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

The View from the Core by E. L. Core
America's Small Town Webzine

 Volume 1.7  Front Page March 25, 2002 


The View’s Featured Webpages
(links to offsite pages)

Columns, essays, and news articles

Keyes’ challenge: Return nation to principles (Pensacola News Journal) new
“The people of faith in America bear a special burden to return the nation to its founding principles, Ambassador Alan Keyes told a crowd Friday in Pensacola. ‘God Bless America? Yes, but I keep hearing the question,’ Keyes said. ‘Why?’ Afghanistan terrorist Osama bin Laden did not introduce America to evil on Sept. 11, he said. ‘Don’t think you can escape responsibility for your own.’ The moral challenge is simple, he said: ‘Cease to do evil, and learn to do good.’ .... ‘We do not stand on the same ground the nation was founded on. We do not stand on the same principles the country’s strength was built on,’ Keyes said. ‘It reminds me of the old cartoons we used to see when I was a kid. Roadrunner would get halfway across the abyss, and he would suddenly realize where he was. I sadly believe that in one respect, that’s where we are in terms of our freedom. There’s nothing underneath us anymore.’ .... ‘We have made the name of God obscene in our public schools. In ancient Greece, obscene was something you could not show in public. The name of God has been an obscenity in our government-run schools for the last 30 or 40 years. Don’t say it, don’t show it, don’t speak it. That’s all been run out by this auspicious principle of separation (of church and state) they're always telling us about.... ’The most terrible departure... is the fact that we have embraced an understanding of our rights that now encompasses the lie that the most fundamental right — which is the right to live at all — is not a matter of God’s will, but of human choice. ‘In the Roe v. Wade decision, the Supreme Court told us the right to life for each human being... comes from human choice. How do we think we can have it both ways? I don’t understand this contradiction. It can’t be God’s choice and my choice, too.’”

What Hollings’ Bill Would Do (Wired News) new
“If Hollywood and the music industry get their way, new software and hardware will sport embedded copy protection technology. A bill introduced by Senate Commerce Chairman Fritz Hollings would prohibit the sale or distribution of nearly any technology — unless it features copy-protection standards to be set by the federal government.... Anyone selling — or creating and distributing — ‘digital media devices’ may not do so unless they include government-approved security standards.... It would be unlawful to import software or hardware without government-approved security standards.... Network-connected computer systems may not delete markers indicating a file is copy-protected. Knowingly removing copy-protection markers from digital content is prohibited.... It would be unlawful to knowingly distribute or send someone any digital content that has been purged of its this-is-copy-protected marker.... One part of the bill overrides a landmark lawsuit that said the Rio MP3 player did not violate copyright law.”

France’s Bloody Hands (NYP) new
“France is hardly in a position to lecture the United States about justice, the death penalty or civil rights. The last time that France was involved in a major terrorist campaign, in Algeria from 1954-62, French security forces routinely tortured rebel suspects — while murdering uncounted thousands in summary executions. Only recently, retired French Army Gen. Paul Aussaresses published a sensational memoir calmy recounting his own role in these atrocities, which were carried out with the approval of French government figures — such as future President Francois Mitterand. Even today, the French criminal justice system is so weighted against defendants that the accused is practically guilty until proven innocent.... In any case, it’s one thing for France — which has officially abolished the death penalty at home — to register its unhappiness at the prospect of Moussaoui’s execution, but it’s quite another for this ‘ally’ to threaten non-cooperation with the Sept. 11 investigation. It is early in this war against terror, but you can be sure the United States will not forget the countries which stood beside her. And those that let her down.”

Religious leaders waste their energy (Bill Wineke) new
“The question I have this morning is whether Jesus Christ went to the cross to encourage us to drive Saturns. Because Sunday is Palm Sunday, the first day of the Christian season of Holy Week, I don’t think that’s an impertinent question. Yet, I have on my desk a letter signed by ‘48 Wisconsin Religious leaders’ telling me that God wants sport utility vehicles to get better gas mileage and I’m asking myself, ‘why does the church keep doing this?’ .... Among other conservation measures, the letter calls on the senators to support policies to ‘raise substantially vehicle fuel economy across the board in the shortest feasible timeframe, and require SUVs, minivans and passenger cars to meet the same standard.’ But the letter doesn’t stop there. It also calls for more investment in wind, geothermal and biomass technologies, regulation of carbon dioxide emissions and greater energy efficiency. It is signed by leaders from liberal Protestant, Jewish, Roman Catholic and, even, Zen religious bodies. For whatever it’s worth, I agree with most of the ideas expressed in the letter. What I don’t understand, again, is why religious leaders are issuing such exhortations in the name of God.”

Saudi newspaper editor “apologizes” for Purim blood libel (Jerusalem Post) new
“A Saudi Arabian newspaper editor yesterday issued a backhanded apology for a column published last week which resurrected the medieval blood libel against Jews by claiming they use the blood of Christian or Muslim ‘mature adolescents’ to prepare special Purim pastries. Al-Riyadh editor-in-chief Turki al-Sudairi wrote that the article, written by Umayma Ahmed al-Jalahma of King Faisal University, was ‘not fit to print.’ The paper had been sharply criticized by the US government before Al-Riyadh published the apology. On Monday, the Voice of America aired an editorial praising Saudi Arabia for its peace initiative, but criticizing it for not doing more to reduce Israel-Arab tensions. ‘In the meantime,’ said VOA, ‘there is something that Saudi Arabia and other countries could do right now to ease tensions in the Middle East. They could stop newspapers and radio and television stations, especially those controlled by the state, from inciting hatred and violence against Jews.’”

The fundamentalist question (Josie Appleton) new
“So why did radical Islam begin to emerge in the West in the 1990s? The emergence cannot be explained by the strength of the doctrine of radical Islam. Rather, the reasons some young Muslim men began to be gripped by anti-Western religious dogma should be sought in changes within Western society. The key factor in the rise of fundamentalism in the West was the end of the Cold War in 1989. This effectively unfroze politics — dissolving the left-right axis that had structured political and social identities for much of the twentieth century. With the collapse of the left, the right could no longer sustain its coherence — and in Europe and the USA, right-wing governments tumbled. Society was left increasingly atomised and directionless. This malaise was compounded by the erosion of long-standing institutions which had helped tie individuals into society, including the family, the church, the monarchy and civic organisations. The ideology of Islamic fundamentalism grew stronger in this vacuum left by the end of the Cold War. Where post-Cold War politics seemed uncertain and unconfident, Islamic fundamentalism promised firm rules, a coherent sense of identity, and a sense of belonging to a global Islamic community.”

Epidemic of fear (Frank Furedi) new
“Since 11 September, speculating about risk is represented as sound risk management. The aftermath of 11 September has given legitimacy to the principle of precaution, with risk increasingly seen as something you suffer from, rather than something you manage. Of course, taking sensible precautions makes a lot of sense. But continually imagining the worst possible outcome is not an effective way to deal with problems. Allowing speculation to dominate how we think about risks may even distract us from tackling the everyday problems and hazards that confront society. We don’t need any more Hollywood-style brainstorming. We need a grown-up discussion about our post-11 September world, based on a reasoned evaluation of all the available evidence rather than on irrational fears for the future.”

The Social Psychology of Modern Slavery (SciAm) new
“To many people, it comes as a surprise that debt bondage and other forms of slavery persist into the 21st century. Every country, after all, has made it illegal to own and exercise total control over another human being. And yet there are people like Baldev who remain enslaved — by my estimate, which is based on a compilation of reports from governments and nongovernmental organizations, perhaps 27 million of them around the world. If slaveholders no longer own slaves in a legal sense, how can they still exercise so much control that freed slaves sometimes deliver themselves back into bondage? This is just one of the puzzles that make slavery the greatest challenge faced by the social sciences today. Despite being among the oldest and most persistent forms of human relationships, found in most societies at one time or another, slavery is little understood. Although historians have built up a sizable literature on antebellum American slavery, other types have barely been studied.... Human trafficking — the involuntary smuggling of people between countries, often by organized crime — has become a huge concern, especially in Europe and Southeast Asia. Many people, lured by economic opportunities, pay smugglers to slip them across borders but then find themselves sold to sweatshops, brothels or domestic service to pay for their passage; others are kidnapped and smuggled against their will. In certain areas, notably Brazil and West Africa, laborers have been enticed into signing contracts and then taken to remote plantations and prevented from leaving. In parts of South Asia and North Africa, slavery is a millennia-old tradition that has never truly ended.”

The Social Life of Paper (Malcolm Gladwell) new
“Computer technology was supposed to replace paper. But that hasn’t happened. Every country in the Western world uses more paper today, on a per-capita basis, than it did ten years ago. The consumption of uncoated free-sheet paper, for instance — the most common kind of office paper — rose almost fifteen per cent in the United States between 1995 and 2000. This is generally taken as evidence of how hard it is to eradicate old, wasteful habits and of how stubbornly resistant we are to the efficiencies offered by computerization. A number of cognitive psychologists and ergonomics experts, however, don’t agree. Paper has persisted, they argue, for very good reasons: when it comes to performing certain kinds of cognitive tasks, paper has many advantages over computers. The dismay people feel at the sight of a messy desk — or the spectacle of air-traffic controllers tracking flights through notes scribbled on paper strips — arises from a fundamental confusion about the role that paper plays in our lives.”

Propaganda at its best (Cal Thomas) new
“Last week, ABC News allowed entertainer Rosie O’Donnell to take over two hours of airtime for a one-sided infomercial promoting ‘gay adoptions.’ All of the elements required for breaking down what few social norms remain regarding the family structure were present on ‘Primetime Thursday.’ First, the celebrity factor. In our postmodern, post Christian, post objective truth generation, celebrity equals credibility. Celebrities have replaced God. When they speak, some people think the rest of us should listen.... Rosie is right because she says so. She says President and Laura Bush are wrong when they say that the ideal setting for a child is in a home with a mother and father. End of discussion. The celebrity goddess has spoken.... There are credible scientific, legal and religious arguments against ‘gay adoptions.’ ABC didn’t present them because if they had, Rosie O’Donnell would not have appeared on ‘Primetime Thursday.’ This was journalism at its worst but propaganda at its best.”

