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 Volume 1.16  Featured Webpages Trove May 27, 2002 


   

Added May 27, 2002

   
         
   

Family Matters: Welfare reform has liberals and conservatives calling for government action. (06/02)
By Mike Lynch at Reason Online
“Why exactly it’s up to ‘us’ to set goals for less-educated women and to slot them into their proper role in promoting that great fiction of ‘society’s interest’ is left unsaid. Maybe even less-educated women are smart enough to get by without conservatives shoving them to the altar — or liberals shoving them into classrooms.”

Reliving 9/11: Too Much? Too Soon? (05/12/02)
In The New York Times by Julie Salamon
“Television has long been the defining medium for great and terrible national events like war, assassinations and presidential elections. But nothing in the past has generated this sheer volume of reportage and commentary, because Sept. 11 was an unprecedented event occurring in an age of unprecedented media exposure.... The variety and quantity have been staggering — valuable (much of it), but also alarming.”

Megachurches as Minitowns (05/09/02)
In The New York Times by Patricia Leigh Brown
“Southeast Christian is an example of a new breed of megachurch — a full-service ‘24/7’ sprawling village, which offers many of the conveniences and trappings of secular life wrapped around a spiritual core. It is possible to eat, shop, go to school, bank, work out, scale a rock-climbing wall and pray there, all without leaving the grounds. These churches are becoming civic in a way unimaginable since the 13th century and its cathedral towns. No longer simply places to worship, they have become part resort, part mall, part extended family and part town square.”

Is anti-Catholicism the new anti-Semitism? (05/09/02)
By Rev. Ephraem Chifley in The Age
“Considering that most instances of paedophilia involve not priests but live-in step-fathers, clerical celibacy cannot be considered a significant element in this tragedy. Strange, isn’t it, that cartoonists and comedians don’t make jokes about paedophilia and mum’s new boyfriend, or that there are so few voices calling for a royal commission into marriage break-up and child protection? That, of course, would call for society to examine its substitution of personal fulfilment for duty — far easier to attack a large and slow-moving target, like the church, especially as it is apt frequently to say inconvenient and frightening things.”

Doing Nothing is Something (05/13/02)
By Anna Quindlen in Newsweek via MSNBC
“It is not simply that it is pathetic to consider the lives of children who don’t have a moment between piano and dance and homework to talk about their day or just search for split ends, an enormously satisfying leisure-time activity of my youth. There is also ample psychological research suggesting that what we might call ‘doing nothing’ is when human beings actually do their best thinking, and when creativity comes to call. Perhaps we are creating an entire generation of people whose ability to think outside the box, as the current parlance of business has it, is being systematically stunted by scheduling.”

Who’s ugly now? (05/04/02)
By Mark Steyn in The Spectator
“Muslims killed thousands of Americans, but America doesn’t have anti-Muslim political parties — just a goofy President who hosts a month of Ramadan knees-ups at the White House and enjoins schoolkids to get an Islamic penpal. America has millions of Muslims, but they don’t firebomb synagogues and beat up Jews, and, if they did, the police wouldn’t turn a blind eye.”

Bush is right: Skip international court (05/08/02)
By Editors of The Seattle Times
“President Bush is right to pull out of the treaty for the International Criminal Court, which is an agreement that would give a foreign court jurisdiction over acts committed by U.S. soldiers. This is not the International Court of Justice, or ‘World Court,’ which has existed since 1945 to settle disputes that governments bring to it. This court is to have jurisdiction over individuals. It promises to act only if national courts don’t, but it will make the decision to intervene itself, which is a breach of national sovereignty.”

The New York Times Gloats Over Pope’s Illness, Awaits His Death (05/09/02)
By J. P. Zmirak at FrontPage Magazine
“It fills Keller, and liberal Catholics, with intolerant rage that a Church is permitted to exist which claims continuity with the past and divine authority, which refuses to cave in to their opinions, which dares to dissent from dissent. They will not follow their consciences — which point the way to the Episcopal church down the road — and they’re furious that they cannot coerce the consciences of other Catholics, pull down the Church’s leadership, destroy her internal consistency and integrity, then smoke a joint in her rubble.”

How Jenin battle became a “massacre” (05/06/02)
By Sharon Sadeh at Media Guardian
“In line with the prevalent tradition, the liberal British press has made an extensive and creative use of figurative language in its reports, which betrayed both bias and an attempt to elicit emotional response from the readers which could be translated into increased sales circulation.”

The Big Jenin Lie (05/08/02)
By Richard Starr in The Weekly Standard
“Precisely a month ago, on April 8, the Palestinian news agency Wafa was reporting that Israel had committed the ‘massacre of the 21st century’ in the Palestinian refugee camp in Jenin. ‘Medical sources’ informed Wafa of ‘hundreds of martyrs.’ This was a lie, concocted not only for local consumption — to keep the Palestinian people whipped up in a patriotic, Israel-hating frenzy — but mostly for export to the West.”

The brutal Afghan winter hits Jenin: Announcing the first British Press Award For Total Fantasy (05/06/02)
By Mark Steyn in The National Post
“Nonetheless, in recognition of my London friends’ spectacularly inept record since Sept. 11, I am proud to announce the inauguration of the British Press Award For Total Fantasy. Journalists can enter as many of their reports as they wish. Can’t decide whether that story based on a Hamas press release is more risible than that dispatch based on the Radio Taliban lunchtime news? Hey, send us both! Winners will receive a grand prize of five thousand pounds!!!! However, in keeping with traditional Fleet Street standards of numerical accuracy, when the cheque eventually shows up a month later it’ll be for £8.47.”

DUPED! When journalists fall for fake news (n.d.)
At Society of Professional Journalists by Chris Berdik
“Media hoaxes are nothing new. Both Ben Franklin and Edgar Allen Poe wrote satirical yarns and passed them off as news articles. And in the 19th century, frontier newspapers were filled with tall tales of murder and mayhem. It seems that as long as there’s been mass media in America, there’s been somebody around to monkey with it. Yet there is something new, as it turns out. In recent years, the public’s confidence in and regard for news media has plummeted.”

The Internationalist (05/03-09/02)
Christopher Hitchens on George Orwell in Weekly Literary Supplement of LA Weekly
“Orwell was an early and consistent foe of European imperialism and foresaw the end of colonial rule. He was one of the first to volunteer to bear arms against fascism and Nazism in Spain. And, while soldiering in Catalonia, he saw through the biggest and most seductive lie of them all — the false promise of a radiant future offered by the intellectual underlings of Stalinism.”

The “Dinosaurs” Are Taking Over (05/13/02)
Jane Black interviews Lawrence Lessig at Business Week Online
“Who should control the Internet? If Stanford University law professor Lawrence Lessig is right, the Internet will soon belong to Hollywood studios, record labels, and cable operators — corporate giants that he says are trying to cordon off chunks of the once-open data network.... Lessig argues that imminent changes to Internet architecture plus court decisions that restrict the use of intellectual property will co-opt the Net on behalf of Establishment players — and stifle innovation.”

