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Robert Baldwin Sullivan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Robert Baldwin Sullivan
Robert Baldwin Sullivan.png
2nd Mayor of Toronto
In office
Preceded byWilliam Lyon Mackenzie
Succeeded byThomas David Morrison
Member of the Legislative Council of the Province of Canada
In office
Personal details
Born(1802-05-24)May 24, 1802
Bandon, County Cork, Ireland
DiedApril 14, 1853(1853-04-14) (aged 50)
Toronto, Canada West
Resting placeSpadina House (Baldwin family cemetery)
RelationsWilliam Warren Baldwin, uncle

Robert Baldwin Sullivan, QC (May 24, 1802 – April 14, 1853), was an Irish-Canadian lawyer, judge, and politician who became the second Mayor of Toronto, Upper Canada.

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  • ✪ Christianity and Politics in the U.S. Today: A Conversation with Ross Douthat & Cornel West
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  • ✪ Dan Sullivan and Joe Polish on The Abundance Mentality - Episode #24


(audience applauding) - Thank you all for being here. It's just so exciting to see such a huge crowd, and it's really evidence to us that there's a real appetite for thoughtful and spirited conversation about the public good, about the common good, so we're just thrilled that you're here. I'm Dr. Erika Kidd. I'm with the Catholic Studies Project here at the University of St. Thomas. Let's welcome the president of the University of St. Thomas, Dr. Julie Sullivan. (audience applauds) - The Murphy Institute is a strategic venture of the College of Arts and Sciences Center for Catholic Studies and the School of Law. It works to engage our community in rigorous discussions that bring Catholic perspectives to bear on law and public policy debates. In a world that often seems polarized, we know that we must resist categorizing those with opposing views or beliefs from our own as evil, or stupid, or ignorant. In fact, they may know and understand things that we do not. And it is only when we start with this assumption that no one has negative intent, and everyone understands things and some things that we do not that rational discourse can begin. And we know that worthy debate and challenge are central to the pursuit of truth. So we are very excited to be hosting this conversation tonight. Mr. Douthat and Dr. West are certainly worthy challengers. And certainly neither considers the other as evil or stupid. And I look forward to their conversation this evening. (audience laughs) About Christianity and politics in the U.S. Thank you for being with us. (audience applauds) - We at the Murphy Institute have been toying with the idea of inviting these two guests for quite a while, but it was aligned from one of Mr. Douthat's New York City Times column that spurred us into action. Weighing the possibilities for a revitalized religious left, he wrote, "I would far rather debate politics "with Cornel West or the editors of Commonweal "then with the liberalism that thinks it can impose "meaning on a cosmos who's sound and fury "signifies nothing on its own." And we decided that would be a conversation worth watching. (audience and Dr. West laugh) - I appreciate that. (audience and Dr. West laugh) - Be careful what you wish for. (Dr. West laughs) - The conversation will be moderated this evening by professor of law and co-director of the Murphy Institute, Lisa Schultz. - So, let's begin. This is gonna be fun, right? Let's start with a question ripped from today's headlines, President Trump described yesterday's U.S. missile attack on the Shayrat airbase in Syria as furthering a vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons. He called for all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria and also to end terrorism of all kinds and types. And he said "we hope that as long as America stands for justice, then peace and harmony will in the end prevail." This action is consistent with this country's highly interventionist model of foreign policy, going back to the great World Wars. As a consequence of this policies, the U.S. spends a truly phenomenal amount of money on military and intelligence. My question for each of you is whether and how the teachings of Christianity should inform American Christians' political stands toward military interventionism. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Dorothy Day both argued that the teachings of Christianity were incompatible with these state of affairs. Others such as Richard John Neuhaus and George Weigel have consistently defended U.S. military actions by appeal to the doctrine of just war. What do you make of the division among American Christians on this issue? Is there any hope of building something like a consensus among them? And if so, what might it look like? I think, in general, if you look at the nature of American military interventions, especially I'd say in the post Cold War era, when we passed out of the period where we were going as far as we did propping up dictatorial regimes in Latin America because of the Soviet threat and so on. When you pass out of that era, if you're just looking at the level of sort of ideals, what are you trying to accomplish, you can very often make a case, as in this case, that there's a perfectly reasonable case based on sort of cosmic justice for the idea that we are intervening to attack a dictatorial regime that's slaughtering its own citizens and so on. And the moral case is there and real. At the same time, part of I think just war theory properly understood is that you have to also take into account issues like the likelihood of your action leading to a truly good outcome further down the road. And so, I guess this is a way for me to try and slip myself in between Dorothy Day's pacifism and my friend George Weigel's take on the Iraq war. It's also a limited strike that is designed essentially to attempt to punish Assad for a specific crime. And you could make a sort of narrower argument that if you're not planning to escalate, that kind of proportional response falls within just war theory, even if you don't have a brilliant plan for the day after and the day after that. So I guess I would say I'm more inclined to endorse a limited strike than a more open-ended intervention. But I don't have great confidence that either suggests a clear path towards the kind of ultimately positive outcome that would make this fit neatly under just war theory. How's that for a (audience laughs) tap dance, tap dance through the issue. - I'll say this though, that I like what brother Trump said that he acknowledged that the killing of the precious children moved him. Because that's a starting point for me. You see, I'm a Christian, I look at the world through the lens of the cross. I begin with the vulnerable, and those who are crust and those who are often overlooked. And a child in Syria, a child in Minneapolis, a child in Tel Aviv, a child in Hebron, a child in South Side Chicago all has the same value for me. It's how I look at the world. The legacy of Dorothy Day, which is towering. The legacy of Martin Luther King is towering, but I'm