They Died for Lack of a Head Scarf (Mona Eltahawy) new
“The fire was a tragedy that could have struck anywhere. Fifteen girls between ages 13 and 17 were trampled to death and 52 others were hurt when a blaze swept through their school.... Firefighters told the Saudi press that morality police forced girls to stay inside the burning building because they were not wearing the head scarves and black cloaks known as abayas that women must wear in public in that kingdom. One Saudi paper said the morality police stopped men who tried to help the girls escape the building, saying, ‘It is sinful to approach them.’ Girls died because zealots at the gate would rather see them burn than appear in public dressed inappropriately.... What kind of virtue is it to allow girls to die in a fire because of what they were not wearing? Whose Islam is it that allows these men to dilute the faith I and millions of others cherish for its teachings of compassion and justice to nothing more than a dress code and sexual segregation? I grew up learning God is merciful and that faith was based on choice — you could not force actions on anyone in the name of religion.”

Zero tolerance means educators cannot practice what they teach (Dave Lieber) new
“I keep waiting for Rod Serling to pop out in the story of L.D. Bell High School student Taylor Hess and tell us it is another episode from his old television show, The Twilight Zone. Hess was expelled from school because his grandmother’s bread knife was found in his pickup parked on school property.... ‘What they’re trying to do is incomprehensible,’ Robert Hess, Taylor’s father, told me. ‘I just can’t believe it. Zero tolerance doesn’t mean zero brains. You have to use your judgment.’ .... This is so sad, what our public education system has been reduced to, as administrators and teachers try to cope with the very real threat of student violence. We have taken away from them the very concepts that we try to teach our children. We have removed their ability to use their own good judgment, their reasoning powers and their ability to make decisions on a case-by-case basis. If justice is not examined on a case-by-case basis, then it is not true justice.

You’re the Doctor: What’s as Easy as ABC? Only a Little Farther Up the Alphabet? A PhD. (WP) new
“These days, PhDs are like opinions and pie holes — pretty much everybody’s got one. You can earn a PhD: in human nutrition at Michigan State University; in social work at the University of Texas; in recreational studies at the University of Florida; in family studies at the University of New Mexico; and in fashion merchandising at Texas Women’s University. A candidate for a PhD in creative writing at the University of Georgia can submit poems instead of a dissertation. At the University of Michigan you can get a PhD in literature without reading Shakespeare.... In fact, all kinds of people are picking up PhDs. This year about 42,000 people will earn doctorates in the United States, according to the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center, which conducts research for the National Science Foundation and five other federal agencies. Most striking is a trend toward more PhDs in the humanities — up more than 11 percent between 1999 and 2000.... Candidates in the past were required to possess a breadth of knowledge bearing on a given subject. Often they had to study additional languages. And their labor — which usually took years of intense study in required courses — was subject to review by outside scholars. In many cases, the requirements have been eased.”

Mein Kampf for sale, in Arabic (London Telegraph) new
“An Arabic translation of Hitler’s Mein Kampf which has become a bestseller in the Palestinian territories is now on sale in Britain. The book, Hitler’s account of his life and anti-Semitic ideology written while he was in prison in the 1920s, is normally found in Britain in academic or political bookshops. But The Telegraph found it on sale in three newsagents on Edgware Road, central London, an area with a large Arab population.... Copies of the translation are understood to have been distributed to London shops towards the end of last year and have been selling well. In the preface, Luis al-Haj, the translator, states: ‘National Socialism did not die with the death of its herald. Rather, its seeds multiplied under each star.’ The book was on sale alongside newspapers, magazines, cigarettes and sweets at a newsagent’s kiosk.”

Web Critics Take Aim at Old-Style Publishers (FOXNews) new
“A small but growing contingent of amateur and semi-professional media critics are taking aim at newspapers and periodicals, picking up where those papers’ ombudsmen (if they have them) leave off. One of the first to appear was SmarterTimes.com, a site that painstakingly points out flaws in The New York Times. Since then, similar sights have cropped up that skewer the Los Angeles Times (LAExaminer.com) and the San Francisco Chronicle (Chronwatch.com).”

The Suicide of the Palestinians (David Gelernter)
“We ought to face squarely the origins of the Palestinian descent into barbarism. In July 2000, Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak made a peace offer that stunned Israel and the world: Israel would re-divide Jerusalem — would turn over large pieces of its ancient capital to the same people who had destroyed its synagogues, desecrated its cemeteries, and banned Jews from entering when they last ran the show. Arafat rejected the offer. Then in September 2000 the new wave of murderous violence began, supposedly triggered by Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount.... Everyone knows about Munich, September 1938: Britain and France generously donate a big slice of Czechoslovakia to Hitler, in exchange for ‘peace with honor,’ ‘peace in our time,’ and the Brooklyn Bridge. Many people know about the Kristallnacht pogrom, November 1938: Germany’s approach to the Jews turns from mere oppression to bloodthirsty violence. Kristallnacht was ‘triggered’ by the murder of a German diplomat by a deranged Jew. But some (not all) historians point out the obvious: A leading cause of Kristallnacht was Munich itself. Hitler read the Munich agreements as a proclamation by England and France stating: ‘We are weak; you have nothing to fear; do what you like.’ The analogy is not close, just close enough. Israel is no Czechoslovakia and was not sold down the river. Barak made his offer freely and in good faith. But to a significant number of Palestinians, the offer obviously said: ‘We are weak; you have nothing to fear; attack.’ Appeasement doesn’t merely fail to prevent catastrophe, it provokes catastrophe.”

A Peace of My Mind (Dave Shiflett)
“Have you slapped a pacifist today? If not, get to it. It’s one thing to protest a war undertaken in some remote jungle you have to take a long flight to, and whose purposes may be a bit gauzy. It’s quite another when the enemy is dive-bombing New York and Washington. The fact that our enemies are determined to return the world to the seventh century and force our women to dress in sacks makes the anti-war position all the more controversial. There seems little choice but to douse these people with the hot oil of ridicule. At the outset, it should be pointed out that these contemporary pacifists are not cut from the same cloth as history’s grand Mahatmas, whose neutrality may have sometimes been in error but who were people of large and often courageous spirit.... Not so the new breed, which appears to be largely made up of self-absorbed snots. When the heat shows up, they run. If they get jugged, they get someone to post bail, preferably on Daddy’s AmEx card. Some do a bit of car-burning and looting on the side. They blossom most brilliantly in the spotlight, which they are forever seeking, and they hail from the expected provinces: Hollywood, the Ivy League, the Ivory Tower, Trust Fund City. Many hold dual citizenship.”

Study: Death penalty deters scores of killings (Paul Rubin)
“Executions are always controversial, and there are always debates about whether states should use the death penalty. But this debate cannot proceed rationally unless we fully understand the advantages and disadvantages of execution.... One conservative version of our model finds that each execution deters an average of 18 homicides, with a range of between 8 and 28 murders deterred by each execution. Other variants find even larger numbers of prevented murders.... We as a society might decide that we want to eliminate capital punishment. But this should be an informed decision, and should consider both the costs and benefits of executions. Our evidence is that there are substantial benefits from executions and, thus, substantial costs of changing this policy.”

Minoritarianism: A dangerous obsession (John Derbyshire)
“In a civilized liberal democracy, majorities owe certain things to harmless minorities: tolerance, civility, and the rights granted in the Constitution — freedom of speech, assembly, etc. However, it seems to me that minorities owe something to the majority in return: mainly, a proper respect for their tastes, beliefs, and sensibilities, and a decent restraint in challenging them, if there are some reasonable grounds for challenging them. This contract imposes some costs on minorities, of course, but I think they should look on those costs as the price of the tolerance they enjoy. Is that patronizing? Well, then add ‘being patronized’ to the list of costs — none of which, in any case I can think of in American society today, is much more arduous or oppressive than that. There are, after all, reciprocal costs on the majority when they make those accommodations.... I don’t see any danger at all that majorities will ride roughshod over minorities unless restrained by wise, omniscient elites. I do, though, see the opposite danger: That by allowing themselves to be browbeaten by those elites into yielding on every single point of accommodation demanded by every loud minority, the majority will find at last that they have no institutions, no traditions, no moral landmarks, no common understandings left, and will be adrift in a wasteland of moral relativism, naked to the cold, heartless winds of intellectual fashion.”

Can There Be a Decent Left? (Michael Walzer)
“A few left academics have tried to figure out how many civilians actually died in Afghanistan, aiming at as high a figure as possible, on the assumption, apparently, that if the number is greater than the number of people killed in the Towers, the war is unjust. At the moment, most of the numbers are propaganda; there is no reliable accounting. But the claim that the numbers matter in just this way, that the 3120th death determines the injustice of the war, is in any case wrong. It denies one of the most basic and best understood moral distinctions: between premeditated murder and unintended killing. And the denial isn’t accidental, as if the people making it just forgot about, or didn’t know about, the everyday moral world. The denial is willful: unintended killing by Americans in Afghanistan counts as murder. This can’t be true anywhere else, for anybody else.”

The man who knows too much (Jonathan Tobin)
“CNN reporter Steve Emerson was stuck in Oklahoma City on Christmas 1992 with nothing to do and wandered by the city’s Convention Center, where a gathering of the Muslim Arab Youth Association was taking place. Inside, he found ‘books preaching Islamic Jihad, books calling for the extermination of Jews and Christians, even coloring books instructing children on subjects, such as How to Kill the Infidel.’ Later, after listening to speeches urging jihad against the Jews and the West from luminaries such as the head of the Hamas terrorist group, Emerson called his contacts in the FBI to inquire whether they were aware of this bizarre meeting in the American heartland. They were not. A year later, Emerson attended a similar Muslim conference in Detroit that included representatives from Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terror groups. It also included an appearance from a befuddled senior FBI agent. When a member of the hostile audience asked the agent for advice on how to ship weapons overseas, Emerson relates that the G-man said, matter-of-factly, that he ‘hoped any such efforts would be done in conformance with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms guidelines.’ Apparently, the FBI official had attended the radical conference under the mistaken impression that it was ‘some kind of Rotary Club.’”

The Core of Muslim Rage (Thomas Friedman)
“It has to do with the contrast between Islam’s self-perception as the most ideal and complete expression of the three great monotheistic religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — and the conditions of poverty, repression and underdevelopment in which most Muslims live today. As a U.S. diplomat in the Middle East said to me, Israel — not Iraq, not India — is ‘a constant reminder to Muslims of their own powerlessness.’ How could a tiny Jewish state amass so much military and economic power if the Islamic way of life — not Christianity or Judaism — is God’s most ideal religious path? When Hindus kill Muslims it’s not a story, because there are a billion Hindus and they aren’t part of the Muslim narrative. When Saddam murders his own people it’s not a story, because it’s in the Arab-Muslim family. But when a small band of Israeli Jews kills Muslims it sparks rage — a rage that must come from Muslims having to confront the gap between their self-perception as Muslims and the reality of the Muslim world.”

