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Goodbye, Walt?

In the past couple hours, I read that the statue of Walt Whitman is being removed from Rutgers-Camden campus because he was racist.

My first reaction was 'G-damn these oversensitive young activists, ' and I went into full defense mode. It was Whitman who wrote in Leaves of Grass :

A man’s body at auction
(For before the war I often go to the slave-mart and watch the sale.)
I help the auctioneer, the sloven does not half know his business. . .
Gentlemen look on this wonder.
Whatever the bids of the bidders they cannot be high enough for it. (1)
This is not only one man, this the father of those who shall be fathers
in their turns
In him the start of populous states and rich republics, Of him count-
less immortal lives with countless embodiments and enjoyments,


I adore the egalitarian, huge hearted queer and his hymn to America and to us all. An amazing man, an observer not detached from what he observed, caught up with the very solid earth beneath his feet, the sun on his back, the hand of his lover, but also an idealist seeing the inherent promise of perfection in the less than perfect world we live in:

COME said the Muse,
Sing me a song no poet yet has chanted,
Sing me the universal.

In this broad earth of ours,
Amid the measureless grossness and the slag,
Enclosed and safe within its central heart,
Nestles the seed perfection.

By every life a share or more or less,
None born but it is born, conceal'd or unconceal'd the seed is
waiting.


How could they chuck him in the Old Racist Loser pile? But I started hunting around a little, and yup, indeed he was a racist. It's bad, too. The site doesn't allow copying, but it's here --I think people can access it as a courtesy if you're not a member.


So what do I do with this cognitive dissonance? And it's big. He sounds like Ontologuy or SmartCat. Or maybe, since he came first, they sound like him. I don't know how the same man who wrote Leaves of Grass could possibly be the one quoted in that biography. But he is. Maybe the answer is in Song of the Universal: "Amid the measureless grossness and the slag, Enclosed and safe within its central heart, Nestles the seed perfection." To Walt was born a piece, or more or less, and it shone out at times, like the sun on a cloudy day.

But you all might as well know I'm sort of heartbroken, confused and saddened to learn that Walt had a lousy view of African Americans as an amorphous whole, although when confronted with individuals, he was more fair. It was the fashion of the time to study the shape of skulls and to postulate on behavior and apply Survival of the Fittest. It was ugly, and part of the grossness of our feet of clay.

So I can see why they're taking down his statue, but I'm still crying.
 

trixare4kids

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Whitman was a product of his time. Love him or hate him at least have the decency to judge him according to his milieu not according to todays' mores.

But then what would some leftists do with their phony outrage?
 

Luce

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The same thing that some rightists would do with theirs, I imagine.

By the way, this is not even a political subject.

If a subject falls outside of programming, it will receive a response as if it fell inside of programming.
 

Luce

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In the past couple hours, I read that the statue of Walt Whitman is being removed from Rutgers-Camden campus because he was racist.

My first reaction was 'G-damn these oversensitive young activists, ' and I went into full defense mode. It was Whitman who wrote in Leaves of Grass :

A man’s body at auction
(For before the war I often go to the slave-mart and watch the sale.)
I help the auctioneer, the sloven does not half know his business. . .
Gentlemen look on this wonder.
Whatever the bids of the bidders they cannot be high enough for it. (1)
This is not only one man, this the father of those who shall be fathers
in their turns
In him the start of populous states and rich republics, Of him count-
less immortal lives with countless embodiments and enjoyments,


I adore the egalitarian, huge hearted queer and his hymn to America and to us all. An amazing man, an observer not detached from what he observed, caught up with the very solid earth beneath his feet, the sun on his back, the hand of his lover, but also an idealist seeing the inherent promise of perfection in the less than perfect world we live in:

COME said the Muse,
Sing me a song no poet yet has chanted,
Sing me the universal.

In this broad earth of ours,
Amid the measureless grossness and the slag,
Enclosed and safe within its central heart,
Nestles the seed perfection.

By every life a share or more or less,
None born but it is born, conceal'd or unconceal'd the seed is
waiting.


How could they chuck him in the Old Racist Loser pile? But I started hunting around a little, and yup, indeed he was a racist. It's bad, too. The site doesn't allow copying, but it's here --I think people can access it as a courtesy if you're not a member.


So what do I do with this cognitive dissonance? And it's big. He sounds like Ontologuy or SmartCat. Or maybe, since he came first, they sound like him. I don't know how the same man who wrote Leaves of Grass could possibly be the one quoted in that biography. But he is. Maybe the answer is in Song of the Universal: "Amid the measureless grossness and the slag, Enclosed and safe within its central heart, Nestles the seed perfection." To Walt was born a piece, or more or less, and it shone out at times, like the sun on a cloudy day.