not a pacifist, I'm a Christian but not a pacifist. I agree with my dear brother Ross here in terms of trying to take seriously the tradition of just war that goes all the back to the great Augustine himself. And the question then becomes, well, let's look at the data. United States dropped thousands and thousands of bombs on Syria last year. Obama dropped 26,192 bombs, six countries in 2016. So it's not as if this is a shift. (audience members laugh) It's deep continuity in U.S. foreign policy in dropping bombs with very little public accountability, high quality public deliberation about it with precious children being killed too. See, so that's just a context (audience applauds) you want to keep in mind, you see. Now, because I have so little confidence in vision, character, intellect, dot dot dot, of brother Trump, (audience laughs) brother Ross is right. How does this fit within a certain direction? Where it is going? We always want to opt for diplomatic ways of dealing with these kinds of conflicts first, no doubt. And there has to be moments in which just war is important. We were right to fight against the Nazis, and so forth. I think Nelson Mandela was right to found the spear of the nation against the Apartheid state of South Africa after over 60 years of non-violent resistance and getting crushed like cockroaches. He disagreed with Martin King on that. Christians must learn how to disagree because we're finite, we're fallen, and so forth. That's part of what constitutes the tradition, you see. Now, in this particular moment, I do think that we have to have some way of bringing these crimes against humanity on a variety of sides in Syria, and we have to understand what led toward the situation in Syria. When I hear arguments about, well, he's doing certain things to his own citizens. Well, I heard that in Libya. You didn't hear that in Chile. When Pinochet was doing things to his own citizens. Oh, no, silent then. But I get a little suspicious in terms of what rationalizations are. - On one thing that's interesting, you know, I'm a political journalist. I write in a context where most of my peers are not prophetic philosophers, but Washington insiders. (Dr. West and audience laugh) And it is striking how there's a weird sense of almost relief among a certain kind of political journalist that Trump, brother Trump, President Trump, brother Donald, by the end I'll be in the flow. (audience laughs) That he did this because it's such a normal presidential thing to do. And it's normal for the reasons that you suggested, because the last president dropped a lot of bombs, and the president before that dropped a lot of bombs. And it's been part of our, in effect, management of the world order for a long time. But it's also normal in a way that sort of goes, it's more normal than Obama. Because Obama was distinguished by his refusal to do exactly this the last time Assad crossed the line and sort of used chemical weapons in a way that nobody could deny. And Obama took the view basically that there was what he and his people would call this foreign policy blob, which was not a term of endearment, that dominated thinking in Washington that the blob's perspective was always that, you know, there's always gotta be a military response. There's always gotta be a military solution. And Obama saw himself as resisting all of that. And I know you feel that he did not resist it quite sufficiently. - Over 500 drone strikes. That doesn't strike me as constraint, but go right ahead. - Can I suggest a little bit of a thought experiment? Suppose that the attack of president Assad had been revealed to the world and the use of sarin gas had been revealed to the world, and brother Trump's response had been to do nothing, how would each of you evaluate that response? - It would depend on what kind of argument or narrative he put forward as to why he did nothing. There's a wonderful essay by H. Richard Niebuhr called "The Grace of Doing Nothing". Sometimes grace goes along with doing nothing. Sometimes cowardice goes along with doing nothing. Sometimes ignorance goes along with doing nothing. Sometimes wisdom goes along with doing nothing. We'd have to look and see how, now, of course, we don't expect that much out of the brother, but (audience laughs) this is a real thought experiment, you know what I mean? (audience laughs) We assume Trump just graduated from the University of St. Thomas, took his philosophy course, his theology, studied Aquinas and Augustine and then moved up Jeff Stout and some other contemporary theorists. But we'd have to flesh out what kind of narrative he and his group, because really it's not just him. Brother and I were talking in the green room, he's got a little group around him. And I asked brother Ross, I said who in the White House comes close to having integrity, or at least a semblance of integrity? - And I said Sean Spicer. (Dr. West and audience laugh) - And the second part of the answer was, the military. - The military, right. - And there's something about the formation in a martial temperament that's different than commerce and commodification. I remember when I spoke at West Point, one of the things we shared in common is I'm a warrior, I'm a love warrior. I come out of the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and John Coltrane and Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker. You see, and they are warriors for the nation. I got the cross, they got the flag. But we're warriors. There's something about character formation in being on a battle field of life and death. And so, in that sense, I wasn't surprised when you actually bring in these military folk, and I'm very suspicious of empire. I'm anti-imperialist. I want to proceed very close or carefully in terms of valorizing the martial spirit too much in various forms. But at least there's a commonality here. Because once commodification sets in, it's all theater, it's all titillation, it's all stimulation, and it's 11th Commandment, "Thou shall not get caught winning at any cost "for the spectacle." You see, that's called spiritual blackout from my tradition, 'cause spiritual blackout is the relative eclipse of integrity, honesty, and decency in doing anything to win and simply posing and posturing like a peacock, but so much of American culture is opposing and posturing of peacocks. That's all you need to do. (audience applauds) Just stay on the surface, you see. And so, I appreciated that answer because we understand why the military in this sense within that circle would surface with some gravitas. - Well, and it seems like my impression of the president is that there are two groups of people say mostly men, two groups of men that he respects. And one group are the people who are at the apogee of that commercial culture and that you just lambasted. And the other group are the men who are at the apogee of the military. And that's why his cabinet is, you know, it has some professional politicians in it, but what is distinctive about it compared to every cabinet in my lifetime is that it's a mix of CEOs and generals. - Over the past few