Another Surreply

December 11, 2012 | 39 comments
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Over at FMH, rah has a post responding to my “How Mormonism Changes” post.  As I read it, she has basically three objections to my post.  First, she insists that I misunderstand the motivations of liberal Mormons, which are grounded in genuine love and concern for others rather than ideological embarrassment.  Second, she suggests that historically the priesthood ban’s elimination had more to do with evolution within the hierarchy than it did with progression of the membership of the church.  Third, she claims that the model of prophecy I propose is mistaken or the like because it does not appear in the scriptures.  Here are some thoughts in responses.

First, on the historical issue I actually agree with her.  I think that creating unanimity among the highest leadership made it very difficult to abandon the priesthood ban.  There was certainly a lot of racist theology taught in justification of the ban that ought to be examined and rejected.  What is interesting to me is that despite the deep divisions among the leadership, the abandonment of the ban met with essentially zero opposition from the membership of the church.  This historically was not always been the case with major ecclesiastical changes in Mormonism.  I think that the lack of opposition among the membership was really quite striking and worth thinking about.  I certainly do not think that the priesthood ban was without enormous costs for individuals and the church.

Second, the liberal Mormons that I know, have read, or otherwise interacted with all seem to be human beings.  (All of them except Brad Kramer, at any rate.)  As human beings I suspect that they have complicated inner lives.  I don’t think that they are motivated by social embarrassment at cocktail parties.  I suspect that they are motivated by their moral and political convictions, but I also suspect that these convictions — like everyone else’s convictions — arise from a mixture of biography, reflection, and social context.  When I wrote about “ideological embarrassment,” I meant two things.  The first is a sense of cognitive dissonance in which one’s religious identity and deepest political convictions clash.  The second is a sense of social unease.  Understandably, rah rejects the idea that such a sense of social unease matters to liberal Mormons, putting forth a purer narrative.  I am sure that what she says is true much of the time, but I am skeptical that it is true all of the time.  Let me put it more bluntly: I operate in a fairly politically liberal milieu professionally (legal academia) and within that mileu Mormonism is often regarded as racist, homophobic, and misogynistic.  I also write about Mormon legal history, which puts me in the position of discussing Mormonism from time to time professionally with colleagues.  I feel ideologically embarrassed when I have to explain certain aspects of Mormon history or doctrine, and my political ideology tends libertarian rather than progressive.  That sense of social alienation that my religion causes for me professionally is actually something I have thought a lot about.  It is part of the cognitive dissonance I work my way through.  Now it may be that folks who self-identify as more liberal than myself have such a burning sense of moral purity that they never concern themselves with such social alienation.  I am, however, doubtful.

Third, rah’s post suggested that my model of prophets cannot be found in the scriptures.  There is some truth to this objection.  On the other hand, in the scriptures the roles of prophet, priest, and communal leader are generally separated.  One exception is Moses.  In Joseph Smith’s translation and commentary on the Exodus narratives he does offer something like the theory I put forward.  In Joseph’s retelling of the story, the original law delivered to Moses was the the fullness of the Gospel.  After the golden calf incident, however, this law is lost and the lesser law of Moses is given to the Israelites.  Paul hints at something like this interpretation of Exodus as well, when he speaks of the Law as a schoolmaster.  Paul also wrote:

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.  To the Jews, I became like a Jew, to win Jews.  To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.  To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.  To the weak I became weak, to win the weak.  I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. (1 Cor. 9:19-22 NIV)

This is something like the sensibility that I am thinking of.  Likewise, Joseph Smith often spoke of doctrines that he would teach if only the people were ready for it.  Likewise, Brigham Young often complained that he was limited in what he could do and reveal because of the people that he led.  To be clear, I don’t actually think that the Brethren are a cabal of uber-progressives bent on unleashing change on the Church.  I think that they are on the whole a cautious bunch.  Generally, I think this is a good thing.  Sometimes it is regrettable.  My point is that regardless of their motives, plans, or inspiration they face constraints from the membership.

