Monday, May 14, 2018

MacKinnon, asked to summarize something really, really complex

Interviewer (James R. Hackney, Jr.): The other theoretical approach that is discussed in the two Signs articles is the liberal theory and the deficiencies of liberal feminist theory, which is the dominant paradigm, at least in the United States. What do you find to be the deficiencies in liberal theory vis-à-vis feminist theory, and the general shortcomings of the liberal theoretical approach?
Catharine A. MacKinnon: You know, it is kind of wild to be asked to recapitulate work that it took years and volumes to properly articulate. If it could be explained right in a few sentences, I would have done that in the first place. Anyway, one basic problem is liberal theory's individualized, rather than group-based, approach to issues. And also in law its "let's pretend" methodology, as if we can get where we are going by pretending we are already there and making rules accordingly. A lot of the problems can be traced to Aristotle. Social change was not on his agenda.
James R. Hackney, Jr., Legal Intellectuals in Conversation: Reflections on the Construction of Contemporary American Legal Theory (New York: N.Y.U. Press, 2012), p. 134

Thursday, May 10, 2018

MLK on the Importance (and Limits) of Law

Let us never succumb to the temptation of believing that legislation and judicial decrees play only minor roles in solving this problem ["an evil monster called segregation and its inseparable twin called discrimination"]. Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless. The law cannot make an employer love an employee, but it can prevent him from refusing to hire me because of the color of my skin. The habits, if not the hearts of people, have been and are being altered everyday by legislative acts, judicial decisions, and executive orders. Let us not be misled by those who argue that segregation cannot be ended by force of law.
But acknowledging this, we must admit that the ultimate solution to the race problem lies in the willingness of men to obey the unenforceable. Court orders and federal enforcement agencies are of inestimable value in achieving desegregation, but desegregation is only a partial, though necessary, step toward the final goal which we seek to realize, genuine inter-group and interpersonal living.

Martin Luther King, Jr.,  On Being a Good Neighbor (sermon), p. 10

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

MLK on the Philanthropy & the Big Picture

Philanthropy is marvelous, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the need for working to remove the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.
Martin Luther King, Jr.,  On Being a Good Neighbor (sermon), p. 5

Thursday, April 5, 2018

MLK Describes "True Altruism"

True altruism is more than the capacity to pity; it is the capacity to sympathize. Pity may represent little more than the impersonal concern which prompts the mailing of a check, but true sympathy is the personal concern which demands the giving of one's soul. Pity may arise from interest in an abstraction called humanity, but sympathy grows out of a concern for "a certain man," a particular needy human being who lies at life's roadside. Sympathy is feeling with the person in need—his pain, agony and burdens.
Martin Luther King, Jr.,  On Being a Good Neighbor (sermon), pp. 7-8

Friday, August 11, 2017

Truman on FBI's secret ops

"We want no Gestapo or Secret Police," President Truman wrote in his diary on May 12 [1945]. "FBI is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex-life scandals and plain blackmail . . M. This must stop."
It did not stop.
Tim Weiner, Enemies: A History of the FBI (New York: Random House, 2012), p. 134

Monday, July 31, 2017

FDR's cagey juggling

"You know I am a juggler, and I never let my right hand know what my left hand does," FDR once said of his strategies in statecraft. "I may have one policy for Europe and one diametrically opposite for North and South America. I may be entirely inconsistent, and furthermore I am perfectly willing to mislead and tell untruths if it will help win the war."
Tim Weiner, Enemies: A History of the FBI (New York: Random House, 2012), p. 81

Friday, July 21, 2017

Harding, in a nutshell

"Harding was not a bad man," [Alice Longworth Roosevelt] wrote. "He was just a slob—a slack, good-natured man with an unfortunate disposition to surround himself with intimates of questionable character."
Tim Weiner, Enemies: A History of the FBI (New York: Random House, 2012), p. 52