years, the Black Lives Matters movement-- - God bless them. God bless them. - --has drawn attention to the structural injustice suffered by racial minorities groups in the United States, particularly African Americans. And indeed, Professor West, your arrest in Ferguson in August of 2015 is a testament to your concern for that continued structural inequality in the United States. The involvement of faith communities in the civil rights movement in the 1960s was very significant in galvanizing the support of the entire country for the legal reforms that eventually were implemented. What is or should be the role of Christians in Christian faith communities in forging a similar consensus for this contemporary assault on these structural injustices? - Yeah, I just think to be a Christian is to choose a way of the cross that has to do with unarmed truth, and condition of truth is always to allow suffering to speak and unconditional love. And when Martin said justice is what love looks like in public, he wasn't saying that love and justice are identical, but they are indivisible. And the great Niebuhr used to say, any justice that's only justice soon degenerates into something less than justice. Justice is rescued only by something deeper, which is love, so this dialect go in between love and justice? But it's a matter of Christian witness. And what was wonderful about Ferguson the second time, not the first time, the first time it was the young people themselves. It was Tef Poe in the others all by themselves. But the second time you got a wave of ministers, stayed cool, Jim Wallace, Tracy, a whole wave of ministers. Now, I'm a minister, I'm a lay Christian. That's a sign of divine wisdom. I never called to be a minister. (audience laughs) But it was a wonderful thing to have some fellow Christians there. We had Jewish brothers and sisters there, the legacies of Rabbi Abraham, Joshua Heschel, and others. We had the rabbis there. We had the Islamic ministers there. We had Buddhist temples, I mean, Buddhist leaders and so on. So there was a wonderful religious witness there. But I think the important thing about it is not to either fetishize. You don't want to describe magical powers to it and so forth. Or you don't want to completely ignore it because our secular brothers and sisters, you know, usually when they invoke Christians, it's the Christian right. And I say, well, I have a tradition I can introduce you to. (audience laughs) Fredrick Douglas to Martin King to Fannie Lou Hamer, to Dorothy Day and Philip Berrigan. It goes on and on, that's a prophetic Christian tradition. It's always been leaven in the loaf, it's always been relatively weak and feeble. The way it across is always weak and feeble because the dominant ways of the world are envy and resentment and domination and subordination and hatred and revenge. It's always been that way. Will always be. Will always be. The question is, how strong is the counterforce and the counter voices? In any particularly generation. And that's why Ferguson was so important. That marvelous new militancy, but the challenge, of course, is that will it be a moral and spiritual awakening so that they'll choose love and justice, rather than hatred and revenge? - What's your prediction? - Open question. - Well, let me ask you a question. - Mm-hmm. - So, it seems to me as from the political right, someone who's sort of an observer of these traditions but has theological common ground with them, that there is a big difference between where the civil rights movement was sort of theologically and religiously and where, taken as a whole, Black Lives Matters has been. And I think it says something about not just sort of left-wing protest movements themselves, but whats happened in American culture over last 50 or 60 years. Which is that institutional churches generally have gotten weaker. - That's right. - The sort of religious center has fragmented. That the civil rights movement happened at a moment when you could get, suddenly, you could get Catholic archbishops and black ministers sort of on the same page, when you could, you know, Billy Graham was no hero of the civil rights movement, but he didn't fight it. He integrated his rallies and so on. And today we're in a different landscape. In some ways we're in a more secularized landscape. We're in a landscape that's more fragmented, more people who identify as religious but don't go to church. But when I look at our politics right now, and this is true on the right too, I look at sort of where left-wing protest movements are, and then I look where the alt right is and some of Trump's more, shall we say, racially aware supporters. And I see the intimations of a kind of post-Christian politics, where you're getting into a landscape where the left has gone from we're the religious left to we're the spiritual but not religious left to sort of we're just the left. And where the right is sort of rediscovering the awful power of sort of, you know, its own kind of racial identity politics. And I wonder what you, I wonder if you worry about that happening. I worry about it on my side. A lot of conservatives, a lot of religious conservatives, we didn't expect Donald Trump in part because we thought the religious element in American conservatism was stronger than it was. And I wonder what you see when you look at the left and where it is today. - Well, I'll say this, my dear brother, I was not surprised about how weak the religious dimension of my fellow right-wing brothers and sisters within the Christian tradition that for so often, they acted as if they had these deep convictions, and then here comes Donald Trump and they adjust so quickly. And you say, oh, (audience applauds) I see, I see. How deeply committed you really were here. Mmm, mmm, mmm. - Harsh, but fair. (audience and Lisa laugh) - You say it in love, you say it in love. But some folk you gotta love at a distance too, though. You know it's true. Same kind of folks that'll shoot you down, you know. But the point is you'd laid bare a very rich narrative over the last 50 years, I mean, let's just remind ourselves, 49 years ago and three days brother Martin was shot down like a dog in Memphis. That's the B.C., A.D. moment in the history of American democracy. If we were to go back to that moment, what would we find in Minneapolis? Probably was on fire. Had 150 cities on fire. First time the National Guard had to protect the White House since the civil war. The white power structure opened itself. And it was not the legislation. It was the massive rebellions with our precious brother who loved us so shot down in that way. As Christian, as black, as human, as Jim Crow, a child of Jim Crow, and so forth, you see. But he represented, like a John Coltrane in music, a level of spiritual maturity and integrity. I didn't say purity. He was flawed. He made mistakes, private life, public life. But he had a spiritual integrity, and he had a maturity. We've lost so much of that, no matter what color we are. I am very old school in terms of these older legacies that come out of Athens and Jerusalem. That come out of Egypt