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 1.10 Front Page April 15, 2002 


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

Columns, essays, and news articles

What the Titanic teaches (Stephen Cox) new
“Investigation revealed that the Titanic had been following normal navigational practices and that she was equipped with more than normal safety features — including 200 more lifeboat spaces than government regulations required. In fact, more than 400 of the Titanic’s lifeboat spaces were never used. A very large ship, like a very large plane, is hard to evacuate completely; even if the Titanic had provided lifeboat spaces equal to the number of passengers, there would not have been enough time to use them all. No plans or regulations can guarantee that any vessel — or any human enterprise — is completely safe. Every action, even the apparently obvious action of turning a ship to evade an iceberg, carries with it an incalculable risk. And our moral decisions are just as risky as our practical decisions. The Titanic continues to fascinate the world because it raised this essential fact to the highest pitch of dramatic intensity. The Titanic sank [Apr. 14-15, 1912] in two hours and forty minutes — the length of a classic play. During that time, everyone involved in the disaster had to ask the most basic questions about what life is worth and what means may be used to save it. People had time to think, observe, reflect; but they finally had to decide, irrevocably, what they ought to do. Their decisions were as various as the individuals themselves.”

It’s a war, not a grudge match (George Jonas) new
“In his Rose Garden speech on April 4 announcing Mr. Powell’s mission, the President struck a lyrical note: ‘America itself counts former adversaries as trusted friends — Germany and Japan and now Russia,’ Mr. Bush said. ‘Conflict is not inevitable. Distrust need not be permanent. Peace is possible when we break free of old patterns and habits of hatred.’ What Mr. Bush failed to mention was that Germany was flattened and de-Nazified before it became America’s trusted friend; imperial Japan was nuked, and Soviet Russia had imploded. The friendship of these nations was preceded by a complete collapse and fundamental restructuring of their respective societies. One wishes the Mideast conflict were just a grudge match between two old men. Unfortunately, it isn’t. It’s a war between the Jewish state and those who have been trying to reject it for the past 54 years. Despite Mr. Bush’s uplifting speech, Mr. Powell probably lacks the illusions of Neville Chamberlain. He isn’t going to Ramallah as Chamberlain went to Munich in 1938, with the lofty hope for ‘peace in our time.’ Mr. Powell is hoping only for a licence from the Arab world to wage his own war in peace. He wants to finish a job in Iraq he left unfinished a decade ago.”

Evil’s triumph over conscience (Norman Doidge) new
“Spooked, America is unwilling to let Israel end Arafat’s reign of terror. Washington has retreated into approaching him with a kind of primitive behaviour-therapy that says, ‘If he renounces terror’ or ‘If he controls terror,’ then we will talk to him. It is as though all that matters is to get him to say the right words, never mind his intentions; as if no distinction need be drawn between his strategic goal — the destruction of Israel — and a tactical willingness to say he opposes terror (when a lie serves his strategy). Arafat has discovered, as Shakespeare understood, that the more brazen and relentless one’s acts of brutality, the more likely it is that one will be allowed a second chance, and find even powerful men of conscience coming to one’s door offering to forget, to forgive and to give forgiveness a bad name.”

How white liberals destroyed black families (Anthony Covington) new
“It would be nice to put the blame for inequality of incomes between African, Euro- and Asian Americans squarely where it belongs. Not on ‘white racism’, ‘the legacy of slavery’ and other dead or dying nebulae, but on poor old Dad — wherever he is. Even he is not the real villain. Rather, the most blame falls on American Democratic politicians between 1949-1999, including Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Their allies in the American left-wing devised the welfare state, an institution that wrecked the African-American family better than slavery or racism ever did. ‘Hold on’, I hear you say, ‘that sounds upside down?’ However, consider this; it is not colour, religion or your education in the USA that makes you more likely to end up in poverty, unemployed, on drugs and in crime. It is not having a father. Fatherless families of whatever colour in the USA make up 70 per cent of criminals, drifters, unemployed and failures. Parenting and not race is the major factor — undeniably so. Study after study confirms it.”

The death of socialism (Roger Kimball) new
“It is one of the great ironies of modern history that socialism, which promises a more humane, caring, and equitable society, has consistently delivered a more oppressive and mismanaged one. Socialism’s motto — Muravchik optimistically offers it to us as socialism’s ‘epitaph’ — turns out to be: ‘If you build it, they will leave.’ If, one must add, they are allowed to leave. As Muravchik reminds us in this excellent survey of socialist personalities and socialist experiments, encouraging dissent is never high on a socialist’s agenda. The socialist pretends to have glimpsed paradise on earth. Those who decline the invitation to embrace the vision are not just ungrateful: they are traitors to the cause of human perfection. Dissent is therefore not mere disagreement but treachery. Treachery is properly met not with arguments but (as circumstances permit) the guillotine, the concentration camp, the purge.”

Understanding history (Balint Vazsonyi) new
“At last, reparations for slavery have taken center-stage. It has been like waiting for the other shoe to drop, ever since the United States decided to compensate persons of Japanese ancestry for their treatment following Pearl Harbor. Once we accepted the proposition whereby the attitudes of the present, though no less transitory than those of the past, should nonetheless be applied to the past, we mortgaged the future. We can no more relive the past than foretell the future. The appropriate expression of disagreement with the ways of the past is to change those ways in the present, for what we believe will be a better future. Attempts at ‘rectifying’ the past are bound to fail because, owing to obvious limitations, they have to be selective. Unavoidably, what we see as old injustices will result in new injustices.”

The Mau-Mauing at Harvard (John McWhorter) new
“The campus race game has largely prevented any sustained investigation into what — if anything — Afro-American studies programs actually accomplish academically. The assumption in the mainstream press during the West-Summers contretemps was that the intellectual quality of Harvard’s Afro-American studies was unassailable. Unfortunately, that’s far from true. Survey the department’s undergraduate curriculum, and you find that most of the courses express the pernicious belief that victimhood defines what it means to be African-American — that to be black in America has always been a story of betrayal, disappointment, passivity, and tragedy, and that when things seem to be improving, it’s only an illusion.”

Hunt the Boeing! (Urban Legends Reference Pages) new
“The notion that the Pentagon was not damaged by terrorists who hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 (a Boeing 757) and crashed it into the military office complex, but that the whole affair was staged by the U.S. government, has been promulgated by French author Thierry Meyssan in his book, The Frightening Fraud. Meyssan offers no real explanation for what did cause the extensive damage to the Pentagon, asserting only that Flight 77 did not exist, no plane crashed into the Pengaton, and that ‘the American government is lying.’ Unfortunately, the appeal of conspiracy theories has resulted in widespread dissemination of Meyssan’s ‘theory’ in France and the USA, particularly in web sites that mirror his work. As Le Nouvel Observateur noted: ‘This theory suits everyone — there are no Islamic extremists and everyone is happy. It eliminates reality.’ The text cited in the example above comes from a Hunt the Boeing! And test your perceptions! web site, one of the English-language mirrors of Meyssan’s claims, where readers are invited to ponder a series of questions about why photographs of the damaged Pentagon seemingly show no evidence of a crashed airplane. The answers to the questions are....”