Two Cheers for Colonialism (05/10/02)
By Dinesh D’Souza in The Chronicle Review
“There is nothing uniquely Western about colonialism.... The West did not become rich and powerful through colonial oppression.... The reason the West became so affluent and dominant in the modern era is that it invented three institutions: science, democracy, and capitalism. All those institutions are based on universal impulses and aspirations, but those aspirations were given a unique expression in Western civilization.... The descendants of colonialism are better off than they would be if colonialism had never happened. ”

The SAT Comes Full Circle: Proposed changes in the Big Test guarantee more racial special-pleading. (05/06/02)
By Heather Mac Donald in City Journal
“Racial quota pushers are laying a big trap. For years, they have argued that the college admissions aptitude test, the SAT, discriminated against blacks and Hispanics.... Despite its faulty arguments, the race industry easily persuaded colleges virtually to ignore low SAT grades when evaluating black and Hispanic students. Now, the race industry is about to claim its biggest victory of all — dismantling the SAT entirely.”

Disassembling the Catholic Church, Public Education and the U.S. Navy (05/01/02)
By Diane Alden at NewsMax
“If the leadership in all the institutions don’t get a grip, speak up and out, defend Western civilization and traditional beliefs, the scandals of the Catholic Church will pale in comparison to the horrors inflicted by the ‘facilitators’ and ‘change agents’ of the despotic left. Our war on terrorism should include a war on the ideas and the people who promote moral relativism and the use of trends like diversity and sensitivity training to produce the new statist man.”

Conservatism can survive despite liberal bias (05/05/02)
By Debra J. Saunders in The San Francisco Chronicle
“Of course the news media are liberal.... Better to get the facts with a little bias than no facts at all.... Besides, most reporters — not columnists, who are paid to be opinionated — try to keep their ideology under wraps. Most also strive for balance within a story. It’s in the story ideas, however, that the bias really shows.”

Biologists Sought a Treaty; Now They Fault It (05/07/02)
In The New York Times by Andrew C. Revkin
“A treaty enacted nine years ago to conserve and exploit the diversity of species on earth is seriously impeding biologists’ efforts to catalog and comprehend that same natural bounty, many scientists say.... As a result, biologists say, in many tropical regions it is easier to cut a forest than to study it.”

Fall and Rise of Christianity (05/04/02)
In The Wichita Eagle by Kristin E. Holmes
“When scholars talk about the death of Christianity and the rise of the secular state, Penn State University professor Philip Jenkins just remembers the south. Not south as in Georgia or Mississippi, but south as in sections of Latin America, Africa and Asia. There, Christianity is not only alive but thriving. ‘Christianity is not in free fall,’ said Jenkins, a professor of history and religious studies at Penn State. ‘It’s booming and growing very fast in absolute and relative numbers.’”

A Hard Look at Jenin (05/07/02)
By Richard Hart Sinnreich in The Washington Post
“But before Americans, assaulted by dramatic pictures of Jenin refugee camp’s rubble-strewn streets and shattered buildings, draw hasty conclusions about the Israeli Army’s recent operations, we had better face up to an uncomfortable reality: In an urbanizing world in which enemies actuated by ideological or religious fervor feel no obligation to conform to Western norms of military behavior, scenes such as those in Jenin are likely to increasingly become the rule in war rather than the exception.”

   

   

Added May 20, 2002

   
         
   

“Final Solution,” Phase 2 (George Will)
“In Britain the climate created by much of the intelligentsia, including the elite press, is so toxic that the Sun, a tabloid with more readers than any other British newspaper, recently was moved to offer a contrapuntal editorial headlined ‘The Jewish faith is not an evil religion.’ Contrary to what Europeans are encouraged to think. And Ron Rosenbaum, author of the brilliant book ‘Explaining Hitler,’ acidly notes the scandal of European leaders supporting the Palestinians’ ‘right of return’ — the right to inundate and eliminate the state created in response to European genocide — ‘when so many Europeans are still living in homes stolen from Jews they helped murder.’ It is time to face a sickening fact that is much more obvious today than it was 11 years ago, when Ruth R. Wisse asserted it. In a dark and brilliant essay in Commentary magazine, she argued that anti-Semitism has proved to be ‘the most durable and successful’ ideology of the ideology-besotted 20th century.”

Gore’s Grossing (Ken Adelman)
“When former Vice President Al Gore takes pen to paper — or computer to email — he seemingly can’t avoid engaging in hyperbole. Thus, it is no surprise the man who wrote that we live in ‘a dysfunctional civilization’ in Earth in the Balance would claim in a column to The New York Times April 21 that the administration that replaced his was in the pocket of special interests. But as the Danish mathematician, Bjorn Lomborg, pointed out in The Skeptical Environmentalist, to characterize as ‘dysfunctional’ a civilization that has produced ‘more leisure time, greater security, fewer accidents, more education, more amenities, higher incomes, fewer starving, more food and healthier and longer life,’ is ‘quite simply immoral.’”

Speaking Lies to Power: Ralph Nader fudges the truth just like a real politician. (Matt Welch)
“Eighteen hours earlier, I had watched the Nader 2000 crew engage in a far more flagrant manipulation of the truth, more egregious than anything else I witnessed during my two months covering the campaign for the lefty news site WorkingForChange.com. Even before the first preliminary exit poll data crossed the wires, young staffers, on the orders of campaign headquarters, were frantically devising multiple formulas to ‘prove’ that Nader didn’t cost Gore the election, no matter what the results might say later. ‘That’s shocking,’ I told one of the harried idealists charged with carrying out the deception. The faces around the computer, for what it’s worth, did not register any surprise. We’ve come to expect this kind of professional dishonesty from the two major political parties, which is one of the reasons many of us find them repellent. But coming from a ‘purity’ candidate who wants to lecture us on ‘how to tell the truth,’ it suggests a certain self-delusion. It’s one thing to display the schizophrenia inherent in trying to cobble together a coalition of disaffected lifelong Democrats and party-hating anti-globalization activists. It’s quite another to ‘speak truth to power’ by fudging it.”

Careers are “making women miserable” (London Telegraph)
“Women have become unhappier as a result of concentrating more on their careers than the family role they once fulfilled, an academic claims in a new book. Prof James Tooley believes the feminist revolution of the 1960s and 1970s brought about huge changes in attitudes which have not be conducive to motherhood. In his book, The Miseducation of Women, published next month, he suggests many professional woman would have been more contented by staying at home and bringing up children. He draws comparisons with the film character Bridget Jones, a love-hungry young woman in publishing who becomes a television presenter and craves a stable relationship rather than being left ‘a singleton’. Prof Tooley, professor of education policy at Newcastle University, considers that the role of housewife has been ‘desperately undervalued’ in society. He argues that schools should allow girls to concentrate on the arts and domestic science rather than being pushed towards subjects such as engineering and computer science in an attempt at sexual equality.”

