I've decided to comment on some columnists today:
- We'll start with the easy ones first: a column from Jeff Jacoby:
Truman bounced back. Bush will, too
By Jeff Jacoby
Nov 21, 2005Why President Bush waited so long to respond to the baseless "Bush lied" lie is a mystery.
That was the first line of that column. Well, it is no mystery. It took him long to respond because the charge wasn't baseless.
- Now we'll have fun with a column that accuse liberals of not hating evil.
The left hates inequality, not evilBy Dennis Prager
Nov 22, 2005If you want to understand the Left, most of what you need to know can be summarized thus: The Left hates inequality, not evil.
Well, true, most of us don't like inequality (when it comes to opportunity) but we don't like evil either. The problem is that we think that our country is capable of doing evil, and has done evil in the past and in some cases, is currently doing evil. You know, things like invading other countries for false reasons, torturing, etc.
[...] By evil I mean the deliberate infliction of unjust suffering on the undeserving; cruelty is the best example of such evil
Gee, so liberals don't hate deliberate infliction of unjust suffering on the underserving? Ah, this guy is slick: note the words of "deliberate" (hence one doesn't have to hate the plight of poor in this country or on other countries, nor do we have to hate the plight of those non-combatants we are killing in Iraq) and of the word "underserving"; I'll be charitable and assume that this person doesn't assume that the desperately poor are deserving of what they are getting. I'll assume he means that someone who has committed a heinous crime deserves punishment.
Thus, when President Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an "evil empire," the liberal world condemned him. The Cold War, once regarded as an epochal battle between freedom and tyranny, came to be regarded by liberals as an amoral battle between "two superpowers."
This guy doesn't get it. Of course the Soviet Union was evil. But that didn't excuse our acts of evil, or our supporting evil right wing governments merely because they were anti-communist. After all, Nazi Germany was anti-communist.
Likewise liberals almost universally mocked President George W. Bush when he labeled Saddam Hussein's Iraq, North Korea and Iran an "axis of evil." It takes a mind that either has little comprehension of evil or little desire to confront it to object to characterizing three of the worst regimes in modern history as "evil."
No, I don't see any liberals mocking the calling of Iraq, North Korea or Iran "evil". It was the "axis" part. Those countries aren't the "axis" of anything. The President was appealing to World War II imagery to support his ill conceived (and evil) plan to invade countries that weren't directly threatening us.
How else can one explain the Left's enchantment with Fidel Castro, the totalitarian ruler of Cuba? Clearly his evil is of little consequence. What matters to people on the Left is that there is free health care and almost universal literacy in Cuba. Whereas non-leftists believe that it is far better to be illiterate but free, leftists believe that it is better to be a literate slave.
Today, this inability to either recognize or to hate evil is manifested in the liberal opposition to the war in Iraq. As I pointed out in a previous column, opponents of the war should be asked to at least acknowledge that America is fighting evil people and an evil doctrine in Iraq. But even that is difficult, if not impossible, for most people on the Left.
Such nonsense. If Castro is known for anything, it is that he has survived our many attempts to take him out. And tell me, just how "free" is someone living in desperate poverty? Not that this doesn't exist in Cuba, and especially in places in North Korea.
And yes, almost every single liberal columnist I've heard has acknowledged that Saddam was a brutal dictator. But, unlike the cronies on the right, we've also acknowledged that the United States supported this guy so long as he attacked our enemies! Had he not invaded Kuwait in 1991, he would probably still be an ally, brutality and all.
As noted above, everyone hates someone, and that includes people on the Left. The problem is that because they don't hate evil, they hate those who oppose evil. That is how liberals went from anti-communist to anti-anti-communist.
Nah. We react stronger when evil is done "in our name" than when others do it. Conservatives will never understand that in a million years.
- Ok, that was easy. Now to contrast and compare two columns on politeness and civility in society: one from a conservative point of view, one from a more liberal point of view:
Manners and virtue in a modern worldBy George Will
Nov 20, 2005
WASHINGTON -- Let's be good cosmopolitans and offer sociological explanations rather than moral judgments about students, The Washington Post reports, having sex during the day in high schools. Sociology discerns connections, and there may be one between the fact that teenagers are relaxing from academic rigors by enjoying sex in the school auditorium, and the fact that Americans in public soon will be able to watch pornography, and prime-time television programs such as ``Desperate Housewives'' -- and, for the high-minded, C-SPAN -- on their cell phones and video iPods.