Are Michael Bellesiles’s Critics Afraid to Say What They Really Think? (Jerome Sternstein) new
“Has the time come to ask if Michael Bellesiles’s Arming America is an example of scholarly deceit? Some defenders of Bellesiles’s work have insisted in various forums that Bellesiles’s critics have yet to bring forth any evidence to suggest scholarly fraud. Recently, in making his case, one apologist pointed to the ‘searching examinations’ of Bellesiles’s book in the January 2002 issue of the William and Mary Quarterly (WMQ), which, ‘although severely critical, eschews charges of fraud or misrepresentation.’ To be sure, ‘charges of fraud’ do not appear in the Quarterly’s forum on Bellesiles. But what is truly remarkable about that forum is what does appear there: scathing appraisals of his book’s misuse of sources and evidence which some might regard as consistent with academic fraud, such as repeatedly misquoting, distorting, falsifying, or perhaps even deliberately inventing evidence to support one’s thesis.”

The slavery reparations hustle (Jeff Jacoby) new
“Don’t bother telling the plaintiffs who sued last month to collect reparations for slavery from three US corporations that they don’t have a legal leg to stand on. They already know it. After all, you don’t need a law degree to recognize that FleetBoston, CSX, and Aetna bear no legal culpability today because of lawful activities their corporate ancestors may have engaged in two centuries ago. Even unlawful activities were long ago mooted by statutes of limitations. And in any case, none of the companies being sued and none of their living shareholders has ever owned or trafficked in slaves, just as none of the plaintiffs and none of the 36 million black Americans whose interests they claim to represent has ever been held in bondage. These specious lawsuits will never win. But then, they were never expected to. The plaintiffs and their lawyers make no secret of the fact that their goal is not to win a legal verdict but to pressure the companies into making lucrative out-of-court settlements. If they balk, the lawyers’ PR machine will generate ugly publicity about the companies’ ‘insensitivity’ to African-Americans. Set up pickets outside their corporate headquarters. Threaten a national boycott. Maybe arrange a public denunciation by Al Sharpton or the Congressional Black Caucus. It isn’t hard to mau-mau corporate America if you know how to play the race card.”

Big earners hit hard by income tax (Houston Chronicle) new
“Another way the rich are different: They pay the lion’s share of the nation’s income tax bill. The wealthiest 5 percent pay more than half the taxes, while people in the bottom half pay 4 percent. The annual federal tax deadline for most of America is next Monday. Two-income households are increasing, putting more families in the top slice of taxpayers. Millions of small businesses and partnerships are up there, too, paying personal instead of corporate income taxes. Many other people were boosted by the 1990s stock market boom. President Bush’s big tax cut will prevent the wealthy from paying an even greater share in coming years. But key provisions, such as the doubling of the child tax credit, will cut or eliminate income taxes for many middle-income people, while the rich won’t qualify.”

Congress Sets Record for Pork Spending (FOXNews) new
“A war and a recession did not stop Congress from doling out the pork for special hometown projects, a government watchdog is reporting Tuesday. Citizens Against Government Waste is releasing its annual ‘Pig Book,’ a listing of what it calls the most egregious examples of special interest spending. The results are grim, but not surprising, group officials said. ‘Taxpayers will be disappointed,’ said Thomas Schatz, president of CAGW. ‘Here they are, sitting around doing their taxes — a good time to be thinking what they’re getting for their money, and in this case it’s a pretty bad deal.’ According to the group, members of Congress seem to be the only ones not tightening their belts since the economy took a downturn and the country started fighting a war against terrorism. Pork — that is, excessive spending for members’ pet projects, which usually grease the skids for special interest and hometown support — increased 9 percent in fiscal year 2002 to $20 billion. The number of pork projects increased 32 percent to a total of 8,341.”

Safe House: High-end “Panic Room” hideouts becoming more common (SFC)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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

new Annunciations
Michael Dubruiel
(husband of blogger Amy Welborn)

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”

new EveTushnet.com
“Conservatism reborn in twisted sisterhood”

new In Between Naps
Amy Welborn
(wife of blogger Michael Dubruiel)

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

new Veritas
Chris Burgwald
“A blog among friends devoted to the usually serious but occasionally frivolous search for truth in things theological, philosophical, political, historical, etc. etc.”

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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:

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.”

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:

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?”

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.”

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.”

A three-part part series by Phil Brennan @ NewsMax on the corruption of Catholic seminaries in the USA:

new Anti-Catholic “Experts” Fuel Church’s Scandals
“Veteran investigative reporter Michael S. Rose has written a frightening account of the corruption of the Roman Catholic seminary system in the United States.... According to the Wanderer, a nationally distributed lay Catholic newspaper, Wicker was rejecting more candidates for the priesthood than he was approving. But that’s just the beginning. An article by reporter Gregory Flannery, an ex-seminarian himself, revealed: ‘Men who wish to become Catholic priests in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati are first assessed by the Worshipful Master of Mt. Washington Masonic Lodge 642.’ In the May 8, 1991 issue of Mt. Washington Press, a weekly newspaper, Flannery reported that Wicker was a fallen-away Catholic and noted that participation in Masonic sects is condemned by the Catholic Church. Wicker also admitted to being a member of another sect condemned by the church, the Rosicrucians. When area Catholics complained about the idea of a Masonic master passing on candidates for the priesthood, Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk defended him.... NewsMax.com asked Rose if this nonsense was still going on. ‘Although many seminaries are “getting better,” the nonsense is still prolific,’ he said. ‘Orthodox candidates are still being turned away in droves, heterosexual seminarians are still being sent to psychological counseling and booted from school, while liberal-minded and pro-gay seminarians are given deferential treatment, put in charge of others, advanced and ordained.’”

new Homosexual Culture Undercuts Priesthood
“Heterosexual students at a number of seminaries were persecuted by the gay subculture. Reporting homosexual behavior by classmates could get them expelled, as could resisting homosexual advances. Rose cites scores of cases of heterosexuals driven out of seminaries because they refused to accept the gay culture. In Cozzen’s book, The Changing Face of the Priesthood, he wrote that there has been ‘a heterosexual exodus from the priesthood’ due, Rose notes, in part to the unrestrained gay subcultures in some seminaries, the resulting ‘overwhelming gay clergy culture will have an effect on how the laity views the priesthood and it will have an effect on incoming vocations. Potential candidates for the priesthood who are heterosexual will be intimidated from joining an institution where the ethos is primarily that of a gay culture.’ Anyone wondering how the church could have got itself in the mess it is now experiencing need look no further than the pages of Rose’s extraordinary book. What we are seeing today are the results of a gay priesthood being loosed upon parishes all across the nation, where they have abused impressionable young men they treated as ‘fresh meat’ to satisfy their unnatural sexual urgings.”