It’s the End of the Modern Age (John Lukacs)
“For a long time, I have been convinced that we in the West are living near the end of an entire age, the age that began about 500 years ago. I knew, at a very early age, that ‘the West’ was better than ‘the East’ — especially better than Russia and Communism. I had read Spengler: But I believed that the Anglo-American victory over the Third Reich (and over Japan) was, at least in some ways, a refutation of the categorical German proposition of the inevitable and imminent Decline of the West. However — Churchill’s and Roosevelt’s victory had to be shared with Stalin. The result, after 1945, was my early decision to flee from a not yet wholly Sovietized Hungary to the United States, at the age of 22. And 20-odd years later, at the age of 45, I was convinced that the entire Modern Age was crumbling fast. But there is a duality in every human life, in every human character. I am neither a cynic nor a categorical pessimist. Twelve years ago, I wrote: ‘Because of the goodness of God I have had a happy unhappy life, which is preferable to an unhappy happy one.’ I wrote, too: ‘So living during the decline of the West — and being much aware of it — is not at all that hopeless and terrible.’ But during these past 10 years (not fin de siècle: fin d’une ère), my conviction hardened further, into an unquestioning belief not only that the entire age, and the civilization to which I have belonged, are passing but that we are living through — if not already beyond — its very end. I am writing about the so-called Modern Age.”

Gun Control Misfires in Europe (John Lott)
“Sixteen people were killed during Friday’s school shooting in Germany. This follows the killing of 14 regional legislators in Zug, a Swiss canton, last September, and the massacre of eight city council members in a Paris suburb last month. The three worst public shootings in the Western world during the past year all occurred in Europe, whose gun laws are exactly what gun-control advocates want the U.S. to adopt. Indeed, all three occurred in gun-free ‘safe zones.’ Germans who wish to get hold of a hunting rifle must undergo checks that can last a year, while those wanting a gun for sport must be a member of a club and obtain a license from the police. The French must apply for gun permits, which are granted only after an exhaustive background and medical record check and demonstrated need, with permits only valid for three years. Even Switzerland’s once famously liberal laws have become tighter. Swiss federal law now limits gun permits to only those who can demonstrate in advance a need for a weapon to protect themselves or others against a precisely specified danger. The problem with such laws is that they take away guns from law-abiding citizens, while would-be criminals ignore them, leaving potential victims defenseless. The U.S. has shown that making guns more available is actually a better formula for law and order.”

The end of poverty? (Christian Science Monitor)
“John Edmunds has seen the future – and it’s wealthy. This will be news to many – certainly to all those antiglobalization protesters who now force the world’s economic leaders into retreat behind concrete wherever they gather. And many people are used to thinking of the developing world only in terms of dire, and worsening, poverty. But Dr. Edmunds, a professor at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., is adamant. ‘The economic problem is now solved,’ he says. ‘For thousands of years, mankind struggled to achieve freedom from poverty. The solution is now here and is rapidly transforming everyone’s economic possibilities everywhere.’ It may be true that global wealth creation continues apace. But some warn that the rich are getting richer, and the poor poorer, at rates that surprise even pessimists. A recent World Bank study, for instance, found the gap between rich and poor ‘absolutely huge and far higher than conventional measures indicate.’ Yet statistics also show millions escaping poverty.... And someone out there is buying all those cellphones and TVs and computers being sold in the developing world.”

Great Basin Mammals (co2science.org)
“The results of this study and those of several others (Grayson, 2000; Grayson and Madson, 2000; Fleishman et al., 2001) stand in stark contrast to the doom-and-gloom predictions of climate alarmists, who incessantly claim that global warming will lead to a mass extinction of species nearly everywhere on earth because, as they say, plants and animals will not be able to migrate fast enough to keep up with the climatic zones to which they are currently most accustomed, or alternatively, they will literally ‘run out of places to run’ when the migration is upward as opposed to poleward. As simple-sounding as that fearsome hypothesis is, more complex studies, such as the one reviewed here, indicate it is simply wrong, because plants and animals are simply not the simpletons climate alarmists make them out to be, as they possess a wide array of strategies for coping with environmental change and recolonizing former territories after having once been forced out of them.”

Water Level History of the U.S. Great Lakes (co2science.org)
“Climate alarmists worry — or claim they worry — that greenhouse-induced warming will dramatically lower the water levels of the Great Lakes. However, over what they claim to be the century that has exhibited the greatest warming of the entire past millennium, there has been no net change in the water level of any of the Great Lakes. In addition, over the past two decades of what they typically refer to as unprecedented warming, the four lakes have exhibited their greatest stability and highest water levels of the past century. These observations fly in the face of all the climate alarmists’ horror stories, suggesting that either the consequences they predict to follow on the heels of global warming are wrong or their global temperature history of the past millennium is wrong... or both are wrong. Based on their poor track record in representing reality, we lean towards the latter alternative.”

Study: Science Literacy Poor in US (Yahoo! News)
“Few Americans understand the scientific process and many believe in mysterious psychic powers and may be quick to accept phony science reports, according to a national survey. The survey, part of the National Science Foundation (news - web sites)’s biennial report on the state of science understanding, research, education and investment, found that the belief in ‘pseudoscience’ is common in America. The study found that science literacy has improved only slightly since the previous survey and that 70 percent of American adults do not understand the scientific process. America continues to lead the world, the study found, in scientific investment, in research and development and in technology advances. But it found weakness in some levels of scientific education and noted that the U.S. continues to depend heavily on foreign-born scientists and now faces increased competition from steadily improving scientific enterprises abroad. In the survey of American attitudes toward science, the study found that doctors and scientists were the most respected of the professions, but it also found that ‘belief in pseudoscience is relatively widespread and growing.’”

Limits (Peter Beinart)
“At first glance, the dynamics of the Church pedophilia cover-up feel familiar: Mid-level officials abused their authority; their superiors, fearing embarrassment, protected them, immeasurably compounding the offense; those superiors responded to initial press reports by stonewalling and denigrating the accusers; but then, when the revelations grew overwhelming, they belatedly opted for full disclosure and public apologies. Presented with this apparently familiar script, the commentariat has settled into its familiar role. As with Enron, Gary Condit, and Monica Lewinsky, it has focused on two main questions: ‘Who should take the blame?’ and ‘What lesson is to be drawn?’ The problem in the Church pedophilia scandal is that the opinion industry can’t answer either of those questions because, in a deep sense, they are none of its business. The Boston Globe and The Boston Herald have called on Bernard Cardinal Law to resign. But you can’t declare someone unfit for their post without having an opinion about the requirements of the post. And you can’t have an opinion about the requirements of the post without having an opinion about the mission of the institution as a whole. Newspapers can call on a politician to resign because they have legitimate opinions about the purpose of the government in which he or she serves. They can demand that a cardinal who shields pedophile priests go to jail because they have legitimate opinions about criminal justice. But they can’t legitimately call on a cardinal to resign because they can’t have a legitimate opinion about the purpose of the Catholic Church. You can’t weigh Law’s cover-up of pedophilia against his work serving the poor, or opposing abortion, or bestowing the sacraments, or espousing the gospel, without making a judgment about the relative value of those endeavors, and that judgment is inescapably theological. It is a judgment about the best way to incarnate the revelation of Jesus Christ — and that’s not a judgment for The Boston Globe.”