The connection is this: Many people have no notion of propriety when in the presence of other people, because they are not actually in the presence of other people, even when they are in public.
Ok, fair enough. Cell phone use can blur the distinction between the private and the public. But kids have "made out" in public places way before cell phones, though I admit that, being a nerd, I wasn't one of them.
So says Lynne Truss in her latest trumpet-blast of a book, Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door. Her previous wail of despair was Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, which established her as -- depending on your sensibility -- a comma and apostrophe fascist (the liberal sensibility) or a plucky constable combating anarchy (the conservative sensibility).
Good punctuation, she says, is analogous to good manners because it treats readers with respect.
Ah, now we are getting somewhere. If only we'd make proper uses of semi-colons, all would be well with the world. I guess that undereducated folks are incapable of being polite? Frankly, I think that we would all be better off if we understood logic and statistics.
To see more on Mr. Will's punctuation fetish, see:
"All the important rules," she writes, "surely boil down to one: remember you are with other people; show some consideration." Manners, which have been called "quotidian ethics," arise from real or -- this, too, is important in lubricating social frictions -- feigned empathy.
"People," says Truss, "are happier when they have some idea of where they stand and what the rules are." But today's entitlement mentality, which is both a cause and a consequence of the welfare state, manifests itself in the attitude that it is all right to do whatever one has a right to do.
Ok, "knowing where we stand". If only people "knew their place". I fail to see what helping people out in a time of need (what welfare is supposed to do) leads to an attitude that it is ok to do whatever one has a right to do; I suppose this means that anyone on welfare has bad manners?
Which is why acrimony has enveloped a coffee shop on Chicago's affluent North Side, where the proprietor posted a notice that children must "behave and use their indoor voices." The proprietor, battling what he calls an "epidemic" of anti-social behavior, told The New York Times that parents protesting his notice "have a very strong sense of entitlement." [...]
Wait a minute: are you saying that it is those horrible poor on welfare that misbehave in that coffee shop? Guess what: those patrons are more than likely Bush voters (yes, Kerry won Chicago by a big margin, but Bush still won in the affluent areas). By the way, I fully approve of what that coffee shop owner did.
But if you want the worst example of "it is ok to do what I can get away with", look to the current administration or to Republican political operatives.
Now for Leonard Pitts:
IN VIRGINIA, SHAKING HANDS IS NOW A NO-NO
By Leonard Pitts Jr.
Tribune Media Services
They don't shake hands anymore in the Northern Neck of Virginia.
Too many rude comments were made, too many people got spat on, too many fights broke out. So the principals of five schools in the Northern Neck District agreed to end the policy of having opposing high school athletic teams line up single file to shake hands after the game.
In theory, that was supposed to signal an end to competition and respect for worthy opponents. In practice, football, soccer and basketball teams kept turning into wrestling teams, grappling on grass fields and hardwood floors. Hence the ban on handshakes, which went into effect at the beginning of the athletic season. That decision has been decried by parents, editorialists and others, but was freshly affirmed by the administrators earlier this month.
You might take it as a sign that These Kids Today have no concept of sportsmanship as we did, back in the day. I'd agree, except that my high school football team used to sprint for the buses whenever they won an away game, because they knew that if the fans and players of the losing team caught them, it would not be pretty. Makes it hard to mount the high horse.
Still, I'd be lying if I said I was not struck by the ban in Virginia. If the lack of sportsmanship is not a new wrinkle, perhaps you'll agree that this acquiescence to it is.
Granted, there's no way to quantify that observation. But can you imagine a principal, a coach, a parent or some other adult authority back in the aforementioned day backing down from an important principle simply because young people resisted it?
That is not to lay blame for the decline and fall of Western civilization at the feet of a few school administrators who are, after all, liable for the misbehaviors of students in their care. It is only to suggest that perhaps it is not, in the long run, the smartest thing in the world to change the rules to accommodate that misbehavior. Maybe it would be better to leave sensible rules in place and instead exact a price when students get out of line.
Of course, exacting a price from children has become rather an alien concept in recent years. Consider that in 2002, parents in Piper, Kan., harassed and threatened a teacher because she failed kids for cheating; the school board ordered her to soften the punishment and she wound up quitting her job.
Ah, let's see: sometimes we miss opportunities to teach our kids how to be polite because we take the easy way out instead of standing up to them, which can be inconvenient.
Do you see the difference in these two columns?
