It was a good day. I got back from Chicago yesterday. Waited for my mother’s flight from L.A., had a nice late lunch with her, got home, slapped the brats around, took Isabell around the block (she hates to be ignored), smoked a cigar with friends, went to bed late. Awoke at 3 a.m. or so, turned on the news and heard about Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, et al. Slept the sleep of the just for three more hours, then got back to it and talked with a couple of great students this morning. I spent a few hours on The Suit, in preparation for tomorrow’s podcast with Mr. Antongiavanni.
The Chicago conference was very much worth attending, even though it was over-regulated and under-attended. Loury was what I expected, Carol Swain was charming but a bit too self-consciously self-contradictory, Robert J. Norrell is a good historian and will end up producing the best biography of Booker Washington, Mark Bauerlein is smart, and Ishmael Muhammad, well, let me just say that he is a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles. The hero of the conference was William B. Allen. He showed that history is not a chronicle of waisted time, that manly rhetoric can yet be used by the valiant, and he would never allow the low and the incomplete to roll over the just logic of the conference. He stepped in many times and proved to us that sometimes a man can speak both the truth and the whole of things. No slander against freedom stood. His mind was all conquering. His response to someone who wanted an apology for slavery from the (any) president of the United States was to gracefully remind her of the brothers’ war and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural. It was masterful. He poetically or deeply--as needed--offered up the American standard as the shaper of our souls and the cause of the country’s character. Booker T. Washington was proud.