A final point: rah suggests that I dismissed Susan B. Anthony and Martin Luther King, Jr. as cranks.  This is simply not true.  My point was not that we shouldn’t be impressed by such people but that we should be less impressed than many liberal Mormons of my acquaintance are by the <i>persona</i> of the visionary activist.  This isn’t because visionary activists don’t at times do great things in the world, but rather because many of those that adopt this persona are destructive cranks.  MLK was a great man.  Ghandi was a great man.  Robespierre was a destructive fanatic, although one whose motives seem to have been remarkably pure.  My only point is that downshifting the emotional and moral importance one gives to this persona is probably a good idea.  One’s substantive convictions may remain the same, but one’s emotional and spiritual life will probably have a bit less strum and drang.

39 Responses to Another Surreply

  1. European Saint on December 11, 2012 at 1:22 am

    “Joseph Smith often spoke of doctrines that he would teach if only the people were ready for it. Likewise, Brigham Young often complained that he was limited in what he could do and reveal because of the people that he led.”

    What if what the current Prophet and Brethren feel limited to do is not, as you have suggested, to reveal the full glory of Diety’s more “progressive” or even “libertarian” realities, but rather the opposite–in the guise of invitations to uphold what may be viewed as the opposite stance (calls for backing traditional family in MD and ME, for example)?

  2. N. Obstat on December 11, 2012 at 2:06 am

    Ideological embarrassment is the core assumption of that institution of liberal Mormonism, the “Why I Stay” sessions at Sunstone. Ideological embarrassment is the sine qua non of being a liberal Mormon.

    I’m sorry, Nate, but your Mormon intellectual union card is about to be revoked. A faculty job and publications on Mormon topics do not make one a Mormon intellectual. That is an honor only afforded to those with the right opinions, and to those whose hands never tire from wringing.

  3. Alison Moore Smith on December 11, 2012 at 5:54 am

    Now it may be that folks who self-identify as more liberal than myself have such a burning sense of moral purity that they never concern themselves with such social alienation. I am, however, doubtful.

    Probably the best two sentences I’ve read on a blog this quarter. Bravo.

  4. Russell Arben Fox on December 11, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Nate, I’ve enjoyed–and learned from–these addenda which you’ve been motivated to use to expand upon and qualify your original post. Your observations about “cognitive dissonance” here are, I think, particularly helpful. If I may elaborate on what I think your unstated point is, it would seem that while your original, particular target may have been those Mormons who want to see the church embrace same-sex unions and female ordination and other causes which you label “progressive” (and which you lump into a larger, undistinguished category of “liberal Mormons”), your actual target is really simply “intellectual Mormons,” period: in other words, all of us modern critically-inclined individuals (including you!) who, whatever our opinions, live and operate in various environments, and have our opinions and preferences at least partly shaped by those environments, and who then feel some cognitive dissonance and alienation as we attempt to make sense of those opinions in light of the church as it actually is–definitely authoritarian, arguably misogynistic, in any case clearly non-liberal in the philosophical sense (which includes “non-libertarian” as well, obviously). In thinking about how us individuals should ethically position ourselves vis-a-vis the church, you’re suggesting some serious humility in regards to the significance of our own wishes and frustrations about how things happen to be. In other words, the core Burkean truth of your original post is coming out. As someone who isn’t particularly Burkean, but who is communitarian and traditionalist enough to respect it (as a “liberal Mormon” myself), I salute you.

  5. Nate Oman on December 11, 2012 at 8:51 am

    For the record I don’t think that the church is misogynistic unless one is going to drain the term of meaning and apply it to any gender asymmetry.

  6. Russell Arben Fox on December 11, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Fair enough; “misogynistic,” with its implication of hatred of women, is too strong. How about simply “non-feminist”? We can agree on that, I think.

  7. Wilfried on December 11, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Thank you, Nate, for these helpful nuances and clarifications. Now we still need to add to this search after identities the non-American Mormon converts from various cultures and -isms who try to find their balance. Much analysis still ahead.