- Finally, a comment on how a conservative student was bullied by a liberal faculty member who, evidently, doesn't spell very well:
Why Professor Johnny can't spellBy Mike S. Adams
Nov 21, 2005
Rebecca Beach is a freshman at Warren County Community College (WCCC) in Washington, New Jersey. Recently, she sent an email to the faculty at her school announcing the appearance of a decorated Iraq war hero named Lt. Colonel Scott Rutter. The war hero was asked to discuss America's accomplishments in Iraq.
The simple email announcement was met with the following blistering response from part-time English Professor John Daly (email@example.com):
I am asking my students to boycott your event. I am also going to ask others to boycott it. Your literature and signs in the entrance lobby look like fascist propaganda and is [sic] extremely offensive. Your main poster "Communism killed 100,000,000" is not only untrue, but ignores the fact that CAPITALISM has killed many more and the evidence for that can be seen in the daily news papers. The U.S. government can fly to dominate the people of Iraq in 12 hours, yet it took them five days to assist the people devastated by huricanene [sic] Katrina. Racism and profits were key to their priorities. Exxon, by the way, made $9 Billion in profits this last quarter--their highest proft [sic] margin ever. Thanks to the students of WCCC and other poor and working class people who are recruited to fight and die for EXXON and other corporations who [sic] earning megaprofits from their imperialist plunders. If you want to count the number of deaths based on political systems, you can begin with the more than a million children who have died in Iraq from U.S.-imposed sanctions and war. Or the million African American people who died from lack of access to healthcare in the US over the last 10 years.
I will continue to expose your right-wing, anti-people politics until groups like your [sic] won't dare show their face [sic] on a college campus. Real freedom will come when soldiers in Iraq turn their guns on their superiors and fight for just causes and for people's needs--such freedom fighters can be counted throughout American history and they certainly will be counted again.
Prof. John Daly
Some people reading the above diatribe will ask why a college would allow a professor to use such harsh language while addressing a student. But I disagree with any implication that Professor Daly had no right to say what he said so poorly. In fact, I would fight to the death to protect his right to very bad free speech. That is not because I am a principled person. I just enjoy watching liberals make asses out of themselves. To me, it is a cheap form of entertainment not unlike the CBS Evening News.
Ok, fair enough. A student sends an e-mail message and a part time faculty member sends a poorly worded, evidently hurriedly written response. I agree that the faculty member didn't respond appropriately. A better response would have been "thank you for letting me know" or no response at all. If the faculty member wanted to persuade this student on a point, a better way would have been to say: "ok, why do you believe that?"
But the line "I just enjoy watching liberals make asses out of themselves" is excellent. This is why I am commenting on Townhall articles: I love pointing out how conservative columnists put out articles that are completely devoid of logic and reason, all the while reminding myself how much smarter I am than the people that they are writing for. (yes, I said that sarcastically).
The difference is that I am picking on the best that conservatives have to offer; this clown is picking on a part-time faculty member.
But the real question for Professor Daly and his boss (firstname.lastname@example.org) follows: Why can't English professors spell?
The answer can be found in Daly's biography/teaching philosophy, which is posted on the WCCC website:
Often linguists do not use their skills to teach grammar and writing, but Professor Daly finds that linguists have a special view on language that may help students' particularly students who have had trouble in these areas in the past. English courses generally are taught from a rule-based perspective. Students become overwhelmed with these rules and often find the exceptions make them impossible to manage. Linguistics [sic] view language from a descriptive point of view that is they understand language in the same way you might organize a sock draw [sic] by dumping the contents on the ground and seeing what goes together until finally ending up with a super-efficient drawer (or deeper understand [sic] of grammar and writing). Students often respond to this approach.
For those who do not understand the above statement, I am delighted to offer the following translation:
No thank you, there is no need. Basically, there are three points:
1) The rules can be hard to master at times
2) Many students have been shielded from having the possibility of failing at anything and
3) It is often easier to not deal with points 1 and 2 by insisting that the students master the rules (thereby leading to lower teaching evaluations, complaints from the students and their partents, etc.)
Often, this attitude of "students are the customer and the customer is always right" mentality in higher education bears some of the blame as well.
So, this columnist makes a valid point, even if he is a conservative ass.
One final comment: I like to spell check my articles prior to posting them, and I noticed that my spell checker corrected some of the English professor's words. I tried to go back an put in the misspellings but might have missed a few.