Core: noun, the most important part of a thing, the essence; from the Latin cor, meaning heart.

Volume 1.1 The Premier Issue February 11, 2002

This View’s Featured Webpages

Recent columns, essays, and news articles

Grand Jury Returns
10-Count Indictment Against Walker (CNS)

“Attorney General John Ashcroft Tuesday announced a 10-count indictment handed down by a Virginia grand jury against alleged American Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh. If convicted, Walker could receive multiple life sentences....”

Bush: Pittsburgh on front line in war against bioterror (PG)
“In a little more than two hours, Bush studied images of anthrax bacilli on a high-tech microscope, listened to briefings on bioterrorism issues from officials of the UPMC Health System, University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, and drew repeated applause from an invited audience of civic leaders and medical professionals.”

Studies Raise Questions about Climate Change (SciAm)
“Analysis of more than two decades of satellite data shows that more sunlight entered the tropics and more heat escaped to space in the 1990s than a decade earlier. Moreover, current climate models fail to account for the new findings, suggesting that they may contain more uncertainty than previously thought.”

Ottawa proposes detainee deal (NP)
“Canada is negotiating with the United States to set up tribunals to determine whether prisoners being held in Afghanistan and Cuba are terrorists or legitimate prisoners of war, John Manley, the Deputy Prime Minister, said yesterday.”

Was Hitler’s Homosexuality Nazism’s Best-Kept Secret? (Nathaniel Lehrman)
“Adolf Hitler’s homosexuality has been demonstrated beyond question by German historian Lothar Machtan’s massively researched new book, The Hidden Hitler, which shows homosexuality’s central role in Hitler’s personal life. But the crucial role within the Nazi movement of the most vicious and lawless types of homosexuality, which Machtan also shows, is even more important than Hitler’s personal preference.” and/or
Hitler’s queer life (Les Carlyon)
“Allusions to Adolf’s limp salutes, his floppy right hand, the errant little finger, the high-camp mannerisms, the cleanliness fetish, the love of histrionics — these won’t do. Nor will references to Hitler’s love of dressing up or his preference for male company. Nazism was essentially a macho thing, cruel and romantic. ”

Anti-globalization protest peculiarities (Jonah Goldberg)
“This points to just one of the ironies behind the anti-globalization movement: It's just as ‘global’ as Coca-Cola. All of these kids deploring the increasingly interconnected nature of the world economy use cell phones, pagers, e-mail, Web sites, etc. to coordinate their planetwide activities, which they fly to from all corners of the world.”

The Sins of the Fathers (John Leo)
“The sad truth is that the bishops have spent a great deal of time and money on damage control and image making, with little attention to the severe damage renegade priests inflict on the young.”

Being black is about more than being brown (Monica Carter)
“It bothers me that you sometimes have to prove your blackness — skin tone isn’t enough. If you aren't exactly as others expect you to be — maybe you’re a Republican when they say you should be a Democrat, maybe you like Aerosmith when they say you should like P. Diddy, maybe you’re a vegetarian when they say you should be clogging your arteries with chittlin’ grease — then you’re suddenly dubbed ‘not black enough.’ Talk about stereotypes.”

Norman Mailer Newsnight interview transcript (BBC)
“In America, people get mad at each other, but despite all of the stories about murder and killing and violence in America, the fact is most Americans are peaceful, essentially. They just can’t conceive of anyone hating them that much. ‘How can anyone hate us? We’re a sweet nation. Were a good nation. We want good for everyone.’ Most Americans are pretty innocent.”

Hooters-haters do about-face (Pasadena Star-News)
“A little over a year ago, Hooters of America opened a location in Old Pasadena under fire from Hooters haters. Now, no one seems to give a hoot. Not those who raised eyebrows. Not the police, who were supposed to have been kept busy by the raucous atmosphere generated by drunken patrons driven to a frenzy by buxom beer-toting servers.”

The cat came back (Hibbing Daily Tribune)
“What does it take for a lost cat named Skittles to find his way through 353 miles of rough terrain, trekking three miles a day in the dead of winter with wild animals and cars bearing down on him like an angry dog let off its leash? Answer: About 140 days.”

Of more permanent interest

Ten Days in September (WP)
“This series is based on interviews with President Bush, Vice President Cheney and many other key officials inside the administration and out. The interviews were supplemented by notes of National Security Council meetings made available to The Washington Post, along with notes taken by several participants.”