But you all might as well know I'm sort of heartbroken, confused and saddened to learn that Walt had a lousy view of African Americans as an amorphous whole, although when confronted with individuals, he was more fair. It was the fashion of the time to study the shape of skulls and to postulate on behavior and apply Survival of the Fittest. It was ugly, and part of the grossness of our feet of clay.

So I can see why they're taking down his statue, but I'm still crying.

Thing is, if you decide that the old masters with bad or even odious opinions have to go, you are chucking 90%+ of culture.
 

MaryP

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Thing is, if you decide that the old masters with bad or even odious opinions have to go, you are chucking 90%+ of culture.
Apparently so.
Writers and poets are my heroes, my friends, my enemies. When I read them, I engage personally. It may be daft, but it's something I've always done intuitively. So it was like find finding out a dear friend of many years is secretly a KKK-er.

It rots.
 

devildavid

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Apparently so.
Writers and poets are my heroes, my friends, my enemies. When I read them, I engage personally. It may be daft, but it's something I've always done intuitively. So it was like find finding out a dear friend of many years is secretly a KKK-er.

It rots.

I hope we never find out anything bad about Nathaniel Hawthorne or Emily Dickinson. Their writing really speaks to me.

But I do keep in mind that writers are just human beings with a point of view and a gift for expressing it. And my view of human beings is that getting to know them is often the equivalent of getting to dislike them.
 

MaryP

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I hope we never find out anything bad about Nathaniel Hawthorne or Emily Dickinson. Their writing really speaks to me.

But I do keep in mind that writers are just human beings with a point of view and a gift for expressing it. And my view of human beings is that getting to know them is often the equivalent of getting to dislike them.
I hope you don't too.
 

MaryP

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"I no doubt deserved my enemies, but I don't believe I deserved my friends."
 

MaryP

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Two fans of Hawthorne here? He's really good, but I don't enjoy his style. Too much control makes me itchy, like listening to Bach.
 

Sagittarius83

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The
In the past couple hours, I read that the statue of Walt Whitman is being removed from Rutgers-Camden campus because he was racist.

My first reaction was 'G-damn these oversensitive young activists, ' and I went into full defense mode. It was Whitman who wrote in Leaves of Grass :

A man’s body at auction
(For before the war I often go to the slave-mart and watch the sale.)
I help the auctioneer, the sloven does not half know his business. . .
Gentlemen look on this wonder.
Whatever the bids of the bidders they cannot be high enough for it. (1)
This is not only one man, this the father of those who shall be fathers
in their turns
In him the start of populous states and rich republics, Of him count-
less immortal lives with countless embodiments and enjoyments,


I adore the egalitarian, huge hearted queer and his hymn to America and to us all. An amazing man, an observer not detached from what he observed, caught up with the very solid earth beneath his feet, the sun on his back, the hand of his lover, but also an idealist seeing the inherent promise of perfection in the less than perfect world we live in:

COME said the Muse,
Sing me a song no poet yet has chanted,
Sing me the universal.

In this broad earth of ours,
Amid the measureless grossness and the slag,
Enclosed and safe within its central heart,
Nestles the seed perfection.

By every life a share or more or less,
None born but it is born, conceal'd or unconceal'd the seed is
waiting.


How could they chuck him in the Old Racist Loser pile? But I started hunting around a little, and yup, indeed he was a racist. It's bad, too. The site doesn't allow copying, but it's here --I think people can access it as a courtesy if you're not a member.


So what do I do with this cognitive dissonance? And it's big. He sounds like Ontologuy or SmartCat. Or maybe, since he came first, they sound like him. I don't know how the same man who wrote Leaves of Grass could possibly be the one quoted in that biography. But he is. Maybe the answer is in Song of the Universal: "Amid the measureless grossness and the slag, Enclosed and safe within its central heart, Nestles the seed perfection." To Walt was born a piece, or more or less, and it shone out at times, like the sun on a cloudy day.

But you all might as well know I'm sort of heartbroken, confused and saddened to learn that Walt had a lousy view of African Americans as an amorphous whole, although when confronted with individuals, he was more fair. It was the fashion of the time to study the shape of skulls and to postulate on behavior and apply Survival of the Fittest. It was ugly, and part of the grossness of our feet of clay.

So I can see why they're taking down his statue, but I'm still crying.
there will always be people who disagree with your “enlightened” view about anti racism.

We can’t always get what we want and we can’t make people feel what we want.

Deal with it! This is life.

If I have to say it roughly, grow up little girl!
 

MamboDervish

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In the past couple hours, I read that the statue of Walt Whitman is being removed from Rutgers-Camden campus because he was racist.