new False Teaching Sabotages Aspiring Priests
“Michael S. Rose examines the destructive effect of what he terms heterodoxy on seminarians struggling to absorb and adhere to the ancient doctrines of the church, handed down from the Apostles for 2,000 years. ‘Many faculty members are adverse to teaching what the Church teaches, and some even find it onerous to hide their disdain for Catholicism,’ Rose wrote. ‘The seminarian who arrives on campus expecting to find faculty and staff who love the Catholic faith and teach what the Church teaches can be sadly disappointed.’ Among the students’ obstacles to learning the authentic tenets of their faith, Rose reveals, are being forced to read textbooks written by ‘noted dissenters from Catholic teachings’ such as theologians Richard McBrien, Edward Schillebeeckx, Hans Kung and Charles Curran, who ‘parrot the dogmas of Catholic dissent.’ .... Many of the ideas being taught in seminaries today, Rose wrote, ‘go way beyond the scope of even these “mainstream” errors of Modernist doctrine. Aggressive feminist theories often put forth by religious sisters devoted to liberation theology and various incarnations of Jungian psychology make it clear that some faculty members who are entrusted with the formation of future priests do not support the Catholic priesthood as the Church defines it. In fact they do not support the Church, her hierarchy, her Eucharist, or her liturgy.’ Tragically, throughout the U.S. today, men taught these heretical doctrines are spreading error, distorting the liturgy, sowing doctrinal confusion and changing the faith of countless Catholics.”

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This View’s Column

Wolves in Shepherd’s Clothing

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

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

All six parts are available in one (very large) webpage at ELCore.Net.

“When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, he shall die for it; for the iniquity which he has committed he shall die. Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is lawful and right, he shall save his life. Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions which he had committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.... Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, says the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of any one, says the Lord God; so turn, and live.” (Ezekiel 18:26-28, 30-32 RSV)

The Problem with Celibacy

I concluded last time by arguing that mandatory clerical celibacy is not the problem. Clerical celibacy, in and of itself, is not the cause, nor even a contributing factor, in the sexual scandals involving Catholic clergy: married non-Catholic clergy are also guilty of the same kind of sexual offenses of which celibate Catholic clergy are guilty.

Since then, a column by Stuart Reid, deputy editor of The Spectator, was published in the London Telegraph, Apr. 12; he states the case with memorable alacrity:

There is a very serious problem in the Catholic Church, but let’s be clear what the problem is not. It is not, as so many believe, the rule of celibacy. (“I mean, if they was allowed to get married, they wouldn’t be rogering them choirboys, would they?” The same sort of reasoning, in posher language, can be found in broadsheet newspapers.) If you want proof that celibacy is not the cause of child molestation or promiscuous homosexuality, look at the Church of England, or visit your nearest internet paedophile circle. The truth is that celibacy is the only hope that paedophiles — and their potential victims — have.

The same day, the Chicago Sun-Times published a column by well-known author Fr. Andrew Greeley, a long-time defender of continuing mandatory clerical celibacy. Though he mislabels the current scandal as one of sexual “child” abuse, his points are worth noting:

The argument one hears and reads over and over that celibacy is the cause of sexual abuse is a vicious anti-Catholic lie even if it comes from columnists and editorial writers who claim to be Catholic. In an ABC news poll, 6 percent of Catholics and 6 percent of other Americans said that there had been a sex abuse case in their congregation — a finding that shows that the problem is not just celibate or Catholic. Most child abusers are married men (and in some cases married women). Their abuse results from deep emotional problems. If a priest with these proclivities marries, then he will be a married sex abuser. No clinician disputes that truth. The alleged link between celibacy and sexual abuse is specious.

Greeley continues with a blast at “resigned priests”, whom the mainstream media so willing puts before the public these days:

Is there no historian of anti-Catholic nativism who will rise up and shout that attacks on the celibate priesthood have been an integral part of anti-Catholic bigotry for two centuries? Historically, the bigots insist that the priest is either a slimy character looking for young people or nuns to assault, or is something less than a real man. A few resigned priests in effect make that argument today against those of us who have tried to keep our promise of celibacy. Those who accept the argument as though it were unquestionable truth are de facto anti-Catholics. Somehow, the fact that these loud louts now sleep with a woman seems to constitute prima facie evidence that they are more real men than we are and uniquely qualified to criticize our inadequacies. That too is anti-Catholic bigotry and should be labeled as such.

(Another version reads “loudmouths” for “loud louts”. Greeley names nobody, but A. W. Richard Sipes and Eugene Kennedy are the two, usually labelled “former priests”, who seem to be most often given a national audience on TV and in major newspapers. One need not even wonder if anybody who could be labelled, say, “former dissenter” would be obliged so willingly, or given such ready credence.)

Celibacy does have a problem, however: it is far too often in and of itself.

Celibacy is a precious gift, to the individual and to the Church. Yet, it is a demanding gift. Over the centuries, the discipline of clerical celibacy developed along with a whole way of life — comprising the spiritual, devotional, and ascetical — to the benefit of the individual celibate, the community in which he lived and worshipped, and the Church as a whole.

Much of this involved adapting the disciplines of monastic life to the life of the priest in parochial ministry. And much of it was abandoned, lock, stock, and barrel in the 1960s. Not everywhere, not always. But in enough places, in enough ways, to have made a profound difference in the way many priests have conducted their daily lives. I have found support for this proposition in places I would not have thought very likely.

First, from author Gary Wills, from whom I quoted last time. He had a two-part article published in the Boston Globe, Mar. 24. The first part is notable for its egregious misrepresentation of Philip Jenkins’ book Pedophiles and Priests, from which I quoted extensively in Part One. (Wills has quite the reputation for egregious misrepresentation.) Now, Jenkins’ book is a remarkably even-handed treatment of the subject. Perhaps it is this very even-handedness that Wills fears, for he does his very best — which, by the standard of honest men, would be the very worst — to portray the book as a one-sided “conservative” diatribe. I myself would not defend Wills from the charge of lying about Jenkins’ book.

Moreover, in the second part of his column, Wills numbers Jenkins among “protectors of the hierarchy”. He conveniently neglects to mention that Philip Jenkins is an ex-Catholic Episcopalian: had he done so, Wills would have to explain why such a man would have any interest whatever in “protecting” the Catholic hierarchy. For which, of course, there is no explanation. And, thus, Wills would not have been able to dismiss the man, his book, and those (such as me) who cite and quote it. Had he been honest and forthright, Wills would have had to write quite another column.

