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 1.9 Front Page April 8, 2002 


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

Columns, essays, and news articles

Safe House: High-end “Panic Room” hideouts becoming more common (SFC) new
“Paula Milani bought a home with three bedrooms, two baths and one Batcave. Her secret hideout is behind a seamless wall in her one-story ranch house in rural Livermore. A robber could break in, check every room and never know she’s a few feet away, calling authorities as she loads a handgun. Milani is one of the hundreds of Bay Area residents who have a real-life ‘panic room,’ which real estate insiders used to call safe rooms before the hit movie starring Jodie Foster came out. Some are converted closets with doors that bolt shut from the inside. Others are like Milani’s — with secret entrances that are impossible to detect unless you know where they are. And a few are similar to Foster’s fortresslike hideout in Panic Room, or even more intricate, with heat-sensing cameras, multiple ventilation systems and chemical washbasins for scrubbing away biohazards. In Los Angeles, most A-list celebrities and entertainment executives have safe rooms, said Bill Rigdon, who is a vice president of Building Consensus, a Los Angeles company that builds the hideaways. He said Bay Area safe-room owners are a little less conspicuous. ‘It’s the guy who owns the grocery store chain, software people, an owner of several hundred business franchises,’ said Rigdon, who has built more than a dozen safe rooms from San Jose to Marin County. ‘During the next fiasco, where do you want to be?’”

Among the Bourgeoisophobes: Why the Europeans and Arabs, each in their own way, hate America and Israel. (David Brooks) new
“Around 1830, a group of French artists and intellectuals looked around and noticed that people who were their spiritual inferiors were running the world.... Hatred of the bourgeoisie became the official emotion of the French intelligentsia.... Of all the great creeds of the 19th century, pretty much the only one still thriving is this one, bourgeoisophobia.... Since September 11, there has been a great deal of analysis of the roots of Muslim rage. But to anybody familiar with the history of bourgeoisophobia, it is striking how comfortably Muslim rage meshes with traditional rage against meritocratic capitalism. The Islamist fanatic and the bourgeoisophobe hate the same things. They use the same words, they utter the same protests. In an essay in the New York Review of Books called ‘Occidentalism,’ Avishai Margalit and Ian Buruma listed the traits that enrage al Qaeda and other Third World anti-Americans and anti-Westerners. First, they hate the city. Cities stand for commerce, mixed populations, artistic freedom, and sexual license. Second, they hate the mass media: advertising, television, pop music, and videos. Third, they hate science and technology — the progress of technical reason, mechanical efficiency, and material know-how. Fourth, they hate prudence, the desire to live safely rather than court death and heroically flirt with violence. Fifth, they hate liberty, the freedom extended even to mediocre people. Sixth, they despise the emancipation of women. As Margalit and Buruma note, ‘Female emancipation leads to bourgeois decadence.’ Women are supposed to stay home and breed heroic men. When women go out into the world, they deprive men of their manhood and weaken their virility. If you put these six traits together, you have pretty much the pillars of meritocratic capitalist society, practiced most assertively in countries like America and Israel.”

Myths of the Crusades hard to kill (Vincent Carroll) new
“You look at the latest U.S. News & World Report cover story, on the Crusades, and you figure they’ve got to be kidding. You know they can’t be serious in proclaiming the Crusades ‘the first major clash between Islam and Western Christendom,’ or in headlining the Crusades — in both print and in the version at USNews.com — as ‘The First Holy War.’ No sober journalist or historian could claim that ‘During the Crusades, East and West first met — on the battlefield,’ and expect any reader even casually familiar with world history not to leap out of the chair in exasperated shock. It’s a gag, almost certainly, when U.S. News quotes the chair of Islamic studies at American University as solemnly maintaining that ‘The impact of the Crusades created a historical memory which is with us today — the memory of a long European onslaught.’ No serious news journal would let such a statement stand without some mention of what happened before 1099 and the sack of Jerusalem by the likes of Tancred and Godfrey of Bouillon.... Like so many articles on the Crusades since the attacks of Sept. 11, U.S. News takes for granted the idea that the Crusades constitute a looming grievance against the West that rightly resonates to this day. And it would be funny, this journalistic malpractice, if it didn’t buttress the convictions of the fanatics who are still seeking revenge.”

China’s Economic Facade (Arthur Waldron) new
“Officially, China has for some time been claiming growth rates of 7 percent or more. But information casting doubt on those figures has long been available. Visitors see lots of rural people camped out at urban railroad stations or on sidewalks: Clearly they have nothing to do where they come from, or where they have arrived. Block after block of abandoned construction projects in cities suggest someone has run out of money (as does the recent proposal that money be raised for the Three Gorges Dam by selling stock). Almost daily protests by workers, many violent, are also a clue that all is not well. Moreover, even the official figures don’t make sense: How can it be that energy use is falling in a booming economy? And unemployment rising (as the official statistics show)? This is unprecedented in economic history. Finally, the state borrowing for pump priming to which Premier Zhu refers has always been public knowledge. Why, if the economy is burning up the track, has stimulus been necessary? Once again Chinese officialdom has put one over on Western observerdom. The shining exception is Prof. Thomas Rawski of the University of Pittsburgh, who over the past year or so has been making thoroughly empirical and highly persuasive presentations across the United States on China’s economy, based entirely on open Chinese sources, comparisons with other fast-growing economies and some solid economic analysis. He argues that China’s economy may actually have been contracting since 1998.”

They are the product of institutionally indoctrinated hatred of the West or of Jews (Howard Gerson and Harold Waller) new
“The myth that suicide bombers are necessarily produced by ‘desperate’ or ‘inhumane conditions’ should have been fully dispelled by the suicide attacks of Sept. 11, which were carried out by highly indoctrinated and motivated individuals who were neither economically deprived nor oppressed. Rather, they had been living freely in the United States for years. For many of us, this lack of desperation or of any apparent oppression was one of the most intellectually indigestible facts to emerge from the investigation post-Sept. 11. Perhaps there is a powerful need in Western culture to ascribe something other than simple hatred to explain a phenomenon as extreme as a suicide attack. Similarly, the idea that such attacks are the result of an institutionally indoctrinated hatred of the West or of Jews is repugnant to our rational and liberal approach. The Western psyche demands a reason to make ‘sense’ out of the act: The homicidal terrorist must suffer from ‘desperation,’ ‘humiliation,’ or "hopelessness." There must be ‘another side’ or a ‘missing link’ to the story. Yet the evidence that the recent suicide attacks in Israel are the result of indoctrinated hatred actively carried out or condoned by Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority, and by the Arab states, is overwhelming.”

Bush must face truth about Arab terror against Israel (Norman Podhoretz) new
“A linguistic child of the concept of moral equivalence, the words ‘cycle of violence’ allow of no distinction between terrorist attacks and retaliation against them. They allow of no distinction between the deliberate murder of civilians and the inadvertent harm done to civilians in a military action. And in the context of the ‘Arab-Israeli conflict’ (itself a deceptive label for what should actually be called ‘the Arab war against Israel’), to speak of a ‘cycle of violence’ is to conjure up a Hatfield-McCoy type of feud between equally irrational parties. This maneuver is calculated to conceal the crucial fact that Palestinian terrorism is neither a random nor an uncontrollable nor a ‘senseless’ phenomenon. On the contrary: it is a tactic carefully designed to advance a precise objective. And that objective is to wipe the Jewish state physically off the map, just as Israel is erased from the maps of the region printed in the textbooks given to Palestinian and other Arab schoolchildren.”

Journal Editors Disavow Article on Biotech Corn (WP) new
“The science journal Nature has concluded that a controversial article it published last year on the discovery of genetically engineered corn growing in Mexico was not well researched enough and should not have been published. In a highly unusual ‘editorial note’ in this week’s edition of the journal, the editors said that based on criticisms of the article and assessments by outside referees, ‘Nature has concluded that the evidence available is not sufficient to justify the publication of the original paper.’ .... The initial study had been embraced by anti-biotechnology activists, who said it confirmed worries that the technology was spreading in uncontrolled and unapproved ways. But Nature’s near-retraction of the article was welcomed by advocates for the technology.”

Say goodbye, Yasser Arafat (Mark Steyn) new
“It’s very difficult to negotiate a ‘two-state solution’ when one side sees the two-state solution as an intermediate stage to a one-state solution: ending the ‘Israeli occupation’ of the West Bank is a tactical prelude to ending the Israeli occupation of Israel. The divide among the Palestinians isn’t between those who want to make peace with Israel and those who want to destroy her, but between those who want to destroy Israel one suicide bomb at a time and those who want to destroy her through artful ‘peace processes’.... As for the Palestinians, they’re a wrecked people. It’s tragic, and, if you want to argue about who’s to blame, we can bat dates around back to the Great War. But it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t even matter whether you regard, as the Europeans appear to, the Palestinians’ descent into depravity as confirmation of their victim status: as Palestinian Authority spokesman Hasan Abdul Rahman said on CNN after a new pile of Jewish corpses, it’s the fault of Israel for ‘turning our children into suicide bombers’. Might be true, might be rubbish. Makes no difference. They can’t be allowed to succeed, because otherwise the next generation of suicide bombers will be in Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s. That’s why Arafat will never be president of a Palestinian state, and has begun his countdown to oblivion. The unravelling of the Middle East has just begun.”

Fawning Critics Don’t Say Book Was Fraud (Glenn Harlan Reynolds) new
“In the fall of 2000, professor Michael Bellesiles of Emory University published his book Arming America, which purported to establish that the core historical argument behind the Second Amendment was a fraud. The brave minuteman armed with his trusty rifle, Bellesiles told us, was mostly a myth — Americans at the time of the Revolution, and for many decades afterward, seldom owned guns, but instead relied on the government for protection. Bellesiles received glowing reviews in the New York Times Book Review, the New York Review of Books, the Atlantic Monthly, and many other publications, from reviewers who were often visibly pleased that he was sticking it to the National Rifle Association. As it turns out, the fraud was on Bellesiles’ end. At least, that’s the conclusion of those who have examined his work — from journalists, to historians, to law professors — and found it wanting. Bellesiles turns out to have quoted sources out of context, to have falsely reported data, and to have claimed to have used documents that have not existed since the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. One historian familiar with Bellesiles’ work called it a case of ‘bona fide academic fraud.’ Emory University is investigating.... Yet despite all these problems with Bellesiles’ work, many of the publications that afforded his book so much laudatory attention when it came out have remained silent.”