My first reaction was 'G-damn these oversensitive young activists, ' and I went into full defense mode. It was Whitman who wrote in Leaves of Grass :

A man’s body at auction
(For before the war I often go to the slave-mart and watch the sale.)
I help the auctioneer, the sloven does not half know his business. . .
Gentlemen look on this wonder.
Whatever the bids of the bidders they cannot be high enough for it. (1)
This is not only one man, this the father of those who shall be fathers
in their turns
In him the start of populous states and rich republics, Of him count-
less immortal lives with countless embodiments and enjoyments,


I adore the egalitarian, huge hearted queer and his hymn to America and to us all. An amazing man, an observer not detached from what he observed, caught up with the very solid earth beneath his feet, the sun on his back, the hand of his lover, but also an idealist seeing the inherent promise of perfection in the less than perfect world we live in:

COME said the Muse,
Sing me a song no poet yet has chanted,
Sing me the universal.

In this broad earth of ours,
Amid the measureless grossness and the slag,
Enclosed and safe within its central heart,
Nestles the seed perfection.

By every life a share or more or less,
None born but it is born, conceal'd or unconceal'd the seed is
waiting.


How could they chuck him in the Old Racist Loser pile? But I started hunting around a little, and yup, indeed he was a racist. It's bad, too. The site doesn't allow copying, but it's here --I think people can access it as a courtesy if you're not a member.


So what do I do with this cognitive dissonance? And it's big. He sounds like Ontologuy or SmartCat. Or maybe, since he came first, they sound like him. I don't know how the same man who wrote Leaves of Grass could possibly be the one quoted in that biography. But he is. Maybe the answer is in Song of the Universal: "Amid the measureless grossness and the slag, Enclosed and safe within its central heart, Nestles the seed perfection." To Walt was born a piece, or more or less, and it shone out at times, like the sun on a cloudy day.

But you all might as well know I'm sort of heartbroken, confused and saddened to learn that Walt had a lousy view of African Americans as an amorphous whole, although when confronted with individuals, he was more fair. It was the fashion of the time to study the shape of skulls and to postulate on behavior and apply Survival of the Fittest. It was ugly, and part of the grossness of our feet of clay.

So I can see why they're taking down his statue, but I'm still crying.
Whitman doesn't need a statue to be remembered.
 

Evilroddy

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Oh, really? Does that also apply to someone like James Earl Ray?

What is the year that we should start holding people accountable for something like racism? 1930? 1970? 2010?

Even if we follow your injunction, it's not good. While obviously no one had a 2021 mentality in 1855, there were certainly many abolitionists alive during that era, publicly advocating against slavery, without referring to blacks as "wild brutes."

We shouldn't simply write off everything he's done. However, it really shouldn't be surprising that people today are more circumspect in how they feel about him and his work, especially in a city that is now 50% black.
Visbek:

No one is perfect by your measure, by my measure or by any contemporary measure. The good of one's life must be measured against the bad. Walt Whitman enriched generations of peoples' lives despite his racism and that must be weighed into any final appreciation of his life. James Earl Ray was an army washout, a serial criminal, a felon on the run, a pornographer and finally an assassin of a great man. There was no good to balance his mountain of bad.

Taking absolutist and Manichean measures of historical figures is really "pointless moralising in the moment", in my humble opinion. Love them or hate them, they were still great figures for the impact they had on others' lives. Walt Whitman was a great man, not a good man. We put statues up for great historical figures, not for good historical personalities. That is why he should be remembered in his totality with both the good and the bad on display; to illuminate his complex greatness, so that future generations can better know what greatness is. Otherwise future generations will experience an historical and artistic dark age and a civil Gotterdamerung leaving them ignorant of and untethered to their past. Do you want a future of listless drift because of the tyranny of the absolute duality of the morality of now? I do not.

Should we tear down statues of Greek heroes and Roman emperors, or artists, orators and thinkers for their complicity in using and spreading slavery? Should we forget Shaka Zulu or Niccolò Machiavelli for owning slaves and perpetuating slavery, tyranny, war and suffering in the quest for power? No, people are complex beings and should be understood as such. Contradiction (intellectual and moral) is what made human civilisation possible. Embrace and display the contradictions so that future generations can learn from flawed but great historical figures' mistakes and moral shortfalls. No one is perfect, especially if they achieved greatness by the end of their lives. Life is not a Western movie with black hats and white hats for everybody to keep track of the wearers' moral purity. We're a species of grey men and women struggling with the bestial and the better, in a world of constantly changing mores and elastic morality/ethics. That must always be understood.

Cheers and be well.
Evilroddy.
 

