I've got a good bit on my mind this morning. I held back from posting anything negative about our nation yesterday (apart from a call to repentance - but that was me as a Christian, not as American; I would feel that way about whatever nation I called home). “Happy Birthday America - you suck!” just seemed inappropriate.
However, our nation does have many, many flaws. I'm not ready to discard her, by any means; but I see, at nearly every turn, her people and her government making the wrong decisions, and continuing her slide towards mediocrity and insecurity, under the guise of improving both. In nearly every issue, the underlying cause appears to me to be the same - an inability to dispassionately, rationally evaluate a situation, policy, etc. on its merits alone. This is displayed on both sides of the political divide, where talking points and comebacks are slung back and forth, and seems to be what passes for civil discourse. It isn't!
This originated as a Facebook post, but I thought it was more appropriate for the blog; heaven knows it's had some cobwebs for a while, and hits its tenth anniversary next month. Were I to blog each of these issues individually, though, I'd end up with thousands of words that no one would read, save to search it for keywords so they could post their comebacks in the comments (see above). Does it matter that I can't succinctly express what's on my mind? The problems I see aren't succinct problems with succinct solutions. An exclusively inward focus seems wrong; I should be trying to leave a better nation and world for my children, right?
But, as I look back at those nearly 10-year-old posts, the issues are the same. “Gay Bishops - A Big Deal?” Well, I (regrettably) have been vindicated in my view that this gave license for people to just ignore parts of the Bible with which they disagree; at this point, were a hair's breadth away from forcing people to behave in ways they feel are contrary to the Bible, because others disagree with parts of It. “The Ten Commandments - A Monumental Controversy” was about a man's personal decorations in his office, yet the intervening ten years have seen a continuing push to eliminate every vestige of our Christian heritage from the public square. “Abortion - A Bad Idea Whose Time Has Passed” has seen some progress as of late, but the Todd Akin/Wendy Davis dichotomy prove my point about civil discourse; neither side is immune. However, since that post, there is one political party that has decided they should be for it at any time, for any reason, at no cost. I'm no legal expert, but I don't think that was quite the point of Roe v. Wade, or even Griswold v. Connecticut. How does one rationally argue against such an irrational, yet quite passionately-held, position?
America is not beyond hope. We must change course, though, or we will find ourselves swimming in self-induced mediocrity, while we are crowing over how advanced we are. To get God's blessing, we must turn to Him; to elevate civil discourse, we must teach reasoning. (Morgan Freeberg had a great (and succinct!) summary of this where he dissects Dennis Prager's statement that he'd prefer clarity over agreement.)
p.s. The ambiguity in the title of this post is intentional; whichever meaning is appropriate will be up to us going forward.
Did Bob Costas really refer to a black European Olympics medalist as an “African-American?” What kind of mindless politically correct stupidity is that?
And while we're on the subject, if an “African-American” who is actually from the United States wins a medal, how do the Olympics officials decide which African country gets to share the credit for that medal? Just wondering.
Still more ... if an African-American wins a gold medal, what national anthem do they play? Have they created some kind of medley?
One of the funniest things I remember was hearing someone referring to a person from Africa as an “African-American African.” It certainly does seem that, when exposed to global culture, the American PC-ese seems to range from misguided to offensive. The same people who cry the loudest over discrimination over ethnic origin are also the same people who make sure we can't look past ethnic origin, thereby making all people equal.
Somewhere, we seem to have swallowed whole the lie that what someone else says about us has to be true. If someone calls you ugly, are you ugly? If someone calls you mean, are you mean? If things worked like that, I'd just pay someone to call me a 6-foot, 3-inch Harrison Ford look-a-like!
Now, I'm not ignoring our country's trouble past when it comes to true equality, but I'm also not convinced that affirmative action and political correctness have gotten us any closer to that equality. To suggest that someone be color-blind is ridiculous; on the other hand, differences are not generally liabilities. This infatuation with words, though, is a trickier thing. Freedom of speech is important, as evidenced by its being enshrined as Article 1 in the Bill of Rights, yet political correctness is the complete opposite of this. If jerks are not allowed to say jerky things, how do you know who the jerks are? I'm certainly not advocating being personally offensive to another individual; there are standards of decorum, manners, and courtesy for that. (See “jerk” in the prior sentence.) Hate speech, political speech, religious speech - it's all speech, and it gives the hearer an idea of what is in the speakers' heart.
And then - if a violation of the PC speech codes occurs, we get the calls for an apology. This, too, violates the principles of free speech; how “free” is speech that is demanded? If the offended party were to simply register their offense, then if the offending party cared that they had been offensive, they could choose to offer an apology. When was the last time you heard a demanded apology that was worth the time it took to listen to it? “I'm sorry IF you got offended by what I said” - that's not an apology for saying the words, it's an apology for the offense! It's almost like we're still in grade school. “Now, say you're sorry, Timmy…”
I also worry about generations reared with this viewpoint; if we're not tough enough to withstand words that we don't like, how in the world are we going to face down real evil? I believe there is a better way to handle that. If the words bother you, determine why they bother you; are they offensive words, do they point out your shortcomings, etc. Once you determine the source of the offense, you will know if you are dealing with a “the truth hurts” scenario, a “this person is a jerk” scenario, or a “that was unfair / inaccurate” scenario. You can then ignore the speech, change your ways, or register your offense, and move on. It's a much more productive way to deal with words that tried to hurt you.
I'll wrap up with this; if you regularly hear “racist dog-whistles” coming from your opponents, your opponents likely aren't the problem.