Lost Boys (Amy Benfer)
“Suddenly, the debate among researchers is focused on the boys: Are they behind because of the girl empowerment movement? Are they being shortchanged in the classroom simply because they are boys?”

Skewed News: Fair and balanced coverage requires diversity of opinion (Cathy Young)
“Neither Goldberg nor McGowan allege a deliberate vast left-wing conspiracy to distort the news. Rather, they convincingly argue that news coverage is often influenced by a knee-jerk bias stemming from the journalists’ own views on political and social issues.”

Faith and Diversity in American Religion (Alan Wolfe)
“No aspect of life is considered so important to Americans outside higher education, yet deemed so unimportant by the majority of those inside, as religion. The relative indifference to religion in higher education may be changing, however, as a wide variety of social and intellectual trends converge.”

The Trouble With Self-Esteem (Lauren Slater)
“‘There is absolutely no evidence that low self-esteem is particularly harmful,’ Emler says. ‘It’s not at all a cause of poor academic performance; people with low self-esteem seem to do just as well in life as people with high self-esteem. In fact, they may do better, because they often try harder.’”

Why We Don’t Marry (James Q. Wilson)
“Marriage was once a sacrament, then it became a contract, and now it is an arrangement. Once religion provided the sacrament, then the law enforced the contract, and now personal preferences define the arrangement.”

Managing Us: We’re So Easy (Fred Reed)
“First, people will watch any television rather than no television. Second, sooner or later they will begin to imitate what they see on the screen. Third, while you can’t fool all of the people all of the time, you can fool enough of them enough of the time, especially if you are a lot smarter than they are, and do it patiently, calculatedly, over time, like water eroding stone. And that is all it takes.”

Wrong Turn (Roger Kimball)
“The most delicious news to emerge from the art world this year [2001] came in October, courtesy of the BBC. Under the gratifying headline ‘Cleaner Dumps Hirst Installation,’ the world read that ‘A cleaner at a London gallery cleared away an installation by artist Damien Hirst having mistaken it for rubbish. Emmanuel Asare came across a pile of beer bottles, coffee cups and overflowing ashtrays and cleared them away at the Eyestorm Gallery on Wednesday morning.’ I hope that Mr. Asare was immediately given a large raise. Someone who can make mistakes like that is an immensely useful chap to have about.”

Losing our religion (Theo Hobson)
“It has become unthinkable for a Church leader, or any public figure who is a Christian, to speak as if the gospel of Jesus Christ is superior to other creeds; to talk about Christianity as an exceptionally, uniquely good thing. In public, at least, such talk is taboo. Some of the bishops might still say this sort of thing in their pulpits; maybe the Blairs tell their children. But it is not for public hearing.”



This View’s Column

America: Land of the Oppressed?

At first, I was merely amused. Shortly, I was decidedly appalled.

I was reading an article about some goings-on at Baylor University, in the Waco Tribune-Herald, November 1, 2001. Some students were objecting to the prominent placement, in a well-traveled area, of a display featuring “larger-than-life pictures of aborted fetuses”.

Baylor student Erin Connors, president of the campus organization that was responsible for bringing the two-day display to the school, said, “I feel like we’re just presenting the truth and the facts.... This is reality. We’re not trying to hide that.”

Another Baylor student, a female junior, made a complaint that really caught my eye. To spare her further embarrassment, I will refrain from telling you her name. Besides, I have a feeling she is not alone; so, to avoid getting personal, let’s just call her “Missy Baylor”.

“I believe”, said Missy Baylor, “that if you can’t avoid (seeing or hearing) something, that is oppressive”.

I laughed aloud, and said to myself, Is that what passes for oppression on college campuses these days?

I went on with my websurfing, and immediately came upon an article in the London Times, dated the same day, about an Afghan man identified only as Karimullah, in his mid-twenties. He was jailed by the Taliban in 1999 for having served with the mujahedin for the Northern Alliance.

One day, after about 12 weeks of imprisonment, Karimullah was taken from his cell and driven to a stadium where thousands of people were assembled. About a dozen mullahs sat in a row in the middle of the field, and he was placed on the ground before them.

“Seven doctors approached me”, he told the reporter. “They wore grey uniforms, surgical masks and gloves. I could see one was crying. They injected me. After five minutes my body was numb though I was still conscious. Then they put clamps on my hand and foot and began to cut them off with special saws. There was no pain but I could see what they were doing.”

