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June 22, 2004

All That's Left Over

I came across a few more items yesterday to which I feel obliged to link, but about which I've nothing significant to add. To begin with something relatively light, Neil Cavuto laments President Bush's unreciprocated niceness when introducing that portraits of the Clintons; when it was Clinton's turn:

He wasn't nearly so kind, and he wasn't nearly so generous. While he acknowledged the president's graciousness, he didn't pass along one compliment, not one kind tit-for-tat. I wasn't looking for him to praise George Bush . . . after all, they are political opposites. But, please! Couldn't you throw the guy a bone, Bill? Maybe acknowledge he responded well to terror after Sept. 11, or that he's kept us safe in this country since that day? Maybe mention something goofy, like commending the president for the nicknames he gives those pesky White House reporters? Anything?

No. Nada. Zippo. Zilch-a-rino. Perhaps the contempt for this president from this former president is so acute, so intense, that he can't find the words -- apparently any words -- to say anything nice. Frankly, I find it classless.

Paul Cella, meanwhile, addresses a different side of an idea that seems to be in the air, lately:

Modern education generally provides only the negative impulse, the impulse to distrust: an unfledged cynicism full of bluster but empty of real substance. This impulse is peculiarly treacherous, and cunning propaganda will readily conquer it; for the skepticism inculcated by modern education will rarely include a distrust of one's own emotions (the doctrine of original sin having been discarded) which comprise precisely the organ at which propaganda aims its contrivances. Moreover, to leave discontented the human hunger for belief in something, to provide no armor against the poison of despair, is simply to make vulnerable young minds. It is no accident that Nazism began as a student movement in an age of disillusionment; or that the ideologists of what Burke so memorably labeled "armed doctrines," together the greatest of modern scourges, bled the ground red with the blood of young skeptics and freethinkers.

It may seem almost a truism to say that wicked ideas are not resisted by skepticism but by good ideas. But it is only a truism because it is a truth that is slipping from our complacent grasp. Skepticism by itself is aimless and emasculated; and it is only by the light of principle that skepticism is armed. It is precisely because I know courage to be a great virtue that I am skeptical of any attempt to denigrate courage practiced. It is because of the doctrine of original sin, which I see so plainly to be true in myself, that I know that power cannot be trusted in human hands. By the light of doctrine, of principle, the world is illuminated; and skepticism is, if I may use the phrase, baptized.

John Leo finds a reflection of this truism in the "under God" issue at the Supreme Court:

Call me a cynic, but I think the liberals on the court didn't want to cause an uproar that would help Republicans in an election year. Better to come up with a soothing but temporary political decision -- restoring "under God" for now while clearly inviting a future challenge that the court will be only too happy to grant once the political coast is clear. ...

To defenders of the "under God" phrase, this is the key point: that the reflexive hostility to religion that now guides much of American liberalism will result in the step-by-step elimination of all these references, most of which, as Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and others have argued, are harmless expressions of "ceremonial deism." ...

The strategy is simple: Never take the case to the American people -- use unelected judges and the bullying threat of litigation to force unwanted change. And focus on even dubious marginal issues to create the impression that any religious reference in public is toxic. ...

The battle behind the "under God" issue pits true pluralists against intolerant secularists who are willing to accept religion, but only if it is defanged and totally privatized.

Lastly, I can't help but see something of an indication of our future, should we lose this battle, in a story to which Jeff Miller points:

Young Norwegians can earn a merit badge in sex this summer. The pin, modeled on a popular summer swimming merit badge, is an offer from Swedish-Norwegian sex education group RFSU, also the main producer and importer of condoms to Norway, newspaper VG reports.

The badge, which displays sperm cells swimming in waves, can be won by correctly answering 10 out of 13 questions about sex.

"You need a license to drive a car and you should have a sex certificate that shows you don't take health risks. This is done seriously and with humor and the goal of course is to get more people using condoms," said RFSU manager Tone-Berit Lintho.

Yes, how quickly the phrase "if they have sex" has fallen off the end of that goal. Jeff's quip, if you ask me, is a bit more appropriate in its seriousness and humor.

Posted by Justin Katz at June 22, 2004 11:54 AM
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