Quotation
s for this little exercise and simple
demonstration.

The list below is not a complete one, nor is it meant to be
a list of his best lines and phrases. I have only selected
ones that have survived four hundred-plus years as
conversational commonplaces and perhaps now even
cliches. They were invented by a man who basically
created modern English, and who has no peer in our
language. No one else comes close to what he contributed
to his mother tongue:

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“The golden age.” The Tempest

“To make virtue of necessity.” Two Gentlemen of Verona

“Why then, the world’s my oyster.” Two Gentlemen of Verona

“Neither rhyme nor reason.” Measure For Measure

“Comparisons are odious.” Much Ado About Nothing

“ The naked truth.” Love’s Labour’s Lost
“Lord, what fools these mortals be.” A Midsummer’s Dream

“The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.”
     The Merchant of Venice

“In the twinkling of an eye.” The Merchant of Venice

“Truth will come to light.” The Merchant of Venice

“All that glitters is not gold.” The Merchant of Venice

“The sins of the father are to be laid to the children.”
      The Merchant of Venice
“A motley fool.” As You Like It

“Neither rhyme nor reason.” As You like It

“Forever and a day.” As You Like It

“I’ll not budge an inch.” As You Like It

“All’s well that ends well.” All’s Well That Ends Well
“What manner of man?”  Twelfth Night

“My purpose, indeed, is a horse of that color.” Twelfth Night

“This is very midsummer madness.” Twelfth Night

“The westward-ho!” Twelfth Night

“Laugh yourself into stitches.” Twelfth Nightt

“Not so hot.” The Winter’s Tale

“Now my soul has elbow room.” King John

“He will give the devil his due.” Henry IV

“Exceedingly well-read.” Henry IV

“The better part of valor is discretion.” Henry IV

“The oldest of sins the newest kind of ways.” Henry IV

“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown” Henry IV

“There is a history in all men’s lives.” Henry IV

“Even at the turning of the tide.” Henry IV

“We are in God’s hand.” Henry V

“Men of few words are the best men.” Henry V

“Fight to the last gasp.” Henry VI

“The smallest worm will turn being trodden on.” Henry VI

“Both of you are birds of selfsame feather.” Henry VI

“A fool’s paradise." Romeo And Juliet

“Men shut their doors to a setting sun.” Timon of Athens

“But for my part, it was Greek to me.” Julius  Caesar

“Yet I do fear that your nature is full of the milk
     of human kindness.” Macbeth

“In my mind’s eye, Horatio.” Hamlet

“Brevity is the soul of wit.” Hamlet

“The lady protests too much.”  Hamlet

“Some villain has done me wrong.” King Lear

“The prince of darkness is a gentleman.” King Lear

“Ay, every inch a king.” King Lear

O beware, my lord, of jealousy; it is the green-eyed monster
which doth mock the meat it feeds on.”  Othello

“Tis neither here nor there.” Othello

“My salad days, when I was green with judgment.”
      Antony and Cleopatra

“The game is up.” Cymbeline

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The above are only a selection of the phrases he invented or
introduced into English more than four centuries ago.. For
every one of these there are a hundred more lines he wrote
which still are equally or even more original and beautiful.

This is the writer that some self-appointed, self-described
“politically correct”arbiters have decided should not be a
visible image of the part of our literary literary heritage
that is taught and passed on to our young. No doubt these
literary charlatans will soon declare that Shakespeare is no
longer relevant, if not politically incorrect, and should not
even be in the curriculum.

At my own alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, to
illustrate this, a large local landmark image of Shakespeare
placed at the entrance of the building where much literature
is taught was removed to be replaced by the image of a
diversity-correct author whose writing will likely be forgotten
a few years from now --- in much less than four centuries.

My larger point is that there are reasons why some literary
works are "classics" --- including not only the skill with
which they are written, but also the fact that they resonate
beyond their own time. Humanity evolves over historical
time, and with extraordinary velocity in our time. But there
are timeless and instructive qualities in the human experience
that all art --- literature, music and the visual arts --- records
indelibly and helps nurture us through all the dangers and the
uncertainties of our own days and nights.

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Copyright (c) 2017 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.