The Best Of The Dish This Weekend


Some small part of me wants to see the instant-demonizers of Bowe Bergdahl proven horribly wrong. The likelihood, of course, is that the story of the still-mysterious soldier will produce only more ambiguities. But these little nuggets complicate the culture war paradigm in which a POW has been framed:

“He’s said that they kept him in a shark cage in total darkness for weeks, possibly months,” said one American official. CNN reported Friday that Sergeant Bergdahl said he was held in a metal box or cage, but the officials on Saturday offered new details. He was kept there apparently as punishment for one or possibly two attempted escapes, as first reported by the Daily Beast website last week and confirmed by an American official.

That kind of total sensory deprivation, and isolation is a form of torture … practiced by the Taliban and the US, a merging of values only made possible by the dark soul of Dick Cheney. Then there’s Bergdahl’s own resistance to the promotion awarded him in captivity – and used by the Palinites to attack one of those they usually defer to as generic heroes:

“He says, ‘Don’t call me that,’ ” said one American official. “ ‘I didn’t go before the boards. I didn’t earn it.’ ”

A tortured POW who tried several escapes who rejected any honors … well that isn’t quite the treasonous hippie the hard right wants to attack. And yes, attack:

Late Saturday, the F.B.I. said the Bergdahl family in Idaho had received threats. Federal agents, working with state and local law enforcement authorities, were “taking each threat seriously,” an F.B.I. statement said. Officials declined to give other details.

This weekend, we featured the poetry of Patrizia Cavalli – check out this terse account of loving someone you cannot really love. It’s a pretty good description of the relationship between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy, thirty years his junior, but still somehow his full equal.

We grappled with the chimera of “happiness” – with a lovely, and very grown-up video from Adam Phillips and a haunting revisit of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s confusion on the subject.

We asked the following questions: should God be a stop-gap for when our understanding of the world fails? (No, according to Bonhoeffer.) Is it possible to feel empathy for non-practicing pedophiles? (It should be.) Are conservative churches finally going the way of liberal ones … and for the same, secularizing reasons? (Of course they are.) What do Augustine and O.J. Simpson have in common? (Confession.)

Plus: Tolstoy on life and faith; and the sacredness of salmon-fishing.

The most popular posts of the weekend were The Palinite Tendency and Bowe Bergdahl, followed by Compassion for Pedophiles.

It was a gorgeous June weekend on the Cape, where I am now ensconced for my annual – and 21st! – full summer in Provincetown. When I first get here each year, it’s always the same … just fighting every day to stay awake. Something about the place taps something deep inside and says: you’re home now; you can let your guard down; and rest. But not until Bowie has explored every cranny of the beach.

See you (and her) in the morning.