Crusade Propaganda: The abuse of Christianity’s holy wars. (Thomas Madden) new
“The crusades are quite possibly the most misunderstood event in European history.... The crusades were in every way a defensive war. They were the West’s belated response to the Muslim conquest of fully two-thirds of the Christian world. While the Arabs were busy in the seventh through the tenth centuries winning an opulent and sophisticated empire, Europe was defending itself against outside invaders and then digging out from the mess they left behind. Only in the eleventh century were Europeans able to take much notice of the East. The event that led to the crusades was the Turkish conquest of most of Christian Asia Minor (modern Turkey). The Christian emperor in Constantinople, faced with the loss of half of his empire, appealed for help to the rude but energetic Europeans. He got it. More than he wanted, in fact.... Despite modern laments about medieval colonialism, the crusade’s real purpose was to turn back Muslim conquests and restore formerly Christian lands to Christian control. The entire history of the crusades is one of Western reaction to Muslim advances. The crusades were no more offensive than was the American invasion of Normandy.”

Understanding America (Owen Harries) new
“The great sympathy felt for America immediately after September 11 has quickly evaporated and been replaced by suspicion and hostility. Rosemary Righter, chief leader write of the London Times, has observed recently that ‘America-bashing is in fashion as it has not been since Vietnam’ — and she is talking, not of Asia and the Middle East, but of London and Paris and Berlin. Moreover she asserts that it is not just a case of the usual suspects on the Left, but that a ‘resurgent anti-Americanism’ exists across the political spectrum. As she says, ‘America is never less loved in Europe than when... it is angry, determined, and certain that it is in the right’. Let me be clear: After the outrage of September 11, I do not believe that the United States could have reacted in any way other than as she did. But doing so will carry a cost. The long term significance of what happened some months ago may be that it forced American decisively along a course of action that — by emphasising her military dominance, by requiring her to use her vast power conspicuously, by making restraint and moderation virtually impossible, and by making unilateralism an increasing feature of American behavior — is bound to generate widespread and increased criticism and hostility towards her. That may turn out to be the real tragedy of September 11.”

Religion of Peace Update (Rod Dreher) new
“On the way to work [NYC] this morning [Apr. 3], I stopped into an Arab-owned convenience store to buy a newspaper. A wiry Arab man, about my age and looking like a tightly coiled spring, stood by the counter holding a clipboard. ‘You should not buy that one,’ he said to me in a thick accent, as I picked up a New York Post. ‘You should buy this one. It’s more fair about this story,’ he said, holding up a Daily News — which, like the Post, reports the Bethlehem siege on its front page. The man’s eyes were hot, and I didn’t want to argue with him. I told him I prefer the Post. ‘But they print lies about Palestine!’ he said, his voice rising (the Post's editorial policy is strongly pro-Israel). ‘Hitler, he knew what the those people were about. He knew that if you give them freedom, they will take over your country, just like they have done here. And I’m not just saying that because I’m a Muslim.’ I pointed out to the man, as calmly as I could, that Hitler killed six million Jews. ‘Not true!’ he shot back, sticking his finger in my face. ‘It’s a lie!’ I turned and walked out without saying a word more. Because there is nothing left to say to such fanatics.”

Quiet time campaign muzzle (Jacob Sullum) new
“No one disputes that the First Amendment applies to opinions about who should run the government and what the government should do. Yet in the topsy-turvy world of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, the closer speech gets to the sort of political expression the Framers clearly meant to protect, the more restricted it is. An organization may criticize a politician, so long as the message is timed so it’s not likely to change anyone’s vote. Or it may discuss an issue, so long as it does not mention a particular official’s position on it. What it may not do is engage in ‘electioneering communication’ — speech that might actually have a political impact. These restrictions do not apply to news organizations, which helps explain why so many of them looked favorably on campaign finance reform. (For newspapers and magazines, as Reason’s Jeff Taylor has noted, there was also the possibility of attracting ad revenue that would otherwise go to TV and radio stations.) Unlike environmentalists and anti-abortion activists, journalists remain free to discuss the merits of candidates at any time and in any terms they choose.”

Area man says father shot Martin Luther King Jr. (Gainesville Sun) new
“Claiming he wanted to get a 34-year-old secret off his chest, an Alachua County man said Tuesday that his father was the triggerman in the April 4, 1968, assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. And, the Rev. Ronald Denton Wilson said, portions of the murder plot were hatched in Gainesville.... ‘My dad was the one who shot Dr. King,’ he said. He said his father, Henry Clay Wilson, died in 1990 at age 68 and is buried in Gainesville. His father’s two co-conspirators, R.D. Wilson said, also are dead. Wilson, who lives near Keystone Heights, and several other family members and ministry associates gathered at the Gainesville Community Plaza to reveal what they said was the truth about the King assassination. Wilson and his sister, Velma Roark of Waldo, said their father told them many times over the years that he shot King.”

“Why Do They Hate Us?” (John Perazzo) new
“Since September 11, the uniquely introspective, self-critical people known as Americans have asked this question countless times. What elusive logic, we want to know, lies behind much of the Muslim world’s overt hatred of our nation? Not surprisingly, our progressive social critics, ever eager to explain the logical underpinnings of anti-Americanism, have dutifully provided numerous answers to these questions.... Considering the amount of time Americans have devoted to analyzing the aforementioned questions, it is utterly remarkable that the opposite questions are never raised: What have Muslim societies done to convince us that we should not hate them? Have they demonstrated an ability to resist engaging in ‘meddlesome,’ ‘cruel,’ ‘decadent,’ or ‘arrogant’ behavior? These would be reasonable queries coming from a citizen of the mostly-Christian United States, given that his or her fellow Christians are treated abominably in much of the Islamic world.”

Suicidal Lies (Thomas Friedman) new
“The world must understand that the Palestinians have not chosen suicide bombing out of ‘desperation’ stemming from the Israeli occupation. That is a huge lie. Why? To begin with, a lot of other people in the world are desperate, yet they have not gone around strapping dynamite to themselves. More important, President Clinton offered the Palestinians a peace plan that could have ended their ‘desperate’ occupation, and Yasir Arafat walked away. Still more important, the Palestinians have long had a tactical alternative to suicide: nonviolent resistance, à la Gandhi. A nonviolent Palestinian movement appealing to the conscience of the Israeli silent majority would have delivered a Palestinian state 30 years ago, but they have rejected that strategy, too.... Let’s be very clear: Palestinians have adopted suicide bombing as a strategic choice, not out of desperation. This threatens all civilization because if suicide bombing is allowed to work in Israel, then, like hijacking and airplane bombing, it will be copied and will eventually lead to a bomber strapped with a nuclear device threatening entire nations. That is why the whole world must see this Palestinian suicide strategy defeated.”

We shall not fear (David Warren)
“We hang not on the Cross, but on Christ’s Resurrection. At the centre of all Christian doctrine — and according to Christians, at the centre of everything — is this one moment. It is not understood as a miracle, but as the miracle at the heart, explaining all miracles before and after. It was, or rather it is, the grand intersection between the eternal and our own transitory world of space and time. Everything in nature and in ourselves was — is — transformed by it. It casts backwards through history as well as forwards, it gathers together every strand of meaning, into one knot, into one flame, and is of the moment with the Creation. And in prayer, and contemplation, the Christian apprehends, through the fact of the Cross, and shining through the Cross, the Resurrection. It is the lifting of the burden, the weight — of sin, of mortality, of fate. Christ, according to the Gospels, came into the world to abolish death. To abolish the tyranny over us, to free us from our greatest fear. In the moment of contemplating Christ’s Resurrection, we know the truth, and the truth has set us free.”

Bogus bias at MIT (John Leo)
“The sad truth is that MIT, one of the world's great centers of scientific education, has now produced and accepted two astonishingly unscientific studies of its own administrative behavior. In response to these studies, nobody on campus has spoken out. ‘The people on the gender committees control the airwaves on this story, and nobody will speak up,’ Steiger says. ‘And with good reason. If they speak, they will be branded as misogynists, and their careers will be in jeopardy.’ Worse, the culture of MIT is being changed. Gender equity has replaced scientific merit as the value administrators will be judged by. And as always in preference schemes, women on the faculty will now come under suspicion as people who wouldn’t be there except for politics. And all without any real discussion or open debate. Amazing.”

Listening for the Voices of Women (NYT)
“In the two decades since she wrote In a Different Voice and went on to identify a crisis of confidence in adolescent girls — a phenomenon Ms. Gilligan famously dubbed ‘losing voice’ — her work has attained the status of public gospel, inspiring pop psychology books, feminist lobbies and op-ed columnists, and galvanizing policy makers. Ms. Gilligan is often cited as an impetus behind the 1994 Gender Equity in Education Act, which, with an eye toward improving girls’ test scores, banned sex-role stereotyping and gender discrimination in the classroom.... Meanwhile, social scientists were busy challenging her research. In a Different Voice was attacked almost as soon as it appeared. Some researchers rejected Ms. Gilligan’s claim that women were more likely to consider their obligations to others (what she called an ethics of ‘care’) in making moral decisions, while men were more likely to rely on abstract principles of fairness (what she called an ethics of ‘justice’). Ms. Gilligan was accused of using unorthodox interview methods, of lacking control groups and of failing to publish her data in peer-reviewed journals. In a 1983 article in the journal Social Research, Debra Nails, now a philosophy professor at Michigan State University, dismissed In a Different Voice as ‘social science at sea without anchor.’ Since then, trying to replicate Ms. Gilligan’s findings has become a virtual social-science subfield, employing a small army of researchers — with little success.”