From our friends (?) the Saudis:

Special Dispatch No. 354: Saudi Government Daily: Jews Use Teenagers’ Blood for “Purim” Pastries (MEMRI)
“In an article published by the Saudi government daily Al-Riyadh, columnist Dr. Umayma Ahmad Al-Jalahma of King Faysal University in Al-Dammam, wrote on ‘The Jewish Holiday of Purim.’ Following are excerpts of the article:
‘This holiday has some dangerous customs that will, no doubt, horrify you, and I apologize if any reader is harmed because of this.... For this holiday, the Jewish people must obtain human blood so that their clerics can prepare the holiday pastries. In other words, the practice cannot be carried out as required if human blood is not spilled!!.... For this holiday, the victim must be a mature adolescent who is, of course, a non-Jew — that is, a Christian or a Muslim. His blood is taken and dried into granules. The cleric blends these granules into the pastry dough; they can also be saved for the next holiday. In contrast, for the Passover slaughtering, about which I intend to write one of these days, the blood of Christian and Muslim children under the age of 10 must be used, and the cleric can mix the blood [into the dough] before or after dehydration....’”

The Crescent and the Gun (Brian Saint-Paul)
“The problem, then, is not in the Koran itself but in those who are free to twist it. Because there’s no one to interpret the book authoritatively, it’s vulnerable to any charismatic leader willing to abuse it to justify his personal hatred. The sad result is clear for all to see: The Koran’s command not to harm civilians is ignored; its prohibition against suicide is interpreted away by suicide bombers; its call for freedom in worship is cast aside in many Islamic states; its order to stand up for the oppressed is ignored by those too afraid to speak out against the persecution of non-Muslims. Islam has the Koran, but the Koran has no interpreter. An analogous situation is in Protestant Christianity, where the inheritors of the Reformation gather around the call of sola scriptura (Scripture alone). Different Protestant denominations read the Bible in different ways, with no single, authoritative interpreter. Why then don’t we see fringe Protestants strapping bombs around their waists and walking into crowded malls? The answer brings us back to the different concepts of justice. In Islam, following the Old Testament model, the attacker can be justly destroyed. In Christianity, following the just-war theory, the attacker must be repelled — but only in proportion to the attack. Ultimately, the violence perpetrated by Muslim fringe groups has two roots: first, the Koran’s command to fight the oppressor, and second, the lack of a single voice to identify who that oppressor is. Without that authority, any group — any people, any nation — can be considered an oppressor by those who feel they’ve been wronged. The result, too often, is bloodshed.”

Spying: The American Way of Life? (Wired News) 
“In the six months since the Sept. 11 attacks, Americans may not have exactly embraced a surveillance society, but they appear to have grown to accept portions of it. A Zogby poll conducted last December says that 80 percent of respondents favored video monitoring on public places such as street corners. Especially in the dark days after the Pentagon was hit, the White House targeted, the Capitol anthraxed, and the World Trade Center leveled, that public reaction was predictable. In national emergencies, the uneasy relationship between freedom and order edges toward greater restrictions on individual liberty. But Bush’s war on terror is not a traditional military conflict with a clear end that can be met after, say, U.S. soldiers capture a city, eliminate a Taliban command post — or even snare Osama bin Laden himself. Bush and other top administration officials repeatedly have warned that the attempt to exterminate al-Qaida dens may continue for years, even decades. It conceivably could succeed the Cold War as the most important political struggle of the 21st century. If that happens, new surveillance powers that police receive today likely will become permanent.”

Profs Do Better on Shorter Leash, Study Concludes (NewsMax) 
“Tenured college professors might be bad teachers and even worse scholars, but their institutions and peers have little ability to influence their conduct, according to a recent study by The Fraser Institute, a libertarian think tank in Vancouver, British Columbia. To improve the quality of their teaching, professors need incentives, something radically nonexistent in the individualistic culture of the North American university, write Rodney Clifton and Hymie Rubenstein in ‘Collegial Models for Enhancing the Performance of University Professors.’ Often when professors receive tenure they neglect their students and focus on research or outside assignments like consulting businesses, Clifton and Rubenstein write. The sheer number of extraneous commitments may cause professors to view students as nuisances rather than the paying consumers they are, according to the authors.”

Whooping It Up: In Beirut, even Christians celebrated the atrocity (Italian journalist Elisabetta Burba)
“Where were you on Sept. 11, when terrorists changed the world? I was at the National Museum here [in Beirut], enjoying the wonders of the ancient Phoenicians with my husband. This tour of past splendor only magnified the shock I received later when I heard the news and saw the reactions all around me. Walking downtown, I realized that the offspring of this great civilization were celebrating a terrorist outrage. And I am not talking about destitute people. Those who were cheering belonged to the elite of the Paris of Middle East: professionals wearing double-breasted suits, charming blond ladies, pretty teenagers in tailored jeans. Trying to find our bearings, my husband and I went into an American-style cafe in the Hamra district, near Rue Verdun, rated as one of the most expensive shopping streets in the world. Here the cognitive dissonance was immediate, and direct. The cafe’s sophisticated clientele was celebrating, laughing, cheering and making jokes, as waiters served hamburgers and Diet Pepsi. Nobody looked shocked, or moved. They were excited, very excited.... Back in Italy, I received a phone call from my friend Gilberto Bazoli, a journalist in Cremona. He told me he witnessed the same reactions among Muslims in the local mosque of that small Lombard city. ‘They were all on Osama bin Laden’s side,’ he said. ‘One of them told me that they were not even worthy to kiss his toes.’”

Anti-Americanism blamed on college teachers (WT)
“Professors and administrators are to blame for anti-American sentiment on college campuses today, according to a report by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. More than 140 college campuses in 36 states have held anti-war rallies denouncing the country’s military actions in Afghanistan, the report says. The document — ‘Defending Civilization: How Our Universities Are Failing America and What Can Be Done About It’ — concludes that many professors and administrators are quick to clamp down on acts of patriotism, such as flying the American flag, and look down on students who question professors’ ‘politically correct’ ideas in class.”

In war, grownups can’t play silly games (Mark Steyn)
“But the six-month suspension of normal politics is taking its toll on Democrats. ‘We seem to be good at developing entrance strategies,’ Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia’s porkmeister par excellence, whined the other day, ‘and not so good at developing exit strategies.’ Well spotted, senator. Here’s something else that will shock you: Churchill didn’t have an ‘exit strategy’ for World War II.... You don’t have exit strategies when your national territory’s been attacked; you have a responsibility to see the war through to the end.... The headline on Jules Witcover’s column in the Baltimore Sun read, ‘Democrats Ask Tough Questions On War.’ In fact, tough questions would be welcome. But Byrd’s and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle’s criticisms are pathetic: They’re about spin, posturing, about how it’ll play on TV. In war, grownups don’t have time for silly games in the congressional schoolyard.”

Being reasonable about faith when we all ignore God (Hanna Clark)
“This fact versus faith dichotomy relies on a gendered and racialized conception of the human mind and soul (or are they even separate?). White people are seen as rational and logical, living in the world of logic and ideas. People of color are seen as more spiritual, irrational and emotional. The same can be said of men (they’re rational) and women (they’re irrational). And the same can be said of Macalester atheists (rational) and the rest of us (irrational). The problem is that Atheism is just as based on faith as any other religion. At Macalester, religion is often seen only as an institution that tries to exert control. There’s a knee-jerk reaction to the imposition of rules and social mores, and all religion and spirituality is thereby ridiculed. It’s ironic that so many people use a patriarchal and racist ideology to critique what they think is an engine of oppressive authority.”

The Pristine Myth (Katie Bacon interviews Charles Mann)
“For years the standard view of North America before Columbus’s arrival was as a vast, grassy expanse teeming with game and all but empty of people. Those who did live here were nomads who left few marks on the land. South America, too, or at least the Amazon rain forest, was thought of as almost an untouched Eden, now suffering from modern depredations. But a growing number of anthropologists and archaeologists now believe that this picture is almost completely false. According to this school of thought, the Western Hemisphere before Columbus’s arrival was well-populated and dotted with impressive cities and towns — one scholar estimated that it held ninety to 112 million people, more than lived in Europe at the time — and Indians had transformed vast swaths of landscape to meet their agricultural needs. They used fire to create the Midwestern prairie, perfect for herds of buffalo. They also cultivated at least part of the rain forest, living on crops of fruits and nuts.”

Diagnosis: Delusional (Drs. Michael A. Glueck & Robert J. Cihak)
“People need to feel right about themselves. Not just good — right. Morally right. For some people, hating America provides an inexhaustible source of unearned moral stature. They can’t be right unless their country is wrong, always and forever wrong: an attitude empowered by the quaint notion that dissent is somehow automatically morally superior to consent, and refusal to participate a greater good than support. Sadly, there is much in this country to criticize. We’re far from perfect, and in many ways the intensity of our self-scrutiny stands as a badge of our virtue. But there comes a time when some overweening emergency takes precedence.”

Correctness Crack-Up (Stephen Goode and Christopher Jolma)
“But the response to Sept. 11 at U.S. colleges and universities might be bringing about a bigger, more profound transformation that’s now in its earliest stages. It’s change that challenges and may undermine — the gospel of political correctness, which has ravaged U.S. schools for nearly two decades. It’s a transformation, too, that may bring an end to the power held at American universities and colleges by the left-wing 1960s activists — many of whom long have held senior and tenured positions at American schools and have used those positions to preach the same tired left-wing politics and anti-Americanism they began so loudly advocating 40 years ago.”

Campus Capers (David Horowitz)
“In any case, the media blackout of my book makes my current campus speaking tour something of a necessity. I have one additional agenda, moreover, which is to cast a spotlight on the rampant political bias in the hiring of faculty at American universities. This repression of conservative viewpoints — an academic McCarthyism that puts McCarthy’s puny efforts to shame — is blatant, unconstitutional and illegal, but ubiquitous nonetheless.

What will it take to persuade? (Balint Vazsonyi)
“The brutal murder of journalist Daniel Pearl has shaken even our own television news analysts. That is significant, since some of our most highly visible — and highly paid — commentators had never known a foreign terrorist they didn’t like. Well, that might be a bit harsh. Let us say instead, they had never seen a foreign terrorist whose ‘cause’ they didn’t respect. But this was too much, even for them. Are we mad enough yet?”

