Standing Up to Trump, with Thoreau

In: Thoreau in an Age of Crisis
Andrew McMurry
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Andrew McMurry’s personal essay “Standing Up to Trump, with Thoreau” offers a creative and defiant response to our uniquely troubled time. Serving up humor and self-deprecating confessions by turns, McMurry juxtaposes the joys of his newly embraced hobby (stand-up paddle boarding) and the endurance of Thoreauvian virtues as set against the moral morass and corrupting influences of the Trump presidency. McMurry begins by describing his two novel obsessions during the summer of 2016: “the traveling medicine show that was the Donald Trump presidential campaign, and stand-up paddle boarding.” McMurry at length attests to the liberating power of bearing witness and of shedding his professorial garbs in favor of keeping to as frank and honest a journal as he can, the better to keep inner and outer forces in balance while he focuses on a viable horizon. Fittingly, McMurry makes “use” of Thoreau in a time of social and political “abuse.”

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