What You Say Reveals How You Think (David Stolinsky)
“The same paper, like most papers, takes great care to refer to anyone who has not yet been convicted of a crime as an ‘alleged’ or ‘accused’ murderer or rapist. This wording avoids lawsuits, and more importantly, it follows the American tradition that one is presumed innocent until proven guilty. So why is it that this paper began a story about child abuse in the Catholic Church with the front-page headline ‘Mahony Won’t Name Abusers.’ Not one of these priests had been charged with a crime, much less convicted, or their names would already be a matter of public record. But those Cardinal Mahony didn’t name were not referred to as ‘alleged’ abusers. Somehow the fear of lawsuits, and the devotion to civil liberties, were forgotten in the rush to condemn the Catholic Church — and, by extension, Christianity in general. Accused murderers and rapists in jail awaiting trial are ‘alleged,’ but priests not formally charged with anything are ‘abusers.’ How inconsistent. But how revealing.”

The slyer virus: The West’s anti-westernism (Mark Steyn)
“The Arabs say America is to blame for the Middle East. And Britain and America don’t disagree, not really. The Durban Syndrome — the vague sense that the West’s success must somehow be responsible for the rest’s failure — is a far slyer virus than the toxic effusions of the Chomsky-Sontag set, and it has seeped far deeper into the cultural bloodstream. At its most benign, Durban Syndrome manifests itself in a desire not to offend others if one can offend one’s own instead. We saw this after September 11 in the incessant exhortations from government, public service announcements, the nation’s pastors and vicars, etc., that the American people should resist their natural appetite for pogroms and refrain from brutalizing Muslims. Ninety-nine-point-nine-nine-nine percent of Americans had no intention of brutalizing Muslims but they were sporting enough to put up with being characterized as a bunch of knuckledragging swamp-dwellers, understanding that diversity means not just being sensitive to other peoples but also not being too sensitive about yourself. Similarly, at airports across the continent, eighty-seven-year-old grannies waited patiently as their hairpins were confiscated and their bloomers emptied out on the conveyor belt, implicitly accepting this as a ritual of the multicultural society: to demonstrate that we eschew ‘racial profiling,’ we go out of our way to look for people who don’t look anything like the people we’re looking for.... I am woman, hear me roar! Say it loud, I’m black and proud! We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it! The one identity we’re not encouraged to trumpet is the one that enables us to trumpet all the others: our identity as citizens of a very particular kind of society, built on the rule of law, property rights, freedom of expression, and the universal franchise. I am Western, hear me apologize!”

A Turn from Tolerance (WP)
“Long before Sept. 11, many white Europeans had deep-running concerns that their countries were involuntarily becoming multicultural as guest workers and refugees, mostly Muslim, established themselves in residence. There are about 15 million Muslims in Europe, making Islam the the continent’s largest non-Christian religion. The post-Sept. 11 concerns underscored a paradox that has cycled through European politics for years: The continent needs foreign workers to gird an aging workforce but is queasy about accepting them, especially if they are Muslim. ‘There is this fear for national identity combined with a fear of Muslims that has fueled this debate on immigration,’ said Jan Niessen, director of the Migration Policy Group, a research organization in Brussels.”

As the Web Matures, Fun Is Hard to Find (NYT)
“Just 11 years after it was born and about 6 years after it became popular, the Web has lost its luster. Many who once raved about surfing from address to address on the Web now lump site-seeing with other online chores, like checking the In box. What attracted many people to the Web in the mid-1990’s were the bizarre and idiosyncratic sites that began as private obsessions and swiftly grew into popular attractions: the Coffee Cam, a live image of a coffee maker at the University of Cambridge; the Fish Tank Cam from an engineer at Netscape; The Spot, the first online soap opera; the Jennicam, the first popular Internet peephole; the Telegarden, which allowed viewers to have remote control of a robot gardener; and the World Wide Ouija, where viewers could question the Fates with the computer mouse. The Web was like a chest of toys, and each day brought a new treasure.... The problem facing the Web is not that some of these particular sites have come and gone — there are, after all, only so many times anyone can look at a coffeepot, even online — but that no new sites have come along to captivate the casual surfer.”

What’s news for the experts is common knowledge to most (Kay Hymowitz)
“Not so long ago, everyone knew that children — boys and girls — were cruel, aggressive, Darwinian creatures who needed adults around to teach them self-restraint. William Golding’s classic 1954 novel Lord of the Flies, a disturbing story of English private school students deserted on an island after an airplane crash, illustrated the point most dramatically. It was common knowledge that, while girls didn’t often resort to fisticuffs, they were prone to back-stabbing, manipulation and scheming, a fact known to everyone from William Thackeray, who created the infamous Becky Sharpe in the novel Vanity Fair to Charles Schultz, inventor of Charlie Brown’s nemesis, Lucy. But in the late 1960s, development experts began revising the commensense view of children’s natural ethical state. This was partly because of the influence of the liberation movements of the time, partly to address changes in the family such as divorce and working mothers that made autonomous children a necessity.... But after a dramatic rise in juvenile crime and bullying, a slew of suburban school shootings, and just the daily grind of adult-child warfare, this theory was bound to disappoint.”

U.S. maintains the upper hand (David Warren)
“As I reported in this newspaper on Friday, the ‘jailing,’ or rather probationing of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has been taken over from Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, by U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney. It is an extremely significant step, not because it ‘disempowers’ the Israelis, but because it puts the United States forward directly in the role of Israel's protector, negotiating on Israel’s behalf. While lost on the western media, the point has been taken in several capitals of the Arab world: Mr. Arafat and his terrorist groups are no longer simply confronting Israel. They are now confronting a United States that is increasingly aware of their international connections. Mr. Cheney set the conditions for a meeting between himself and Mr. Arafat in Cairo yesterday, which did not take place because Mr. Arafat did not meet them. The essential, verifiable condition was that Mr. Arafat would deliver a public address, to his people, in unambiguous Arabic, demanding an immediate end to all terrorist strikes against Israel, and be seen delivering like orders to all the Palestinian militias under his ultimate command. Instead, he appeared on Palestinian TV looking as if he were a hostage reading a prepared statement by his kidnapper. He condemned, after the fact, only one particular suicide bombing in Jerusalem. This was 11 eggs short of a dozen.”

Stranglehold on Speech (Robert Samuelson)
“Free speech is not selective speech, respectable speech or popular speech. Free speech does not exist unless it can include speech that you — and perhaps most people — despise. People must have, as individuals and as groups, the routine right to express themselves, even if their expressions offend. Somehow these truths escape the supporters of ‘campaign finance reform,’ whose crusade threatens free speech.... In the final 60 days before the 2000 election, more than 135,000 political advertisements were run by sponsors who weren’t candidates or the political committees of candidates, reports the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. The new campaign finance legislation — known variously as McCain-Feingold and Shays-Meehan after its main Senate and House sponsors — aims to remove many (if not most) of these ads by non-candidates from the air. Unless political advertisements aren’t ‘speech,’ this represents a massive suppression of free speech.... Free speech must be a concept that ordinary people can grasp in most ordinary circumstances. It must not become a lawyerly collection of qualifications, footnotes and regulations, and that is where the campaign finance crusade is leading.”

Bleak future looms if you don’t take a stand (Dan Gillmor)
“This is a quiz about your future. It’s about how you view some basic elements of the emerging Digital Age. 1. Do you care if a few giant companies control virtually all entertainment and information? 2. Do you care if they decide what kinds of technological innovations will reach the marketplace? 3. Would you be concerned if they used their power to compile detailed dossiers on everything you read, listen to, view and buy? 4. Would you find it acceptable if they could decide whether what you write and say could be seen and heard by others? Those are no longer theoretical questions. They are the direction in which America is hurtling. Media conglomerates are in a merger frenzy. Telecommunications monopolies are creating a cozy cartel, dividing up access to the online world. The entertainment industry is pushing for Draconian controls on the use and dissemination of digital information.”

The Great Terror (Jeffrey Goldberg)
“Gosden believes it is quite possible that the countries of the West will soon experience chemical- and biological-weapons attacks far more serious and of greater lasting effect than the anthrax incidents of last autumn and the nerve-agent attack on the Tokyo subway system several years ago — that what happened in Kurdistan was only the beginning. ‘For Saddam’s scientists, the Kurds were a test population,’ she said. ‘They were the human guinea pigs. It was a way of identifying the most effective chemical agents for use on civilian populations, and the most effective means of delivery.’ The charge is supported by others. An Iraqi defector, Khidhir Hamza, who is the former director of Saddam’s nuclear-weapons program, told me earlier this year that before the attack on Halabja military doctors had mapped the city, and that afterward they entered it wearing protective clothing, in order to study the dispersal of the dead. ‘These were field tests, an experiment on a town,’ Hamza told me. He said that he had direct knowledge of the Army’s procedures that day in Halabja. ‘The doctors were given sheets with grids on them, and they had to answer questions such as “How far are the dead from the cannisters?”’ Gosden said that she cannot understand why the West has not been more eager to investigate the chemical attacks in Kurdistan. ‘It seems a matter of enlightened self-interest that the West would want to study the long-term effects of chemical weapons on civilians, on the DNA,’ she told me. ‘I’ve seen Europe’s worst cancers, but, believe me, I have never seen cancers like the ones I saw in Kurdistan.’”

