Let’s Agree to Disagree
- by: Hank Berkowitz
- November 2, 2020
I finally got around to reading “A Warning,” the best-selling insider look at the Trump White House by the author known simply as “Anonymous.” Published in late 2019, there has been tremendous speculation about who the author was. He or she seemed to have deep insider access to many high-level meetings in and around the Oval Office.
Last week the author finally came forward. In somewhat of a letdown, it turned out to be Miles Taylor, a youthful former mid-level staffer in the Department of Homeland Security. Not exactly in Trump’s inner circle, but close enough to provide a reasonably accurate assessment of what he saw from the “box seats” as one reviewer described the author’s reporting.
While the book was generally panned by the critics, A Warning did remind us about what happens in all types of organizations when people lose their courage to question authority when they see things that are morally, ethically and legally wrong. Taylor left government work in 2018, and hid his identity in order to avoid the President’s personal attacks and to force Trump to address the issues the book raised.
Regardless of where you are on the political spectrum, I still recommend reading Anonymous as we wait for Tuesday’s election results to be officially tallied. Taylor—a self-described history buff—weaves in valuable perspective about what happens when powerful societies as far back as the ancient Greeks and Romans let hubris and divisiveness get in the way of democracy and common sense. Perhaps the books should be re-titled: “A Cautionary Tale.”
Taylor argues that we have two choices today: ”We can bury our heads in the sand hoping it gets better by itself. Or we can recognize the situation for what it is and, rather than allow political turmoil to hasten our demise, begin a restoration.” He adds that we need a “civil renaissance for our day and age that requires active participation in our civic life.”
One of the first steps in making that happen, wrote Taylor, is straightening out the media by “restoring a climate of truth, by clearing the air of misinformation and changing how we report, consume and share news so we aren’t living in different realities.”
Ironically, Taylor told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an on-air interview in August that he WAS NOT the author of “Anonymous.” A month later he became a paid CNN contributor and remains employed there as this post went live.
If you do plunk down hard cash on the book, know that Taylor refused advance payment for his work and he has pledged to donate a large portion of any royalties to nonprofit organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, the membership organization for reporters who cover the president. Hmmm.
Taylor concludes his book with the observation that we must also “relearn the art of agreeing to disagree with people whose political views we don’t share.” He added that it’s also important for us to “begin re-associating in person. Sadly, our growing interconnectedness online is making us disconnected from one another, so we must find new ways to engage,” he adds in the final pages.
You may not agree with Taylor’s account of the White House or the politically motivated timing of his self-revelation. However, it’s important to gain perspective from people from all walks of life, not just from those who share your own viewpoints, experiences and financial circumstances.
Bottom line: You don’t need to read “A Warning” from cover to cover, but it’s worth a good skim shortly before or after you head to the polls.
What’s your take? I’d love to hear from you.
#Election #civildiscourse #respect #milestaylor #AWarning