And... yet... I think he hits the target dead-center when he writes about how celibacy has been left alone, in and of itself, as the sole descendant of ascetical traditions in parish clerical life:

Celibacy arose as just one component in a thoroughgoing theology of asceticism. The desert father who pioneered the practice of celibacy adopted it as just one part of a larger pattern of isolation and meditation, of fasting and other forms of mortification. When priests adopted celibacy, they brought with it some of this structure and most of its rationale. They were not set apart from other men by just one thing. In the monasteries, for instance, silence, isolated cells, long communal chanting of the office, and self-scourging were common. Cloistered men and women were cut off from worldly life in general, not just from sexual activity.

But, progressively, the celibacy of priests became not the expression of a whole ascetical form of life but a substitute for it.... So modern priests do not look much like desert fathers. They are not known for other forms of asceticism, besides celibacy. Most of them eat and drink well, drive nice cars, have no serious material deprivation. A priest who eats out or goes to a play or concert often has a generous layman to pick up the tab. In this situation, celibacy becomes a mark of nonexistent difference. But celibacy without its supporting ascetical discipline cannot be sustained all on its own.

Even if he is wrong about many other things, when a man is right, he’s right.

Second, from political commentator Bill Press. He published a column at CNN, Mar. 28, in which he wrote about his own experience as a student for the priesthood:

As an altar boy and high school student, I’m happy to report, my own experiences hanging out with priests — traveling, going to the beach or movies — were happy and healthy. No groping. No petting. No nudity. No sex. Not even a hint of it. But, looking back, I see how many opportunities a sexual predator would have had....

When it was time for me to take the three vows of obedience, poverty and chastity, I did so without hesitation. To tell the truth, at that point, it was easy. I was young. I was on fire. I was a soldier in God’s army. Any problems associated with celibacy would only come later. Assigned as a seminarian to teach school in Philadelphia, I soon saw the warning signs among older priests. Again, in my case, no evidence of pedophilia. But a lot of self-indulgence in other ways: heavy eating, drinking, travel, golf, television — all distractions chased to fill an obvious void. Wouldn’t they be better off married?

Maybe some of them would, indeed, have been better off married. But wouldn’t they all have been better off had the age-old ascetical tradition, of which celibacy had been but a part, not been largely cast aside in the wake of the Second Vatican Council?

John Henry Newman, while still an Anglican priest, preached on the necessity of this askesis — of self-disciplined self-denial for the sake of the Kingdom of God — to some degree, in some kind, for every Christian:

These are some of the proofs which are continually brought home to us, if we attend to ourselves, of our want [that is, lack] of love to God; and they will readily suggest others to us. If I must, before concluding, remark upon the mode of overcoming the evil, I must say plainly this, that, fanciful though it may appear at first sight to say so, the comforts of life are the main cause of it; and, much as we may lament and struggle against it, till we learn to dispense with them in good measure, we shall not overcome it. Till we, in a certain sense, detach ourselves from our bodies, our minds will not be in a state to receive divine impressions, and to exert heavenly aspirations. A smooth and easy life, an uninterrupted enjoyment of the goods of Providence, full meals, soft raiment, well-furnished homes, the pleasures of sense, the feeling of security, the consciousness of wealth, — these, and the like, if we are not careful, choke up all the avenues of the soul, through which the light and breath of heaven might come to us. A hard life is, alas! no certain method of becoming spiritually minded, but it is one out of the means by which Almighty God makes us so. We must, at least at seasons, defraud ourselves of nature, if we would not be defrauded of grace.

Decades later, after he had become a Catholic priest but before he became a cardinal of the Roman Church, Newman applied this principle to the interior life of the priest when he preached to Catholic seminarians, October 2, 1873:

We must gain the habit of feeling that we are in God’s presence, that He sees what we are doing; and a liking that He does so, a love of knowing it, a delight in the reflection, “Thou, God, seest me.” A priest who feels this deeply will never misbehave himself in mixed society. It will keep him from over-familiarity with any of his people; it will keep him from too many words, from imprudent or unwise speaking; it will teach him to rule his thoughts. It will be a principle of detachment between him and even his own people; for he who is accustomed to lean on the Unseen God, will never be able really to attach himself to any of His creatures. And thus an elevation of mind will be created, which is the true weapon which he must use against the infidelity of the world. (Hence, what St. Peter says: 1, ii, 12, 15; iii, 16.) Now this I consider to be the true weapon by which the infidelity of the world is to be met.

Along with the ancient ascetical tradition must come the equally ancient spiritual tradition, without which the former is but meaningless and mechanical. My friend Fr. John J. Hugo, a priest of the Church of Pittsburgh, saw the need for a deep spirituality in the life of every Christian, but especially of the priest, and most acutely of the celibate priest. Friend and mentor of the great Dorothy Day, he wrote about it in a book published privately not long before he died in 1985:

All this does not prove that celibacy is necessary in order to assume the priesthood of Christ; but it certainly is shown as appropriate for those sharing in the priestly role of Him whose whole life “was a cross and martyrdom,” and who was both priest and victim in His culminating cosmic sacrifice on Calvary. Whether it should be made obligatory for those who are called to the priesthood is another matter. On the basis of comtemporary experience many would assert that it is not even feasible. Assuredly, taking the vow of itself does not exempt the celibate from the present human condition, within which “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and “if you live according to the flesh you will die.” (Rm 3:23; 8:13) The celibate will therefore do well to heed the counsel of Prospero to the young lovers of The Tempest (Act IV, Scene 1):

Look thou be true; do not give dalliance
Too much the rein; the strongest oaths are straw
To the fire i’the blood; Be more abstemious,
Or else good night your vow!

To put it differently, celibacy is not feasible if it is not received and observed in the deep mainstream of evangelic and Christian spirituality. So far this has not happened. The mainstream has trickled down only into a few oases here and there. To make it available for all (and it must also reach the families from whom candidates are expected) the clergy, led by their bishops, rather than allowing themselves to be overwhelmed by material duties, need to drink deep of these living waters and channel them to the whole Church.

I can almost hear the objections already: Oh, Newman and Hugo are so... so... September 10th! Old fashioned. Out of date. Superseded. “Old” Church. Pre-Vatican II.