Scientists Cautious on Report of Cancer From Starchy Foods (NYT)
“Many experts say that a rising furor over a new report that many starchy foods, including breads, cereals and French fries, are laced with a chemical that could cause cancer is overblown. The chemical is acrylamide, which, Swedish scientists reported last week, is produced when certain carbohydrates are baked or fried at high temperatures. The scientists have not published a paper on their small study. Instead, they made their announcement at a news conference last week. Shortly afterward, the World Health Organization announced it would ‘organize an expert consultation as soon as possible to determine the full extent of the public health risk from acrylamide in food.’ But many experts said yesterday that it made no sense to be alarmed over unpublished data on a chemical that was very unlikely to have a measurable impact on cancer rates. ‘It’s just dumb, dumb, dumb,’ Dr. Stephen Safe, a professor of toxicology at Texas A&M University. ‘There are carcinogens in everything you eat. Maybe they’ll just ban food.’ Others agreed.”

Tales of the Tyrant (Mark Bowden)
“Fresh food is flown in for him twice a week — lobster, shrimp, and fish, lots of lean meat, plenty of dairy products. The shipments are sent first to his nuclear scientists, who x-ray them and test them for radiation and poison. The food is then prepared for him by European-trained chefs, who work under the supervision of al Himaya, Saddam’s personal bodyguards. Each of his more than twenty palaces is fully staffed, and three meals a day are cooked for him at every one; security demands that palaces from which he is absent perform an elaborate pantomime each day, as if he were in residence. Saddam tries to regulate his diet, allotting servings and portions the way he counts out the laps in his pools. For a big man he usually eats little, picking at his meals, often leaving half the food on his plate. Sometimes he eats dinner at restaurants in Baghdad, and when he does, his security staff invades the kitchen, demanding that the pots and pans, dishware, and utensils be well scrubbed, but otherwise interfering little. Saddam appreciates the culinary arts. He prefers fish to meat, and eats a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. He likes wine with his meals, though he is hardly an oenophile; his wine of choice is Mateus rosé. But even though he indulges only in moderation, he is careful not to let anyone outside his most trusted circle of family and aides see him drinking. Alcohol is forbidden by Islam, and in public Saddam is a dutiful son of the faith.”

The Hidden Victims (Thomas Friedman)
“Progressive Arab states, like Jordan, Morocco and Bahrain, which want to build their legitimacy not on how they confront Israel but on how well they prepare their people for the future, are being impeded. And retrograde Arab regimes, like Syria, Saudi Arabia or Iraq, can now feed their people more excuses why not to reform. The Palestinians have been experts at seducing the Arab world into postponing its future until all the emotive issues of Palestine are resolved. Three generations of Arabs have already paid dearly for only being allowed to ask one question: Who rules Palestine? — not, How are we educating our young or what kind of democracy or economy should we have? It would be a tragedy if a fourth generation suffered the same fate.”

A Field of Nightmares (Jessica Gavora)
“Feminists call the struggle for proportionality under Title IX the pursuit of “gender equity.” The Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) is perhaps the strongest advocate of Title IX and “gender equity” in sports, having as its mission to “increase and enhance sports and fitness opportunities for all girls and women.” Founded by tennis player Billie Jean King in 1974 in the after-glow of her victory over Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes,” the WSF is the most powerful advocacy group for female athletes in the country. Like most women’s groups, it has benefited from friendly press coverage.... But behind the appealing image of strong female athleticism that is the group’s public face, the Women’s Sports Foundation pursues a relentlessly political agenda: to turn the grant of opportunity for women guaranteed under Title IX into a grant of preference. Under the leadership of its street-fighting executive director, Donna Lopiano, a former All-American softball player and the former women’s athletic director at the University of Texas, the WSF has done more than any other group to convince colleges and universities that compliance with Title IX means manipulating the numbers of male and female athletes.”

   

   

Added May 13, 2002

   
         
   

Cardinal Coverup (New Times LA)
“On the day after child-molesting Boston priest John Geoghan was sentenced to prison in late February, marking an incremental low in the sex scandal afflicting the Roman Catholic Church, Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony launched a remarkable public-relations campaign. It began subtly, with a pastoral letter published in The Tidings, the archdiocese’s official newspaper. The 65-year-old cardinal pledged to do ‘all that is humanly possible’ to prevent sexual abuse in the L.A. Archdiocese, the nation’s largest. He set forth a zero tolerance policy for priests who abuse children.... A few days later — even as he abruptly dismissed a few sex-abusing priests who had enjoyed his favor for years despite his knowledge that they were molesters, and then stonewalled law enforcement about who they were — Mahony quickly sought to establish himself as a leading voice in dealing with the widening scandal. He ordered that a brochure on the problem of sex abuse be distributed to all parishes and schools within the sprawling L.A. Archdiocese, encompassing Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. And he unveiled a new sexual-abuse hotline ostensibly aimed at enabling abuse victims to blow the whistle on errant priests. The cardinal’s press spokesman described these efforts in glowing terms. In view of the Boston scandal, Tod Tamberg, his spokesman, said the cardinal thought the time had come to let the faithful know ‘that we have comprehensive policies on sex abuse, that we follow them carefully and review them regularly.’ The implicit message: Other Catholic hierarchs might appear flat-footed in the face of the worst scandal to rock the church in centuries, but Los Angeles’ Mahony was a leader who was actually doing something. Yet in his pell-mell rush to be seen as the cardinal with a plan, all the while playing a gullible local mainstream press like a harp in diverting attention from his own dismal record of protecting pedo-priests, Mahony’s actions amounted to little more than a public-relations snow job. His image as a reformer took another beating this week with the disclosure that his protecting of accused pedophiles has extended even to the new Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral residential suites, with abuse claims against Father Carl Sutphin, who until recently was associate pastor there.... In fact, most of his publicly announced ideas for dealing with the sex-abuse crisis, including those he unveiled amid much fanfare before jetting off to Rome along with other American cardinals to meet with the pope this month, weren’t Mahony’s at all. They had been forced on him, kicking and screaming, as it were, last August as conditions for settling a potentially explosive sex-abuse case involving the former principal of a prominent Catholic high school in Orange County, Monsignor Michael Harris. Barely a month before he would have been forced to testify at the Harris trial, Mahony authorized the Los Angeles Archdiocese to pay victim Ryan DiMaria $5.2 million — the largest such settlement ever for a single victim in a Catholic sex-abuse case.”

Bishops, media views of “zero tolerance” create gap in perceptions (CNS)
“U.S. church leaders left a Vatican summit on clerical sex abuse saying they felt encouraged to take new steps to curb such abuse and rein in offenders. But they arrived home in the United States to a largely negative reaction and headlines that read: ‘Cardinals Confront Sex Abuse and Come Up Short,’ and ‘Vatican Summit Confounds, Angers.’ What happened? Why such a gulf between perceptions? One big reason was confusion over the term ‘zero tolerance,’ especially in light of a final communique by summit participants. Going into the meeting, ‘zero tolerance’ was a phrase used by bishops and dioceses to describe the policy of removing from positions of ministry any priest who has abused minors or who is facing a credible accusation. In effect, the priest remains a priest, but he is out of a church job. The summit communique introduced a new, even stronger potential punishment that may be designed for priest-offenders: a quick procedure of forced laicization. That means an abusive priest would not only be out of a job, he would no longer be a priest. Unfortunately, many in the media never understood the distinction.”