The good, the bad and the Gallic shrug (Mark Steyn)
“Countries A and B may be at war, but there is no good side and no bad side, just two parties ‘trapped’ in a ‘mindless’ ‘cycle of violence’ that ‘threatens the peace process.’ The ‘peace process’ tends to be no peace and lotsa process, in which Western panjandrums have invested considerable amounts of their prestige. That’s why in Paris this weekend most of my dining companions were outraged not by the deaths of Palestinians or Israelis but by the shelling of Palestinian Authority buildings. ‘These buildings,’ one indignant Frenchman told me, ‘were built with money direct from the Union!’ — i.e., the European Union. ‘We have given billions, and now it is rubble.’ ‘Oh, your money's perfectly safe,’ I said. ‘Its sitting in the Hamas bigshots’ numbered bank accounts in Zurich.’ .... Forget the ‘cycle of violence’ and the ‘peace process.’ History teaches us that the most lasting peace is achieved when one side — preferably the worst side — is decisively defeated and the regime’s diseased organs are comprehensively cleansed. That’s why National Socialism, Fascism and Japanese militarism have not troubled us of late.”

Households Divided (Jean Bethke Elshtain)
“Wilson argues that the destructive features of a world without fathers are by now so well documented that they are beyond challenge. No responsible person wants to see that world expand, given its clear and present dangers. But how did it come about, and how are we to bring the second nation closer to the standard of the first in order to ensure that, in the parlance of the moment, no child is left behind? Wilson reminds us that when Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan first alerted the country in 1960 to the troubles looming on the horizon as the world of fatherlessness and rising out-of-wedlock birth was coming into view, he was denounced, accused of everything from racism to sexism to cultural imperialism, even as many people within the black community were saying the same thing — that a leap in fatherlessness was a ‘pathology.’ But that made no difference to the mainstream media or scholarship. As a result, it was easy for the first nation, irresponsibly, to ignore the problem of the second. Forty years later, facing an epidemic in teenage motherhood — by 1995, ‘three out of every four births to all teenagers were to unmarried girls; for black girls, it was nine out of ten’ — the alarm bells finally went off as politicians and social analysts converged on the same point: This trend cannot continue, as too much measurable harm is being done to children. As the evidence piled up, even those most resistant to the notion that fatherlessness as an independent factor generated risk factors for children, whatever the family’s socio-economic status, were forced to acknowledge the data. ‘Children in one-parent families, compared to those in two-parent ones, are twice as likely to drop out of school. Boys in one-parent families are much more likely than those in two-parent ones to be both out of school and out of work. Girls in one-parent families are twice as likely as those in two-parent ones to have an out-of-wedlock birth.’”

How Oscar Ghettoized Poitier (John Podhoretz)
“The spin on the evening was that it made history because two black performers won Best Actor and Best Actress on the same night that the first black movie star, Sidney Poitier, received an honorary Oscar. But there was something terribly retrogressive about the way all this was treated. The Oscar show worked overtime to make us think of Denzel Washington, Halle Berry and Poitier not as unique and remarkable talents but rather as tokens. Why were only black actors and actresses given a chance to speak in the three-minute film tribute to Sidney Poitier? Did Poitier’s career really have meaning only to black performers? Of course not. His extraordinary dignity and power gave the lie to the racist idea that white audiences could only respond to white performers and white stories. In a magnificent speech that was the highlight of the otherwise-unspeakable ceremony, Poitier himself paid a powerful and modest tribute to the directors, producers and studio heads who made history by casting him in the films that made him a star. They were all white. So is Poitier’s wife Joanna. Poitier had two daughters with Joanna, who are therefore both black and white. He is an integrationist not only professionally, but personally. For him to be seen as an inspiration only to black people is to ghettoize an extraordinary man who simply refused to accept the limits of race.”

Dumbing Down the SAT: The very existence of intelligence differences in America is about to become a forbidden truth. (Stanley Kurtz)
“There was a time when Americans believed that finding and training the country’s finest minds was in the national interest. Certainly, all American children ought to have access to quality education. But, ultimately, it is to our collective advantage as a nation to have a way of identifying students of high aptitude. And it is fairer to students themselves — especially those from lesser schools — to have a way of recognizing intellectual potential that has not yet come to the surface. The irony is that support for destruction of the SAT test comes from a liberal elite that is itself the product of our educational meritocracy. Guilt about success combines here with a hidden craving for moral superiority over the benighted middle classes. Those in the middle — and many minorities as well — still believe in the principles of liberty and equality that created the meritocracy in the first place. But once again, the liberal elite, in a conversation amongst itself, is managing to turn our most basic values and practices inside out — with nary a peep from a public that would fight these changes if they were honestly told what is happening.”

Of conscience & cowardice (Robert Going)
“I happen to believe in the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. While perhaps a minority view, it is generally not considered an extreme position except by those who take delight in yanking babies feet first three quarters of the way out of their mothers’ wombs, sticking a needle in the head and sucking the brains out. Those people would doubtless find my views radical. Still, if I had written what I’ve just written, or said it aloud in a public place at any time from 1985 when I first became a candidate for judicial office until I left the bench in 2001, I would have been subject to discipline, even removal, by the Commission on Judicial Conduct. Some members of that commission and its staff have even gone so far as to state that accepting the nomination of the Right to Life Party is judicial misconduct.... After I became a county-level judge, the death penalty was restored in this state. As a cross-assigned judge I was offered the opportunity to take special training that would allow me to sit on capital cases. I declined, and wondered what I would do if such assignments became mandatory. Most of us don’t give a lot of thought to the death penalty. I never did, truthfully. But when faced with the real possibility that you might someday decide who lives and who dies, you’d sure better start thinking about it. I likely would have ended up as one of those who should have resigned rather than follow the law. But would I have? I believe in the sanctity of human life from birth to natural death. It’s such an easy thing to say. Now.”

But Seriously, Folks (Larry Miller)
“But, you see in all of American life there has, for a long time, been a battle of sorts to define what is serious and what is not, and all the wrong people are consistently winning. No matter how stupid, wrongheaded, or immoral some of our leaders and representatives have been over the years, if they can affect an appearance of troubled thoughtfulness when they address our problems, if they speak in a measured way, if they look around and nod with gravity, and if they use coy, calculated gestures — biting a lower lip, say — they will always be considered ‘serious’ people, and there’s no telling how far they can go. And I just don’t get it. P.J. O’Rourke has created some of the most immensely funny things in the history of immensely funny things, and I consider his work to be wise, large, insightful, and practical; in short, serious. The problem for me, you see, is that I don’t know what to call the ‘serious’ people of today, because I don’t think they are. When Mr. Daschle holds forth on our war effort, everyone thinks he’s serious, he certainly thinks he’s serious, but all I see behind those unblinking blue eyes is a man thinking, ‘Boy, I sure would look good stepping off that big, green helicopter and saluting.’ The ‘support’ Messrs. Daschle, Leahy, Biden, et al. have given to our war effort has the same sincerity of the wrestling bad guy who spends two minutes gouging the face of his opponent with an awl and then, when confronted by the referee, slips the iron into his shorts and holds up his hands like a Vegas dealer going on his break.”

The 1930s, Again: A hard rain is going to fall. (Victor Davis Hanson)
“And so we Americans, like those 70 years ago who so wanted a perpetual peace, pray for a return of sanity in the Middle East. We chose to ignore horrific stories of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia — the embryo of 9/11. We are more amused than shocked that madrassas have taught a generation to hate us. When mullahs in Iran speak of destroying Israel we wince, but also shrug. We want to see no real connection between madmen blowing themselves up to kill us in New York and the like-minded doing the same in Tel-Aviv. We put our trust in peace with a killer like Mr. Arafat, who packs a gun and whips up volatile crowds in Arabic. All the while, no American statesman has the guts to tell the Arab leadership that statism, tribalism, fundamentalism, gender apartheid, and autocracy — not America, not Israel — make their people poor, angry, and dangerous.... I don’t listen any more to the apologies and prevarications of our whiney university Arabists, our equivocators in the state department, and the really tawdry assortment of oil men, D.C. insiders, bought and paid for PR suits, and weapons hucksters. The truth is that a large minority of the Middle Eastern world wishes a war with America that it cannot win — and much of the rest is apparently either indifferent or amused. So we should stop apologizing, prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and accept this animosity — just as our forefathers once did when faced by similar autocrats and their captive peoples who threatened us in 1941.”

New Analysis Says Women’s Studies Prism Emits a Distinctly Feminist Coloring (FOXNews)
“The modern woman is plagued by stereotypes imposed by a male-dominated society, which keeps her relegated to rearing children, keeping home and working in low-paying, menial jobs. That is the universal claim found in women’s studies textbooks on college campuses today, according to a critical analysis by the Independent Women’s Forum, a women’s group that has often tangled with the traditional feminist establishment. The treatise, set forth by Christine Stolba, a senior fellow at IWF, has already drawn fire from scholars who see Stolba as an ‘ultra-conservative’ with an ax to grind against traditional feminists.... She said many of the textbooks ignore the advances women have made in order to push an anti-male, liberal agenda that is rooted more in the stone age of gender relations than in 21st-century culture. ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged in women’s studies textbooks that women have been and continue to be the victims of oppression,’ wrote Stolba. ‘Women’s studies textbooks support a large number of factual inaccuracies. Many of these are deliberately misleading sisterly sophistries.’”

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

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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 CBSs
(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.’”

An Explosion of Green
(Bill McKibben)
The Atlantic
(April 1995)

“In the early nineteenth century the cleric Timothy Dwight reported that the 240-mile journey from Boston to New York City passed through no more than twenty miles of forest. Surveying the changes wrought by farmers and loggers in New Hampshire, he wrote, ‘The forests are not only cut down, but there appears little reason to hope that they will ever grow again.’ Less than two centuries later, despite great increases in the state’s population, 90 percent of New Hampshire is covered by forest. Vermont was 35 percent woods in 1850 and is 80 percent today, and even Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island have seen woodlands rebound to the point where they cover nearly three fifths of southern New England. This process, which began as farmers abandoned the cold and rocky pastures of the East for the fertile fields of the Midwest, has not yet run its course.... This unintentional and mostly unnoticed renewal of the rural and mountainous East — not the spotted owl, not the salvation of Alaska’s pristine ranges — represents the great environmental story of the United States, and in some ways of the whole world. Here, where ‘suburb’ and ‘megalopolis’ were added to the world’s vocabulary, an explosion of green is under way, one that could offer hope to much of the rest of the planet.”