and Paris and Harlem, and so forth, you see. - But you want it all to hold together. Right, you want John Dewey in there. And I think John Dewey's your enemy. - Oh, no, no. - No, I think the drift of university, - He's my comrade. - No the drift of university education in this country took us away from Athens and Jerusalem starting in the late 19th century. It didn't happen with, I mean, it happened with commodification and commercial later on, but it started with the idea that we're sort of molding this sort of secular citizen who, and this isn't particularly Dewey's fault necessarily 'cause it predates him, but it starts with the idea that the university is a place where it's about technical mastery, and it's technical mastery that's deeply connected to the kind of capitalist culture that you decry. And this is a thick strand in progressivism, which is intention with parts of the Christian left, but it's one of the reasons why liberalism has ended up in this distinctly secular place, I think. - Well, let me ask you one question before I really go at you here, brother. - Yeah, yeah. (audience laughs) - Would you include the inimitable Ralph Waldo Emerson? - In, I mean, I would say-- - As the proto figure headed toward Dewey. You don't see Emerson tied to the legacy of Athens and Jerusalem? - No, Emerson is. - Oh, but see Dewey comes out of Emerson. - Okay, but it's the same issue I was talking about where everything is connected to everything else, right? That's the nature of human life in human history. But as you move along the chain, you can reach a point where you've still turned into something different. And I think that's my problem, if I have a problem with parts of where the left has ended up. That if I go back to the civil rights movement and I listen to the civil rights movement, I hear something who's politics aren't exactly the same as mine sometimes, but we're still speaking the language of Christianity together. And when I listen to parts of, I mean, it's not specific to Black Lives Matters. Black Lives Matters probably has more theology in it just by virtue of having some connection to the black church and other parts of the campus left. But when I listen to, you know, the campus left at large, I hear their echoes, right? And I've said in columns that I can see where the campus left is coming from. I'll take elements in the campus left over this sort of arid, you know, just make sure you get an investment bank job, and so on. But it's still gone a long ways away from the beginning. And, I mean, to me, as a Roman Catholic I obviously think Emserson has strayed a little bit far from the truth to begin with. But he was still within hailing distance. - But there's a zone, (audience laughs) there's a zone of those who inhabit the legacies of Athens and Jerusalem that goes far beyond Roman Catholicism, it goes far beyond what I stand for. And somebody like Dewey is someone who takes seriously the Socratic legacy of Athens in terms of centrality, of self-examination, of self-interrogation. He takes very seriously the hesed that flows out of Hebrew scripture in which you attempt to spend love and kindness to the orphan and widow and fatherless and motherless. But it is in a secular form. But that's not technical mastery. That's a critique of technical reason. That's the critique of instrumental reason. Dewey's is often perceived, and he's created, he's appropriated by technocrats, the way Leo Strauss was wrongly appropriated by a whole lot of neo-conservatives. And they don't like the Nietzschean dimension of Strauss, well, that's another issue. But the point is Dewey, I want to rescue Dewey here. I don't want my dear brother Ross's view to be widely accepted tonight. (audience laughs) Of John Dewey in terms of critic of technological culture. He's looking for human beings who are shaped, who will become critical citizens tied to public life. And as a secular person who's roots flow directly out of Christianity. - I mean, I think that a lot of left-wing protest politics today, there is a sacralization of victim groups in human history that has clearly a religious element. But I think that it's. I think it's ultimately incoherent and kind of a dead end without that theological substrate. Because in the end, the historical victim group, whether it's black or gay or female or transgender or any other group is not in fact, you know, Jesus Christ died for our sins, right? - Oh, absolutely, I agree. - It's just another fallible human group that's just as capable of any group of taking over power and scapegoating and oppressing in its term. So if you're trying to sort of do Christianity without the Christian foundation, not that Christians have done it that well with the Christian foundation, (audience laughs) but I think you end up sort of, you're more likely to end up repeating the same cycles of power and domination when you yourself take power. - So you are both graduates of Harvard University. And Harvard University has this bold, succinct slogan. Veritas. - He was three years, so. - Okay. (Dr. West laughs) - And you can tell. - The slogan of that university is veritas, truth. And we at the University of St. Thomas have recently adopted, as a Catholic university, a different slogan, all for the common good. How would a university that's striving for the common good, how different should it look than Harvard? Should its administration, should its faculty, should its staff, should its student being doing something different than they would be doing at a university who's slogan is truth? - Hmm, you want to grab that one? - Well, I'll just say in defense of Harvard and its antiquity, the original slogan, I believe, I may be getting this slightly wrong. But the original slogan of Harvard was veritas pro Christo at ecclesia, I think. Which is truth for Christ in His church. And we sort of slept the Christ and its church business away. (audience laughs) But I do think that that slogan has a little bit of a different valence, because it is suggesting that truth is in, the pursuit of truth is in the service of something else. And I guess my take, in a way, is that you want both. You want, especially the elite university that sees itself sort of self-consciously educating the leaders of tomorrow to be both sort of focused on the actual pursuit of truth. I think there is a danger in saying that your university is just about sort of, you know, that we've, and I'm not saying St. Thomas does this, but there's a tendency to, I think, abroad and in certain academic environments to say, well, we've all agreed on what the common good is. And it's something that probably happens to align with a certain set of left-wing perspectives. And so, the purpose of the university to further that. And then you're sort of shunting a core mission of the university over to one side. You're saying, well, we've answered these basic questions. We don't need to debate them anymore. That's not with the university is for. At the same time, you don't want a university that since it is supposed to be educating people for the world, you don't want it to be so abstracted