What We’re Fighting For: We hold these truths to be self-evident. Let’s start acting like it. (Brendan Miniter)
“Now it’s time for Western culture to stand up again. Worries about imperialism, especially cultural imperialism, should be cast off. Global free trade isn’t imperialistic; it’s the spread of a natural right, economic freedom. Demanding that a country respect its people’s basic rights isn’t imperialistic, and neither is standing for an unfettered media. No one wants to bring back colonial empires. All cannot remain quiet on the Western front. The West, not just America, is locked in a struggle with forces that question its foundation. Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and many others reject the fundamental ideals of Western culture: individual sovereignty, freedom of conscience, free interaction among men and the right to the fruits of one’s own labor. They reject the Western intellectual framework that has permitted scientific, political and economic freedom and given the world the fruits of unparalleled creativity. These thugs hate Western success and religious plurality. Like Lenin buying rope from capitalists, the only Western product they seem to like is weaponry. The media’s historical ignorance helps undermine Western confidence. Rarely do we see reports explaining how the West benefited from Judeo-Christian thought. We are told America’s Founding Founders were deists if not atheists. Yet studying the period you’ll find countless references to God and prayers of asking God’s guidance. John Adams once said the intellectual framework for rebellion was laid in the churches years before it became a political struggle. That makes sense, for America is founded on the idea that man is endowed by his Creator with the right to be free.”

Blind Spot (Randall Kennedy)
“The key argument in favor of racial profiling, essentially, is that taking race into account enables the authorities to screen carefully and at less expense those sectors of the population that are more likely than others to contain the criminals for whom officials are searching.... Some commentators embrace this position as if it were unassailable, but under U.S. law racial discrimination backed by state power is presumptively illicit. This means that supporters of racial profiling carry a heavy burden of persuasion.... Stressing that racial profiling generates clear harm (for example, the fear, resentment, and alienation felt by innocent people in the profiled group), opponents of racial profiling sensibly question whether compromising our hard-earned principle of anti-discrimination is worth merely speculative gains in overall security. A notable feature of this conflict is that champions of each position frequently embrace rhetoric, attitudes, and value systems that are completely at odds with those they adopt when confronting another controversial instance of racial discrimination — namely, affirmative action. Vocal supporters of racial profiling who trumpet the urgency of communal needs when discussing law enforcement all of a sudden become fanatical individualists when condemning affirmative action in college admissions and the labor market. Supporters of profiling, who are willing to impose what amounts to a racial tax on profiled groups, denounce as betrayals of ‘color blindness’ programs that require racial diversity. A similar turnabout can be seen on the part of many of those who support affirmative action. Impatient with talk of communal needs in assessing racial profiling, they very often have no difficulty with subordinating the interests of individual white candidates to the purported good of the whole. Opposed to race consciousness in policing, they demand race consciousness in deciding whom to admit to college or select for a job.”

A War of Resolve: American kowtowing to “moderate” Arabs may embolden bin Laden. (Bernard Lewis)
“It was the shock of America’s rapid and sharp reaction that made bin Laden blink. After the U.S.’s initial response, he halted his campaign and adopted a more cautious attitude. But some recent American actions and utterances may bring a reconsideration of this judgement and the halt to which it gave rise. Our anxious pleading with the fragile and frightened regimes of the region to join — or at least to tolerate — a campaign against terrorism and its sponsors has put the U.S. in a corner where it seems to be asking permission for actions that are its own prerogative to take. Likewise, the exemptions accorded to some terrorist leaders, movements and actions not immediately directed against us have undermined the strong moral position which must be the foundation of our global war on terrorism. The submission to being scolded and slighted, as Secretary of State Colin Powell did in his recent meeting with the king of Morocco, and his failure to meet with the president of Egypt, make the U.S. seem it is reverting to bad habits. That only further contributes to a perceived posture of irresolution and uncertainty on the part of the U.S. administration.”

Radical Islam gains adherents abroad (Stephen Handelman)
“But even where it succeeded in gaining a political foothold, radical Islam exposed itself as incoherent and unsatisfying to those whom it most needed to attract. Islamists’ ‘incendiary rhetoric and uncompromising approach to statecraft alienated the very middle classes that earlier sympathized with their critique of corrupt elites,’ wrote Ray Takeyh of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. So what does their failure have to do with Europe and the West? The answer is chillingly simple: Unable to win political traction at home, radical Islam has found its most passionate new adherents in Muslim communities abroad. At least 12 million Muslims — perhaps as many as 22 million — live in Europe today. The targets of economic discrimination and prejudice themselves, many can be easily swayed to violence in the pursuit of a political agenda set elsewhere. That governments in the Muslim world are aware of this is indisputable. Also indisputable is the fact that the money and logistics support channelled to these overseas groups by some of those governments deflects the still-genuine threat posed by Islamic alternatives at home.”

Intellectuals are failing the West (Paul Mulshine)
“With a few prominent exceptions, such as Johns Hopkins University professor Fouad Ajami, intellectuals have been reluctant to criticize the Muslim world’s tilt toward totalitarianism. And that Muslim world will continue to be a threat to the West as long as so many fanatics cling to the illusion that a government is justified in ignoring basic rights as long as it claims to be religiously inspired. ‘Even the massacre of 3,000 innocent people has not alerted people to what’s going on,’ Warraq said of the events of Sept. 11. ‘I noticed in England, where I have some liberal friends, that many of the intellectuals took it that this was all because of American foreign policy. It’s really, really dangerous to go along that line of thought.’ The problem is much deeper than that, according to Warraq. The leaders of the Islamist movement see themselves as on the verge of another great expansion like the one that occurred in the Middle Ages. And the mushiness of the multiculturalists fuels their ambitions.... The multiculturalists maintain that different cultures can have different values, even if those values infringe upon the basic rights of the individual. The opposite view, best stated by Thomas Jefferson back when it was European kings who were claiming to rule in the name of God, is that rights are unalienable. Any government that tramples on them is illegitimate. Warraq says Western intellectuals should insist that Muslim governments observe individual rights.”

Excusing child abuse (Matt Kaufman)
“There are some things whose evil should be so obvious that no debate is necessary. We wouldn’t be a better society if we sat down for calm, dispassionate discussions of the merits of, say, rape. (‘Sure,’ one side would argue, ‘women say “no means no,” but some of them don’t really mean it.’) The same is true of sex with children. That’s why it’s important that we not only reject pedophilia, but reject it vehemently, with undisguised disgust. We modern folk hesitate to display that sort of disgust, for fear we’ll be considered ‘judgmental.’ But we’d better recognize something: If the pro-pedophilia crowd can simply get recognized as a legitimate side in a debate — sharing podiums with opponents, haggling over the fine points of scientific studies, gradually accustoming people to the idea that some types of pedophilia aren’t really so bad — then they’re well on their way to achieving their goal. As Newshouse News Service writer Mark O’Keefe summarizes their view, ‘it may be only a matter of time before modern society accepts adult-child sex, just as it has learned to accept premarital sex and homosexual sex.’ That’s a sobering comparison for anyone who complacently assumes society will never reach the point of tolerating pedophilia. It’s also an important reminder of where the roots of the threat really lie.”