Permit me to quote, then, from another witness. With regard to the training of candidates for the priesthood:

The spiritual training should be closely connected with the doctrinal and pastoral, and, with the special help of the spiritual director, should be imparted in such a way that the students might learn to live in an intimate and unceasing union with the Father through His Son Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. Conformed to Christ the Priest through their sacred ordination they should be accustomed to adhere to Him as friends, in an intimate companionship, their whole life through.... Those practices of piety that are commended by the long usage of the Church should be zealously cultivated; but care should be taken lest the spiritual formation consist in them alone or lest it develop only a religious affectation. The students should learn to live according to the Gospel ideal, to be strengthened in faith, hope and charity, so that, in the exercise of these practices, they may acquire the spirit of prayer, learn to defend and strengthen their vocation, obtain an increase of other virtues and grow in the zeal to gain all men for Christ. (Optatam Totius 8, October 28, 1965)

Students who follow the venerable tradition of celibacy according to the holy and fixed laws of their own rite are to be educated to this state with great care.... They are to be warned of the dangers that threaten their chastity especially in present-day society. Aided by suitable safeguards, both divine and human, let them learn to integrate their renunciation of marriage in such a way that they may suffer in their lives and work not only no harm from celibacy but rather acquire a deeper mastery of soul and body and a fuller maturity, and more perfectly receive the blessedness spoken of in the Gospel. (Optatam Totius 10)

See, the age-old strategies and tactics that have traditionally accompanied celibacy and help to safeguard its integrity — which would now be scorned by many as “Pre-Vatican II” — were actually recommended by the Second Vatican Council, explicitly and specifically. From the same witness, with regard to priestly life:

Hence, this holy council, to fulfill its pastoral desires of an internal renewal of the Church, of the spread of the Gospel in every land and of a dialogue with the world of today, strongly urges all priests that they strive always for that growth in holiness by which they will become consistently better instruments in the service of the whole People of God, using for this purpose those means which the Church has approved. (Presbyterorum Ordinis 12, December 7, 1965)

Insofar as perfect continence is thought by many men to be impossible in our times, to that extent priests should all the more humbly and steadfastly pray with the Church for that grace of fidelity, which is never denied those who seek it, and use all the supernatural and natural aids available. They should especially seek, lest they omit them, the ascetical norms which have been proved by the experience of the Church and which are scarcely less necessary in the contemporary world. (Presbyterorum Ordinis 16)

“Practices of piety... the exercise of these practices... long usage of the Church.... Suitable safeguards... mastery of soul and body.... Growth in holiness... those means which the Church has approved.... Supernatural and natural aids... ascetical norms... the experience of the Church.” Yes, the methods — spiritual, devotional, ascetical — developed and tested over the course of ages, which formed a whole way of life in which celibacy was supported and protected, were not rejected by Vatican II: they were, in fact, reaffirmed.

In more ways than one, we see, Newman was The Father of Vatican II, as he is often called. And Hugo was the faithful student of the Cardinal and of the Council, whose directives in this regard, as in so many others, were ignored or flouted by those paying lip service to its lead.

Celibacy, therefore, ought to be one thread of a fabric woven through the whole life of a priest: ripped from the cloth, why should anybody have expected celibacy to hold up at all, let alone to hold up well? I’m sure that many people think that, since the rest are gone, we should do away with celibacy, too, to ameliorate the current problem. But the opposite would be true, too, wouldn’t it? Were celibacy accompanied by the traditional methods, helping to safeguard its integrity, the current problem would be ameliorated. How can we know this? The lived experience of hundreds of thousands — no, millions — of clergy and religious across the centuries give testimony.

When the experiment of a new way — having celibacy go it alone, while the rest of the celibate’s life becomes almost indistinguishable from a secular existence — when the experiment produces all-too-abundant evidence of its failure, what sense does it make to experiment even further? Why not restore the old ways? Are we so stupid... so blind... so ideological... that we cannot learn from our mistakes?

Recapitulation: The Diagnosis

“For decades, a crisis has been brewing in the Catholic Church in the USA: a crisis of faith, a crisis of morals, a crisis of courage.” So I began the epigraph of Part One. The sexual scandals — mostly homosexual encounters with juveniles — that now plague the clergy, concomitant with the hierarchy’s failure to deal appropriately with miscreant priests, are, I believe, but a symptom of a deeper, more fundamental scandal: doctrinal confusion and doubt have been wrought, often deliberately, by Catholics in official positions — clergy, religious, theologians. Sometimes, the result has been, in certain cirles, the outright denial of ancient Catholic teachings — especially those regarding morality, particularly sexual morality — but also those regarding, for instance, the divinity of Christ, the origins and meaning of Sacred Scripture and Catholic doctrine, and the role of the Church’s teaching authority and of individual conscience.

Thus have Catholic faith and life tended to be rendered largely impotent before the onslaught of a secularized culture that has become generally anti-religious and specifically anti-Christian. Merely reflect upon the truth: much of Catholic teaching, especially concerning morals, that evokes the shrillest, angriest, unthinking denunciation these days was taken for granted by virtually all Christians — by virtually all Americans — only a century ago: the immorality of abortion, artificial contraception, divorce and remarriage, and homosexual activity. In these respects, the role of the Catholic Church in the USA in determining public policy over the past forty years has been, effectively, nil. In fact, as somebody has noted recently, the Catholic Church — and many others among the older, “mainline” Christian denominations — have been “evangelized” by the world much more than they have been evangelizing the world.

Could anybody, anywhere, honestly deny any of this?

I must say it again: this neutering of the Catholic Church has been accomplished largely by Catholics. Beginning with their capitulation to wayward theologians in 1968, the body of American bishops has been effectively corrupted and has largely abandoned, in deed if not in word, their role of protecting the faith handed on in the Catholic Church — and of protecting the faithful from Wolves in Shepherd’s Clothing, whether they be sexual predators or theological innovators (or both).

Yes, the neutering of the Catholic Church has been accomplished largely by Catholics, especially by those in the employ of the Church: clergy, religious, theologians, preachers, writers, teachers. They are usually called “dissenters”: I will explain later why that label is a lie. I call them subversive traitors. C. S. Lewis likened them, in the Anglican Church of his day, to prostitutes. (The scandal of “dissent” infested the Church of England long before it began to infest the Church of Rome.) Catholic writer Amy Welborn recently posted her own observations about an Anglican priest in Ireland who denies that Jesus Christ is divine and that He is savior; she notes inimitably what can be said of him and others like him, whether Anglican or Catholic:

Okay — here’s what absolutely and totally ticks me off about gasbags like this guy: Work it, baby. Work it. Work your church. Dis it. Reject its teachings. Not even its ambiguous-well-maybe-you-know-it’s-all-a-mystery teachings. Central, essential stuff. Throw it out the window. (Are you listening [Episcopalian] Bishop Spong?)

But - keep pulling that paycheck! Keep living off of the hard-earned donations of the fools who actually believe the stuff that you’re so over. Get fat off their sweat.

Do you know what I call that? Fraud. Theft. Highway Robbery.