  8. Russell Arben Fox on December 11, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Incidentally, Nate, I think Richard Bushman basically agrees with you (and apparently also thinks Mike Lee is an idiot, though he doesn’t exactly say that): http://www.mormonsocialscience.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Richard-Lyman-Bushman-Interview-of-08-01-12.pdf

  9. Nate Oman on December 11, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Mike Lee most definitely is an idiot.

  10. Nate Oman on December 11, 2012 at 10:17 am

    RAF: That is a great interview with Bushman. I agree with most of it. I guess that the difference is that he seems to be a Burkean tempered by Herbert Croly while I am a Burkean tempered by Friedrich Hayek.

  11. Randy B. on December 11, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Nice write up, Nate.

    RAF #4: precisely.

  12. Cynthia L. on December 11, 2012 at 10:29 am

    “… the liberal Mormons that I know, have read, or otherwise interacted with all seem to be human beings. (All of them except Brad Kramer, at any rate.)”

    At last, something we can all agree on! :-)

  13. Cynthia L. on December 11, 2012 at 10:46 am

    I still think that labeling somebody’s conscience, something we believe is the sacred Light of Christ, a “political” concern is hurtful and dismissive. I get that you think you are using the term according to some definition that doesn’t have dismissive connotation. But in general usage, “political” (partisan connotation) concerns are going to be understood as more shallow, fleeting, and petty than true moral convictions. It kind of reminds me of when the Baptists call us a “cult” in the media. They might say they are using the term according to the technical definition of a sect or whatever it is, that doesn’t have the wacko creepy mind-control connotations. But that’s what most of the audience is going to hear when they hear “cult.” What really can be gained, in terms of mutual understanding, from the inclusion of the word “political” in (e.g.) this sentence: “The first is a sense of cognitive dissonance in which one’s religious identity and deepest political convictions clash.”? What about when your religious identity and conscience clash–how would that feel? That’s what those who don’t feel this tension need to imagine to truly empathize. (I say “those who don’t…” rather than “you,” because I’m suspecting you do.)

  14. Nate Oman on December 11, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Cynthia: I think you are being too sensitive here. Way too sensitive. I think that political is a good term here because these are convictions that relate to ones sense of what a just social order looks like and that just social order is defined in terms of concepts drawn from civic debates. I think that civic debates about just social orders are a matter of politics. I am certainly not going to quit using the term “political” in the way that it has been used since Aristotle because it gets used as a term of moral derision by some. That is kind of like insisting that that one stop talking about temple cults or fertility cults or the like because Baptists are nitwits.

    I also think that the term “political” is good because while I think that political beliefs are a species of moral belief and can be deeply entwined with issues of conscience, I want to resist appeals to conscience and other kinds of language that serves to insulate such beliefs from rational interrogation and discussion. This is one of the reasons why I am frankly uncomfortable with the kind of deeply personal moral rhetoric that folks often time use. It makes disagreement difficult without others feeling existentially challenged. There are certain beliefs that we cannot help but feel are constitutive and existential, but invoking this status as a rhetorical ploy strikes me as kind of intellectually distasteful. In the church we often use this kind of rhetoric in our testimony bearing, but this is precisely — I think — because we want to make debate difficult in the hope of opening up a space for the spirit to act. On the other hand, I don’t usually want to structure my conversations around the hope of supernatural intervention in my interlocutor’s soul.

  15. Cynthia L. on December 11, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    “There are certain beliefs that we cannot help but feel are constitutive and existential, but invoking this status as a rhetorical ploy strikes me as kind of intellectually distasteful.”

    How do we know when someone else is invoking it as a rhetorical ploy and when it is sincere? I think this gets to the crux of how liberals often feel attacked–that the sincerity and depth of the feelings are being discounted. So while there no doubt exist people who wield false loud pronouncements to sincerity as a rhetorical weapon, liberals often feel like there is a very hurtfully high false positive rate on conservatives’ diagnosis of such.

  16. Nate Oman on December 11, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Cynthia: I suspect that the people who talk this way are utterly sincere as they speak the words. They are swept up in the moral and rhetorical power of their own eloquence. I doubt that it is done deliberately very often as a ploy, even when it functions this way. I actually think that the opposite way of talking is a bit unnatural. This is why I think that its useful to deliberately cultivate a certain intellectual distance from your strongest moral convictions if we are going to be talking regularly about them with people who are going to be doing something other than saying “Amen.” For example, I think that the failure of many Latter-day Saints to cultivate this kind of distance is what often makes it difficult for them to talk productively about their beliefs with non-believers who are not candidates for conversion. In that sense, the kind of appeal to conscience and deep conviction that bugs me in the FMH post is a very Mormon way of talking.