Gunmen stole gold, crucifixes, escaped monks report (Jerusalem Post)
“Three Armenian monks, who had been held hostage by the Palestinian gunmen inside the Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, managed to flee the church area via a side gate yesterday morning. They immediately thanked the soldiers for rescuing them. They told army officers the gunmen had stolen gold and other property, including crucifixes and prayer books, and had caused damage. The three elderly monks were assisted by soldiers. One of them held a white cloth banner with the words ‘Please help.’ One of the monks, Narkiss Korasian, later told reporters: ‘They stole everything, they opened the doors one by one and stole everything... they stole our prayer books and four crosses... they didn’t leave anything. Thank you for your help, we will never forget it.’”

In Dealing With Abusive Priests, Bishops Stood Along Wide Spectrum (NYT)
“While some American bishops transferred predator priests from parish to parish, the leader of one diocese, Bishop Donald W. Wuerl of Pittsburgh, battled for seven years to remove a sexually abusive priest from the ministry. Bishop Wuerl suspended the priest, the Rev. Anthony Cipolla, in 1988 after a former altar boy sued him for damages and at least one other victim stepped forward. And when Father Cipolla persuaded the Vatican’s highest tribunal to reinstate him, Bishop Wuerl traveled to Rome with suitcases full of papers to document the priest’s sex crimes. The Vatican reversed course in 1995, upholding the bishop’s sanctions and vindicating what he describes as his effort to protect the safety of his flock. ‘You have to assure your people that their needs are first,’ he said in an interview last week. Bishop Wuerl stands on one end of a broad spectrum of how Catholic leaders have responded to the sexual abuse crisis in the church. While he and some other bishops in the nation’s 194 dioceses have sought in various ways to prevent abuse and to hold pedophiles accountable, others have seemed more concerned with protecting the church’s name and its bank accounts, church leaders and religious scholars said in interviews.... In an interview on Thursday at his downtown Pittsburgh chancery, Bishop Wuerl said that shortly after assuming leadership of the diocese in 1988, he paid a visit to the shattered family of two brothers who had been abused by priests. The meeting had a profound effect on him, he said. ‘You cannot visit with someone who has been abused without coming away with deepened resolve that this should never happen again,’ he said. That same year, he removed Father Cipolla as a chaplain at a Catholic home for handicapped children, after Timothy A. Bendig, a Pittsburgh paramedic, accused the priest of having repeatedly abused him when he was an altar boy earlier in the 1980’s. Mr. Bendig, the second Pittsburgh Catholic to step forward with accusations against Father Cipolla, sued the Diocese of Pittsburgh for damages, eventually obtaining a settlement. Father Cipolla appealed his removal all the way to the Vatican’s highest court, the Signatura, which in 1993 ordered that he be reinstated, on the ground that Bishop Wuerl had violated his rights under canon law. But in 1995, after the bishop went to Rome to offer details of the priest’s behavior, the court reversed itself. ‘Bishop Wuerl took a brave stand in my case,’ Mr. Bendig said in an interview. ‘He just insisted, “This man should not be a priest.”’”

Well, oil be ... it’s our new pal, Russia (Bill Virgin)
“So we have finally soured on our friends of convenience, the Saudis. This is hardly surprising. After all, if you expect us to keep your country from being annexed by Saddam as the 19th or 20th province of Iraq but you treat our troops like your subjects, all the while secretly encouraging attacks on us and our allies, even we Americans eventually catch on. But this is all right, because we believe we have found a new best friend — the Russians. An affiliation with the Russians has several attractions. It provides an answer and an alternative to the reason we’ve put up with the Saudis this long — oil. Having Russia as a major supplier would allow us to tell the Saudis to literally and figuratively go pound sand. And being business and political partners with Russia puts on our side a nation that, while smaller than in the Soviet Union era, is still a significant force (‘we just know we’ve got those nukes around here somewhere’).”

Jewish Chiefs: Anti-Semitism Grows (Yahoo! News)
“World Jewish leaders warned Tuesday that the level of anti-Semitic attacks in Europe is the worst since World War II. The executive committee of the World Jewish Congress demanded better protection by authorities. Secretary-general Avi Beker said 360 anti-Semitic incidents in France over the past two weeks heralded worse to come for Jewish communities in Europe. ‘There is today an anxiety on the part of Jews when they go to the religious centers, they go to their social centers, when they send their children to school,’ Beker said on the last day of a two-day emergency meeting of the umbrella group that represents Jewish groups from about 80 countries. ‘This is quite shameful for Europe.’ Synagogues, Jewish schools and cemeteries have been targeted in attacks in several European nations in recent weeks, coinciding with Israel’s major offensive in Palestinian cities in the West Bank. Suspects in many of the attacks are Arab youths of North African origin.”

U.S. to help U.N. redefine “families” (WT)
“The Bush administration has joined European delegates to an upcoming U.N. summit on children in moving to recognize families ‘in various forms,’ including unmarried cohabiting couples and homosexual partners. A coalition of Catholic and Muslim countries has formed to block the change to the traditional U.N. definition of the family — married heterosexual parents and children — at the General Assembly’s Special Session on Children from May 8 to May 10. A senior official at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York said the U.S. Mission and the State Department are backing the delegates from Switzerland and the European Union in their efforts because so many children today are brought up by single parents. Informal negotiations resume today in New York on a final document for the summit. The U.S. official spoke anonymously, saying he did not want to be ‘hung out to dry’ for explaining the administration’s position. He said the United States supports the proposal to recognize families ‘in various forms’ because ‘obviously we feel this more reflects the families of today, which are headed by single parents and extended families.’ Customarily, U.N. members are obliged to conform their national laws to the body’s declarations, and critics have said that the European-backed changes would make such proposals as homosexual ‘marriage’ and domestic-partner benefits an internationally recognized right.”

   

   

Added May 6, 2002

   
         
   

PAT Answers: It’s time to stop taking the likes of Paul Ehrlich seriously. (Pete Du Pont)
“So how did the leading environmentalists get it so wrong in the 1970s? Perhaps the most important reason was a profound misunderstanding of the way the world works. The root of the misconception was Paul Ehrlich and John Holden’s famous equation: I = PAT. The negative Impact of humans on the environment, they said, is the product of Population times Affluence times Technology. A bigger population was a bad thing because people consume resources and need houses and roads and so forth. More affluence was bad too as it allowed greater capita consumption of resources, and that must be multiplied by the negative impact of the technology necessary to produce the resources consumed.... What was missing in this view was the greatest resource of all — the human mind and its ability to develop efficient technologies that would improve the quality of life. Missing was the understanding that more electricity for more operating rooms to do more heart surgery was a good thing. More fertilizer meant less acreage had to be tilled, thus saving — and actually expanding — the forests. More production of goods meant more jobs, more opportunity and more national income to devote to environmental improvement. In short, I = PAT posited not even a zero-sum society (your gain is my loss), but a negative-sum society (your gain is always the world’s loss). It was a cost-benefit analysis in which there was only cost, never benefit. And it was dead wrong.”