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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

Corante
Tech News. Filtered Daily.

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

RealClear Politics
political commentary for the political junkie

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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.”

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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

Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online

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Weblogs

BrinkLindsey.com
International politics, economics, and foreign policy

CampusNonsense
Exposing Left-Wing Lunacy

The Corner
National Review Online

cut on the bias
Susanna Cornett
“keeping an eye on the spins and weirdness of media, crime and everyday life”

Jumping to Conclusions
David Nieporent
“Thoughts, comments, musings on life, politics, current events and the media.”

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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.”

Coverage of September 11 and the aftermath:

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

Attack on America (Guardian Unlimited)
Special Report with continuing coverage

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:

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.”

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.”

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.”

A two-part article @ Salon, by Andrew O’Hehir, on Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings:

The book of the century
“It’s unwise to read The Lord of the Rings as allegory in any strict sense, but this commonplace personal odyssey, one shared by millions in the modern age, is strikingly echoed in its plot. Frodo, the child-size hero, must leave his beloved Shire and travel into Sauron’s domain of Mordor, with its slag heaps, its permanent pall of smoke, its slave-driven industries. When he returns after much danger and difficulty, he discovers that the malicious wizard Saruman — as Shippey points out, a techno-Utopian who began with good intentions — has industrialized the Shire itself, cutting down its trees, replacing its hobbit-holes with brick slums and factories and poisoning its rivers. In this regard, then, The Lord of the Rings belongs to the literature of the Industrial Revolution, a lament for the destruction of England’s ‘green and pleasant land’ that belongs somewhere on the same shelf with Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence and William Blake. But Tolkien saw something wilder and stranger in the Sarehole of his childhood, and in himself: a fading but still tangible connection to the distant, mythic past. If his Shire hobbits are the West Midlands rural bourgeoisie of 1895 or so, they have been catapulted backward into a world where they themselves are the anachronisms, a realm of elves, dwarves (Tolkien insisted on this nonstandard but ancient plural, although he would have preferred ‘dwarrows’), wizards, dragons, goblins and black sorcerers.”

A curiously very great book
“It is not merely the scale of mythic invention or the grand storytelling that distinguishes it but also its tragic vision, the profound melancholy mentioned by Lewis. Few if any heroic quests have ever had such a sense of human frailty and weakness; although Frodo brings the Ring all the way to the Cracks of Doom where Sauron forged it, in the end he is overcome by temptation and claims it for his own. He is redeemed only by chance, or by divine grace, which in Tolkien’s world comes to the same thing. He has shown mercy to the treacherous and miserable Gollum, who becomes the accidental agent of Frodo’s and the world’s salvation. But Frodo, the book’s ostensible hero, fails in his quest and is left, like the knight who guards the Holy Grail, with a grievous wound that can never heal (an Arthurian parallel Shippey has not noticed). Even the victory wrought by the Ring’s destruction is a sad affair, in many respects closer to defeat. Much of the magic and mystery drains out of Middle-earth after Sauron’s fall, leaving behind an ordinary, only slightly prehistoric realm dominated by human beings. Tolkien’s most beloved characters — Gandalf, the High-Elves Elrond and Galadriel and the hobbits Bilbo and Frodo, both of them indelibly marked by the Ring — depart over the western seas to a paradisiacal nowhere that none of us on this shore will ever see. Tolkien liked to present himself to friends and readers as a contented fireside hobbit, fond of tobacco, simple food and late mornings in bed, and there can be no doubt, reading his letters, that he was immensely gratified by the outpouring of love and enthusiasm his work engendered. (And immensely irritated by some of it; when a woman wanted to name her Siamese cats after his characters, he replied that they were “the fauna of Mordor.”) But in reality he was a strange and complicated man who wrote a strange and sad book, whose complex of meanings we will likely never determine.”

A two-part article on Economists & Ecologists by Arnold Kling @ Tech Central Station:

new Common Sense and Sensibility
“Economists are not well thought of these days by environmentalists. Or so it seems from accounts such as a recent Scientific American excerpt of Edward O. Wilson’s book, The Future of Life. He characterizes economists as narrow, myopic environmental ignoramuses.... It’s true that economists have trouble with the views of many environmentalists. But this just reflects our frustration with the ecologists’ use of the most naive and inappropriate economic models and assumptions in their forecasts and policy prescriptions. That’s why Bjorn Lomborg’s new book The Skeptical Environmentalist is such a distinctive, rare, and important work. In addition to sharing the ecologist’s concerns about aquifers, sustainability, and global warming, Lomborg accepts the economist’s paradigm. By combining economics with ecology, he comes up with a rational, balanced analysis. Unfortunately, environmentalists’ denial of the validity of economic analysis runs through much of their criticism of Lomborg’s work.... Environmentalists tend to assume a constant relationship between inputs and outputs. If you are going to produce X tons of grain, then the acreage of land required will be X/y, where y is the average yield of an acre of land. Economists call this the ‘fixed-coefficients’ model, because the relationship between acreage and grain is governed by the coefficient y. Simply put, this is not a realistic model. In practice there are always a variety of production techniques that use different combinations of inputs to produce the same output. The fixed-coefficients model applies, if at all, only in the very short run. In the long run, there is substitution and technical change. Substitution means that producers will vary the inputs used in production, depending on changes in the cost of various inputs. For example, if land becomes more expensive, producers will substitute capital, labor, fertilizer, or other resources in order to utilize the most efficient combination. The other long-run factor is technical change. As we accumulate knowledge, we come up with ways to produce more output with fewer resources.”

new Lomborg’s Lessons
“Economists use interest rates to discount future benefits and costs. Because of discounting, environmental costs that are out in the future are given less weight than today’s economic goods, including today’s environment. Ecologists suspect that economists are being short-sighted, when in fact we are being rational. The interest rate represents the price at which the economy can trade off future output for present output. What discounting says is that tomorrow’s output is ‘cheap’ in today’s terms. Undertaking a large expense today to avoid the same expense tomorrow is inefficient. Ecologists worry that we are consuming too much now, while depriving future generations of resources and leaving them with large unpaid environmental bills. Economists, on the other hand, argue that by investing in science and research we are providing a legacy of wealth to future generations. The assets that they inherit in the form of capital and know-how will be much greater than any environmental liabilities. In The Skeptical Environmentalist, Bjorn Lomborg makes a strong case against the Kyoto Protocol, which attempts to restrict carbon dioxide emissions in order to forestall global warming. Even as one who accepts the thesis of global warming, Lomborg suggests that the Kyoto Protocol is a bad idea. Lomborg estimates a finite (albeit large) cost to global warming. Also, because this cost will be borne in the future, he applies a discount rate. If the present value of the cost of global warming is finite, then it becomes possible to estimate the benefits of policies to forestall global warming. Next, it follows that we can compare benefits to costs. It is on the basis of these cost-benefit comparisons that Lomborg is able to show that the Kyoto Protocol approach is unwise.”

A three-part essay “How Contemporary American Poets are Denaturing the Poem” by Joan Houlihan @ Web Del Sol:

new On the Prosing of Poetry
“Before writing was invented, poetry was used to mark special occasions and strong emotions and to burn the necessary stories — the myths and truths of a culture — into the memories of the people. Mnemonic devices such as sound, rhythm, and heightened, pictorial language, economy of expression (‘epigrammatic’ speech that encodes many meanings in as few words as possible) and assonance, consonance, alliteration, parallelism, were the branding irons used for the task. As well, these devices were incantatory, stirring primal responses to their sound and rhythm, and creating an atmosphere for the sacred and magical. Although spoken, poetry was not common; it was instead, a singular kind of speech, reserved for relaying important or sacred events, ensuring that such events would be remembered almost in a physical way, in the body’s deep response to sound, rhythm and imagery. Speaking poetically served a purpose. Speaking prosaically also served a purpose — to negotiate everyday reality, to speak of those things which were common to all and not worthy of long remembrance — to speak of the world in transit. Our ability to write did not erase the distinction. It took contemporary American poets, writing in deliberately flat prose about insignificant personal events and feelings; and editors, publishers and critics dubbing such anecdotes and everyday journal entries ‘poems,’ to erase the distinction. We have reached the point we are being asked to believe that a text block, chopped randomly into flat, declarative lines, is a poem. We are told to kneel and stare at this specimen of dead lines laid out in its little coffin on the page, and declare it alive. What do we say?”

new I=N=C=O=H= E=R=E=N=T
“The need for coherence appears to be basic, perhaps even neurological. Science has proved the human brain strives to find a pattern, an order, a meaning in chaos. What isn’t coherent, we strive to make so. It satisfies us. Thus, before settling for separate, unconnected pieces, beautiful as they may be, we will look hard for connections. While shapes and colors can become untethered from their representation, or meaning, a poem can only become fully untethered from meaning if it is without words. This is because the smallest irreducible piece — the word — retains meaning, in and out of context. A totally meaningless poem would logically consist of a blank page. In spite of this difficulty, some poets do manage to make extremely close approaches to the state of meaninglessness while still using words.... In order to save us from the Western capitalist construction called a poem, the Language Poets had to destroy it. But two other possible reasons for writing Language Poetry come to mind: [1] The poet cannot succesfully create a coherent poem and so makes a virtue of his failure. [2] The poet cannot successfully create a coherent poem and so uses poem-as-pretext for expounding critical theories — something he or she can do, and that, happy coincidence, ensures an academic career.”

new The Argument for Silence: Defining the Poet Peter Principle
“The tension between ‘career’ and ‘vocation’ in poetry is nowhere more obvious than in academia where poets take a sabbatical in order to write poetry, but never take a sabbatical from writing poetry. I believe that a certain variety of established poet, perhaps those with a substantial number of books, would benefit greatly from a poetry sabbatical. There is evidence of a need for poetic silence all around us. We see it every time we read a denatured poem by a renowned poet, usually in a renowned publication; evidence that the enabling editors of such publications have failed in their duty to enforce last call. For example, poets James Tate, Philip Levine and Mary Oliver have each produced more than 16 books of poetry. Whatever has driven this production, it is clear from the trajectory of all three poets that something must stop it. In all three cases, a windiness, a wordiness, a kind of poetic logorrhea can be found in their latest work in contrast to the fire and compression in their early work. Flatlined, barely pulsing, their latest work is being kept alive by extraordinary means: the artificial resuscitation of continuous publication.”

