Tag: Plato

The False Attribution: Our Democratic Poetry

Every two minutes on Twitter, someone tweets, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” and wrongly attributes it to Edmund Burke. Burke never said any such thing. But the myth persists. I’ve long wanted to write an essay on this phenomenon of wrongly attributed statements. If you dig, you often find that no one famous ever said anything like it. Obviously someone had to say it, at some point, but whoever he or she is, is lost to memory. I first came across this phenomenon in 2000 when I was writing a piece for Lingua Franca. You know that saying (or some version thereof): Whoever is not a liberal [or a socialist […]

Justice Scalia: American Nietzsche

This is Part 2 of my series on Justice Scalia, Diva of Disdain.  Part 1 is here; an introduction to the whole is here. • • • • • Like many originalists, Scalia claims that his jurisprudence has nothing to do with his conservatism. “I try mightily to prevent my religious views or my political views or my philosophical views from affecting my interpretation of the laws.” Yet he has also said that he learned from his teachers at Georgetown never to “separate your religious life from your intellectual life. They’re not separate.” Only months before Ronald Reagan nominated him to the Supreme Court in 1986, he admitted that his legal views were “inevitably affected by moral and theological perceptions.” […]