MaryP

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Visbek:

No one is perfect by your measure, by my measure or by any contemporary measure. The good of one's life must be measured against the bad. Walt Whitman enriched generations of peoples' lives despite his racism and that must be weighed into any final appreciation of his life. James Earl Ray was an army washout, a serial criminal, a felon on the run, a pornographer and finally an assassin of a great man. There was no good to balance his mountain of bad.

Taking absolutist and Manichean measures of historical figures is really "pointless moralising in the moment", in my humble opinion. Love them or hate them, they were still great figures for the impact they had on others' lives. Walt Whitman was a great man, not a good man. We put statues up for great historical figures, not for good historical personalities. That is why he should be remembered in his totality with both the good and the bad on display; to illuminate his complex greatness, so that future generations can better know what greatness is. Otherwise future generations will experience an historical and artistic dark age and a civil Gotterdamerung leaving them ignorant of and untethered to their past. Do you want a future of listless drift because of the tyranny of the absolute duality of the morality of now? I do not.

Should we tear down statues of Greek heroes and Roman emperors, or artists, orators and thinkers for their complicity in using and spreading slavery? Should we forget Shaka Zulu or Niccolò Machiavelli for owning slaves and perpetuating slavery, tyranny, war and suffering in the quest for power? No, people are complex beings and should be understood as such. Contradiction (intellectual and moral) is what made human civilisation possible. Embrace and display the contradictions so that future generations can learn from flawed but great historical figures' mistakes and moral shortfalls. No one is perfect, especially if they achieved greatness by the end of their lives. Life is not a Western movie with black hats and white hats for everybody to keep track of the wearers' moral purity. We're a species of grey men and women struggling with the bestial and the better, in a world of constantly changing mores and elastic morality/ethics. That must always be understood.

Cheers and be well.
Evilroddy.
That's what I call a reply! You're beautiful, Roddy.
 

Hari Seldon

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In the past couple hours, I read that the statue of Walt Whitman is being removed from Rutgers-Camden campus because he was racist.

My first reaction was 'G-damn these oversensitive young activists, ' and I went into full defense mode. It was Whitman who wrote in Leaves of Grass :

A man’s body at auction
(For before the war I often go to the slave-mart and watch the sale.)
I help the auctioneer, the sloven does not half know his business. . .
Gentlemen look on this wonder.
Whatever the bids of the bidders they cannot be high enough for it. (1)
This is not only one man, this the father of those who shall be fathers
in their turns
In him the start of populous states and rich republics, Of him count-
less immortal lives with countless embodiments and enjoyments,


I adore the egalitarian, huge hearted queer and his hymn to America and to us all. An amazing man, an observer not detached from what he observed, caught up with the very solid earth beneath his feet, the sun on his back, the hand of his lover, but also an idealist seeing the inherent promise of perfection in the less than perfect world we live in:

COME said the Muse,
Sing me a song no poet yet has chanted,
Sing me the universal.

In this broad earth of ours,
Amid the measureless grossness and the slag,
Enclosed and safe within its central heart,
Nestles the seed perfection.

By every life a share or more or less,
None born but it is born, conceal'd or unconceal'd the seed is
waiting.


How could they chuck him in the Old Racist Loser pile? But I started hunting around a little, and yup, indeed he was a racist. It's bad, too. The site doesn't allow copying, but it's here --I think people can access it as a courtesy if you're not a member.


So what do I do with this cognitive dissonance? And it's big. He sounds like Ontologuy or SmartCat. Or maybe, since he came first, they sound like him. I don't know how the same man who wrote Leaves of Grass could possibly be the one quoted in that biography. But he is. Maybe the answer is in Song of the Universal: "Amid the measureless grossness and the slag, Enclosed and safe within its central heart, Nestles the seed perfection." To Walt was born a piece, or more or less, and it shone out at times, like the sun on a cloudy day.

But you all might as well know I'm sort of heartbroken, confused and saddened to learn that Walt had a lousy view of African Americans as an amorphous whole, although when confronted with individuals, he was more fair. It was the fashion of the time to study the shape of skulls and to postulate on behavior and apply Survival of the Fittest. It was ugly, and part of the grossness of our feet of clay.

So I can see why they're taking down his statue, but I'm still crying.
And those "millions of ignorant foreigners". They can take his statue down for all I care. Hopefully it won't be destroyed but maybe we should be a bit more discerning about who we immortalize.
 

Unitedwestand13

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And those "millions of ignorant foreigners". They can take his statue down for all I care. Hopefully it won't be destroyed but maybe we should be a bit more discerning about who we immortalize.
At least have the statue donated to a Walt Whitman museum or something like that.
 

swing_voter

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If they have to remove every statue of every racist person, we're not going to have any statues left.
 
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