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This View’s Column

Wolves in Shepherd’s Clothing

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

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

“Are unbelievers more numerous among us today than believers? Perhaps faith is dead and has been covered with a layer of secular daily habit, or even denial and contempt.... Can it be that beneath unbelief there is downright sin, the inveterate sin which evolved people will not call by its name, so that mankind shall not call it by that name, and not seek remission?... Let man name sin by its name; he is not called upon to falsify it in himself, because the Church has received the power from Christ to exert over sin, for the good of the human conscience.” (Pope John Paul II, April 13, 1980)

The Damage Done

The damage done to the Catholic Church in the USA, and to individual Catholics, by the decades-long botched-up handling of cases of priestly immorality is incalculable. Ironically, the bishops surely made matters worse by trying to keep them under wraps; as indicated in a National Review Online column by Rob Dreher, Mar. 28:

The ire of the Catholic laity may rob the Church hierarchy of the kind of political protection it has formerly enjoyed. “As a Roman Catholic, it disgusts me to have to talk about this,” fumes former U.S. Attorney Joseph di Genova, who says that the Church is in more serious jeopardy, legally and otherwise, than its top leaders seem to understand. “If men like Cardinal Law and Cardinal Egan don’t quit looking at this as primarily a canonical and legal matter, but one of civic duty and civic responsibility, the pain is going to be prolonged,” he says.

Di Genova, who is now in private practice in northern Virginia, says the success Church lawyers have had in keeping clergy sex scandals quiet over recent decades has, ironically, become a Trojan horse. “If all of this had been made public over the past 30 to 40 years, the problem would have been dealt with, the bad priests would have been removed, and it all would have been taken care of,” he says.

But the problem was not dealt with, bad priests were not removed, and much has been taken care of as badly as could be imagined. Individuals have been hurt, sometimes (it seems) irreparably; the good name of the Catholic Church, and of individual Catholics (especially, but not exclusively, priests), has been besmirched as seldom before; and, many good and faithful priests feel that they have been put in a no-win situation.

The secular press has been eager to report, with salacious — and sometimes, I could swear, almost pornographic — detail, how innocent youngsters (mostly boys in their teens) were seduced, and their families betrayed, by wicked priests. Usually, their mental health was wounded, and their spiritual lives damaged; sometimes, their faith was lost. Often, the same results were inflicted on their relatives and friends who tried, unsuccessfully, to get the hierarchy to hold abusive priests accountable. These are broken souls for whom Jesus Christ, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, died a shameful death on the Cross; He Himself, with words that could not be more frightening, has said how much they mean to Him:

Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the man by whom the temptation comes! (Matthew 18:6-7 RSV)

Bishops, and their defenders, have often claimed recently that they had adopted a forgive-and-let’s-get-on-with-life attitude towards these immoral priests, and that such an approach is eminently Christian: after all, they say, we are all sinners, we are all in need of forgiveness, and we are all called to forgive. Of course. But it seems to me that the Sacred Scriptures show us that St. Paul the Apostle would have taken a much different approach. Look at what he told the first-century Christians of Corinth to do with a man who was consorting with his step-mother:

It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body I am present in spirit, and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men; not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But rather I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother [that is, a fellow Christian] if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber — not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5 RSV)

Remove him from your midst! Hand him over to Satan! Do not even eat with him! Drive out the wicked one from among you! So did St. Paul command the Corinthians to deal with a notorious sinner in their midst: surely, our bishops, and their defenders, cannot claim to be better Christians than was the Apostle.

The Catholic Church has been damaged, too, as surely as have the individual victims. We are all in this together. We share a faith, a heritage, a tradition, a life that have come down to us across the centuries. And our reputation — that of the Church, of its priests, of its faith and life — has been wounded immeasurably. Catholic author Mark Shea put it this way in an e-mail, Mar. 12:

I don’t fly off the handle over every accusation of ecclesial malfeasance in the media. I know those guys hate the Church. That’s why it drives me nuts that the Church leaders and its media seem to be deliberately choosing a course guaranteed to give the Church’s enemies a stockpile of weapons-grade uranium for years, perhaps centuries, to come. Don’t think I exaggerate: look at the everlasting nature of slanders based on the Inquisition and the Crusades.

Indeed, “those guys” in mainstream media do “hate the Church”. I cannot help but imagine the glee with which the editors of newspapers like the Boston Globe and the New York Times find another juicy tidbit of Catholic scandal to set before their readers. I cannot imagine that they are motivated by concern for victims or by a passion for justice: they are motivated, mostly, by a concern to sell papers, but also by a deep long-held animus against the Catholic Church.

No matter. They do us a favor by exposing the misdeeds of priests and their superiors. As St. Thomas More reflected during his imprisonment in the Tower of London almost five centuries ago:

Give me Thy grace, good Lord, to set the world at nought.... To think my most enemies my best friends; for the brethren of Joseph could never have done him so much good with their love and favor as they did him with their malice and hatred.

But blameless priests are being affected by the bad press; as Rod Dreher reported in a column, Jan. 15:

There are many good priests, men who would never harm a child, who suffer terribly from loss of morale. They feel that others look upon them with suspicion. They are terrified of leaving themselves open to a false accusation, which could end their priesthood. “Father D.,” a young priest who serves in the Southwest, tells NRO the abuse cases have affected relationships within his own family. On a visit home a few years ago, his sister suggested that her six-year-old son share the bed with Father D., “because he’s a great cuddler.” When the sister saw the horrified expression on her priest brother’s face, she understood that her innocent suggestion could have been a career-killer for Father D. If the children had told anybody that the boy had shared a bed with a priest, Father D. could have been thrown out of the priesthood. “I act around my nieces and nephews the same way I act in the parish: I am never alone with a child, period, end of story,” he says. “False accusations are a reality, and these horrify me as well. The only thing I can do is what I’ve done: Set up barriers and protections, and pray for protection.”

The “Homosexualization” of the American Clergy

As indicated many, many times through the course of this essay — beginning with a general overview of the situation from Philip Jenkins’ book Pedophiles and Priests in Part One, right through a critique of bias in media reporting by David Stolinsky in Part Four — the real nature of the crimes being committed by priests against Catholic youth has been consistently disguised in the mainstream media: true “pedophile priests”, who prey on young children, form an exceedingly small number of the perpetrators; the overwhelming majority of them are homosexuals preying upon older boys.

As far as I know, Boston Herald columnist Joe Fitzgerald was one of the earliest writers in mainstream media to broach the reality in relation to the current scandals engulfing the Catholic Church in the USA; he reported his conversation with a priest, in a column, Mar. 6:

“Thanks for returning my call,” he said. “I have a take on what’s happening now, something no one else seems anxious to get into, including the people in your business whom I’m angry at, too. The papers keep talking about pedophilia. That’s the wrong word. The real issue here is homosexuality. It’s usually heterosexuals who are pedophiles, which is a psychological disorder that has something to do with arrested development, sending them back to an age where they last felt comfortable, identifying with someone who reminds them of themselves.”

“Where are you getting this from?” he was asked.

“From friends who are psychologists. John Geoghan? Sure, he was a pedophile. But of all the guys whose names we’re reading now, no more than a couple were pedophiles, a percentage probably consistent with the general population. The majority of these victims were not prepubescent; they were young teens, so it had nothing to do with pedophilia. It’s technically called ephebophilia, which is almost exclusively homosexual, and it isn’t about comfort; it’s about sex. The media don’t like talking about this because, by and large, they have come down on the side of gay rights, the advancement of the gay agenda, so there would be an uncomfortability because, again and again, gays are saying, ‘We’re no threat to children; that’s why we should be Boy Scout leaders, why we should be teachers, why we should be able to adopt.’ That’s always their justification for interactions with young people.”

“Father,” he was assured, “you’ll be branded a hater.”

“I know, so please make sure I’m well-disguised, though if I said all of this in a homily I think people in this parish would be pretty cool with it.”

I don’t know if the priest would be branded “a hater”. But one can gather from Fitzgerald’s follow-up column, Mar. 11, that he himself certainly was:

The torrent of invective unleashed by that column would be difficult to describe; suffice to say, it was a truth a lot of people did not want to hear.

He continued:

But that backlash was wonderfully balanced by the number of other priests who called to concur, including one who personally experienced such wrath when he challenged the gay agenda from his pulpit. “Check the Merck Manual,” he suggested. “Every nurse and doctor is familiar with it; I have a copy. It defines pedophilia as repetitive sexual activity with pre-pubescent children and usually involves heterosexuals who’ve had psychological and emotional disorders from youth. Look at the ages of the victims we’re reading about here, like those ‘waiters’ who were brought to that camp in New Hampshire. They were 13, 14, so we’re not talking pedophilia; that’s intentionally misnaming it. Homosexual molestation is where you seek after kids who’ve reached puberty, and almost all of these victims we’re reading about were adolescents or young teens, so how can you possibly call that pedophilia? Call it what it is.”

What’s needed here is a little bit of honesty, though you can be sure it will be vehemently assailed as hatred. Isn’t it ironic that those who clamor for tolerance have none for anyone else? “There’s a lot of anger among them,” this priest agreed. “Remember how they protested the church’s teachings a few years ago by throwing condoms at newly ordained priests outside Holy Cross Cathedral? There’s obviously a lot of immaturity there, too, but most of all it’s an anger against authority. No one seems to want to say it, but the only answer to these problems is the Vatican’s view that we’ve got to get this element out of the priesthood.”