from that world that it's just, you know, people reading too much Foucault. (audience and Dr. West laugh) Or people sort of wandering into, going deep into their laboratories and never coming out. Pick whatever example you want. So I think the ideal university would put the two together. You would see yourself as educating people for public service. You would have, and you would see your academics as being committed to the pursuit of truth. And you would have an open-ended understanding of what, you'd want an open-ended understanding of public service that somehow wasn't so open-ended that it collapses into the whole, well, I'm only gonna be a consultant for four or five years, and I'm gonna make my money, and then I'll do something important for society with it. You don't want to collapse to that point, which is might be where some universities have ended up. - No, I'd agree with brother Ross. I think both institutions began with what I would call a commitment to soul craft, which is ways in which you shape persons connected to, it could be pagan cardinal virtues of temperance and prudence and justice and courage. Or in a Thomistic context, and of course Thomas's so rich complicated profile and fascinating, not always right, but that's all right. That fusion of theological virtues of faith and hope and love. And so, when you say all for common good, that presupposes a certain kind of soulcraft. And what's wonderful about Catholic universities in this particular moment of cultural decadence is that the students are forced to come to terms with some of the greatest minds in text in the philosophical and theological tradition that were concerned about soulcraft. Now, we don't do that at Harvard. Harvard dropped off the latter section, and Harvard became a much more corporatized university for ruling class formation. Now, it still has wonderful people and wonderful graduates and so forth and so on. But, (audience laughs) - And professors. - The Thomistic tradition as University of St. Thomas says, look, we're not in this for ruling class formation. We're concerned about soulcraft. We're concerned about the cardinal virtues. We're concerned about the theological virtues. And we're gonna talk about it if it's outdated and antiquated in the 21st century, why? Because it's the right thing to do. It's the right thing to do. (audience applauds) It's not just about money. It's not just about cashing in. - Give me your thoughts as a theologian on sex. And more specifically the question of, I mean, this is basically the line ultimately that divides the religious left and the religious right, I feel like more than anything right now. That people on my side of the divide feel like, you know, that basically on the religious left, there's a sense that economic, left-wing economics goes hand in hand with a 90% or at least 80% embrace of the sexual revolution. Not sort of the commodification side of it. - Right, right. - Not maybe a pornified culture. But the basic idea that the way we thought about issues around premarital sex, divorce, ultimately homosexuality and so on are just out of date and need to be rethought. And the Holy Spirit is speaking and doing something new. And it seems to me that that, I don't know even know exactly what the substance of my question is, but I just think it's worth talking about because it seems like that's, and my question for you, when you think about sort of the views of, sort of, you know, most left-wing Christians in this country, and you think about sort of the bulk of the Christian tradition going back to the Bible itself on sexual ethics, how easy do you think it is to reconcile the two? Do you think that people on my side of the line are missing something obvious? It should just be easy to reread, in the Catholic context, Jesus on divorce as not saying exactly what He seems to be saying. To reread St. Paul on homosexuality. I didn't mean to bring up Francis here at debates. But, I mean, are we, I guess, yeah, what are we missing? 'Cause we look at your side and say, you seem to be leaving something behind. - No, it's a wonderful question. I've never been asked that question in public. (Lisa and audience laugh) I appreciate that, though, brother. I appreciate that. Very much so. We talk about it, okay, as seminary, divinity school, philosophy departments and so on. But my read has always been this, that first we have to proceed with an unconditional love for each person made in the image and likeness of God. That begins our trans, that's bisexual, that's gay, it's lesbian, it's straight and so on. And that's very important because you don't want hatred to play such a role that you can't have a conversation with the required vulnerability. Because I don't, these are (audience members clap) very, very difficult and delicate issues. And you have to have an openness. And you can't have an openness without vulnerability. But the vulnerability is trumped to foreclosed if you don't have this sense of persons who are in the conversation respected, even if you have these very deep fissures in the certain sense. I proceed on the notion first of I thou. I think Buber and the others say, how do you ensure to the best of your finite fallen ability an I thou dynamic with the person you are with? Because I can't go with the notion of, well, because you're married. But it's still I it that thought that's all right. And yet there's an I thou outside of marriage that has more spiritual integrity than some folk who are in the institution. I say, no, that strikes me as pomp, circumstance, where's the spirit? Too much letter, not enough spirit. And you can imagine, my conservative brothers and sisters say, oh, west is started to slide down that slippery slope. (audience laughs) - We love our slippery slopes. - Oh, and I do understand that because I understand this brother Rob and George, yourself, and the others who I love to learn from. And challenge and be challenged, that I do understand that you all are concerned about, not just the society, but you are concerned about the individuals and the kind of integrity that each individual has within an institution of marriage. But that to me is very important. That's very important. And the question becomes, how do you preserve that when you also talk about other kinds of relations? Same sex, trans, or whatever it is, you see. And I do believe that as important as scripture is, that there are certain hermeneutical limits in its application to late modern circumstances. - But if I turned around and made that argument to you-- - Yes. - --about Donald Trump's business practices, if I said to you, look, the Bible talks about the widow and orphan, the Bible is hard as anything on usury, and, you know, all of these things, but in late modern, late modern context, you have to take a hermeneutic that represents the fact that the way Donald Trump made his money is part of the machine that raises all of our living standards. You would have some strong words for that hermeneutic, wouldn't you? - Yes, I would, because that argument would consequentialist and utilitarian but what brings you and I