How The Left Undermined America’s Security (David Horowitz)
“Underlying the Clinton security failure was the fact that the Administration was made up of people who for twenty-five years had discounted or minimized the totalitarian threat, opposed America’s armed presence abroad, and consistently resisted the deployment of America’s military forces to halt Communist expansion. National Security Advisor Sandy Berger was himself a veteran of the Sixties ‘anti-war’ movement, which abetted the Communist victories in Vietnam and Cambodia, and created the ‘Vietnam War syndrome’ that made it so difficult afterwards for American presidents to deploy the nation’s military forces.”

The cost of academic integrity (Walter Williams)
“College budgets depend on admitting warm bodies. That means we can’t expect college administrators to do anything to stop unprepared students from being admitted, courses dumbed-down and fraudulent grades given. Boards of Trustees tend to be yes-men and women for the president, so we can’t expect anything from them.
The money spigot needs to be turned off. Alumni, foundations and other charitable donors — not to mention taxpayers — should be made aware of fraudulent practices and academic dishonesty.

The Plains vs. The Atlantic: Is Middle America a backwater, or a reservoir? (Blake Hurst)
“The combination of progressive taxation and urban real-estate prices ensures that almost nobody on the coasts has more spendable income than the highest paid people in Franklin County or the rest of rural Red America. People here in Missouri’s small towns can buy a beautiful older home for less than $100,000. Brooks makes much of the fact that he literally could not spend more than $20 for a meal in Franklin County. The fare in Red America is a bit limited. You can’t buy one of those meals with a dime-sized entrée in the middle of a huge plate, with some sort of sauce artfully squirted about. But you can buy a pound of prime rib for ten bucks. Class-consciousness isn’t a problem in Red America, because most people can afford to buy everything that’s for sale.”

Proof that the classics speak to everyone (Katherine Kersten)
“For 35 years now, we’ve been hearing that ‘the classics’ — the great books of the Western world — are largely irrelevant in today’s classrooms. Why? Most were written by dead white males. Obviously, then, they can hold little meaning for females or for black or Hispanic kids. Everyone knows that if young people are to be moved or inspired, they need books whose authors ‘look like them.’ Try telling that to the students at Wilbur Wright College, a two-year community college in a working-class neighborhood in Chicago. Students at Wright are predominantly black, Hispanic or from immigrant families. Wright is for kids who aren’t ready for four-year colleges. Yet students there are flocking to a Great Books program and lining up to read authors like Plato, Cicero and Dante.”

Why the Muslims Misjudged Us (Victor Hanson)
“Two striking themes — one overt, one implied — characterize most Arab invective: first, there is some sort of equivalence — political, cultural, and military — between the West and the Muslim world; and second, America has been exceptionally unkind toward the Middle East. Both premises are false and reveal that the temple of anti-Americanism is supported by pillars of utter ignorance.”

Parsing out grammar (Linda Chavez)
“I learned how to diagram sentences in elementary school — or what we used to call, appropriately, grammar school.... Progressive teachers and their professional associations, especially the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), believe diagramming sentences is make-work that bores students and turns them off to writing. So they banished diagramming from the classroom years ago, along with most grammar instruction. ”

Slouching Toward Bias: A Neo-Conservative Critiques the Media (Poynter)
“‘The media, notably certain powerful big city dailies and the network news divisions that generally follow their lead, reflect a worldview that is not only distinctly liberal in character, but hostile to those who hold alternative views.”

The Education of Abraham Lincoln (Eric Foner)
“He read incessantly, beginning as a youth with the Bible and Shakespeare. During his single term in the House of Representatives, his colleagues considered it humorous that Lincoln spent his spare time poring over books in the Library of Congress. The result of this ‘stunning work of self-education’ was the ‘intellectual power’ revealed in Lincoln’s writings and speeches.”

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.”

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.”

Occasionally, some links are moved from this section into the Featured Webpages Archive.

Classic articles (that are, or should be, famous)

There is No Time, There Will Be Time
(Peggy Noonan)
Forbes ASAP (November 18, 1998)

“When you consider who is gifted and crazed with rage... when you think of the terrorist places and the terrorist countries... who do they hate most? The Great Satan, the United States. What is its most important place? Some would say Washington. I would say the great city of the United States is the great city of the world, the dense 10-mile-long island called Manhattan, where the economic and media power of the nation resides, the city that is the psychological center of our modernity, our hedonism, our creativity, our hard-shouldered hipness, our unthinking arrogance.”

Networks Need a Reality Check: A firsthand account of liberal bias at CBS News
(Bernard Goldberg)
Wall Street Journal (February 13, 1996)

“There are lots of reasons fewer people are watching network news, and one of them, I’m more convinced than ever, is that our viewers simply don’t trust us. And for good reason. The old argument that the networks and other ‘media elites’ have a liberal bias is so blatantly true that it’s hardly worth discussing anymore. No, we don’t sit around in dark corners and plan strategies on how we’re going to slant the news. We don’t have to. It comes naturally to most reporters.”

A brilliant parody:

Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity
(Alan Sokal)
Social Text (Spring/Summer 1996)

“There are many natural scientists, and especially physicists, who continue to reject the notion that the disciplines concerned with social and cultural criticism can have anything to contribute, except perhaps peripherally, to their research. Still less are they receptive to the idea that the very foundations of their worldview must be revised or rebuilt in the light of such criticism. Rather, they cling to the dogma imposed by the long post-Enlightenment hegemony over the Western intellectual outlook, which can be summarized briefly as follows: that there exists an external world, whose properties are independent of any individual human being and indeed of humanity as a whole; that these properties are encoded in ‘eternal’ physical laws; and that human beings can obtain reliable, albeit imperfect and tentative, knowledge of these laws by hewing to the ‘objective’ procedures and epistemological strictures prescribed by the (so-called) scientific method.”

... and, in explanation, ...

A Physicist Experiments with Cultural Studies
(Alan Sokal)
Lingua Franca (May/June 1996)

“For some years I’ve been troubled by an apparent decline in the standards of rigor in certain precincts of the academic humanities. But I’m a mere physicist: If I find myself unable to make heads or tails of jouissance and differance, perhaps that just reflects my own inadequacy. So, to test the prevailing intellectual standards, I decided to try a modest (though admittedly uncontrolled) experiment: Would a leading North American journal of cultural studies — whose editorial collective includes such luminaries as Fredric Jameson and Andrew Ross — publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions? The answer, unfortunately, is yes.... What’s going on here? Could the editors really not have realized that my article was written as a parody?”

The Doomslayer
(Ed Regis)
Wired
(February 1997)

“The world is getting progressively poorer, and it’s all because of population, or more precisely, overpopulation. There’s a finite store of resources on our pale blue dot, spaceship Earth, our small and fragile tiny planet, and we’re fast approaching its ultimate carrying capacity. The limits to growth are finally upon us, and we’re living on borrowed time. The laws of population growth are inexorable. Unless we act decisively, the final result is written in stone: mass poverty, famine, starvation, and death. Time is short, and we have to act now. That’s the standard and canonical litany.... There’s just one problem with The Litany, just one slight little wee imperfection: every item in that dim and dreary recitation, each and every last claim, is false.... Thus saith The Doomslayer, one Julian L. Simon, a neither shy nor retiring nor particularly mild-mannered professor of business administration at a middling eastern-seaboard state university. Simon paints a somewhat different picture of the human condition circa 1997. ‘Our species is better off in just about every measurable material way,’ he says. ‘Just about every important long-run measure of human material welfare shows improvement over the decades and centuries, in the United States and the rest of the world. Raw materials — all of them — have become less scarce rather than more. The air in the US and in other rich countries is irrefutably safer to breathe. Water cleanliness has improved. The environment is increasingly healthy, with every prospect that this trend will continue.’”

top

This View’s Column

Wolves in Shepherd’s Clothing

Perfidious Priests and What Must Be Done About Them (Part Three)

The column is also available on This View’s Column page, without the links on the left- and right-hand of the page.

“In fact, the diseases of consciences, their indifference to good and evil, their errors, are a great danger to man. They are indirectly a menace to society as well, because the level of society’s morals depends in the ultimate analysis on the human conscience. A man who has a hardened heart and a degenerate conscience is spiritually a sick man, even though he may enjoy the fullness of his powers and physical capacities. Everything must be done to bring him back to having a healthy soul.” (Pope John Paul II, March 15, 1981)

Subversive Traitors?

I concluded last time with the idea that men and women, on the Church’s payroll, whose writings and speeches and work tend to effectively render the Catholic faith and life indistinguishable from the secular milieu ought to be recognized for what they are: subversive traitors. And the “moral authority” of the bishops, in particular, and of the Catholic Church more generally, cannot be restored until — unless — subversive traitors are expunged from official positions.

Oh... listen.... I can almost hear the hysterical charges being aimed at me now: You are an Inquistionist, a pogromist; you would really like to be able to set the fires ablaze beneath anybody who disagrees with your own version of Catholicism. And hysterical charges they would be, in more ways than one, especially in the United States of America. Catholics whose alleged conscience supposedly cannot allow them to believe the Catholic faith are entirely free to leave the Catholic Church. And, were they honest men and women, that is what they would do. They can become Episcopalian, or Presbyterian, or Baptist. Or Jewish, or Muslim, or Hindu. Or atheist or agnostic. They can start their own denomination, or a brand new religion to their self-satisfied heart’s content.

Now, part of the on-going problem with “pedophile priests” — and with the far more numerous, though still rare, “ephebophile priests” (homosexuals who abuse male adolescents) — part of the problem is that almost nobody in authority has been willing to name names, thus allowing the immoral priests to continue their predations. I think that the problem of pedophiliac and ephebophiliac priests could not have taken root and grown to bear poisonous fruit except in the prevailing climate of moral confusion, abetted by the initial collapse of the bishops’ “moral authority” in 1968; this climate of moral confusion in the Catholic Church has been, I believe, caused largely by the widespread influence of subversive traitors in the bosom of the Church; and, getting rid of their predations, of quite another kind, is necessary to restore the health of the Church: so, I myself must be willing to name names.