  17. Barb on December 11, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    I was briefly a member of a group where someone was suggesting that people write letters to the Church leaders about areas of concern. I respected her belief that this was the right course of action as she seemed very sincere. However, I believe this is a “Top Down” system and that changes of doctrine or important matters are not changed based on a grass roots effort. I do see Nate’s point though that to propose such change may actually weaken the Church as people may leave in droves it if were to conflict with their basic beliefs. While I try to stay towards the center of the Church, I recognize that there are people who are not as orthodox and may provide valuable service and understanding. I enjoyed reading some of Joanna Brooks book about being raised in a very traditional Latter Day Saint home and some of her feelings about the teachings of the Church. It has been neat to see her interviewed by such people as Imus.

  18. nat kelly on December 11, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    I love to see this dialogue between bloggers, but I have to point out that you still seem to have misunderstood one of rah’s key points (or perhaps I misunderstood his point, and I am holding you to account for my own response, which I maybe should have just posted).

    “First, she insists that I misunderstand the motivations of liberal Mormons, which are grounded in genuine love and concern for others rather than ideological embarrassment.”

    Except it’s not just love and concern FOR OTHERS. It’s a reaction of our own personal hurts and harms. Not political conviction. Not moral purity. EXPERIENCE. Perhaps for you, it has just been an experience of embarrassment, which would explain why it’s easier to write off the concerns people raise.

    Casting the harmed parties as “the other” is precisely why the hierarchy has such an easy time disregarding their feelings as ideological or political. I don’t feel cognitive dissonance because an organization I loved hurts other people or departs from my politics. It hurt ME. That is where the feelings come from.

    Saying “liberal” Mormons only care about the Priesthood ban because it is embarrassing in the context of the civil rights movement ignores the existence of BLACK LIBERAL MORMONS who were actively harmed by it.

    It’s not the others. It’s us!

    (Edit: I do also feel political dissonance, and that can be deeply uncomfortable, but my experience gives rise to my politics, not vise versa.)

  19. Nate Oman on December 11, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    nat: fair enough. i don’t think that i have ever said that ideological embarrassment is the origin of anyone’s beliefs. in my defense, if you read rah’s second paragraph she/he doesn’t appeal to personal experience. i agree that experience is going to effect people’s convictions. indeed in the past i have suggested that political beliefs arise from “a mixture of biography, reflection, and social context.” indeed, i think i said that in this very post. as for black liberal mormons, i agree that they are part of the we.

  20. Cynthia L. on December 11, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    “I suspect that the people who talk this way are utterly sincere as they speak the words. They are swept up in the moral and rhetorical power of their own eloquence.”

    The empathy and respect for others’ realities and opinions just jumps off the page!

  21. Adam G. on December 11, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    The realism just jumps off the page. Since this view of people’s reasons for discourse of that kind is a brush with which Oman is willing to tar himself, (which is why he avoids that kind of discourse, presumably), there’s not much cause for alarm.

    [second sentence edited for clarity]

  22. Nate Oman on December 11, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Adam: I have read your second sentence three times and I can’t figure out what it says. Help me here.

    Cynthia: *Sigh* I fear that if you are asking me to write emotive prose in praise of liberal sensibilities you are going to wait for a very long time.

  23. Kristine on December 11, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Nate, believe it or not, there’s a lot of rhetorical ground between smug dismissal and “emotive prose in praise of liberal sensibilities.”

  24. Nate Oman on December 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Kristine: I thought that is where I was at. I genuinely want to avoid a conversation in which folks insist that their every word comes from the stark personal space of conscience and experience so that every reaction of criticism or skepticism is a pointed barb into someone’s soul. As it happens, I actually do think that people get carried away by the glory of their own rhetoric. I certainly know that I do. I have seen you do it. It’s a reality. Pointing it out and aiming for a less charged way of talking doesn’t strike me as dismissive. As for being smug, it is difficult to avoid when I am always right.