together, we are deontologists as Christians. - Mm-hmm. - We're not concerned just what the consequences and the effects are. We're not utilitarian in that way. Let Peter Singer have that, you see what I mean? Let the utilitarians have that. - We can agree that we're against Peter Singer, yes. - Absolutely. (everyone laughs) Absolutely. You see, oh, indeed. Absolutely. But I think what I mean by limitations is that, one, there's a difference between Ptolemy and Copernicus, right? There's a difference between slaves obey your masters. And we're all anti-slavery. There's a difference between not wearing certain kind of color on your clothes. There's a lot of things in the Biblical text, let alone the violence and genocidal moments. What does the Exodus look like from the Canaanite point of view? What would Amos say? What would Isaiah say? What would Ester say? Oh, even these Canaanites have a humanity. Well, it didn't work out that way. Well, no, it didn't. I mean, I'm just raising some questions. I'm not saying I'm coming up with any answers here. But this is precisely the kind of zone of vulnerability that is required in order to see where some of these fissures or gaps or hiatuses really reside. And I do think there's a certain sense in which conservative brothers and sisters and myself, and I call myself a preservative rather than conservative, (audience laughs) because I want to preserve all whole lot of the tradition. But conserve, too often that is an accommodation to status quos that I'm very critical of. See what I mean? (audience members clap) And so, the question becomes then, where is that overlap preservative and conservative? And times there's just this fissures in the road and you can't in the end be able to bridge it. We still love each other, but we can't bridge it at a certain point, you see. - I guess when I look at our culture-- - Yes, yes. - --I see that sort of sex, right, in all its many forms is bound up in just a lot of the sort of broader cultural trends, commodification, everything else that you decry. - But not sex as cause, but sex as consequence. The market is really the source of the commodification, right, it's not the sex, per se. - You know, the market's very powerful, right, because the market precedes from human greed. But sex also precedes from a very powerful human impulse, and I guess-- - But depends on what kind of sex. It depends on what kind of sex, now. I thou, I thou that sex I would never call greed. But I thou sex is not greed, though. That's a sharing of vulnerability and a magnificent joy that flow from pleasure. - Well, what am I supposed to say to that? Come on. (audience applauds) - But, yeah, I vow is something else. I it, manipulation, domination, squeezing out certain kinds of titillation, oh, my God, that is spiritually empty. We agree with that? - We agree with that. - Absolutely. - I am just so thankful Mr. Douthat that you raised the sex question because-- (audience laughs) - People always say that to me. - --I would not have dared to do it. - [Man] My name is Nathan Delgado. And I represent my community and Ujamaa Place. My question is focused around perpetualism and control of the mind. If Africa, when it was a continent called Ethiopia, was conquered by the Roman Africana, and we today call ourselves African Americans, are we perpetuating some kind of power structure by white supremacy. - Just by the name itself? - [Nathan] Say it again, brother. - You mean just by the name itself, though, brother? - [Nathan] Yes. - Oh, well, you know, it's such a historical leap, though, to go all the back to that particular historical moment you just invoked and then come right in to the new world, the U.S. experiment, slavery and so forth and so on. - [Nathan] Time, just a time crunch. - Yeah, exactly, so the issue of, you know, names are very, very precious, but fragile things. They mean much to us in biographical time. In historical time over long periods of derase, there's so many mediating factors, my brother, so that the question becomes for me, it's less the name and it's more the deed, the action, the life lived. I am much more in loved with Negroes named Martin Luther King, Jr., than these post modern Afro Americans who got a fancy name but too cowardly to really wanna fight. See what I mean? (audience applauds) So, whatever you call yourself, that's fine, work it out. Let's see what you gonna do on the ground. That's what I want you to see. (audience applauds) - Mr. Douthat, do you want to, do you want to pitch in? - I mean, (Dr. West and audience laughs) so many perils. Um, (Dr. West and audience laugh) the Negro National Anthem does sound better than Afro American National Anthem. - Absolutely, Negro lift every voice. That's Negrosity right there. - Yeah. (audience laughs) I guess I would just say, my view is that you get further by reclaiming forgotten parts of the past than by trying to rename and erase things that have had those names for a very long time. So, you know, I'm generally against, you know, the sort of, yeah, I mean, it's complicated. It's like Yale University just went through this whole thing over Calhoun College. - Calhoun College, yeah. Exactly, exactly. - You know, and Calhoun was a brilliant philosopher, brilliant political philosopher and incredibly important American statesman and a horrifying racist who did more to sort of instantiate the view that slavery was here to stay than a lot of other figures. So I could see the case for renaming Calhoun College. At the same time, you know, if you look at sort of what's going on in debates about sort of the south and confederate memorials and so on, my view is that, you know, if in the entirely imaginary world where I were black or African American, I would be much more interested in getting to the point where you have, you know, more memorials to slavery. More, you know, you can go to the south and go on actual plantation tours. There was a story in the Times about one of the only places where there's this sort of serious museum of plantation life that really brings into what, you know, what plantation life meant for slaves. It isn't just for tourists to have their moonlight and magnolia's thing. That to me seems like a more important priority, put out new statues rather than figuring out how to sort of, those confederate statues are part of the southern past, it's part of the reality. And, yeah, so again, as an outsider in many ways to these debates, I think that there is more to be gained by recovery than by erasure and abolition of what realities of the past was. - [Man] My name is Mahmoud El-Kati. - Yes, yes, yes. (audience applauds) - [Mahmoud El-Kati] I contend. And in the western experience, what functions as a religion is the ideology of white supremacy. I'd like for you to address that. - Mmm. Mm-hmm, nah, appreciate the question. And the white supremacy is not just black people. It begins with our precious indigenous peoples. It begins with our precious indigenous people. (audience applauds) And we know they don't have to be in the room for us to acknowledge them. And, of course, you all have the rich