If the man doesn’t believe as we do, we say he is a crank, and that settles it. I mean, it does nowadays, because now we can’t burn him.
Oh, I don’t know, Mr Twain: that was quite an effective burn you just executed there.
If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.
Bobby Kennedy recently made me the soul-stirring promise that one day – thirty years, if I’m lucky – I can be President too. It never entered this boy’s mind, I suppose – it has not entered the country’s mind yet – that perhaps I wouldn’t want to be. And in any case, what really exercises my mind is not this hypothetical day on which some other Negro ‘first’ will become the first Negro President. What I am really curious about is just what kind of country he’ll be President of. […]
The key to [Mr Kennedy’s] statement, as I understand it, is that when Negroes have achieved the Americanism of the Irish, they will be allowed to get to Washington. Now, to tell the truth, I personally do not feel that what I would like to see come out of the last three hundred years is another Kennedy. I think the price was too high, and I insist that I believe we are better than that.
James Baldwin, speaking in 1961. Quoted in The Cross of Redemption, pp.10, 13f.
So now (as Randall Kenan observes in the introduction) we know what Baldwin would have thought of Barack Obama.
Not since the birth of Christ had the well-being of so small a class been so underwritten by the inarticulate, regimented misery of so many as in Victorian England and the advanced European nations.
Robert Hughes, The Shock of the New, p.166.
As Umair Haque observes, we may be heading back there…