  25. Kristine on December 11, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Hey, I can’t help it if my prose is prettier than yours… But yes, you are right that it’s possible to get swept up in one’s own righteously indignant prose. I’d argue that it’s similarly possible to use one’s supposedly superior rationality as a defensive weapon–a way to avoid charitably engaging with others’ arguments about things that matter by demanding that they engage the fight on your turf.

    I know it’s messier when people actually care and let it show, but it seems to me that’s a hazard of talking about religion and politics.

  26. Nate Oman on December 11, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Kristine: Perhaps, but I suspect in your heart you probably prefer it when I try to adopt a tone of superior rationality. I suspect that if I was to start spewing forth heartfelt and righteously indignant prose you’d be posting comments calling for greater nuance and careful thought.

    I am glad to see that you concede “superior rationality” to be my “turf.” ;->…

  27. Cynthia L. on December 11, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Nate, I’m not asking to write something you don’t want to write. In fact, I think it is rare and admirable how frank and “open book” you have been throughout the discussion. It’s simply that what you did choose to write seemed to me rather directly contradictory. Understanding someone’s feelings to have originated in the way you described in the second sentence to me is incompatible with recognizing the sincerity of those feelings.

  28. Kristine on December 11, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    “I suspect that if I was to start spewing forth heartfelt and righteously indignant prose you’d be posting comments calling for greater nuance and careful thought.”

    Nah. I’m dumb, but I’m not a *complete* hypocrite :)

  29. Nate Oman on December 11, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Cynthia: I don’t see the inconsistency. I think that our motives are generally complicated and that often we aren’t fully aware of them. Likewise, the motive with which one does something doesn’t necessarily change the effects that flow from doing it. The Mormon who bears their testimony to someone offering critical arguments about LDS theology is shutting down the discussion whatever his intent.

  30. Jax on December 11, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    I thought that the bearing of testimony was encouraged when one has been outwitted…? It seems like I was told that on my mission and in Sunday School; that no matter what arguments someone makes, that if you bear your testimony then they can’t argue with your feelings. Are you saying that isn’t acceptable now??? Someone better call the MTC and retrain all our missionaries!

  31. Adam Greenwood on December 11, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    One can encourage intimate, emotional, subjective discourse in certain settings–say, between husband and wife–without thereby sanctioning it in every setting. If someone bears their testimony of noni juice to me, I am less than impressed with their piety or their wit. Mutatis mutandi, the same could apply to testimonies of progressive tithing or handicapable condom dispensers in the unisex port-a-johns at the Hill Cumorah Pageant or whatever else may be the cause du jour.

  32. Julie on December 11, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    I’d like to point out that actually in some parts of the world the lift of the priesthood ban met with heavy opposition. I served in South Africa in the late 90’s and one area I served in had once been a thriving ward until the ban was lifted. At that point 2/3 of the members of the church walked out and never came back – since then it has been a branch with little successful growth.

    This is of course, a probably unusual exception, but I did want to mention it because I’d just like to bring the global church to the forefront. I think often we have narratives about the church that work nicely in North America but don’t always translate if you are elsewhere.

  33. MC on December 12, 2012 at 12:28 am

    I don’t know of any idiots chosen to clerk for the Supreme Court. Ideologues with whom I disagree, certainly, but no idiots.

  34. YvonneS on December 12, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    It is difficult to read without becoming irritated with some of the personal statements that precede the discussion of the rightness of Nate Oman’s point of view. From where I sit the church does not have a political opinion. I can choose any political party I want to support and I am within my rights to follow it wherever it goes legally. I am not free to break the laws of the land where I live. The thing that really irritates is the apparent belief by many of the libertarian thinkers that post on the Mormon blogs is that there are only two ways to look at things which can be considered in tune with the gospel. Just because some groups are in the minority and don’t rant and rail and are not always talking about the terrible world we live in doesn’t mean they aren’t there. It doesn’t mean that they don’t think for themselves and vote the way they themselves choose. Who knows how it will be when we all stand at the last judgment and know everything we need to know about our beliefs. I suspect many of us will find that politics is of very little importance and doing good is of great importance.