Religious Freedom in Jeopardy? (Susanna Cornett)
“The protection religious groups have now is because of our Constitution — the protection of religious freedom — and because it is generally felt even among non-believers that religion on the whole benefits society, if for no other reason than that it is an expression of our freedom of speech and pursuit of happiness. What if, as society changes, the religious practices become more and more out of step with it? I think the response to what we see in Afghanistan is illustrative. When the media speak about the oppression of women in Afghanistan, using burkas as a symbol of it, they don’t separate belief from practice. The problem, as I see it, is not that women wear burkas, but that the ones who don’t believe it necessary are forced to do so. Our society, however, can’t quite conceive of women choosing to live within the restrictions imposed by some of the stricter Muslim teachings, so we assume that any woman who is living that way is doing so through force or ignorance. Perhaps that is true in some cases, but not all. And if we insist that their religious freedoms must stay within certain boundaries, then how can we preserve the full range of our own? I’m not advocating, in the Muslim instance, that all manifestations of Islam should be allowed. Murder of the innocent is always wrong, and we have a responsibility to stop it. And I’m also not saying that the teachings of Islam are correct; I don’t believe that’s true. But how we as a society respond to their religious choices, and how those of us who are religious respond to evil when we find it in our midst, will shape the tomorrow for religious freedom in the United States. Losing tax-exempt status wouldn’t end religious freedom in this country, but it would move us further down that road, and it’s not a road with easy return. Just as our right to privacy is in jeopardy from laws passed ostensibly to give us greater homeland security, so our religious freedoms could suffer from laws passed to prevent ecclesiastical abuse. I think we stand at a crossroad; how we call the Catholic Church hierarchy to account for lies, abuse and years of protecting self at the cost of the innocence of dozens of young men and women will help determine on which path we set our feet.”

The Hard Way: It’s easier to fight than to pray. So let’s pray. (Peggy Noonan)
“So what are we to do? I was daydreaming about all this as I walked in my neighborhood on Pierrepont Street yesterday, and I found myself staring at a message someone had drawn onto newly poured concrete: ‘Smile. Today is what you have.’ It struck me, naturally, as sentimental street art. And then I thought no, it’s both spiritual — ‘This is the day the Lord made / let us rejoice and be glad in it,’ wrote the Psalmist — and fatalistic.... It is easier to fight than to pray. In fact it’s much easier to fight than to pray. It’s one of the reasons we do more of the former than the latter. And fighting is hard. But it’s not the hardest thing of all the things we could do. The hardest thing is this: I have been reading about Karol Wojtyla during World War II, long before he became Pope John Paul II. Mr. Wojtyla was in his late teens when the war started, and after the Nazis invaded Poland he worked manual labor, on the freezing overnight shift at a factory, outdoors, breaking and carrying rocks.... He helped friends in the Resistance, but he did not join them. Why? Because, as he told a friend, the only resistance that would work was asking God’s help. ‘The only thing that will be effective is prayer.’ .... Prayer is the hardest thing. And no one congratulates you for doing it because no one knows you’re doing it, and if things turn out well they likely won’t thank God in any case. But I have a feeling that the hardest thing is what we all better be doing now, and that it’s not only the best answer but the only one.”

On Jew-hatred in Europe (Oriana Fallaci)
“I find it shameful that in part through the fault of the left — or rather, primarily through the fault of the left (think of the left that inaugurates its congresses applauding the representative of the PLO leader in Italy of the Palestinians who want the destruction of Israel) — Jews in Italian cities are once again afraid. And in French cities and Dutch cities and Danish cities and German cities, it is the same. I find it shameful that Jews tremble at the passage of the scoundrels dressed like suicide bombers just as they trembled during Krystallnacht, the night in which Hitler gave free rein to the Hunt of the Jews. I find it shameful that in obedience to the stupid, vile, dishonest, and for them extremely advantageous fashion of Political Correctness the usual opportunists — or better the usual parasites — exploit the word Peace. That in the name of the word Peace, by now more debauched than the words Love and Humanity, they absolve one side alone of its hate and bestiality. That in the name of a pacifism (read conformism) delegated to the singing crickets and buffoons who used to lick Pol Pot’s feet they incite people who are confused or ingenuous or intimidated. Trick them, corrupt them, carry them back a half century to the time of the yellow star on the coat. These charlatans who care about the Palestinans as much as I care about the charlatans. That is not at all.”

Return of the Guy (Charlotte Allen)
“In the furnaces of September 11, there was suddenly forged a new social trend: the return of the guy. (Remember that it was four guys who rushed the terrorists who commandeered United Airlines Flight 93, wrenching it to the ground near Pittsburgh.) This trend was continued in the war against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. No one, even NOW, was heard to gripe that there were no women reported among the U.S. Special Forces troops fighting hand to hand with militant supporters of Osama bin Laden during the days after the Taliban fled Kabul. ‘For the first time in a long time, American heroes are not movie actors or sports figures or celebrity scandal-survivors,’ political commentator Andrew Sullivan wrote in the Sunday Times of London. ‘They are cops and firemen and special forces soldiers.’ Their sex is male, and they do the kind of work that calls on specifically male attributes and virtues: physical strength, tough fatherly leadership (think of Rudolph Giuliani), brotherly bonding into fighting units, courage, and blunt compassion. Welcome back, guys.”

The Big Lie and the Big Lawsuit (Lawrence Henry)
“The world has changed, and it’s a meaner place. Little children who once would have gathered around a pipe smoker to say, ‘That smells good’ and ‘Daddy, why don’t you smoke a pipe?’ now point fingers and say ‘That stinks!’ and ‘You’re gonna die!’ Carrie Nation and her saloon-busting hatchet are totems of historical ridicule today. But Carrie Nation’s heirs in the anti-smoking movement have tapped into all the same wretched excesses of American culture — bluenosery, totalitarianism, and vandalism. There is a difference, of course. Today’s Carrie Nations have used thirty years of anti-tobacco jihadery to practice the sinister modern techniques of the Big Lie and the Big Lawsuit. Along the way, they’ve corrupted science, destroyed objective journalism, and made the truth nothing more than a commodity. They’ve demonized tens of millions of people and turned tens of millions more into preening, self-righteous jerks. And of course they’re not done. Having practiced and perfected their techniques, they’re now casting around for new targets. Food looms as the most likely. But there are others, lots of others. I would say that George Orwell himself would be challenged to describe it all. But of course he wouldn’t.”

