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Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Post

"The Post"  reminds us about the indispensable role of the press in a democracy, ours in this particular case. An historical fact that comes to illustrate the dangerous times we're living now. The story of The Pentagon Papers, that Defense Department secret study of how this country became entangled in a no win war in a faraway place for no valid reason.

 Steven Spielberg directs Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks in the movie. It shows a suspenseful  drama about the unlikely partnership between The Washington Post's Katharine Graham (Streep), the first female publisher of a major American newspaper, and editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks), as they race to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spanned three decades and four U.S. Presidents. The two must overcome their differences as they risk their careers - and their very freedom - to help bring long-buried truths to light.

 The film is both a gripping and timely celebration of the free press, and, in the remarkable hands of Streep, an exploration of what it meant then (and, perhaps, now) to be a woman thrust into power in an all-male world.  Even for us Golden Agers who know this story  and its’ Watergate follow-up as well, in our present time of “alt-facts”, it doesn’t hurt to reflect upon a President who broke the law, lied and tried to suborn the process of justice….

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Crusades

After the 9/11 attacks, George W Bush said: "This crusade… this war on terror is going to take a while." This misapplied comment was all Osama bin Laden needed to win over many new supporters. His often used phrase "Jewish/Crusader attackers of Islam " had a certain ring to it in the Muslim world. Thanks, George.
Thomas Asbridge, the author of the  The Crusades makes a similar point. Is it appropriate to use words about wars in the early middle ages in reference to current issues in the Middle East? Is their a real connection between the two eras? I wondered about that, and having limited knowledge about the crusades, I decided to find out. Meaning I checked my local library.
Asbridge concludes that the crusades are a potent, alarming and dangerous example of the "potential for history to be appropriated, misrepresented and manipulated" for political ends." Adding religious fanaticism to the potent force of unbridled nationalism, in any conflict in the modern world, is merely ugly at best. The world could well do without jihadist or crusader mentality.

Initially, the emotive words the author uses, as he details the origin and history of this long ago conflict, seemed inappropriate to a well written, researched and documented history. I changed my mind about that as I struggled through each horrifying chapter. Yes, horrifying. I use that word carefully. If you have the it. It's well worth your time. If not, take my plea to heart. "Oh God. Save us from the religious fanatics, of all stripes."
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@Barrie Summy