There are sounds it feels like you've known forever, sounds that have been in your ear so long, it's hard to believe they were ever new.
Here we are, six years later, six years of mom jeans and golf dates and taking the girls for ice cream. And yet, some of us are still hung up on the perceived "otherness," the "not like us"-ness, of Barack Obama.
I am not insane. For this, I have Jon Stewart to thank.
Thirteen years ago, it felt like I was in a front row seat on the express train to Crazy Town. That, you will recall, is when the wheels began to come off the Bush administration's argument for invading Iraq, i.e., to find the weapons of mass destruction.
That was the subject line of an email a colleague sent me last week.
In June, it will be 52 years since George Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door.
It happened at the University of Alabama, where two African-American students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, were attempting to register. In facing down three federal officials demanding that he stand aside and honor a court order allowing the registration to proceed, the bantam governor of Alabama sought to make good on a noxious promise: "segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever."
There's this speech I give my students.
He had his first major breakdown when he was 26. A man who had been known for his sunny, outgoing temperament became suddenly sullen, silent and withdrawn. He spoke openly of suicide. It got so bad that a couple took him into their home to ensure he did not hurt himself.
I call it the Secret Knowledge.
Meaning that body of information not everyone has, that body known only to those few people who had the good sense to go off the beaten path and seek it. It is information you'll never see in your "newspapers" or "network news" or any other place overly concerned with verifiable "facts" and reliable "sources." It will not come to you through a university "study," peer-reviewed "article," renowned "expert," government "agency" or any other such traditional bastion of authority.
We should have seen this one coming.
Tucker Carlson said on Fox that more children die of bathtub drownings than of accidental shootings. They don't.
Steve Doocy said on Fox that NASA scientists faked data to make the case for global warming.
You get pulled over by police. Maybe they claim you were seven miles over the speed limit, maybe they say you made an improper lane change. Doesn't matter, because the traffic stop is only a pretext.
A few words on the limits to freedom of expression:
For what it's worth, there are a few that are acceptable. You don't threaten or incite violence. You don't defame. You don't produce child pornography. And you don't falsely shout "Fire!" in the proverbial crowded theater.
OK, you win. We surrender.
What follows is for the benefit of one William James O'Reilly Jr. -- "Bill" to his fans.
In September, I received an email that should have left me feeling vindicated.
Wow. Just ... wow.
So what's next?
Will it turn out Mother Teresa was a pornographer?
Or Mr. Rogers a meth head?
What, in the name of God?
It is a question that demands asking, that haunts this most recent atrocity.
Last week, I spent a day at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, where some students and I talked about protest. Des Moines is six hours up the road from Ferguson, Missouri, the St. Louis suburb where Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, was shot to death by a police officer in August, prompting weeks of often violent clashes between protesters, rioters and heavily militarized police.
Dear Republican Party:
Impeach President Obama.
You can't handle the truth.
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