Their way of life isn’t ours (Paul Mulshine)
“The problem, if my readings and discussions with American Muslim political activists are any indication, is that their goals and ours seem to be mutually exclusive. In our phone conversation, Obeidallah made a point of insisting that Muslims in America want to live Islam as what he termed ‘a way of life.’ I asked him what he meant by that. ‘Living Islam as a way of life means the leader is actually an Islamist,’ he said. ‘It means you must govern by the rules of the Koran and the rules of the Prophet Mohammed.’ He is not alone in that view. When I interviewed another leader of New Jersey’s Muslim community, Yasir El-Menshawy, the president of the New Jersey Council of Mosques and Islamic Organizations, he also insisted that the Muslim idea of a religious state is superior to the American idea of a secular state. ‘Muslims tend to want to have a more complete implementation of Islam running the affairs of the state,’ El-Menshawy told me. When I insisted that the American system of religious freedom is clearly a better one, he responded, ‘I don’t agree the U.S. system is clearly a better system.’”

I do have a few things to say now (Jon Carroll)
“Listen to me. It doesn’t matter who’s right. Let me say that again: Right now, it doesn’t matter who’s right. Stop with the screeds. It doesn’t matter who’s right. Peace making requires more courage than war making. Peace making require more intelligence than war making. Peace making requires patience, time, serenity and an open mind. I know about the numerous failures of peace making in the Mideast. But if we are to be humans, hope is always an obligation. We must always start again. We have just lived through a century of mass deaths, deaths in unimaginable numbers. Six million Jews killed by Nazis, at least 8.5 million people killed by Stalin, 800,000 Armenians murdered by Turks; 100,000 Kurds murdered by Saddam Hussein. One million Cambodians killed by the Khmer Rouge; 800,000 Tutsis of Rwanda murdered by Hutus in 100 days. Do you know whether the Tutsis or the Hutus had a better claim to their disputed lands? Are you interested in the validity of the political claims made by the Armenians? The last two times we entered a world war, only a few people believed that it would happen. Generals on both sides of World War I thought it would last six months. At the beginning of World War II, the British called it ‘the phony war.’”

The priceless gift of the priesthood (Fr. William Leahy)
“To be a priest requires living a life marked by faith, integrity, and service, and it offers the possibility for doing so much good and for helping make God more present in our world. One day this winter I visited the parents of a recent graduate of Boston College whose son, like 20 other alumni of our university, was killed in the attack on the World Trade Center. In grief and pride they told stories about their son, and showed me photographs, awards, and diplomas that chronicled his young life. They were speaking to me, I knew, as the president of the institution their son had loved but also as a priest. They asked if I would like to go upstairs and see their son’s bedroom, which they had kept exactly as he had left it. Perhaps they would have asked the same of the president of Harvard University or Stanford University. Perhaps not. But as a priest I was glad to be there to offer whatever comfort I could. Such moments have been part of my life as a priest, and as a result I feel truly blessed by God. I do not deny that there have been times of suffering and sorrow in my life. Like so many others, I feel betrayed and saddened by the shameful incidents of sexual misconduct committed by some priests, so devastating and harmful, especially to children and their families. But I trust that God and his people will sustain me and my fellow priests, now and in the future, and that my vocation, with all of its gifts, will never cease to be the wonderfully fulfilling experience that it is for me today.”

A Plan for the New Millenium (Fr. Robert J. Carr)
“The Roman Catholic Church has secularized itself and turned itself into a corporation. This is the center of the confusion.... We are supposed to be a community of faith. Ultimately, the issue, therefore, is whether we are a community of faith or a corporation. It is time to make the choice. The difference between a corporation and community of faith is all about how we define our association as members of the Roman Catholic Church. We were founded for one reason: ‘God so loved the world that in the fullness of time, he sent his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him may not die, but have eternal life.’ We maintain that Jesus is resurrected. Many outside Christianity do not understand what that means in the long run, yet to put it simply: Believing in the resurrection of the dead means to live in a mindset that is so radical that once someone begins to comprehend this truth, they live their lives in radical ways not possible prior to that moment. Indeed, it is such a key aspect of our faith, that St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15 that if Jesus did not resurrect from the dead, we are wasting our time. I guess that is the best, yet quite poor, way of explaining what the depth of this fully inexpressible truth says to us.”

Holiness Is the Key (Fr. Roger Landry)
“The only adequate response to this terrible scandal, the only fully Catholic response to this scandal — as St. Francis of Assisi recognized in the 1200s, and as countless other saints have recognized in every century — is holiness! Every crisis that the Church faces, every crisis that the world faces, is a crisis of saints. Holiness is crucial, because it is the real face of the Church. There are always people — a priest meets them regularly, you probably know several of them — who use excuses for why they don’t practice the faith, why they slowly commit spiritual suicide. It can be because a nun was mean to them when they were 9. Or because they don’t understand the teaching of the Church on a particular issue — as if any of these reasons would truly justify their lack of practice of the faith, as if any of them would be able to convince their consciences not to do what they know they should. There will doubtless be many people these days — and you will probably meet them — who will say, ‘Why should I practice the faith, why should I go to Church, since the Church can’t be true if God’s so-called chosen ones can do the types of things we’ve been reading about?’ This scandal is a huge hanger on which some will try to hang their justification for not practicing the faith. That’s why holiness is so important. They need to find in all of us a reason for faith, a reason for hope, a reason for responding with love to the love of the Lord. The beatitudes which we have in today’s Gospel are a recipe for holiness. We all need to live them more.”

March 10, 2002, Homily (Msgr. Thomas Kane)
“What do we say? Immorality has no defense, does it? Abuse of minors has no defense. For our religious leaders, it may be absolutely inexcusable. And our hearts go out indeed to the victims of child abuse at the hands of churchmen. I cannot explain the Boston situation satisfactorily, and I cannot excuse Palm Beach. But as your pastor I should like to share some personal reflections with which you may identify and, hopefully, that will ameliorate some of the anguish that we feel – indeed embarrassment, as Catholics, that we all feel in view of the recent events.... I can honestly tell you that, after all these years, my idealism about the priesthood is exactly the same as it was when I served mass as a kid. It has not deteriorated. It has not been jeopardized. It has not diminished. And I think I can speak from the experience of knowing maybe 3,000 priests, and therefore knowing more of abuses than the average person would. And nonetheless to say unhesitatingly to you, the priesthood in its ideals, in its ministry, in its practice, is no less good, holy and outreaching as you ever thought it was. I say that to you as one who’s seen much of the sordid side of the life, sometimes, of my brothers, but also to reassure you that you are not to be disillusioned by the stories of the New York Times or Time magazine or the Washington Post or Boston Globe. You are not to be disillusioned. The priesthood is everything I thought it was as a kid, and from that vantage point of many years later, I would like to assure you that we are in this thing with you, we suffer with you, we know that embarrassment that you face, when maybe members of our faith nod knowingly to you, when those who are critical, when those who would smirk, when those who are cynical – I’d like to just say to you: We know we have our problems, but we have a priesthood that is as dedicated and holy and generous as ever it was.”

What the Titanic teaches (Stephen Cox)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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.”

   

   

Added April 22, 2002

   
         
   

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, 2002], 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.’”

   

   

Added April 8, 2002

   
         
   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   

   

Added April 1, 2002

   
         
   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   

   

Added March 18, 2002

   
         
   

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

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

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

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

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

   


 Volume 1.16  Featured Webpages Trove May 27, 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”