What is it? Molestation or seduction of adolescent boys by homosexual adults.

(You had better check that Merck Manual right quick: if it becomes widely known that Merck is being used to clarify our perception of reality in this particular way, I have a hunch there will be powerful behind-the-scenes pressure to minimize the distinction between pedophilia and homosexual molestation/seduction of teenagers in succeeding editions.)

The few amusing moments in this whole mess have come, for me, from watching the reaction when reasonable people point out that nearly all of these cases of priestly sexual immorality involve adolescent boys: thus, by definition, these offenses are being committed by homosexual men.

Mary Louise Cervone appeared on two TV programs, Mar. 28, representing the “Catholic” homosexual organization called “Dignity”. On The O’Reilly Factor (FNC) and on Making Sense with Alan Keyes (MSNBC), Cervone frantically tried to deny, over and over again, any distinction whatever between pedophiles who prey on young children and homosexuals who target adolescents. She offered no evidence for her assertion, of course, but spent most of her time wresting the conversation back to it.

I almost felt sorry — almost — for somebody forcing herself to look so willfully stupid for a national audience.

And, when NRO columnist Rod Dreher appeared on CNN’s The Point, Mar. 15, he used the word “homosexual” instead of the word “pedophile” to refer to our sexually immoral priests: though Dreher has the data on his side, both the host and the other guest paused for an uncomfortable moment of stunned silence. They reacted as if Dreher had used a racial epithet or a profanity.

It was great.

This afternoon, I thought — yes, I actually let myself believe — that a mainstream journalist was going to use the “H” word. David France, a Newsweek editor, was being interviewed by Lester Holt on MSNBC. During the brief segment — called “Can the Church Survive?” — Holt actually pointed out to France that “pedophilia” may be not the right word to describe most of the deeds. He asked France to comment, in a manner that invited clarification. At that point, I thought we were really, actually, frankly going to hear the “H” word. Alas, all the honesty France could muster was to note that, yes indeedy, most of the victims have been teenagers. Not teenaged boys, mind you. Just “teenagers”.

Given this atmosphere, I doubt that the following story will get much play; it comes from an article in the Boston Herald, Apr. 7:

A priest accused of raping a Newton altar boy and an unknown number of other youths over three decades used writings from Nambla — a much-assailed group that advocates sex between men and boys — to entice naive teens into having sex with him, an alleged victim of the priest said yesterday. The accuser, a gay man in his 40s who works in the service industry and requested anonymity, said he was introduced to the Rev. Paul R. Shanley in 1974, at age 16, by an ex-Dorchester man who co-founded Nambla, or North American Man-Boy Love Association, and goes by the name Socrates.

He says Shanley was a strong proponent of Nambla’s philosophy, which holds in part that older men should introduce pubescent boys to the mysteries of sexuality, and routinely collected and showed teens Nambla materials. The accuser says Shanley openly courted and engaged in sex with numerous boys in the 14 to 17 age range while the longtime Boston priest, who is now 71 and living in San Diego, ran a small Catholic ministry for “sexual minorities” from the early 1970s into the 1980s.

The Boston Globe ran an article the same day, about the same priest, referring always to Shanley as a “child” molester and without mentioning NAMBLA:

Despite three decades of complaints that the Rev. Paul R. Shanley had sexually abused children, the Boston Archdiocese transferred the onetime “street priest” to a California parish where officials were never told of the molestation allegations.... A church adviser told the Globe that the documents will include a 1977 record of a statement by Shanley in which Shanley said he did not believe that pedophilia was deviant or immoral. Pedophilia is the term for sexual urges or activity toward prepubescent children by adults. The adviser could not say to whom Shanley made the statement....

Shanley, who was known as Boston’s “street priest” in the 1960s and ’70s, was ordained in 1960 and held parish assignments at St. Patrick’s in Stoneham, St. Francis of Assisi in Braintree, and St. John’s in Newton during his three decades in Massachusetts. He was also chaplain at Boston State College in 1969, the same year he established “Rivendell,” a retreat house for youth workers on a 95-acre farm in Weston, Vt. In 1970, Shanley launched his “ministry to alienated youth,” based at St. Philip’s in Roxbury, for runaways, drug abusers, drifters, and teenagers struggling with their sexual identity. He ran the ministry for eight years, attracting wide public attention for embracing ostracized minorities and challenging the church’s position on homosexuality. In 1979, Cardinal Humberto Medeiros reassigned Shanley to the Newton parish, even though in 1974, according to one of Shanley’s victims, the cardinal had been notified of Shanley’s abuse by the victim’s mother. Shanley said publicly at the time that he was removed from the youth ministry because he differed with Medeiros over the church’s outreach to homosexuals....

Church directories indicate Shanley is now a “senior priest” assigned to the clergy personnel office at archdiocesan headquarters in Brighton. But he has been living in San Diego working as a police volunteer in an organization that finger-printed children at county fairs. He was dismissed last week, according to San Diego police. Shanley’s alleged victims in the Boston Archdiocese included a 42-year-old South Shore man who received a $40,000 settlement from the archdiocese in 1991 after notifying church officials that he had repeatedly been anally raped by Shanley in about 1972, when he was 12 or 13. The alleged victim, who asked that his name not be used, said he met Shanley after responding to a newspaper advertisement the priest had placed encouraging troubled teenagers to contact him for counseling.

(Of course, in Shanley-speak, “outreach to homosexuals” means “approval of homosexual behavior”.)

Today, the Boston Globe published an article with more disturbing details of the career of Shanley, but it still begins by referring to his criminal past in the Boston area as that of a “child” molester:

The Archdiocese of Boston arranged the transfer of a known child molester, the Rev. Paul R. Shanley, to a California parish in 1990 with a top-level written assurance that Shanley had no problems in his past, according to a spokesman for the San Bernardino diocese. The letter, which cleared the way for Shanley to work for three years at St. Anne’s in San Bernardino, without restriction on his contact with children, was written by Bishop Robert J. Banks, who was then the top deputy to Cardinal Bernard F. Law....

During most of the time Shanley was at St. Anne’s, he and another priest from Boston owned and operated a bed-and-breakfast for gay customers 50 miles away in Palm Springs, according to interviews and property records reviewed by the Globe. Shanley and the Rev. John J. White, his co-owner of the B&B, were both technically on “sick leave” from the archdiocese and were being paid by the Boston Chancery. It was unclear last night whether Law or his aides were aware of the two men’s business interest....

In January, when the Globe reported Shanley’s long history of allegedly molesting teenage boys, White denied that he owned property with Shanley — until the Globe confronted him with property records.

(How about that, Boston Catholics? Two homosexual priests were — are? — on your payroll while they were running a B&B for homosexuals in California. Yes. How about that?)

And notice how the Associated Press casually confuses the issues in an article in the Tampa Tribune, also published today:

Ireland’s Roman Catholic bishops were holding crisis talks Monday over the church’s handling of cases of sexual abuse involving pedophile priests. The meeting comes a week after the Bishop of Ferns, Brendan Comiskey, resigned after admitting he had not done enough to prevent sexual abuse by priests, particularly the Rev. Sean Fortune, who was facing 66 counts of molesting and raping teen-age boys when he committed suicide in 1999. (emphasis added)

(Will the resignation of the Bishop of Ferns “after admitting he had not done enough to prevent sexual abuse by priests” become a precedent for American bishops?)

I may be wrong: the Shanley story is getting some play, perhaps because of the deceit of one diocese by another. What low-down chicanery! What unconscionable effrontery! The bishops’ semi-annual meeting in June is really shaping up to be all the more explosive.

Sky high.

But Fitzgerald writes again today, noting how the misleading reporting crosses the line from disingenuous to dishonest:

It’s one thing to be disingenuous and quite another to be dishonest, a line too easily blurred when those who report the news attempt to choreograph it, too, which is exactly what many in this business are doing by perpetuating the myth that pedophilia is the cancer now infesting the Catholic Church. It is not pedophilia that has brought the Boston archdiocese to this dark moment; in most of the instances where abuse has been alleged, it’s homosexuality that has caused such pain and disgrace....

Pedophilia is a red herring, providing safe cover for irresponsible critics, allowing them to swing from the heels, recklessly impugning reputations, carelessly making blanket indictments, secure in the knowledge they incur no risk because everyone agrees that hurting a child is reprehensible. Criticizing homosexual aggression, however, would invite the rage of advocates who, refusing to acknowledge the elements of depravity that exist within their community, bitterly assail anyone else who dares to address it, labeling them homophobes, which is just one more example of what you can do with words. It may be unpopular, but in a scandal of this magnitude it’s certainly not hateful to identify the problem by its right name; indeed, it beats deceit, especially if the only reason to mislead is fear of incurring the wrath of militants. Believe this: If “homosexuality” replaced “pedophilia” in the language used to cover this interminably miserable story, we would see a lot more restraint, resulting in a lot more fairness to everyone affected by it, especially legitimate victims and innocent priests.

The latest round of clerical suspensions for sexual immorality, and the anecdotal evidence of the likes of Shanley and White, are not the only evidence of the “homosexualization” of American clergy. According to a new book, the Jesuits in the USA have been overrun by homosexuals. As Garry Wills says in a New York Times Book Review article, Mar. 28:

The authors report a general agreement among present and former Jesuits that a gay subculture flourishes in the Society. Outsiders became aware of this subculture in 2000, when it was reported that Jesuits by the dozens were suffering from or dying of AIDS. From one novitiate alone — in fact, the one I entered in 1951 — five men who were novices in the 1960s were dead of AIDS by the 1990s. There were attempts to hide this rate — when Thom Savage, the popular former president of Rockhurst College in Kansas City, died in 1999, it was said that he died of respiratory problems, but a reporter for The Kansas City Star found only one cause of death, AIDS, listed on his death certificate.

