Thinking Citizen Blog — Frank Bruni (NYT), Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mea Culpa (“my fault”)
Thinking Citizen Blog — Saturday is Justice, Freedom, Law, and Values Day
Today’s Topic: Frank Bruni (NYT), Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mea Culpa (“my fault”)
It’s not every day that a New York Times opinion writer apologizes for abusing a Republican leader. Bruni issued his “mea culpa” in his farewell column entitled “Ted Cruz: I’m sorry” (6/17/21). Today, some excerpts from Bruni’s article. I think he makes some important points. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
THE TOXIC TENOR, THE FURIOUS PITCH, SHOVING AMBIVALENCE AND AMBIGUITY ASIDE
1. “I worried, and continue to worry, about the degree to which I and other journalists — opinion writers, especially — have contributed to the dynamics we decry: the toxic tenor of American discourse, the furious pitch of American politics, the volume and vitriol of it all.”
2. “I worry, too, about how frequently we shove ambivalence and ambiguity aside.”
3. “Ambivalence and ambiguity aren’t necessarily signs of weakness or sins of indecision.”
NB: “They can be apt responses to events that we don’t yet understand, with outcomes that we can’t predict.”
BOLD SENTENCES, TIDY TALKING POINTS, MERCHANTS OF CERTITUDE
1. But ambivalence and ambiguity “don’t make for bold sentences or tidy talking points.”
2. “So we pundits are merchants of certitude in a world where much is in doubt and many questions don’t have one right answer.”
3. “As such, we may be encouraging arrogance and unyieldingness in our readers, viewers and listeners. “
NB: “And those attributes need no encouragement in America today.”
MIMICKING TRUMP: “An amoral, dangerous man who was unfit to be president.”
1. “Trump’s penchant for mockery gave those of us who covered him a green light to follow suit, and I was among many who seized on that permission.”
2. “There wasn’t any shame in that, and it afforded us flights of verbal fancy that plenty of readers enjoyed. But there wasn’t any honor in it, either. We sank toward Trump’s level, and he cited that descent as validation of his hostility.”
3. “The reciprocal ridicule went on and on.”
NB: “But I miss nuance, which has been incinerated by today’s hot takes. There aren’t as many clicks in cooling tempers and complicating people’s understanding of situations as there are in stoking their rage.”
POST SCRIPT: THE FILIBUSTER — good thing or bad? a coin flip?
1.”Who can really be sure that trashing the filibuster is the gateway to governmental bliss? Who can be sure it isn’t?”
2. “I wish someone would write a great analysis of the filibuster that focuses on two undeniable truths: We have no idea what the ultimate impact of such a consequential change would be, and there are powerful arguments for and against it.”
3. “On this issue and others, Option A versus Option B amounts to a coin flip. How many pundits say that?”
FOOTNOTE — Origins of the “Mea Culpa.” Frank Bruni’s bio
1.The Catholic prayer from which the term “mea culpa” is derived.
Confíteor Deo omnipoténti
et vobis, fratres,
quia peccávi nimis
ópere et omissióne:
mea culpa, mea culpa,
mea máxima culpa.
Ideo precor beátam Maríam semper vírginem,
omnes angelos et sanctos,
et vos, fratres,
oráre pro me ad Dóminum Deum nostrum.
I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers [and sisters],
that I have greatly sinned,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;
therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers [and sisters],
to pray for me to the Lord our God.
2. Frank Bruni, who is openly gay, was the chief restaurant critic for the New York Times from 2004 to 2009. He became an op-ed writer in 2011. As of June 2021, he will be an endowed professor of journalism at Duke University.
3. Bruni is the author of three bestsellers: “Born Round, a memoir about his family’s love of food and his own struggles with overeating, Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be, about the college admissions mania, and Ambling Into History, about George W. Bush.”
NB: How often do teachers and parents model verbal and emotional incontinence? Mea culpa.
A LINK TO THE LAST THREE YEARS OF POSTS ORGANIZED BY THEME:
PDF with headlines — Google Drive
Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to justice, freedom, the law or basic values. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to justice, freedom, the law, or basic values. Or just some random justice-related fact that blew you away.
This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply about something dear to your heart.