In five minutes, his left foot and right hand had become spare meat.

He knows no reason for the public spectacle of his brutal treatment, though rumors have reached him that a wealthy man had paid the mullahs to substitute Karimullah to undergo the punishment required for his own crimes.

He was hospitalized for a while, then released to go home. At the sight of him thus maimed, his mother collapsed; already in poor health, she died a few hours later of a heart attack.

And... and... can you believe it? Missy Baylor thinks she is oppressed when she has to walk past a display, for two days, that might actually make her think about something she would rather ignore.

Juxtaposing in my mind the stories of Karimullah and Missy Baylor, which I had read one after the other, my amusement at her attitude changed: this young woman has a life of convenience, privilege, and luxury of which many — perhaps most — people around the world can only dream.

No, her attitude isn’t amusing: it’s appalling.

Most people alive on the Earth today would consider Missy Baylor a child of immense privilege. Radio, television, newspapers, magazines, and computers can bring her the latest news from around the world, with little or no effort on her part, and with little or no official censorship; libraries, housing the accumulated wisdom of centuries, are free (or practically so) for her use; medical treatment — to heal, not to harm — is surely available to her without much more trouble than the making of a phone call, whether for minor complaints or for life-saving surgery; she may engage in the free exchange of ideas, and take part in the daily criticism of government and officials at all levels, that would bring swift — perhaps deadly — reprisal in many nations of today, let alone those of former ages.

Indeed, most absolute monarchs of centuries past — with the power of life or death at their command — could not have imagined as luxuries the ordinary conveniences Missy Baylor takes for granted daily. Artificial light at the flick of a switch, any time of day or night; waste flushed away at the touch of a handle; hot water in a few moments at the twist of a knob; fresh fruits and vegetables available year-round at a market which may be a few blocks away, to be reached in minutes by walking, or a few miles away, to be reached in minutes by driving or riding.

Even today, hundreds of millions of men, women, and children around the world can only dream about the simple facts and ordinary realities of daily life in a civilization of technology, in a society of free assembly, movement, and expression.

No cosmic coincidence has arranged that such a life of convenience, privilege, and luxury exists among men most typically in those nations where freedom of assembly, movement, and expression have reigned longest and most assuredly.

Missy Baylor ought to kiss the ground she walks on — the land of a nation whose society is founded on the Judeo-Christian value of the dignity of the person and on the Anglo-American value of the rule of law. Without those values, and the society built upon them, her life of convenience, privilege, and luxury would be impossible. For evidence, merely look to the realities of daily life where those values never took root or did not bear fruit.

Yes, Missy Baylor ought to kiss the ground she walks on — especially now that we have learned to our sorrow that the ground we walk on can be turned into a gaping inferno of death, without warning: malicious men, with no thought of the dignity of the person or the rule of law, are learning to use our immense privileges and daily conveniences against us.

America: Land of the Oppressed? May all the citizens of the world some day be so fortunate as to be as oppressed as Missy Baylor. I think that I might know of a man far away who just may have been willing to give a hand or a foot to be able to live as she does — but he no longer has any to spare.

(I have more to say about folks like Missy Baylor, and values like the dignity of the person and the rule of law, but I can wait until another View.)

© ELC 2002


One can readily believe that the very same students who objected to that display of “larger-than-life pictures of aborted fetuses” on the campus of Baylor University would have defended — nay, trumpeted! — a similar display of realistic pictures of what, for instance, enslaved Africans might have looked like during the Middle Passage across the Atlantic to America in the 18th Century.

Those pictures would not, of course, actually be real, as the “larger-than-life pictures of aborted fetuses” were real. But one can easily believe that words like truth and fact and historical reality would come roaring from the students’ lips towards anybody who might object to displaying such a depiction of slavery — with a jabbing retort (accusation, really) that we should not try to shield ourselves from that sorry history. A history of which nobody denies the truth, and for which nobody now living is actually responsible.

© ELC 2002

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American Heritage Dictionary @
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HTI American Verse Project
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Catholic Poets @ ELCore.Net
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Catholic Encyclopedia
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Newman Reader
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This View from the Core © E. L. Core 2002

Cor ad cor loquitur — J. H. Newman — “Heart speaks to heart”