It is not surprising that the numbers of heterosexuals have declined, as many left to marry and others were deterred by the celibacy requirement from entering. The remaining or arriving gays have formed protective networks — the authors call it a “lavender Mafia” — to provide the sense of community otherwise so hard to come by in the order. Of course, this works against a larger sense of community, since some of those Jesuits interviewed express resentment at being excluded by the gays. A straight young Jesuit says: “I feel quite alone when Jesuits of my generation talk about sex and sexuality. Straights complain about being in the minority in the ‘younger Society’ and about being held to stricter norms of conduct. Gays want shoulders to cry on as they struggle with coming out and are unduly sensitive to any detail of a response which they can interpret as nonacceptance.” A man in his thirties teaching in a high school also feels stranded: “Several of my former Jesuit friends would mention the large number of gay Jesuits and the impact that had on community life as being a big reason they left. As a relatively young Jesuit who is heterosexual, I believe I am in the minority, and that raises questions.” A priest in his sixties is less tolerant of the younger men: “I get annoyed with those gays who seem stuck on one note — anger.” This man seeks escape from the community room by spending time with women friends outside his institution.

As George Neumayr notes at TheAmericanProwler, Mar. 13:

Were Ignatius of Loyola alive today, the Jesuit order he founded wouldn’t ordain him. His once-formidable society is now a corrupt club for homosexual dilettantes and anti-papal dissenters. Real Catholics need no longer apply.

Celibacy is Not the Problem

As naturally as flies gather on rotting meat, many people — usually liberals, even (or especially) Catholics, in mainstream media — are blaming clerical celibacy for this problem, and recommend making it optional as a solution.

Let us quote again from one Michael Kramer, who was shown last time to have no idea what he’s talking about when it comes to the historical development of mandatory celibacy. From his same article, Mar. 24:

The best guess from secular analysts is that celibacy doesn’t itself produce the twisted personality that causes some very few priests to prey on children and young adolescents — although the problem of arrested sexual development needs further study, since many would-be priests enter seminaries as teenagers.

But even if celibacy doesn’t cause such deplorable behavior, there’s ample reason to view it as bad policy anyway. First, says Marquette University Theology Prof. Michael Fahey, “married priests would emancipate the church because they would be better connected to normal life. Unmarried priests are simply less sensitized to the needs of children.” And second, says Fahey, optional celibacy would rejuvenate the clergy because the church is facing a manpower crisis.

During the past 30 years, as the number of Catholics has grown by about 30%, the number of priests has declined by about 10%. There are 62.4 million U.S. Catholics and more than 2,500 parishes are without a resident priest, in part because roughly 20,000 American priests have left the clergy to marry during the past 25 years. The available pool of men willing to become priests would increase if they could marry, and their quality would likely improve as well.

The lid is being blown off that little deception (of which Kramer is likely a victim rather than merely a perpetuator). Celibacy has been blamed for nearly 40 years as one of the chief, if not the chief, cause of the decline in priestly vocations; and, that decline has then been used as an argument to end mandatory celibacy. A soon-to-be-published book, by Michael S. Rose, argues instead that good, solid, orthodox Catholic men, willing to embrace celibacy and to devote their lives to the service of God and the Catholic Church, have been turned away — if not actually driven away — from Catholic seminaries in the USA. In droves. For decades.

It is beyond the scope of this essay to delve into this affair in detail. But here is some of the table of contents from Rose’s book, Goodbye! Good Men: How Catholic Seminaries Turned Away Two Generations of Vocations From the Priesthood.

Chapter 1: A Manmade Crisis: Why Archbishop Curtiss said the priest shortage is “artificial and contrived”

Chapter 2: Stifling the Call: How for some men the road to ordination is cut short before it really begins

Chapter 3: The Gatekeeper Phenomenon: How good men are unjustly screened out during the seminary application process

Chapter 4: The Gay Subculture: How homosexual politics discriminates against healthy, heterosexual seminarians

Chapter 5: The Heterodoxy Downer: How false teaching demoralizes and discourages the aspiring priest

Chapter 6: Pooh-poohing Piety: How traditional expressions of the faith often disqualify the orthodox seminarian

Chapter 7: Go See the Shrink! How psychological counseling is used to expel the good man from his seminary

Chapter 8: The Vocational Inquisition: How the orthodox seminarian is identified and persecuted

Chapter 9: Confronting the Obstacles: One good man traces his tortuous route to ordination

Chapter 10: Heads in the Sand: How complaints about the poor state of seminaries have gone unanswered

Chapter 11: A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: How a death-wish for the male, celibate priesthood created an artificial priest shortage

Chapter 12: The Right Stuff: How to live up to the Church’s expectations for seminary life

Chapter 13: Where the Men Are: Why orthodoxy begets vocations (or, how to learn from successful dioceses and seminaries)

Archbishop Curtiss is the Elden Curtiss mentioned previously, in Part Three and Part Four. I had alluded to his analysis of the current vocations “crisis”, from which I now quote:

I personally think the vocation “crisis” in this country is more artificial and contrived than many people realize. When dioceses and religious communities are unambiguous about ordained priesthood and vowed religious life as the Church defines these calls; when there is strong support for vocations, and a minimum of dissent about the male celibate priesthood and religious life loyal to the magisterium; when bishop, priests, Religious and lay people are united in vocation ministry — then there are documented increases in the numbers of candidates who respond to the call.

It seems to me that the vocation “crisis” is precipitated and continued by people who want to change the Church’s agenda, by people who do not support orthodox candidates loyal to the magisterial teaching of the Pope and bishops, and by people who actually discourage viable candidates from seeking priesthood and vowed religious life as the Church defines the ministries.

I am personally aware of certain vocation directors, vocation teams and evaluation boards who turn away candidates who do not support the possibility of ordaining women or who defend the Church’s teaching about artificial birth control, or who exhibit a strong piety toward certain devotions, such as the Rosary.

When there is a determined effort to discourage orthodox candidates from priesthood and religious life, then the vocation shortage which results is caused not by a lack of vocations but by deliberate attitudes and policies that deter certain viable candidates.

And the same people who precipitate a decline in vocations by their negative actions call for the ordination of married men and women to replace the vocations they have discouraged. They have a death wish for ordained priesthood and vowed religious life as the Church defines them. They undermine the vocation ministry they are supposed to champion.

Curtiss describes, and Rose documents, the nature, purpose, strategy, and some of the effects of those whom I call subversive traitors.

Besides the red herring of decline in vocations, Kramer also claims that eliminating mandatory celibacy would improve the lot of candidates for the priesthood.

Well, it is an idea.

And it is a slap in the face to hundreds of thousands of celibate clergy and religious who have served God and the Catholic Church faithfully. Century after century after century.

Alas — and I am very sorry to have to say this — married clergy is no cure-all palladium. Witness, for instance, the report of Bill Wineke, a member of the United Church of Christ, in the Wisconsin State Journal, Apr. 5:

Lest you become comforted thinking only Catholic priests can be clerical perverts, you might want to subscribe to “Freethought Today,” the monthly publication of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. It runs a gleeful feature — one that usually covers a couple of pages — called “Black Collar Crime Blotter.” The blotter picks up newspaper clippings about problem pastors from around the country and the result isn’t pretty.

The April issue, for example, begins with an item announcing the minister of the Edmond, Okla., Wesley Foundation Campus Ministry had been charged with molesting two girls, aged 8 and 9, in the church recreation room. Also listed are an Oklahoma City rabbi, the cantor of one of the world’s largest Reform synagogues, an Assembly of God pastor charged with raping a girl, and a Southern Baptist minister charged with sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl. From my own denomination, the United Church of Christ, came news that one of our conference ministers — the equivalent of an archbishop in role, if not in status — was convicted of standing in his house window and exposing himself to neighbors.

Now, I admit that the news that Catholic priests aren’t the only clerical deviates does not do much to make us feel better about the church in general. But it should serve to keep those of us who aren’t Catholic from getting too judgmental and it should call into question the validity of the claim of many that celibacy and the male-only priesthood are the causes of priest failures. Most of the non-Catholics listed in Black Collar Crimes are married and most are in churches that ordain women.

Indeed, as Wineke notes, married clergy have a problem all their own:

A far more common problem in all our churches and synagogues comes from clergy who succumb to the all-too-human temptation to fall in love with persons other than their wives (or husbands). Such affairs are not illegal and they don’t make the papers. But they do result in broken families and in heartbreak among disillusioned church members, many of whom end up leaving the church quietly and never returning.

And this “problem” — marital infidelity among clergy — is “far more common”, he says, than the sins against juveniles that warrant attention because they are crimes. (Not to mention that our secular milieu hardly considers marital infidelity worth mentioning as wrong-doing, except perhaps in a divorce petition.)

Unless one believes that a homosexual can be “cured” by marriage, one defies all reason to claim that a married clergy would have forestalled the rash of homosexual abuse of teenaged boys by priests. Catholic columnist Maggie Gallagher addressed this very notion, Mar. 13:

As I sat in the pews last Sunday, obediently praying for an increase in religious vocations, the thought occurred: If one of my sons wanted to dedicate himself to a life of chastity, poverty and obedience, forsaking marriage (and my grandchildren!) for God’s sake, would I trust my child to the care of people now running American Catholic seminaries? Should I? Should any mother?

This is the question raised in many staunch Catholic hearts by the series of revelations of priestly sexual abuse of teen-agers. Teen-age boys, to be exact. One of the big, obvious questions on everybody’s mind that nobody in the American church hierarchy seems to be willing to address is this: Why, suddenly, is it only boys, boys, boys?

The same old church critics are using these scandals to target clerical celibacy as the problem and married priests as the solution. Right. As if wives are the answer to the sexual urges of men who get their kicks from adolescent boys.

Celibacy as currently practiced in the Catholic Church in the USA does, however, seem to me to be a problem. But I will address that issue, and others, as I conclude this column 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.

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 Volume 1.9 Front Page April 8, 2002 




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”