  35. Anon on December 12, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    MC: Maybe the o.p.’s ad hominem tingued quip w rgd the former supremes law clear — er, I mean “quip backed by a reasoned critique of tea partyism which is not the subject of this blogpost” — might in a way likewise falls under the rubric of some self-admitted ideologically embarrassment.

    Has flavor of anti-“far right” banter engaged in by journalists who are less-than-progressive to bond with their colleagues (see “Dave Weigel affair, the”). SMALL PRINT: [Which was only an “affair” cuz he’d been labeled by the Post as blogging from the Right, if my memory serves right. In any case, if Oman is indeed one of the more politically conservative of his faculty, I think it could be said that his professional milieu is, akin to the WaPost, “fairly liberal.” …) …] …

  36. Anon on December 12, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    <–edits above comment in head after the fact

  37. Anon on December 12, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    2nd try:

    Might the o.p.’s ad hominem tingued quip w rgd the former supreme ct clerk — er, I mean “quip backed by a reasoned critique of tea partyism which is not the subject of this blogpost” — might in a way fall under the rubric of self-admitted ideological embarrassment?

    Eg it does have the flavor of the same type of anti-”far right” banter that tends to be engaged in by journalists who are less-than-progressive to bond with their colleagues, a la the Dave Weigel affair…. SMALL PRINT: [Only an “affair” cuz he’d been labeled by the Post as blogging from the Right, if memory serves right. If Oman indeed considered more politically conservative than most of the rest of his faculty, it indeed can safely be said his professional milieu akin to the WaPost is fairly liberal.

  38. cc on December 12, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    I posted this on rah’s post, but felt you might have some good comments regarding this criticism of her point three (that the model of prophets cannot be found in the scriptures). I’m responding specifically to her examples, but supply a few of my own:

    To be fair, the amount of time the scriptures spend on ancient prophets is inordinately focused on their big moments. The truth is, that Alma was the prophet and the chief judge for years before “descending” to give the tongue lashing that he did in Zarahemla. Then he wandered around for a while doing so-at least three years by the Book of Mormon’s own internal chronology. Jacob’s ministry wasn’t a single talk, but that’s the only talk of his that was included. How many other times were there normal speeches, or just some one-on-one counseling, or whatever? Most of Paul’s time was spent walking around the Roman world, etc. And we don’t know what Samuel did back at home with his people. He gives one big speech and then vanishes, never running a church organization that we are aware of. Should Jesus have taken a more active role in organizing the believers? That’s an interesting question that I have to think about. Would the Lord himself have to get involved in a bureaucracy? Was the city of Enoch built in a day?

    When we have so little of the day-to-day lives of past prophets, it’s easy to forget that we have a selection bias simply by the fact that Mormon (or Nephi) includes some of the big moments, but doesn’t (can’t?) focus on the more mundane parts of their lives, which were probably, like all of us, boring, baby-stepping, and not very exciting or fast moving. The difference now is that we, ourselves, have to watch things happen with our modern prophets in “real time.” The scriptural accounts of such events are not “real time,” and I feel [rah’s] criticism of Nate on that one single point was ill-founded. However, I liked most of what [rah] had to say everywhere else in [rah’s] post, so sorry if this was a little long of a criticism. I like the discussion going on here.

  39. Anon on December 12, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Might the o.p.’s ad hominem – tinged quip w rgd the former supreme ct clerk — er, I mean “quip backed by a reasoned critique of tea partyism which is not the subject of this blogpost” — fall under the rubric of self-admitted ideological embarrassment?

    Eg it does have the flavor of the anti-”far right” banter engaged in by journalists who are less-than-progressive to bond with their colleagues, a la the Dave Weigel affair…. SMALL PRINT: [Only an “affair” cuz he’d been labeled by the Post as blogging from the Right, if memory serves right. If Oman is considered more politically conservative than most of his faculty, it can safely be said his professional milieu akin to the WaPost is fairly liberal.]