tradition of de las Casas and the others in the Catholic, in the Catholic word that brought tremendous critique to bear on the violation of humanity of indigenous brothers and sisters in the name of an understanding of Jesus mediated with a Catholic tradition. So you got resources in that record. But it's brown, it's yellow. Black white is the central one. Why? Because rage has always been the major threat to the white supremacist status quo. So you gotta keep more time keeping track of Negroes than you do of indigenous people. They own a reservation, and so forth and so on. There's not enough browns yet. You can push the Asians out as you did with the Chinese with the Exclusion Act in the 19th century, but they don't surface in the public imagination the way black people do. But spiritually and morally speaking, each particular group has the same significance. And, of course, they say, oh, what about black people being racist against white people? That's wrong too. Of course it's wrong. But there's no institutions, there's no structures of black supremacy that reinforce (audience claps) the reproduction of that. You see? And you say, well, what about the NBA. Okay, well, that's different. (audience laughs) Owners still white, but the talent, we understand. (audience laughs) - I disagree in my peril, but I think that's too, I think the way the term is used is too capacious. - Too broad in its application? - Yeah, I think there is a particular historical relationship that is distinctive to the United States between the slave owning population and black slaves. And that, I think, deserves to go by the name of white supremacy and it is distinctive. It is the relationship of people who owned people to the people that they owned. And it is connected to incredibly particularist forms of social development in the African American community related to slavery. It's connected to sort of particularist anxieties and fears in the white community related to slave revolts that sort of have echoes down to the present day. And I think that's different from the complicated ways that races and classes have related to each other in the U.S. and in other situations. I don't think the position of Hispanics in the U.S. is today is really that relatable to the historic position of black people. I can see political reasons why for the purposes of alliance building, people on the left want to make the argument that they are. But the Hispanic experience in the U.S. has more in common with the Italian and Irish experience in many ways than it does, not in many ways, it just has a lot more in common. We've never enslaved Hispanic people. We treated them, Hispanic people have been treated badly. They're exploited, they're exploited in the ways that immigrant populations-- - But what about the land grabs in Texas and California? - Yeah, but that's not the same as chattel slavery. - But I'm just saying, I think there's, you were talking about the darkness in the human heart. You look around in human history, human beings are always dividing each other by lines of tribe and attacking each other and exploiting each other, persecuting each other and so on. And within that landscape the experience of immigrants in the U.S., the experience is different from the experience of Native Americans, and this sort of ideological foundation. White people in America treated American Indians terribly. We conquered them. We took their land after we, mostly accidentally, but occasionally on purpose infected them with terrible diseases. But our intellectual relationship to Native Americans was totally different from our intellectual relationship to black people because they are our enemies that we were fighting against. So there was this whole tradition. There's a reason that we ended up, we have all these debates about Native American mascots, right, for sports teams. We have those debates because white people had this image of the Native American as this impressive, noble enemy who we warred with. That's totally different from the cultural relationship that my ancestors had with your ancestors. - You wouldn't use the language of white supremacy, though, even though it is, in relation to indigenous people, even though it's very different than black folk and different than others, it's still white supremacy, though, isn't it? - It's just-- (audience applauds) - Or what kind of language would you use? - Well, I mean, what language would you use to describe the relationship between the Hutus and the Tutsis in Rwanda, right? - Yeah, right, right. - There are two ethnic groups, and white supremacy factors in because you have colonial leaders coming in and measuring people and saying, well, this group is more like us, so it's affected by that. But those kind of conflicts are endemic to human affairs all over. The relationship between, it's like, my ancestors are from the British Isles originally. Right, the British Isles are one people coming in and one conquest after another, right? - We can and our Irish brothers and sisters about that. - Well, right, but is the relationship between and racism factors in and so on, but would you say that the relationship between the English and the Scots, I have English and Scottish ancestors, right. My English ancestors ravished, cleared, drove my Scottish ancestors off their farms. You drive the Scottish highlands today, it's not a genocide, but it's all sheep where there used to be people, because people in the 18th century came through and forcibly moved people off the land and killed a lot of them. Is that, that seems to me to be, you know, a more analogous to some of the conflicts between American settlers and indigenous populations here than it is to chattel slavery. So I think this is, I'm not trying to be the conservative who's creating divisions on the left-- - I think you're rightly showing the varieties of forms of domination and the fact that we should not confuse and conflate them. I agree that. I agree with that whole heartedly. I'm just wondering why you would be reluctant or hesitant to want to use white supremacy in these other cases. - Well, look at Europe today. Right, so what's going on in Europe? Europe is convulsed with anxieties about Muslim immigration. - The others too. - Right. - Yes. - And that is connected to race and racial issues and European parties are conflating anxieties about Muslim immigration, with anxieties about black Christian immigration from sub-Saharan Africa and so on. But I hear people on the left say, okay, what Donald Trump is talking about when he talks about crime in the inner cities. That's why supremacy. And what European conservatives are concerned about with Muslim immigration, that's white supremacy. And I say, these are not the same things. The story of Christian Europe's relationship to its Muslim neighbors is a totally different story, with incredible swings and balances of power on both sides with with a real huge religious and theological core of difference that creates a specific set of problems. Whereas, in the U.S., historically, white people and black people had the same religion. And yet the