Rev. Richard McBrien

Fr. Richard McBrien is most famous, perhaps, as the author of a book called Catholicism. Before taking a look at what some folks have had to say about his book, I would like to note that he has been quoted recently, and probably far more often than I have discovered; for instance, in an Associated Press article at Yahoo! News, Mar. 13:

A handful of bishops already have made changes, ousting dozens of priests accused of molestation and working more closely with prosecutors. However, some Catholics — particularly liberals — say reform is needed beyond how the church addresses misconduct in its ranks. “The old system is dead,” said the Rev. Richard McBrien, a theologian at the University of Notre Dame. “It’s just a matter of how long it takes before it completely implodes.” The Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, a conservative and editor of the religious magazine First Things, disagreed. He predicted the church will emerge from this trial with a renewed commitment to its most basic values. “The problem is not with celibacy. The problem is with priests who aren’t celibate,” Neuhaus said. “The problem is not with the teaching of the church. The problem is with the people who don’t live the church.”

(Neuhaus, a former Lutheran pastor, stated quite succinctly what I am trying to make the case for: “The problem is with the people who don’t live the church.” Viewed from another angle, though, as I’m trying to get across, the problem is with the people who don’t leave the Church but remain in its bosom, trying to “purge” it of everything that is actually, really, distinctively Catholic.)

McBrien was also quoted in an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Mar. 16:

Joaquin Navarro-Valls, chief spokesman for Pope John Paul II, asked about the Boston scandal earlier this month, told the New York Times that the solution was for the church to ban gays from becoming priests. The comment outraged experts who noted an absence of data linking homosexuality to pedophilia. Most studies show that heterosexual and married men are as likely as gays to abuse children. Richard McBrien, professor of theology at Notre Dame, said Navarro-Valls’ statement also ignored the reality that gays make up an increasing percentage of the priesthood. “It’s one of the most bizarre, absurd and irresponsible statements I’ve ever heard from the Vatican,” McBrien said. “If that became policy, we’d have to evacuate the seminaries.” McBrien went on to say, however, that “cultural, social and even religious changes in attitude toward sexuality and marriage” had dramatically reduced the pool of potential priests. “We are drawing from an ever thinner slice of the population in recruitment of priests,” he said.

(Note how casually, yet deliberately, the Post-Dispatch writer distracts the reader from the reality: most of the sexual immorality committed by priests, for which the Church is now under fire, has not been pedophilia, the sexual abuse of children; it has been ephebophilia, the sexual abuse of adolescentsalmost invariably boys. Remarkably, a recent Boston Globe article has noted this: “It has become the shorthand label for a sex abuse scandal that now haunts dioceses around the nation: the pedophile priest crisis. But the vast majority of priests who sexually abuse minors choose adolescent boys — not young children — as their targets....”)

Catholic theologian Robert Fastiggi has analyzed McBrien’s book Catholicism and shown how McBrien so cleverly, so subtly, distorts the Catholic faith in fundamental matters — thus betraying the Church, whose doctrine he is paid to preach, by engaging in what C. S. Lewis has likened to prostitution.

Fastiggi’s article in Pastoral and Homiletic Review, June 1996, begins thus:

If one were to judge a book by its (back) cover, the newly revised edition of Richard McBrien’s Catholicism would have all the appearances of a clear, competent and complete guide to the teachings of the Catholic Church. With praises from diverse authorities, ranging from the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury to theologians from Fordham, Boston College and the Gregorianum, this impressive-looking volume seems to possess all the academic credentials needed to be considered the book on “Catholicism.”

As is well-known, though, we cannot judge a book by its cover, and the question that must be asked is whether Fr. McBrien has presented Catholicism as it really is or Catholicism as he would want it to be. Of course, credit should be given where credit is due. Any book of over 1200 pages surely deserves some recognition for the work that went into it, and if one is looking for a quick summary of the thought of theologians like Edward Schillebeeckx, Hans Küng and Johannes Metz, McBrien’s book is certainly useful. However, if one is looking for a clear and faithful exposition of authentic Catholic teaching, one would be well-advised to steer clear of McBrien’s opus and concentrate instead on the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

In reading McBrien’s text, it is clear that the author has mastered Catholic vocabulary and knows how to give the reader the impression of being rooted in the Catholic tradition. It is here, though, that a disturbing tendency emerges. What one often finds is a discussion of a traditional Catholic dogma cast in ambiguous terms by a skillful turn of phrase or a clever sleight of hand. Thus, the uncritical reader is given the false impression that McBrien’s discussion of the dogma is safely rooted within the parameters of Catholic orthodoxy without realizing that the author has frequently undercut the full meaning and authority of the dogma itself.... (emphasis added)

He concludes as follows:

McBrien’s Catholicism is a dangerous book — dangerous because it cloaks dissent in the vocabulary of the language of Catholicism itself. Its methodology is one of deliberate ambiguity in which many teachings of the Church are either obscured or so qualified that they lose their full significance and authority. The potential impact of this text on the faithful is frightening.

Fastiggi closely examines McBrien’s discussion of the theology of the Church, salvation, infallibility, Marian dogmas, and conscience. His opinion of McBrien’s view of the role conscience plays in making moral decisions is worthy of special note:

McBrien ultimately undercuts the Church’s authority as a moral teacher by asserting that “the Church has never claimed to speak infallibly on a moral question, so there is probably no instance as yet of a conflict between an individual’s fallible decision in conscience and a teaching of the Church which is immune from error” (p. 973). The net effect of this view is an atmosphere of moral ambiguity in which a Catholic can clearly “differ with an official moral teaching of the Church” as long as there is “antecedent attention and respect to such teachings” (p. 980). [emphasis added]

Even the Committee on Doctrine of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops has published a general review of the book, from which I quote the conclusion:

Catholicism poses pastoral problems particularly as a textbook in undergraduate college courses and in parish education programs. The principal difficulties with the book lie not only in the particular positions adopted, but perhaps even more in the cumulative effect of the book as a whole. The method is to offer a broad range of opinions on every topic with the apparent intention of allowing or stimulating the reader to make a choice. This places a heavy burden on the reader, especially since some of the opinions described do not stand within the central Catholic tradition. The reader who is a theological beginner could easily assume that all the authors cited are equally a part of the mainstream Catholic conversation, whereas some of the authors are closer to the margins. While the book could be a helpful resource to theologians looking for a survey of opinions on some question, it might well be bewildering and unsettling for Catholics taking undergraduate courses in theology. For some readers it will give encouragement to dissent.

The problem is further aggravated because Catholicism gives very little weight to the teaching of the magisterium, at least where there has been no explicit dogmatic definition. At many points the book treats magisterial statements on the same level as free theological opinions. On a number of important issues, most notably in the field of moral theology, the reader will see without difficulty that the book regards the “official church position” as simply in error.

This review has focused exclusively on the problematic aspects of Catholicism. Certainly, as the 1985 statement of the Committee on Doctrine affirmed, there are many positive features to be found in the book. Nevertheless, this review concludes that, particularly as a book for people who are not specialists in theological reasoning and argumentation, Catholicism poses serious difficulties and in several important respects does not live up to its ambitious title. (emphasis added)

(McBrien’s book must be wonderfully self-serving. Indiscriminately citing the opinions of theologians as authoritative fosters the perception of theologians as having authority: that is, it fosters the perception of McBrien himself as having authority.)

Alas, this “general review” by the bishops’ committee may actually be counter-productive. What was called for, in defense of the Catholic faith? Clear, ringing denunciations of McBrien’s deceptions. What did Catholics get? Criticisms that are too often circuitous and mealy-mouthed; helpful reminders that there are “many positive features to be found in the book”; and complaints that some readers may be overburdened.

Moreover, the newspaper articles quoted above, in which McBrien had been quoted, were not in error: he is, indeed, a priest in good standing and a professor of theology at Notre Dame University.

There, he continues to misrepresent the faith he is paid to uphold.

There, at Notre Dame, reporters can find McBrien and can refer to him, correctly and accurately, as being a priest and a professor of theology at a Catholic institution.

And the American bishops publish “general reviews” that nobody reads.

Most Rev. Thomas Gumbleton

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, as far as I know, has written no tome the likes of McBrienism... er... I mean, the likes of McBrien’s Catholicism. Perhaps he thinks McBrien has said all that needs to be said.

The auxiliary bishop of Detroit is quite happy, though, to use his mitre and crosier to lend a gaudy but quite false sense of authority to any gathering of Catholic malcontents. Especially when the promotion of homosexuality is involved.

For instance, as reported in a recent article at World Net Daily, Gumbleton spoke at the New Ways Ministry Fifth National Symposium, in Louisville, Mar. 8:

Pro-gay Catholic speakers and workshop leaders, including two U.S. bishops, offered ideas for creating a more homosexual-inclusive Church at the New Ways Ministry Fifth National Symposium, titled “Out of Silence God Has Called Us,” March 8-10 at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, Ky.... Detroit Bishop Thomas Gumbleton told parents, “The first thing that I think needs to be said that’s very, very important if we’re going to love our children is simply to recognize that homosexual people are not disordered people. They are psychologically healthy people. ... Homosexuals are as healthy as anyone else.”

Gumbleton added, “Homosexuals are able to function and grow at least as well as heterosexuals. They are able to be creative, put in a hard day’s work, act as citizens, help their neighbor. Somewhat surprisingly, they make love more humanely, largely because they are better able empathetically to feel what their partner is feeling.” .... On Saturday evening, retired Bishop Leroy Matthiesen of Amarillo, Texas, celebrated Mass wearing a rainbow stole on a ballroom stage decorated with rainbow banners. The rainbow has become a universal symbol of the homosexual advocacy movement.

(Ah, yes. Life, somewhat surprisingly, would have always been so much better for the human race — if only all our parents had been homosexuals in same-sex relationships.)

Remarkably, the WND writer provides the reader with all that is needed to show that Gumbleton and Matthiesen misrepresent the Catholic faith, which their vows and their position in the Church require them to uphold:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.”

However, the Catechism also states: “Homosexual acts [are] acts of grave depravity,” and “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.” [The quotations are from ## 2358 and 2357.]

It needs hardly to be said, among honest men, that the Catechism does little more than restate the ancient, unchanging teaching of the Catholic Church: homosexual acts are always — invariably and without exception — sinful.

Now we can see why there is no need for a Gumbletonism book: we can be confident that it could be said of a book, if written by Gumbleton and called Catholicism, that “On a number of important issues, most notably in the field of moral theology, the reader will see without difficulty that the book regards the ‘official church position’ as simply in error.”

The Corrupt American Episcopacy

As the example of Gumbleton and Matthiesen shows, there is much more to the collapse of the bishops’ “moral authority” than failure to remove predators from the midst of Catholics, be the predators sexually immoral priests or otherwise subversive traitors.

