Affluence and Guilt and the Obsession with Questionable Causes
Great piece that I’ve circulated among friends of both sides of the political cultural divide. As a Catholic I loved the play on both definitions of indulgence. You pop the liberal bubble with extraordinary perception and skill and you do the bipartisan thing with the right. However it seems a little of “both sides ism” to me. Certainly the left and its wokeism is stupid and destructive to our national cohesion, but it pales by comparison to the MAGA “strong man “ who will fix it all and squash all the misfits. This is American fascism and the real danger to our democracy.
I completely agree with your core point, but not with your take on JFK and RFK. In my view they were both dangerously toxic. Ignoring their flawed personal lives, I consider JFK notable for his meager Presidential accomplishments, his encouraging our military entanglement in Vietnam, and his apparent readiness to start a nuclear war. Likewise, I see RFK as notable for helping his brother to escalate the Cuban Missile crisis, and for bringing an authoritarian tilt to the Justice Dept. (Ted Kennedy was an effective Senator, though I blame his 1980 presidential run for the election of Ronald Reagan). I may misunderstand some of the underlying facts, but it seems to me that the Kennedys' main skills lay in warping historical memories. Sorry if this sounds bad, but I think assassination bestowed a soft glow of virtue on two deeply-flawed politicians.
There are some great themes here. That "indulgence activism is what happens when real oppression largely disappears from a society" is spot on. Bobby's grievances mostly do not hit people where they live, unless they live on the fringes. But calling heroin addiction an indulgence misses a significant point about Bobby and addiction generally. Self-medicating real pain and developing an obsession and compulsion are the hallmarks of the disease. Overcoming that with a spiritual program is an important (and complicating) fact about him. He is far from a two-dimensional character. As to real oppression - we do have existential issues that have moral dimensions - climate! Wealth distribution! Wish Bobby was focused on those. He certainly knows enough to do so.
Where is your outrage at the LPGA who played for ARAMCO for years and who has been taking the exact money that the PGA is taking? What about NASCAR running in races in Saudi Arabia? Tiger Woods himself, took money from the Saudis years ago, What about the 40 billion dollars that we have been making for years dealing with the Saudis in golf related companies? How about the NBA making billions from deals with China, a country which uses slave labor? How about our president who begs the Saudis to provide us with oil? Hypocrisy anyone??