white people were enslaving the black people. - We had different interpretations. - Well, right, but there's, - But right. - But there's a theological common ground between what became slave religion and religion of the masters, and it just seems to me. Again, when I hear people say, well, you can create this category and say, okay, what happens when Christian Europe, once Christian Europe confronts Muslim immigration is the same thing as what happens in a country like ours which had this incredibly finely enforced color line around race, but they don't seem to me to be the same thing. The have some commonalities. But anxiety about an Islamified Europe is not rooted in the same fears as the anxieties of the master class in the south. They're just not. - No, I agree with that, I agree with that. I don't want sameness, I want specificity and distinctiveness, but I can still apply a category in each circumstance and see how its articulated in different ways relative to those circumstances. - [Woman] Hello, my name is Xiomara Guzman. I am 16. And my question is for Dr. West. What advice would you give to our current youth more on my age spectrum, where racism, discrimination and xenophobia feel more prevalent under this Trump administration? - Oh, I wouldn't be obsessed with Trump. Don't fetishize him, don't give him magical powers. He's gonna come and go. The crucial thing for you, my dear sister, at 16 years old you got a whole life to live. And you commit yourself to a vocation of striving for spiritual and moral excellence in the life that you have. So you enact an integrity and honesty and decency and courage that puts a smile on yo grandmama's face. (audience laughs and applauds) That's what we talking about. That's what we talking about. (laughs) - I mean, I wasn't, put I'll, I wasn't asked, but I'll offer anyway. (audience laughs) - Absolutely. - I agree with what brother West said. And I think it's useful to remember, you know, that real life is not the Internet. And the Internet, it is a magnifier of anxiety. And I'm not saying that you should not be anxious about the presidency of Donald Trump. I've written many columns expressing my own anxieties about the presidency of Donald Trump. I'm not saying that you shouldn't be anxious about racism and discrimination and every form of evil in the world. But you should be most anxious about them where they affect your real life, where you really live. In your family and neighborhood and community. And if you encounter those things in your family and neighborhood and community, you should dedicate yourself to fighting them. But there is a temptation to go out and seek out virtual experiences that confirm your anxieties and magnify them in ways that don't reflect the reality of everyday life. And the reality of everyday life is that America in the year 2017 is decadent. That is a word that you and I can certainly agree on. - Do agree on that actually. Flawed, fragmented, split apart in all kinds of ways, corrupt in all kinds of ways, but, you know, most periods in human history have featured evils and corruptions greater even than the ones that we confront now. And people in those context have found ways to live their lives heroically and bravely and courageously without falling into a palsy of anxiety and victimization when bravery and heroism are what's actually called for. That is a better way (audience applauds) to live. - Absolutely. Absolutely. - It's a hard way to live on here sometimes, which is a case, I think for whatever else you do in response to the Trump presidency, live as fully as you can in fleshed reality whenever the opportunity presents itself. And there I've brought us back around to that sexual ideas, I guess. (audience laughs) - Thank you all for coming, and please join me. I think that we have had a phenomenal example of the kind of dialogue I wished we had in the rest of our country these days. We are taping this, I want to send it to everybody in Congress. I would like to show them (audience and Dr. West laugh) how we could talk and how we should talk to one another in order to address the very real challenges that we have in front of us. Please join me in thanking our two brilliant speakers for their conversation. (audience applauds) - [Dr. West] Oh, man, it was wonderful, brother. I appreciate it. - It was fun.


In 1835, he was elected to Toronto City Council of the year-old city of Toronto and was chosen to be mayor. He added a business-like atmosphere to council with the official 'robes of office'. The Council worked on matters like tax rates, grants and the removal of 'filth and nuisances from the city streets'. On May 6, 1835, Council's Committee on draining and paving approved construction of the city's first main sewer on King Street into which all drains and sewers were to be connected.

In 1836, actions by new Lieutenant Governor Francis Bond Head triggered the resignation of the members of the Executive Council for the province. Sullivan accepted an appointment to the council. In the same year, he became the commissioner of crown lands. In 1839, he was appointed surveyor general of the province and became a member of the Legislative Council. Although criticized by many as a turncoat, he was an able administrator.

He supported the union of Upper and Lower Canada and was appointed to the Legislative Council of the Province of Canada. He served briefly as the first Commissioner of Crown Lands for the united province February 10, 1841 – June 30, 1841.

In 1848, he was appointed to the Queen's Bench. Judge Sullivan died April 14, 1853, in Toronto. He was buried on the Baldwin family estate, now the grounds of Spadina House in Toronto.


Justice Robert Baldwin Sullivan`s widow, Emily Louisa Hincks by William Notman
Justice Robert Baldwin Sullivan`s widow, Emily Louisa Hincks by William Notman

Baldwin was born in Bandon, County Cork in the Ireland in 1802 and came to York, Upper Canada with his family in 1819. He studied law and was called to the bar in 1828. He moved to Vittoria, then the district town of the London District, and married in 1829, but returned to York after his wife's death in 1830.

Sullivan remarried in 1833, marrying Emily Louisa Delatre, daughter of Lieut.-Col. Philip Delatre, 1st Ceylon Regiment, and his second wife, Amey Scolding December 24, 1833. Emily Louisa was born in Ceylon. The couple had four sons and five daughters.

Emily Louisa remarried June 14, 1875, as the second wife of the Hon. Sir Francis Hincks, C.B., K.C.M.G., formerly Premier of the Province of Canada and, subsequently, Governor of the Windward Islands and of British Guiana. Lady Hincks died in Montreal May 14, 1880, aged 64. Sir Francis Hincks died in Montreal, August 18, 1885.[1]


  1. ^ Morgan, Henry James, ed. (1903). Types of Canadian Women and of Women who are or have been Connected with Canada. Toronto: Williams Briggs. p. 158.
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir John Beverly Robinson
Provincial Secretary of Upper Canada
Succeeded by
replaced by the Provincial Secretary of Canada West
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