The American episcopacy has become corrupt. Not the individual bishops. Well, not all of them. But the episcopacy itself has become corrupt: the group, the organization, the body. It no longer has the will — it has not had the will for a generation or more — to remove subversive traitors from positions of trust, nor to appropriately discipline sexually immoral priests, nor to cause perfidious bishops to be removed from their very midst: all this, I believe, a long-time-coming result of the bishop’s Munich Pact, “Norms of Licit Theological Dissent”, November 15, 1968.

Fr. Paul Shaughnessy wrote about this, with keen insight, in the Essay in the November 2002 issue of Catholic World Report:

I define as corrupt, in a sociological sense, any institution that has lost the capacity to mend itself on its own initiative and by its own resources, an institution that is unable to uncover and expel its own miscreants. It is in this sense that the principal reason why the action necessary to solve the gay problem [in the Catholic priesthood in America] won’t be taken is that the episcopacy in the United States is corrupt, and the same is true of the majority of religious orders. It is important to stress that this is a sociological claim, not a moral one.

If we examine any trust-invested agency at any given point in its history, whether that agency be a police force, a military unit, or a religious community, we might find that, say, out of every hundred men, five are scoundrels, five are heroes, and the rest are neither one nor the other: ordinarily upright men who live with a mixture of moral timidity and moral courage. When the institution is healthy, the gutsier few set the overall tone, and the less courageous but tractable majority works along with these men to minimize misbehavior; more importantly, the healthy institution is able to identify its own rotten apples and remove them before the institution itself is enfeebled. However, when an institution becomes corrupt, its guiding spirit mysteriously shifts away from the morally intrepid few, and with that shift the institution becomes more interested in protecting itself against outside critics than in tackling the problem members who subvert its mission. For example, when we say a certain police force is corrupt, we don’t usually mean that every policeman is on the take — perhaps only five out of a hundred actually accept bribes. Rather we mean that this police force can no longer diagnose and cure its own problems, and consequently if reform is to take place, an outside agency has to be brought in to make the changes.

By the same token, in claiming the US episcopacy is corrupt, I am not claiming that the number of scoundrel bishops is necessarily any higher than it was when the episcopacy was healthy. I am simply pointing to the fact that, as an agency, the episcopacy has lost the capacity to do its own housecleaning, especially, but not exclusively, in the arena of sexual turpitude. Should someone object to this characterization, I would reply in these terms: Excellency, let’s look at the American bishops who have been deposed in recent years as a consequence of sexual scandal: Eugene Marino of Atlanta, Robert Sanchez of Santa Fe, Keith Symons of Palm Beach, Daniel Ryan of Springfield, Illinois, Patrick Ziemann of Santa Rosa. Can you name a single instance in which the district attorney or the media did not get there first — a single case, that is, in which you yourselves identified the scoundrel in your ranks and replaced him before the scandal aired on CBS or before the police came knocking on the door?

At least one more bishop can be added to Shaughnessy’s list, as reported in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Mar. 9:

Three years ago, the pope tapped him to heal a Palm Beach Catholic Diocese reeling from a sex scandal that forced its trusted bishop from the pulpit. On Friday, Bishop Anthony J. O’Connell, 63, stepped into the spotlight with his own secret. Describing what he called a misguided attempt to counsel a troubled seminary student, O’Connell acknowledged he had inappropriately touched the boy about 25 years ago while a rector in Missouri — and had a similar relationship with another teen. At a news conference at the Palm Beach Gardens church that has served as his main parish since 1999, the well-regarded O’Connell said he has offered his resignation to the pope and will go to a quiet place to pray and await his fate.

The pope accepted O’Connell’s resignation within a few days. (A remarkably quick turnaround time, I understand.)

Moreover, as the Boston Globe reports, Mar. 22, it looks as if several other American bishops are about to be engulfed by an old transgression erupting as a new scandal:

Two Roman Catholic archbishops confirmed yesterday that in the mid-1990s they were involved in a legal settlement of a claim that San Diego Bishop Robert H. Brom coerced a seminarian into having sex when Brom was bishop of Duluth, Minn. However, the former seminarian who leveled the charges retracted them after reaching the settlement that provided him with a sum that was less than $100,000, Archbishop Roger L. Schwietz of Anchorage said in an interview. At the time of the agreement, Schwietz was bishop of Duluth. Brom, in a statement last night, denied the allegations, which stemmed from the 1980s. Brom said the charges against him — and three other bishops and several priests — had been disproved by an investigation and retracted by the former seminarian....

However, according to an affidavit filed last week in an unrelated case in San Diego Superior Court, the former seminarian told a friend that he only recanted the charges so he could receive his settlement money. The friend, Mark Brooks of San Diego, another former seminarian, said in his affidavit that the former seminarian told him his retraction letter was “false.” Archbishop John G. Vlazny of Portland, Ore., said in an interview that the retraction by the seminarian was a condition insisted on by the Duluth diocese in return for the settlement. At the time the case was settled, Vlazny was the bishop of the Winona diocese in southern Minnesota, where the seminary is.

More and more evidence comes to us that more and more American bishops are more and more compromised. If a lawsuit being filed as I write is any indicator, much more evidence may be coming to light in the future; as reported in the Miami Herald, Mar. 22:

An ex-seminarian will make sweeping sex abuse and racketeering claims today in Missouri against the former bishop of the Palm Beach diocese and two other dioceses, employing a far-reaching federal statute [RICO] most commonly known for its use in organized crime prosecutions. The man, the third to come forward with sex abuse allegations against the ex-bishop, is charging Anthony J. O’Connell and the dioceses of Palm Beach, Knoxville, Tenn., and Jefferson City, Mo., of falling under racketeering laws in their coverup of sexual abuse cases, according to Pat Noaker, one of the team of Minnesota attorneys representing the alleged victim. The lawsuit also names other American bishops as co-conspirators, according to a news release issued by the lawyers.

(O’Connell is not an “ex-bishop”: he is a retired bishop.)

Now Elden Curtiss, the archbishop of Omaha, has put his foot in it. Though Curtiss has provided an analysis of the vocations “crisis” that I believe is revealing and accurate, his response to the current sex scandals reveals how a bishop can cause harm by acting on incidental matters without understanding the nature and magnitude of the problem.

As reported in the Omaha World-Herald, Mar. 19, Curtiss wrote to two members of his diocese, scolding them for having written to the secular press to criticize and question Curtiss’ recent handling of two cases of priestly immorality:

Two Roman Catholics have received written rebukes from Omaha Archbishop Elden Curtiss after publicly criticizing his decision to reassign a priest who had viewed Internet child pornography.... The archbishop sent copies of the letters to the writers’ pastors. And he instructed both people to say one “Hail Mary” prayer for him as penance. Typically in the Roman Catholic Church, priests assign such prayers as penance to church members who have confessed sins. Curtiss could not be reached for comment. The Rev. Michael Gutgsell, archdiocese chancellor, declined to comment on the letters individually or generally. “The archbishop considers any letters he’s written as between himself and whoever received them,” Gutgsell said....

Bast and Ayers wrote letters to The World-Herald’s Public Pulse regarding Curtiss’ decision to assign a priest who had viewed Internet child pornography to St. Gerald parish in Ralston. Both questioned Curtiss’ assertion that children of the parish were in no danger. Ayers wrote that the archdiocese needed to be more forthcoming with what information it has about deviant behavior of some priests. He noted that the archdiocese didn’t inform parishioners about either the Rev. Robert Allgaier’s viewing of child pornography or Daniel Herek’s sexual abuse of children while he was a priest until after the news media broke the stories. Bast wrote that Curtiss owed the people of the archdiocese “a public apology for not being truthful and forthright about this problem from the very beginning.” ...

The letter to Bast read, in part, “I am surprised that a woman your age and with your background would write such a negative letter in the secular press against me without any previous dialogue. You should be ashamed of yourself!” Curtiss went on to say, “The Church has enough trouble defending herself against non-Catholic attacks without having to contend with disloyal Catholics.”

At first, one is tempted to agree with the archbishop: I do think it would have been more prudent for the letter writers to have sent letters to the chancery rather than to the local secular newspaper. On second thought, however, we must realize — the archbishop must realize, all the bishops must realize — that “internal” complaints from victims and their families, over decades, went unheeded by those in authority in the Church. So one tends to feel that, had Bast and Ayers written merely to the archdiocese, their letters would have probably been fruitless.

Moreover, this story reveals yet another instance of the lack of forthrightness, and of the unreality, of church officials in handling the current situation. How could the spokesman say the letters were considered between the archbishop and their recipients only — when copies had been sent to other people by the archbishop himself? And how dare Curtiss call a Catholic “disloyal” and complain about “non-Catholic attacks” against the Church, when it is the very misbehavior of priests, mollycoddled by irresponsible bishops, that have invited the current wave of anti-Catholic fervor?

Another story breaks. A married man had filed a sexual harassment complaint, last September, against Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg. As reported in the Tampa Tribune, Mar. 22:

Bishop Robert Lynch Friday denied any wrongdoing in a case involving a sexual harassment complaint filed against him by the former spokesman of the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg. The diocese paid its former spokesman more than $100,000 after the married man filed the complaint against the bishop in September, The Tampa Tribune learned earlier this week.... Joseph DiVito, a lawyer for the diocese, said that when Urbanski decided to leave his job he was paid a severance package that amounted to about a year’s salary and benefits costs. Urbanski was not prohibited from discussing the matter, he said. “The diocese does not buy silence in St. Petersburg,” DiVito said....

Urbanski said in the complaint that Lynch made numerous unwanted advances toward him, including booking one motel room for the two on trips and touching him suggestively. Lynch, 60, has not been accused of sexual abuse by anyone. Lynch characterized Urbanski’s allegations as merely a perception, and implied the more than $100,000 was severance pay.... Lynch said the diocese conducted a full investigation into the harassment claim. He said the diocese was satisfied with the results, but he would not say what they were. He said he has never had similar complaints filed against him.

The diocese conducted a full investigation into the harassment claim? A claim against the bishop of the diocese? And he tells us “the diocese was satisfied with the results”? But he doesn’t tell us what the results were?

I am, for once, speechless.

And maybe I don’t get out enough, but I have never heard of a “severance” package for somebody who quits his job.