Rahm Emanuel, former Chief of Staff in the Obama Administration and currently mayor of Chicago, seems to have his needle stuck declaring that certain things do not mesh with Chicago values. He is one of three mayors who, as of this writing, have said that Chick-Fil-A's owners' stance on gay marriage is incompatible with Chicago values, and he is currently supporting an alderman's decision to block a new Chick-Fil-A restaurant in his district. So, evidently, 97 jobs, a local franchisee, and southern hospitality for all is not consistent with their values simply because the corporation holds to 5,000-year-old beliefs on marriage that are consistent with every single in-context reading of the Bible that has ever been done.
Another thing that seems to be contrary to Chicago values is gang violence… that involves children. “We've got two gangbangers, one standing next to a kid. Get away from that kid. Take your stuff away to the alley…. It's all about values….” Lest I be accused of taking this out of context, he was interviewed and asked to clarify, and he confirmed the above as his meaning. So, the gang stuff needs to happen in the alleys. Interesting.
So, Rahm, how about this? We're a week removed from 12 killed and 58 wounded in Aurora, Colorado. But, if you take the two weekends before that, how's Chicago doing? 11 dead, 75 wounded. Aurora was an isolated incident; these are your bi-weekly statistics! What sort of values are those? Are the ones that happened in an alley between rival gangs OK?
If I were from Chicago, I would be outraged; surely these are not the values of most Chicagoans. Your inability to call evil for what it is cannot be termed a “value,” and neither can your ability to call good evil.
UPDATE: After I drafted this, but before it posted, Rahm clarified his remarks - as with the president's clarification of his remarks, and Rahm's clarification of the gang violence remarks, the clarification is little if any better than the original statement. The “blocking” of the restaurant was never from the mayor, but from an alderman.)
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Daniel J. Summers
There just isn't enough time in the day to do everything I want to do. Sadly, one of the casualties is original content for my blog (although I am working on something that I hope to have ready in a few days). Until then, here's another round-up of interesting things I found scattered around the web.
First up, from the American Thinker, we have Randall Hoven with “Media Dishonesty Matters.” In this tome, he details 101 incidents of plagiarism, failure to disclose conflicts of interest, and instances of journalists creating news out of thin air. This should probably count as three or four links, but we'll keep pressing on.
Next up, LaShawn Barber asks Barack Obama this pointed question - “What Faith Is This?” He has claimed that his faith guides his public life, yet he voted against the ban on partial-birth abortion. That's a good question.
Moving on, Dennis Prager of TownHall.com (among other places) asks another, somewhat rhetorical question - “So What?” In it, he, a devout Jew, explains why he is not offended in the least over Ann Coulter's latest statement that Jews need to be “perfected” by accepting Christ. He also explains why labeling her statements as anti-Semitism does a disservice to the efforts to eliminate anti-Semitism.
Finally, I usually wrap up with some humor - but this one will inspire a different emotion. I may be the last person in the world to find out about this song, but I've got to share it. Tim McGraw's “If You're Reading This” is a tribute to men and women in uniform, and is a tear-jerking classic.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Daniel J. Summers
Another busy time, another installment of “Plagiarism Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery”. See, when we re-blog here, we're honest and up-front. :)
First up is an article about the cost of illegal immigration for Los Angeles County for one month, from radio talk show host and author Neal Boortz. The numbers are staggering.
Next up, a link to a pundit I never thought I'd link to, except as a set up to refute. However, Susan Estrich and I agree on this issue, which she details in "A Weak Moment for Women in Banning Larry Summers". (I don't agree that what he originally said was wrong - but the rest of it is spot-on.)
Via Morgan Freeberg, we have reports that "A Quiet Triumph May Be Brewing". Could it be that we've come up with a way to get most remaining al-Qaeda in the same place, then send them to their 72 virgins (or raisins, depending on the translation)?
And finally, we wrap up with some humor. Rachel Lucas learned to make thought and speech bubbles in PhotoShop, and produced a masterpiece she calls "Three Men and a Hillary". (Language warning in effect for the comments on that post…)
Friday, February 18, 2005
Daniel J. Summers
Well, I'll start with the “not so fast”… This is a local issue, so if you're reading from somewhere other than Montgomery, AL, this first part may not make a whole lot of sense to you.
The Montgomery County school board has fired Chris Baxter from his head coaching and athletic director positions at Lee High School. He is currently under investigation for an “inappropriate relationship” with another employee there at the school. I know Chris, and I have a hard time believing that he has done some of the things of which he has been accused - I believe this whole scenario is a misunderstanding. On top of that, I feel that the school board's action, based on a request from the principal of the school, is too hasty. Chris is currently on administrative leave from the school, where he also teaches. If he didn't do what he's been accused of doing, why should he no longer be the coach? And, if he did do it, why should he still be a teacher?
I hope that everything is cleared up quickly, and that the school board will reconsider its hasty actions. True, Lee had their first winless season in recent memory this past season; but, it takes time for a coach to build a program. (The program was obviously already in trouble, to be bringing in a new coach in the first place.) Chris has worked hard to realize his goals of being a successful teacher and coach, and to take that away before the investigation has been completed goes against the traditional “innocent until proven guilty” modus operandi that we Americans pride ourselves on using.
Now for the two great lines. The first comes to us courtesy of Phyllis Schlafly, as she talks about the way feminists are using normal men's elevated view of women against them…
When will American men learn how to stand up to the nagging by the intolerant, uncivil feminists whose sport is to humiliate men? Men should stop treating feminists like ladies, and instead treat them like the men they say they want to be.
And, Thomas Sowell, as he discusses the “free speech” claims being bandied about by those upset at Ward Churchill.
Freedom of speech does not imply a right to an audience.
I wish I was able to say that much with that few words…