And we Romans do it too — think of the faculty at “Catholic” universities who write books about Jesus’ body being stolen by wild dogs. Consider all the many religious educators who are doing their best to disseminate what they learned at the “Catholic” universities in sneaky euphemisms and dreary “new paradigms” that do nothing but undermine the Gospel. What a bunch of con artists.

William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights (of which I am a member), has spoken out recently about doctrinal “dissent” because he recognizes it as a threat to the Catholic Church. A Catholic League press release, Apr. 11, invites us to connect some dots; it is not really that difficult to do:

Dissidence and Deviance in the Church: Connecting the Dots

Catholic League president William Donohue commented today on the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church by examining the relationship between heterodoxy and sexual deviance. Donohue holds a doctorate in sociology from New York University. He has taught college courses on the family and has authored books and articles that address the subject of human sexuality. Here are his remarks:

“It is well known that Paul Shanley, a former priest of the Boston Archdiocese, was a serial child molester. Indeed, he not only practiced pedophilia, he publicly justified it and even went so far as to say ‘the kid is the seducer’ in sexual encounters between adults and children. Shanley also endorsed bestiality. That he remained a priest for more than decade after this was disclosed is not in a dispute. Nor is it disputed that he was promoted to pastor by Cardinal Law after it was known that he attended the first conference of the North American Man/Boy Love Association in 1978; at the time he was the representative of Cardinal Medeiros for sexual minorities.

“Shanley’s twisted views on sexuality were not an anomaly. In a 1977 book published by the Catholic Theological Society of America, Human Sexuality: New Directions in American Catholic Thought, author Father Anthony Kosnik argued against traditional Catholic teaching on sexuality. He maintained that we must jettison the view that holds fornication, adultery, homosexuality, sodomy and bestiality to be intrinsically evil acts. Showing the wide cultural variance in sexual taboos, Kosnik concluded that priests must understand that ‘God is surely present’ in homosexual relations that are marked by ‘sincere affection.’ This book was widely used in seminaries at the time but was condemned in 1979 by the bishops. Kosnik, however, remained teaching in a seminary until 1982.

“It is time we connected the dots between dissidence and deviance. While the latter is not always caused by the former, it provides intellectual cover.”

An earlier press release, Apr. 4, notes the agenda of “dissident” Catholics:

Dissident Catholics See an Opening: Their Goal is to Lower the Bar

Catholic League president William Donohue issued the following remarks today regarding the stance that dissident Catholics have taken in the wake of the Church’s sex abuse scandal:

“The Catholic League has an agenda: the defense of the Catholic Church. As defined by whom? The magisterium. There is only one teaching body in the Catholic Church and that is the pope in communion with the bishops.

“Dissident Catholics also have an agenda: the dismantling of the Catholic Church as we know it. Malcontents through and through, these men and women have parked themselves in the Catholic Church with the hope that their politically correct vision of religion will triumph.

“Consider Jason Berry, author of a book on sex abuse in the priesthood. He admits to knowing active gay priests who won’t quit the priesthood because they want to reform ‘outdated moral teachings—including celibacy.’ He expresses sympathy for them blaming celibacy for ‘sexual secrecy.’ In other words, the problem is not with deceitful priests who violate the vows they voluntarily accepted. Nor is it with priests who oppose the Church’s teachings on sexuality. The problem is with Rome.

“By such logic it could be argued that sexual secrecy is to blame for the sense of guilt that adulterers experience. So what should we do? Lower the bar so cheaters won’t suffer?

“When priests get ordained and when men and women marry they do so of their own volition. If they find that the strictures governing these sacraments are too cumbersome, they should not go forward. If they come to this conclusion after the fact then it would be better if they quietly exited than to invoke squatters’ rights. What they should never expect is that they are entitled to sympathy for their morally delinquent behavior.”

Intellectual Cover. Highway Robbery. Theft. Fraud. Prostitution. Dissent. Call it what you will: it is slowly killing the Catholic Church in the USA, as surely as immoral priests have been abusing children and adolescents, and their superiors have let them get away with it.

The Prescription

The degradation of the Catholic Church — the trashing of traditional Catholic faith and life — has taken thirty, forty, fifty years or more. When one realizes how quickly and effectively the teachings of the Second Vatican Council were thwarted and hijacked, it becomes clear that the groundwork of subversion must have already been laid, however loosely and informally, before the Council even began its work. Thirty, forty, fifty years or more may be required to undo the damage done.

I am but one layman, in a small parish in small-town America. I have no solution to provide. Fortunately, nobody needs for me to provide a solution: it is at hand, as it always has been. The solution to what ails the Catholic Church is, as it has been in all bad times, the Catholic faith, undiluted and unashamed.

The degradation, the trashing, the neutering, has been done by an effective coordination of brazen deceit and sly stealth. The restoration, the cleansing, the strengthening of the Catholic Church in the USA will require a great deal of thorough honesty and of courage in action.

Indeed, the “moral authority” of the bishops will not be regained, and genuine Catholic faith and life will not be restored, without outstanding courage, making itself known through actions, on the part of orthodox clergy and laity, of every rank and station.

Dissent Is Not Dissent

The first requirement — it is sad and telling to have to say this — the first requirement is honesty.

When the Boston scandal broke in January, and ever since, the lack of honesty from bishops, priests, and official spokesmen has been appalling. (From some of them, of course: I do not mean to tar them all with the same broad brush.) They have attempted “limited hangouts” — telling some of the truth, hoping that it will satisfy curiosity, while holding back the whole truth. They have hidden, as far as they could, behind closed doors, behind lawyers, behind legal settlements, and behind sealed court documents. And they have, sometimes, flat-out lied. To the press. To other Catholic officials. And to their parishioners.

This... this... this disingenuousness, this dissembling, this posturing, this dishonesty, this lying is part of the current crisis of morals in the Catholic Church in the USA — a foundational part, on which all the rest has been built.

How can we trust our Catholic leaders — many of them priests ordained to conform more closely to the Image of Christ, the Way, and the Truth, and the Life — how can we trust them to make decisions about the future of dioceses and parishes, to manage funds, to pastor souls, to worship God worthily in spirit and in truth: how can we trust them in all those other matters, when we can’t trust them to merely be honest?

Didn’t they learn that they should be honest before they even went to grade school?

A prominent Catholic in Boston asks similarly, in a Boston Globe article, Apr. 10:

Jack Connors Jr., perhaps Boston’s most influential power broker and once one of [Boston archbishop Bernard] Law’s closest confidants, questioned whether the cardinal could still lead. “I do not believe it is asking too much for the leaders of our faith to tell the truth,” said Connors, founder of the advertising firm Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos Inc. “If they are unable to tell the truth to their colleagues, their pastors, and the faithful, they may hold onto their titles, but they will not be our leaders.”