Yet another story breaks. A former all-star professional athlete, and his brothers, went public with accusations that a lay teacher, who became a seminarian and eventually a priest, had sexually abused them in the early 1960s. As reported in the Detroit Free Press, Mar. 23:

The brothers said in a series of interviews that the Rev. Gerald Shirilla molested them in the 1960s when Shirilla was a lay teacher at Hamtramck St. Ladislaus [sic] and later while he studied for the priesthood at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit. Tom Paciorek, in particular, said Shirilla abused him at least one hundred times from ages 15 to 19. Shirilla, 63, was removed this week from St. Mary Church in Alpena, where he was hired as pastor in August. He surfaced there nine years after the Archdiocese of Detroit barred him from active ministry, saying there was credible evidence in 1993 that he had molested boys decades earlier. Church officials have not commented on where Shirilla has been since he was released in 1994 from a sexual-disorder treatment facility in Maryland.

On Friday, the Detroit Archdiocese reiterated that his ban continues. Shirilla has refused repeated requests for comment, and his attorney maintains the priest has done nothing wrong and is contemplating legal action against the church. Bishop Patrick Cooney of the Diocese of Gaylord hired Shirilla in Alpena, saying four evaluators had proclaimed him safe to return to ministry. But Cardinal Adam Maida ordered Shirilla removed Wednesday after reports in the Free Press about his reassignment.

(How Maida has any authority to order Cooney, another diocesan bishop, to remove any priest from a given assignment is beyond me.)

It is no exaggeration (indeed, it is an understatement) to say that day by day we are provided with more and more evidence that the American bishops — whether by continuing perfidy, by resignation, by stonewalling, or by plain and simple what-else-could-it-be-called-but-stupidity — the American bishops are simply incapable of salvaging the “moral authority”, and restoring the integrity, of the Catholic Church in the USA.

Shaughnessy continued his Catholic World Report Essay, already quoted from, thus:

The question will naturally arise, how can Catholics show respect and obedience to their bishops if they believe the episcopacy is corrupt? The answer is that a Catholic does not respect his bishop or attend to his teaching on the grounds that the bishop is holy, but because the bishop, to the extent that he teaches in union with St. Peter, is supernaturally protected against teaching error — and this holds true whether or not the bishop is a villain and whether or not his compatriots are institutionally corrupt. Our duties toward our bishops are the same now as they ever were and ever will be. Moreover, I have frequently counseled wholesome young men of my acquaintance to enter religious orders that are corrupt in the sense explained above. No shame attaches to membership per se in a corrupt institution (all the ancient religious orders and national episcopacies have undergone cycles of corruption and reform), and the question of one’s vocation to take up a certain burden is entirely distinct from the contingent circumstances in which that vocation is lived out. I stress this point in order to make clear that I am not counseling disobedience or disrespect to bishops, and I am not denying that religious orders, even corrupt ones, are capable of working for the good of souls. But let’s face facts. When more of your priests die by sodomy than by martyrdom, you know you’ve got a problem; when the man you bring in for the fix comes down with AIDS, you know you’ve got a crisis; and when the Pope first gets the facts thanks to 60 Minutes, you know you’re corrupt.

The Catholic Church, being Christ’s bride without spot or wrinkle, is indefectible. She is holy because Christ is holy; she is perfect because Christ is perfect. She can not teach error. Her ministers, however, have sinned in the past, sin now, and will sin in the future until the second coming of Christ. She has lost some of her sons to heresy and some to schism, and those who remained have, in various periods, sunk into corruption. Renewal comes about, of course. God raises up a St. Francis or a St. Dominic, a St. Catherine or a St. Ignatius, who not only reject the endemic moral cowardice of their times, but through their own heroic holiness and passion for truth, bring about a transformation in the lives of their fellow Catholics, teaching them by their own example to love sanctity. The current corruption is nothing new, and reforming saints will certainly appear in our midst. Yet even those of us who are not reformers need not sit down under our present woes. Each of us, according to his station in life, can make a modest contribution to the renewal.

The Pope Speaks

The way the media covered the story, you could have almost thought that Moses had come down again from the mountain: in his annual Holy Thursday letter to priests, Pope John Paul II addressed the scandal of sexually immoral priests.

Dear Priests! Know that I am especially close to you as you gather with your Bishops on this Holy Thursday of the year 2002. We have all experienced a new momentum in the Church at the dawn of the new millennium, in the sense of “starting afresh from Christ” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 29 ff.). We had all hoped that this momentum might coincide with a new era of brotherhood and peace for all humanity. Instead we have seen more bloodshed. Once again we have been witnesses of wars. We are distressed by the tragedy of the divisions and hatreds which are devastating relations between peoples.

At this time too, as priests we are personally and profoundly afflicted by the sins of some of our brothers who have betrayed the grace of Ordination in succumbing even to the most grievous forms of the mysterium iniquitatis at work in the world. Grave scandal is caused, with the result that a dark shadow of suspicion is cast over all the other fine priests who perform their ministry with honesty and integrity and often with heroic self-sacrifice. As the Church shows her concern for the victims and strives to respond in truth and justice to each of these painful situations, all of us — conscious of human weakness, but trusting in the healing power of divine grace — are called to embrace the “mysterium Crucis” and to commit ourselves more fully to the search for holiness. We must beg God in his Providence to prompt a whole-hearted reawakening of those ideals of total self-giving to Christ which are the very foundation of the priestly ministry.

It is precisely our faith in Christ which gives us the strength to look trustingly to the future. We know that the human heart has always been attracted to evil, and that man will be able to radiate peace and love to those around him only if he meets Christ and allows himself to be “overtaken” by him. As ministers of the Eucharist and of sacramental Reconciliation, we in particular have the task of communicating hope, goodness and peace to the world.

Some had hoped for more from the pope, much more. But given the venue of his approach — an annual letter that had probably been in the works for many months — I think the remarks were appropriate. And we need not conclude in haste that nothing further will be said. Or that nothing will be done.

Some suspect that John Paul II, nearly 82 years old, having worn himself out in the service of the Lord and His Church, and living with physical ailments now, may be too old to deal with this morass. But he has been counted down and out before, many times, so nobody should be surprised if he rises to the occasion once again.

Significantly, the pope did not adopt the language of American church bureaucrats, psychological “experts”, or mainstream media: he didn’t call immoral priests “sick”, and he didn’t excuse bishops for having made “mistakes”. Noticing this, Peggy Noonan has voiced the heartfelt hopes of many, Mar. 22:

This week an old giant returned to speak of what roils us. His words were welcome, heartening and necessary. But they were not, I think, sufficient. In Rome John Paul II, our warrior-saint of a pope, addressed, finally, the sex scandals that continue to rock the American Catholic Church.... So, the pontiff said that the priests who have abused and seduced teenage boys and adolescents had given in to the most grievous forms of “the mystery of evil.” He did not call the guilty priests only disturbed or in need of therapy; he said they had done evil and betrayed God’s gift to them, the gift of the priesthood.... And yet, one must hope the pope’s letter was only a beginning, only a prologue to action more grave and definitive.... It was heartening that the pontiff broke his silence, heartening that he did not say that priests who prey are only sick, which is how the American cardinals have treated them in the past....

For the first time in my lifetime ardent Catholics, or perhaps I should say orthodox Catholics, no longer trust their cardinals and bishops to do what’s right. They have pinned their hopes on the Vatican, and on the old warrior saint, JPII. They want him to hold up his silver crosier with the crucified Christ on the top and demand that priests who seduce teenage boys — or who sexually abuse, molest or seduce anyone — be thrown from the church, and that their protectors, excusers and enablers be thrown from it too.... The church does so much good! So much of what it is should be protected. But not, of course, at the price of betraying what the church stands for. The Catholics I know, and I know all kinds, left, right and center, would rather see the cathedrals sold for condominiums than see the decay continue.

Which is where the old pope — the mover of mountains, defeater of tyrannies, killer of communism, holder to the faith whose most special gift has been his power to show the powerless of the world, the peasants, the workers with grim hands, that he was their protector, that he loved them in the name of the church — comes in. The powerless need his protection now. They need that old crosier held up again, to tell the dirty wave to recede. Which is why so many of us are hoping that what we heard this week will not be remembered by history as “the pope’s statement” but as “the pope’s first statement — the one that led to a great shaking of the rafters in 2002.”

Amen to that.

This column will continue next time in The View.

© ELC 2002

The column is also available on This View’s Column page, without the links on the left- and right-hand of the page.

The View’s Featured Websites, Series, and Multi-Part Articles
(links to other sites)

Mostly sources of news and opinion

Arts & Letters Daily
Articles of Note — New Books — Essays and Opinion

SciTech Daily Review
Features and Background — Books and Media — Analysis and Opinion

Business Daily Review
Features and Analysis — Opinions and Reviews — Strategy and Tactics

JunkScience
All the junk that’s fit to debunk

Tech Central Station
Where Free Markets Meet Technology

Jim Romenesko’s MediaNews
Poynter.org

Lucianne’s News Forum
Latest Articles

WorldNetDaily
A Free Press for a Free People

NewsMax
America’s News Page

CNSNews
Cybercast News Service

CampusNonsense @ BlogSplot
Exposing Left-Wing Lunacy

Corante
Tech News. Filtered Daily.

The Corner
National Review Online

new Notable Quotables Archive @ Media Research Center
A bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous,
sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media.

new cut on the bias @ BlogSplot
“keeping an eye on the spins and weirdness of media, crime and everyday life”

Reference, etc.

American Heritage Dictionary @ Bartleby.com
Fourth Edition

Columbia Encyclopedia @ Bartleby.com
Sixth Edition

The U.S. Constitution Online
Including Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and other fundamental documents of US history and law

Founder’s Library
Historical American documents

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature @ Bartleby.com
Eighteen volumes, originally published 1907-1921

Verse @ Bartleby.com
Public-domain Anthologies and Individual Volumes

HTI American Verse Project
“The American Verse Project is a collaborative project between the University of Michigan Humanities Text Initiative (HTI) and the University of Michigan Press. The project is assembling an electronic archive of volumes of American poetry prior to 1920.”

Catholic Poets @ ELCore.Net
Joyce Kilmer, Alice Meynell, Joseph Mary Plunkett

Catholic Encyclopedia
“Actual work on the Encyclopedia was begun in January, 1905. It was completed in April, 1914.”

Newman Reader
Life and Works of Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman

IntraText Digital Library
The missing link between text and hypertext

The 1911 Edition Encyclopedia Britannica
“This 1911 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica is filled with historical information that is still relevant today. It fills 29 volumes and contains over 44 million words. The articles are written by more than 1500 authors within their various fields of expertise.”

Other columnists

Jonah Goldberg
National Review Online

Fred Reed
Commentary with Moxie

Deb Weiss
A View from Here

Peggy Noonan
Opinion Journal

Diane Alden
inflyovercountry

Bill Dunn
Faith and Funnies

Ann Coulter
Town Hall

Steve Milloy
Fox News

Michael Kelly
Washington Post

Mark Steyn
National Post

top
Important series and multi-part articles of news or opinion

A chronicle of high-level USA government actions in September 2001, at two websites:

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.”

