Jill Lepore writing on the life of Clarence Darrow.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
A Liberal's achilles heal.
"Darrow wasn't a philosopher; he wasn't even an iconoclast. He was an agonist. He would argue one way; he would argue another; he just didn't want to see bigotry thrive or watch a man die. He liked to say that creeds were dope: 'No one can find life tolerable without dope. The Catholics are right, the Christian Scientists are right, the Methodists are right, the drunkards are right.' He thought his own dope was pessimism. It wasn't. His dope was compassion. He despaired for humanity mainly because he didn't meet many of his kind of addict. The problem is, you can't teach sympathy; like imagination, either you have it or you don't."