‘In retrospect, this was a bad idea’

‘In retrospect, this was a bad idea’ July 9, 2019

• A former staffer says that the Creation Museum is not a great place to work. And a former staffer says that Liberty University is not a great place to work.

Blowing the whistle on the “toxic culture” or the “shifty, dishonorable, unprincipled, and hypocritical” (phew!) character of your former employers can be harmful to your future employment prospects. Telling the truth is the right thing to do, but there may be a cost to it, with potential future employers avoiding you lest you may one day air their dirty laundry as well.

For these folks, though, that may be less of a concern, since their biggest hurdle as job-seekers will be having a résumé that lists either the Creation Museum or Liberty University as their most-recent job experience.

• We’ve previously discussed the remarkable investigative reporting by the Miami Herald team led by Julie K. Brown on their “Perversion of Justice” series — see “Why isn’t Jeffrey Epstein in prison?” and “A story in which no one got what they deserved.”

That reporting took on new significance this weekend as Jeffrey Epstein was arrested and charged in New York state for many of the crimes overlooked or swept away years ago by now-Trump cabinet member Alex Acosta.

Vox had a good summary of the story: “Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex offender who is friends with Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, explained.” But even a Vox explainer can’t explain the many things we still don’t know about all of this, including even some of the most basic questions — like where did Epstein’s billions even come from? And who pressured Acosta to dismiss victims’ concerns, let all of Epstein’s co-conspirators off the hook, and to coddle a sex offender with the ultimate sweetheart-deal sentence?

Given the amounts of money involved, and the way Epstein has tied his fortune to the fortunes of others, I’m not confident we’ll ever get solid answers to those questions. At least not without a long fight.

Vicky Ward is right to say “Jeffrey Epstein’s Sick Story Played Out for Years in Plain Sight.” But parts of it — the sources of his wealth, the identities of his co-conspirators and/or of his protectors — remain hidden. But perhaps not for long.

• Libby Anne points out that, according to his own words, James Dobson advocates white supremacy:

There is something wrong, in this country, with the way we talk about racism and white supremacy. There’s this idea that racists and white supremacists are skinheads with Nazi tattoos who join militia groups. You don’t do those things? Cool. You’re not a white supremacist. Except that that’s not how it works.

What does Dobson’s phrase “the culture as we have known it” mean? Dobson already thinks that evangelical Christian influence on American culture has been overwhelmed by secularism, so it’s not that — besides, most migrants from Central America embrace some branch of Christianity (many are evangelicals themselves). What is it, then?

James Dobson’s letter to his supporters following his visit to the border is a lot longer than 14 words, but that’s the core of it. He wants to save “the culture as we have known it.” And who’s “we,” there, exactly? Yeah. This is the same kind of whites-only “we” teaming that led to climate-denying NYTimes columnist Bret Stephens getting trapped in a very deep hole he continues to dig.

John Fea looks at Dobson’s whole letter and notes how it takes “a really ugly turn toward nativism.” The history professor also provides a good history lesson with several examples of the same kind of ugly nativism Dobson displays in response to the arrival of immigrants here in the 1700s, 1800s, and 1900s.

• Speaking of white nationalist Christians, “From cruise ships to Trump’s hotel, Calvinist Christian nationalism is making moves.”

Jack Jenkins looks at the weird world of Michael O’Fallon, who makes a living repackaging alt-right scary stories and anti-Semitic conspiracy garbage (Soros!) as “Calvinism.” This goon’s “faith” has less to do with anything Calvin taught than it does with Luther’s Von den Jugen und iren Lügen. So far, he’s only made inroads among the kind of far-right Southern Baptist clergy who were already advocating white supremacy and railing against “social justice warriors.” Basically, the kind of guys who read Breitbart articles by having their church secretaries print them out in large fonts. But still.

• The title of this post comes from one of my favorite stories from my years at the newspaper. This week marks the 15th anniversary of Paul Cunningham’s odyssey:

A Delaware college student ate a bag of hallucinogenic mushrooms and drove around in a pair of stolen cars before arriving, confused, on a mountain in northwest Connecticut police said.

Paul Cunningham, 21, hiked to a nearby home Thursday night and asked to call 911, police said.

“I think I stole a car,” Cunningham told a dispatcher. “I’m not sure.”

Police said Cunningham, of Dover, Del., confessed that eating an entire bag of mushrooms, “probably wasn’t a good idea.” He allegedly told investigators that he had no idea how many laws he broke during a three-day excursion that took him 300 miles from home.

Wherever you are today, Paul, I hope you’re doing well.



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