Response to Terror (Austin American Stateman)
“This is an eight-part series by The Washington Post describing the response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at the highest levels of government.”

Fighting Terrorism: America Retaliates
“Archive stories from the Boston Globe: Tuesday Sept. 11 – Sunday Sept. 16”

A three-part series on Environmentalism by Diane Alden @ NewsMax:

The Green Matrix (Part One)
“The people who rule the green matrix seek to centrally plan our lives. They have adopted the same philosophy as those who drove the peasants off the land in Russia. They are of the same mind as the Red Guard in China. They are willing to sacrifice science, the truth and freedom, as well as the well-being of humans and the environment, in order to promote their utopian vision for the world — a vision that considers man a cancer on the land. Strangely, the term ‘green matrix’ comes up in many of their studies, claims and policy papers. But this isn’t a movie. It is the new totalitarian vision.”

The Green Matrix (Part Two): They Blinded Us With Science
“The more serious problem, however, is that over the years agencies have been co-opted by those with a much larger agenda in mind. It is not just about listing one species and shutting down one or two forests for public use, i.e., ‘managing federal lands.’ As the greens say, ‘Think globally and act locally.’ That mantra is at the core and heart of U.S. environmental policy. It is fair to say that in the Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service ‘science’ got dumped years ago. It was a process that began in the ’70s but received official imprimatur under Bill Clinton in 1993. At that time, philosophy replaced ‘science.’ Conservation biology became the ‘science,’ and ‘ecosystem management’ and ‘precautionary principle’ the tools. The end game was to reconnect ‘ecosystems’ from the Yukon to Mexico.”

The Green Matrix (Part 3): Weird Science – Think Globally
“Modern environmentalism has become the best single tool to fulfill the fondest wishes of the international control freaks and central planners. It is the new ideological agenda replacing communism and capitalism. It is, in fact, a lethal mix of both. Alan Caruba of the National Anxiety Center calls it ‘fascilism.’ In implementing the various environmental wish lists, we don’t get cleaner air and water. But we do get a new religion and a new economic system. In addition, the old time religion is being replaced by a green Zen Buddhism on one hand, and tyranny and repression on the other. If you follow the logic of ‘ecosystem’ management, that is where we're headed as we wend our way through the holistic approach for the ‘collective good.’”

A three-part series “Driving a Wedge” in the Boston Globe:

Why bin Laden plot relied on Saudi hijackers
“Senior US officials and Saudi Interior Ministry officials involved with the investigation into the involvement of Saudi nationals in the attacks say they now believe bin Laden’s Al Qaeda actively sought out young Saudi volunteers from this region for their ‘jihad.’ The investigation is beginning to reveal a picture of how bin Laden, a native of the Saudi southwest, exploited the young hijackers by playing off the region's deep tribal affiliations, itseconomic dis-enfranchisement, anditsown burning brand of Wahhabi fundamentalism which the kingdom's religious hierarchy fosters in the schools.”

Saudi schools fuel anti-US anger
“US diplomats and Saudi specialists say Saudi schools are the foundation of the broader society in which the House of Saud has for decades tolerated extremists within the religious hierarchy to set a tone — in schools as well as on national television and radio airways — of open bigotry toward non-Muslims, contempt even for those non-Sunni Muslims from other branches of the faith such as the Shiite, and of virulent anti-Americanism. This, US and Saudi observers here say, has been part of an unofficial deal: The kingdom gave the religious establishment control of the schools as long as it didn’t question the legitimacy of the monarchy’s power. The United States went along with this tacit agreement as long as the oil kept flowing, its troops stayed in the country, and the House of Saud remained on the throne.”

Doubts are cast on the viability of Saudi monarchy for long term
“The House of Saud — the 30,000-member ruling family headed by 3,000 princes — has long been so riddled with corruption that even Crown Prince Abdullah has said the culture of royal excess has to come to an end. It has ruled over the kingdom with documented human rights abuses and, as one Western diplomat put it, a form of ‘gender apartheid’ for women. Democracy has never been part of the equation. These palace indulgences have been tolerated by Washington for far too long, critics say, because of a US policy dependent on Saudi Arabia'’s vast oil reserves, Riyadh’s purchase of an estimated $4 billion a year worth of US weapons, and its pivotal role as host to 5,000 American troops. Since Franklin Delano Roosevelt agreed a half century ago to defend the kingdom in exchange for ready access to oil, the balance between US interests and US ideals in Saudi Arabia has always tipped in favor of Washington’s economic and strategic interests.”

A three-part article on some current thinking on the Koran in The Atlantic:

What is the Koran? (Part 1)
“Some of the parchment pages in the Yemeni hoard seemed to date back to the seventh and eighth centuries A.D., or Islam’s first two centuries — they were fragments, in other words, of perhaps the oldest Korans in existence. What’s more, some of these fragments revealed small but intriguing aberrations from the standard Koranic text. Such aberrations, though not surprising to textual historians, are troublingly at odds with the orthodox Muslim belief that the Koran as it has reached us today is quite simply the perfect, timeless, and unchanging Word of God.”

What is the Koran? (Part 2)
“Deviating from the orthodox interpretation of the Koran, says the Algerian Mohammed Arkoun, a professor emeritus of Islamic thought at the University of Paris, is ‘a very sensitive business’ with major implications. ‘Millions and millions of people refer to the Koran daily to explain their actions and to justify their aspirations,’ Arkoun says. ‘This scale of reference is much larger than it has ever been before.’”

What is the Koran? (Part 3)
“Gerd-R. Puin speaks with disdain about the traditional willingness, on the part of Muslim and Western scholars, to accept the conventional understanding of the Koran. ‘The Koran claims for itself that it is “mubeen,” or “clear,” he says. ‘But if you look at it, you will notice that every fifth sentence or so simply doesn’t make sense. Many Muslims — and Orientalists — will tell you otherwise, of course, but the fact is that a fifth of the Koranic text is just incomprehensible. This is what has caused the traditional anxiety regarding translation. If the Koran is not comprehensible — if it can’t even be understood in Arabic — then it’s not translatable. People fear that. And since the Koran claims repeatedly to be clear but obviously is not — as even speakers of Arabic will tell you — there is a contradiction. Something else must be going on.’”

A “classic” two-part article, by Bernard Lewis, with a recent related essay, in The Atlantic:

new The Roots of Muslim Rage (Part One)
“Like every other civilization known to human history, the Muslim world in its heyday saw itself as the center of truth and enlightenment, surrounded by infidel barbarians whom it would in due course enlighten and civilize. But between the different groups of barbarians there was a crucial difference. The barbarians to the east and the south were polytheists and idolaters, offering no serious threat and no competition at all to Islam. In the north and west, in contrast, Muslims from an early date recognized a genuine rival — a competing world religion, a distinctive civilization inspired by that religion, and an empire that, though much smaller than theirs, was no less ambitious in its claims and aspirations. This was the entity known to itself and others as Christendom, a term that was long almost identical with Europe. The struggle between these rival systems has now lasted for some fourteen centuries. It began with the advent of Islam, in the seventh century, and has continued virtually to the present day. It has consisted of a long series of attacks and counterattacks, jihads and crusades, conquests and reconquests.... For the past three hundred years, since the failure of the second Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683 and the rise of the European colonial empires in Asia and Africa, Islam has been on the defensive, and the Christian and post-Christian civilization of Europe and her daughters has brought the whole world, including Islam, within its orbit.”

new The Roots of Muslim Rage (Part Two)
“The accusations are familiar. We of the West are accused of sexism, racism, and imperialism, institutionalized in patriarchy and slavery, tyranny and exploitation. To these charges, and to others as heinous, we have no option but to plead guilty — not as Americans, nor yet as Westerners, but simply as human beings, as members of the human race. In none of these sins are we the only sinners, and in some of them we are very far from being the worst. The treatment of women in the Western world, and more generally in Christendom, has always been unequal and often oppressive, but even at its worst it was rather better than the rule of polygamy and concubinage that has otherwise been the almost universal lot of womankind on this planet.... Slavery is today universally denounced as an offense against humanity, but within living memory it has been practiced and even defended as a necessary institution, established and regulated by divine law. The peculiarity of the peculiar institution, as Americans once called it, lay not in its existence but in its abolition. Westerners were the first to break the consensus of acceptance and to outlaw slavery, first at home, then in the other territories they controlled, and finally wherever in the world they were able to exercise power or influence — in a word, by means of imperialism.”

new What Went Wrong?
“Muslim modernizers — by reform or revolution — concentrated their efforts in three main areas: military, economic, and political. The results achieved were, to say the least, disappointing. The quest for victory by updated armies brought a series of humiliating defeats. The quest for prosperity through development brought in some countries impoverished and corrupt economies in recurring need of external aid, in others an unhealthy dependence on a single resource — oil. And even this was discovered, extracted, and put to use by Western ingenuity and industry, and is doomed, sooner or later, to be exhausted, or, more probably, superseded, as the international community grows weary of a fuel that pollutes the land, the sea, and the air wherever it is used or transported, and that puts the world economy at the mercy of a clique of capricious autocrats. Worst of all are the political results: the long quest for freedom has left a string of shabby tyrannies, ranging from traditional autocracies to dictatorships that are modern only in their apparatus of repression and indoctrination.... It was bad enough for Muslims to feel poor and weak after centuries of being rich and strong, to lose the position of leadership that they had come to regard as their right, and to be reduced to the role of followers of the West. But the twentieth century, particularly the second half, brought further humiliation — the awareness that they were no longer even the first among followers but were falling back in a lengthening line of eager and more successful Westernizers, notably in East Asia. The rise of Japan had been an encouragement but also a reproach. The later rise of other Asian economic powers brought only reproach. The proud heirs of ancient civilizations had gotten used to hiring Western firms to carry out tasks of which their own contractors and technicians were apparently incapable. Now Middle Eastern rulers and businessmen found themselves inviting contractors and technicians from Korea — only recently emerged from Japanese colonial rule — to perform these tasks. Following is bad enough; limping in the rear is far worse. By all the standards that matter in the modern world — economic development and job creation, literacy, educational and scientific achievement, political freedom and respect for human rights — what was once a mighty civilization has indeed fallen low.”

top



The View from the Core, and all original material, © E. L. Core 2002. All rights reserved.

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