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05 May 2011


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Adam L. Silverman

Mr. Smith: the Hebrew for teacher is moreh for a man and morah for a woman.

William R. Cumming

Thanks SOS for providing food for much thinking!

Brent Wiggans

Jacobinism is a virus that takes hold and thrives in political environments that are inward looking and isolated from the rest of the world. The original Jacobins of the French Revolution emerged and took power in the chaos and self-absorption of France following the deposition of its monarchy. In the United States, our swift transition from Isolationist island to world hegemon limited our full involvement with the rest of the world as an ordinary state to an historically tiny window. Our understanding of “real politick” is more academic than experiential, insulated first by geography and later by our power and our self-proclaimed Exceptionalism. The whole spectrum of American political ideologies has developed in this sheltered and stunted relationship to the world. It is not too surprising that progressives would be as afflicted as conservatives by the perverse effects of our peculiar historical circumstance. While we remain the hegemon the arrogance of position will dominate our experience of the real. The more we are humbled by events the more politically disadvantageous it will be at home to acknowledge the lessons to be learned. As for American Exceptionalism, it will probably be the last illusion to go.

Moving up is hard to do.

Nancy K

Mr Smith, thank you for the links. I also enjoyed your letter. Mahalia Jackson has such a beautiful voice and smile. I'm not sure what I believe, but I do believe if there is a heaven, she is there and singing in the heavenly choir.
I find the Buddha's smile and his words very uplifting. My yoga teacher is a Hindu and her smile is beautiful and quotes from Patanjali are very uplifting also. I think that all religions if practiced in truth can move us on up a little highter.

Sidney O. Smith III

Nancy K
Thank you.

If you haven't already, you may enjoy Satyajit Ray and the Apu Triology. A Hindu colleague (Durga follower) from a few years ago introduced me to Ray and his work.

Because of the impact of our foreign policy on the US body politic, I find it imperative that those of every tradition "move on up" and look at the realpolitik of what is happening in the Middle East. Imo, it is the pre-eminent story of our times, and may determine our country's fate, so I see it as an obligation to the point that all else is secondary. How one moves on up and responds may historically invalidate or validate the traditions to which he or she identifies.

As for myself and at least right now, a two state solution along the 67 borders is the best chance for peace but US national security interests are best represented by assuming it is not going to happen. Again, in defense of Herzl, I don't think he intended what has happened.

The Twisted Genius

Can ya dig it?
Can ya dig it?

Thank you, Sidney, for a very thought provoking essay. Taken with Dr. Brenner's smile and Brigadier Ali's sacred architecture, how can a contemplative person not move on up a little higher. I'll share an old song from Warren Zevon that I find very appropriate to the events of the Arab Spring... and closer to home, too.


Sidney O. Smith III


Mohammed’s Radio. Brilliant. Thanks. Really says all one needs to know.

Also complements the earlier reference to W. Zevon made at SST.

I need to know more about W.Z., I must admit. Rumor has it that, years ago, W.Zevon headed down the Atlanta Highway to Athens, GA to collaborate with REM

It is fascinating to see how those of different traditions respond to the concept of American exceptionalism as in now exists in 2011 and as it manifests itself in US foreign policy. In many ways, it defines the person and either validates or invalidates the tradition. Every tradition, if it is American, can contribute.

Too bad Warren Zevon is no longer around.

As for myself, the more and more I look at the mindset of those who exploited American exceptionalism to give us Shock and Awe as well as nation building in Afghanistan, the more I tempted to say, Don‘t Want You No More.

COIN in Iraq and Afghanistan prevented us from doing what we were suppose to do in Libya, imo, and exactly as you stated. Go in, liberate the oppress. Leave a card that says, “America is great but now we are gone and you are on your own”.

But everything is turned inside out. Again, thanks.


Kudos to SOS and Dr. Brenner. And to Brent W., thank you for one of the most perceptive and spot on comments I've read in a long while, here or elsewhere.

Sidney O. Smith III


Thank you and you are exactly right, imo, re: Brent Wiggan’s comment. Somehow or another B.W. was able to condense the danger of Jacobinism into a few sentences. It reads like an executive summary of executive summaries and suggests that B.W. has moved on up to the land of wisdom -- one from which we could learn by checking out his extraordinary perspective.

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