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 Volume 1.8  Featured Webpages Archive April 1, 2002 


   

Added April 1, 2002

   
         
   

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.”

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.”

   

   

Added March 18, 2002

   
         
   

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

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

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

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

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

   



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”