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Letters: Sauron, Mortal Men, and ‘A Thoroughly Modern Ringwraith’

(Source: theatlantic.com)

Unfortunately, no wise and just philosopher-king is lurking in the wilds of America to set everything right. Aragorn isn’t coming to save the day with the banner of the Kings. We must do it ourselves, and it’s going to be hard, if not impossible. My son told me that he believes this to be the task that is set before his generation.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

Nancy Ott
Pittsburgh, Pa.

Professor Cohen has hit the nail on the head. The Lord of the Rings story characterizes the struggle of men and women at any time in history who try to fight temptations of personal gain at the expense of personal values.

Tom Houser
Sheppton, Pa.

Eliot Cohen writes a clever and insightful article on the morality embodied in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and he does a good job of applying it to the modern American political landscape. But he applies that lens a bit narrowly when he applies it only to former NeverTrumpers now finding accommodation with our president. Would Democrats have reacted any differently had Hillary won the election and a subsequent investigation turned up credible evidence of malfeasance on the part of her and her team? At the conclusion of The Lord of the Rings, it is not Frodo’s resolution or courage that saves Middle Earth (he cannot bring himself to destroy the Ring), but only his pity for Gollum. That’s a lesson Democrats would be well served to remember.

Daniel H. Smith
Highlands Ranch, Colo.

Eliot Cohen likens Ross Douthat to Saruman, who in The Lord of the Rings made a pitch to the good men of Middle Earth to recognize that Mordor’s time has come, and that they would do well to ally with it. They may even, according to Saruman, come to direct Mordor’s decisions.

It was a trap, of course. Cohen says a recent Douthat column about NeverTrumpers put him in mind of Saruman’s trap.

That is a deeply unfair characterization. I urge you to read the entire column. Douthat has never hidden his contempt for Trump. But he is trying to be what NeverTrumpers like the establishmentarian Eliot Cohen are not: realistic. In his column, Douthat recognizes that whether we like it or not, Trump has changed what it means to be politically conservative in America.

Rod Dreher
Excerpt from a blog post on theamericanconservative.com

Excellent piece. This is a perfect example of why the study of literature continues to be a critical component of a solid education. Despite our current focus on STEM education, it’s literature that gives us insight into how to understand human nature, politics, law, and culture.

Mary Vreeland
Fredericksburg, Va.

Several readers responded on Facebook and Twitter:

Andrew Parker wrote: Lord of the Rings is an allegory for the rise of fascism. This author’s metaphor is very germane.

More Info: theatlantic.com

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