I say more: I do not believe it is asking too much for the leaders of our faith to actually believe, and live, that faith.

So we must stop calling subversive traitors “dissenters”. We must start calling them... subversive traitors.

Okay. Maybe that would be asking too much of sensitive souls; instead, I can recommend a less demanding approach: call them “assenters”. For that is what they are: every Catholic — priest, religious, bishop, theologian — every Catholic who “dissents” from Catholic doctrine is, in point of fact, “assenting” to some other kind of doctrine.

A priest or religious who denies the divinity of Christ is not a brave dissenter from archaic Christian doctrine: he is a hypocritical assenter to the doctrine that Jesus Christ is not God — a doctrine (Latin for “teaching”) common to Jewish belief, pagan religions, Communist propaganda, and atheistic thought. A theologian who claims that homosexual activity is acceptable to God, so long as it involves a stable, loving relationship, is not a brave dissenter from outdated moral codes: he is a hypocritical assenter to moral relativism and psychological fads that can — and have been, and will continue to be — used to justify any and every behavior. (I refer you in passing to a timely article, “Apologists for pedophilia”, by John Leo, dated Apr. 22.) Catholic writers, preachers, and teachers who countenance divorce and remarriage, and artificial contraception, are not brave dissenters from the rigid teaching of popes and bishops: they are hypocritical assenters to the latest dictum from the editorial staff of The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Infidelity Cannot Help the Faith

The real authorities, the real leaders, of “dissenters” (that is, assenters to any-and-every-belief-not-Catholic) and of defiantly immoral priests (including bishops) are not the pope nor ecumenical councils nor tradition nor the Bible. No. Their real authorities, their real leaders, are secular humanism, moral relativism, the latest psychologies and sociologies, and the rest of the secular milieu espoused in mainstream media. Subversive traitors and activists-for-immorality serve their real leaders, not the Catholic Church nor its faithful. So, we must make sure that Catholics in official postions are actually, honestly, really Catholic.

The second requirement, therefore, is courage in action.

Heterodox theologians — especially if they are bishops — must be removed from their positions, if not put out of the Church entirely. Defiantly immoral priests, and those who encourage and support immorality — especially if they are bishops — must be removed from their positions, if not put out of the Church entirely.

These removals may necessitate ecclesiastical trials. They may require intervention by the Holy See, especially if the miscreant is a bishop. They will certainly evoke much howling, spitting, back-biting, and name-calling.

Appeals by subversive traitors to academic freedom, or to theological inquiry and diversity, would be, in plain language, claims to be allowed to doubt, dispute, distort, deny, and defy everything that has ever been distintively Catholic, yet to still be able to call oneself Catholic. So the first requirement, honesty, is the basis that must never be left behind.

But courage in action will be the key to going forward, especially among orthodox bishops whom St. Paul the Apostle admonished and encouraged:

Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. (Acts 20:28-32)

A bravo is in order for officials of my own diocese; according to an AP story, Apr. 10:

A Roman Catholic priest is being transferred to another parish because he told his congregation in an impassioned Easter sermon that the church should ordain women and let priests marry. A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh confirmed that the Rev. Bill Hausen was being transferred from St. James Catholic Church in suburban Sewickley to Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsburgh’s Shadyside neighborhood as a result of the sermon. “If that homily had not been delivered, he may not be transferred now,” said the Rev. Ronald Lengwin, spokesman for the diocese. “There’s no question that that was the catalyst.” ....

[Parishioner Lisa] Oliver and other parishioners say they’re trying to keep Hausen at St. James. They distributed support ribbons for people to wear at Masses this past weekend and are collecting signatures of support to send to the diocese. “This is not a man who maliciously maligned the church. He sees the need for change in the church,” Oliver said. “Father Bill didn’t follow the party line. He spoke out and the biggest one that got him in trouble is that he felt women should be ordained as priests.”

(Sewickley is surely one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the region, in a relatively quiet district. Shadyside, too, is a very posh neighborhood skirting the academic district of the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.)

A bigger bravo will be in order if “Father Bill” is actively encouraged by his superiors to consider whether intellectual honesty might not require him to come to a change of heart, or to a change of living.

I am not calling for “witch hunts”, pogroms, inquisitions. I am calling for fidelity to the Sacred Scriptures, which teach us what to do with subversive traitors, and how to live faithfully in the Church:

I appeal to you, brethren, to take note of those who create dissensions and difficulties, in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by fair and flattering words they deceive the hearts of the simple-minded. For while your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, I would have you wise as to what is good and guileless as to what is evil; then the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. (Romans 16:17-20)

Though it may seem so, though he may feel it to be so, the man in the pew is not powerless. Catholic author Michael Dubruiel (husband of Amy Welborn, quoted above) recently posted this advice:

There is need of a great reform, one that follows in the footsteps of St. Francis who heard from Our Lord on the cross, Rebuild my church which is falling into ruin. The Church that St. Francis knelt in on that day was literally in ruins, and chances are the church that you pray in is too (although the ruin that is probably present in your church has been destructed not by pagans but by “experts” who have done everything they could to remove not only the presence of Christ from your church but even his image and those of his saints). The nightly news proclaims the message... how will we react? Will we like Francis begin by picking up the stones and placing them on top of one another where we find ourselves? If so like him what we change where we are will eventually change the whole of Christ’s Body.

What can “I” do you might ask?

First, pray. Make sure that your relationship with God is strong. The Church exists to facilitate our relationship with God and unfortunately weak preaching, bad catechetics have had an evil effect on the way we as Catholics live our faith. We need to reclaim our relationship with God and to make that primary in our lives. As the author of Abandonment to Divine Providence wrote, Without God, everything is nothing. With God, nothing is everything. A strong relationship with God puts everything in perspective, “we put no trust in mortal princes,” we can face any difficulty and we can speak out boldly.

Secondly, If you are unsatisfied with the way your parish is run. Speak out! If on the other hand you are blessed to have a great priest, a good celebration of the liturgy, a Church that truly fosters your relationship with God, then SPEAK OUT! Whatever the truth be, let it be known.

Thirdly, do not treat anyone on earth as though they are not human. Your parents were human, they made mistakes — honor them! The pope, bishops, priests, deacons, sisters and nuns are all still human — don’t expect them to be God. Their faults and our own constantly bring us to our knees — we need a savior and he is Jesus Christ!

“Whatever the truth be, let it be known.” Amen.

Prognosis

Frankly, I think the prognosis is bleak. The next ten years will be critical.

May God grant Pope John Paul II multos annos! Sooner or later, though, we will have another pope. Subversive traitors, in collusion with the secular culture, have trained a large number of Catholics to believe that “outdated, archaic” moral strictures — against divorce and remarriage, artificial contraception, homosexual activity, pedophilia — and “outdated, archaic” doctrines — such as male-only priesthood — have been retained beyond their time for no reason other than the current pope is (dare I write the horrible word?) conservative.

