Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Subversive suggestions

If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?

For President Obama, the Bible (the Old Testament, not the New). For President Trump, the Bible (the New Testament, not the Old).

President Obama has a great degree of the compassion recommended in the New Testament, but many of us who admire him wish he would sometimes, like the Old Testament God, figuratively hurl fire and brimstone at his domestic political opponents (I recognize that the drone strikes he has authorized are a literal kind of fire and brimstone, but at least he’s not playing with the idea of pre-emptive nuclear attacks).

President Trump has no problem with loving his followers and smiting his enemies, but he needs to learn humility, generosity and self-sacrifice from the New Testament Jesus, who washed the feet of the poor, fed the hungry, respected women and rejected the corruption of the establishment.

Viet Thanh Nguyen

This Pulitzer Prize winning, Vietnamese refugee, oh-so-contemporary denizen of the conflicted USA, seems to me to exemplify what so frightens Steve Bannon and our other anti-cosmopolitans. This is a man who sees all sides and still holds on to values that can mean life and death. Lots for me to learn here. I plan to write soon about Nguyen's non-fiction essays, Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War.

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