Gradually, as Catholics-In-Name-Only (CINO) come to realize that the Catholic Church is not going to approve divorce and remarriage, artificial contraception, homosexual activity, and pedophilia, and that the Catholic Church is never going to ordain women to the priesthood because it cannot do so — gradually, the rage will build even more than it has already. CINO have been deceived: the Catholic Church maintains its doctrines and practices, not because a given pope is conservative, but because the doctrines and practices are — surprise, surprise — Catholic.

The next twenty-five years will witness a fight over the future of the Catholic Church as has not been seen since the Reformation in England, from the schism of King Henry VIII, through the draconian demolition of Catholicism under Queen Elizabeth I, and past the forced abdication of King James II.

If the Catholic Church in the USA does not begin its own reformation soon, along the lines of the prescription sketched above, it will not be able to resist the fury of “dissenters” whose desires will be further stymied by the next pope. We do not have to wonder where this will lead: we already have ample evidence. In that case, the Church will, sooner or later, go the way of the Episcopal Church in the USA; as indicated in an essay by Leo Penn in the New Oxford Review, Oct. 2000:

Anglo-Catholics within the Episcopal Church of the USA (ECUSA) have long claimed that Anglicanism is one of the three branches of Catholicism, along with Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Yet the events at the ECUSA General Convention, held this year from July 5 through 14 in Denver, demonstrate — once again — that this claim is false.

ECUSA is firmly under the control of the apostles of a New Religion, a religion that is not at all Catholic, and Christian in name only. Defenders of traditional Christianity won no clear victories at the Convention, and suffered many defeats. Even more telling than the defeats on the Convention floor were the battles that were lost without any vote on a resolution. Some faithful Christians remain within ECUSA, but the institution — the House of Bishops, most other national and diocesan governing bodies, most seminaries, and most official Anglican publications — has chosen Baal over the Lord.

Penn continued with a review of a resolution adopted at that Convention:

Let’s untangle this knot of typically Anglican bafflegab:

  • ECUSA acknowledges that “there are currently couples in the Body of Christ and in this Church who are living in marriage” and equally that others “are living in other life-long committed relationships.” Of course, since ECUSA allows divorce and remarriage, “life-long” doesn’t have to mean life-long and “committed” doesn’t really mean committed. (For example, Bishop Righter, who was tried and acquitted in 1996 for ordaining an openly “gay,” partnered deacon, is now in his third marriage.)
  • So when ECUSA proceeds to uphold “fidelity” and “monogamy” in nonmarital relationships, one thinks of the vow for same-sex marriages in the Metropolitan Community Churches: “as long as love will last.” Of course, one usually only finally realizes that the love hasn’t lasted after one has become sexually involved with a third party. Moreover, there are those within the ECUSA who wish to redefine “fidelity” and “monogamy.” At a “Beyond Inclusion” conference — a gathering of ECUSA “gay” activists — Prof. William Countryman of the Episcopal seminary in Berkeley said, “I would be distressed if the drive toward blessing gay unions merely applied Reformation standards of heterosexual unions to gay unions.”
  • ECUSA then gives a free pass to those who disobey the resolution’s position on sexuality, by saying, “we acknowledge that some, acting in good conscience, who disagree with the traditional teaching of the Church on human sexuality, will act in contradiction to that position.” What is “the traditional teaching of the Church”? It’s not specified. Is it the teaching of the resolution? Or is it the teaching of, say, the Bible? Well, it doesn’t matter, for if you can “in good conscience” disobey the teaching of the Bible (which this resolution does), then you can easily disobey the teaching of this mere resolution. So the resolution blesses, in advance, those who will “in good conscience” disobey its own call for fidelity and monogamy.
  • ECUSA wraps it up by saying, “we affirm that those on various sides of controversial issues have a place in the Church, and we reaffirm the imperative to promote conversation between persons of differing experiences and perspectives....” Since there are those in the ECUSA with “differing experiences and perspectives” from the resolution, namely, people who don’t believe nonmarital relationships need to be monogamous, they too must be included in the “conversation.”

The openness to “those on various sides of controversial issues” gives plenty of room for every variety of sexual license and weirdness. But in practice, ECUSA is not open to those on the traditionalist side of “controversial issues,” as shown by its decision in 1997 and in 2000 to make women’s ordination mandatory, despite the beliefs of the dioceses and bishops who oppose it.

Some will say this cannot happen to the Catholic Church, not even in the USA. They are wrong. Surely, the Catholic Church cannot fail: for this assurance we have the dominical promise to St. Peter the Apostle. But constituent Churches, even many of them together in great regions of the world, can fail. And they have failed. Often.

Though for a time racked by heresy and schism, North Africa was once a garden in the Catholic Church: it was laid waste by Muslim conquest. England, arguably, was once the jewel of the Catholic Church in Europe: by rack and rope, it was virtually annihilated for centuries. The corruption of prelates and clergy in Germany was so great, it sparked the Reformation that tore Europe into warring religious factions, leaving many areas largely Protestant. France, called “the eldest daughter of the Church”, has seen the Catholic Church in its midst wither until it is but a wraith of its former self.

In the beginning of King Henry’s schism, only one bishop, and only one prominent layman, stood their ground and refused to forsake the Catholic Church: St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More. Both were executed for their fidelity to the Holy See, by a man whose only quarrel with Rome was that he could not divorce his wife.

We will not, I think, have to face the executioner for restoring and maintaining Catholic faith and life in fidelity to the Church Universal and the Holy See. But we will have to face the wrath of our secular culture, expressed every day in mainstream media. And — I do not mean to exaggerate — perhaps even the wrath of the courts if activists ever make it illegal for the Catholic Church to “discriminate against” homosexuals (by refusing to “bless” their “unions”) and women (by refusing to “ordain” priestesses). Do not be so foolish as to think that to be impossible.

“The Catholic Church”, said G. K. Chesterton, “is the only thing which saves a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age.” So it has always been. So it is now.

St. Athanasius, pray for us.
St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us.
Ss. John Fisher and Thomas More, pray for us.
St. Charles Borromeo, pray for us.
Ss. Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, pray for us.

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their licentiousness, and because of them the way of truth will be reviled. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words; from of old their condemnation has not been idle, and their destruction has not been asleep. For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of nether gloom to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven other persons, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction and made them an example to those who were to be ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the licentiousness of the wicked (for by what that righteous man saw and heard as he lived among them, he was vexed in his righteous soul day after day with their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.” (2 Peter 2:1-10a RSV)

© 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 1.10 Front Page April 15, 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”