As we close our third year, here are some thoughts on various events and issues that are floating about the public square:
- A TV debate between two journalism professors on the role of the media in the recent D. C. area sniper case produced this: “We have reached a consensus in this democracy that more information is preferable to less information”. Oh, really? Thereby substantiating the public’s right to know, regardless of the context and consequences? This is typical of the mindset that drives much of our loss of civility and civic responsibility—rights trump duty and restraint, “if we know, we tell”, “if we can do it, we should”, all of which moves us toward the lowest common denominator and away from the restraint necessary to sustain ordered liberty.
- Several weeks ago, I caught an interview by Bill O’Reilly of two Boston University professors who had just completed an extensive survey of 15- to 17- year old teenagers around the world about their impressions of the U. S. On balance, they were negative. Why? Decadence, immorality, violence, and greed were most cited. And where do they get most of their information on America? Hollywood, of course.
- I admire intellectual integrity from across the ideological and political spectrum, as well as those who are true to their convictions. Paul Wellstone was evidently from this mold, which is why I think he would have been embarrassed for his family and appalled at the demeaning use of his legacy by the Democratic National Committee in the shameful display of political opportunism at his “memorial” service. As Bill Clinton has said, “You gotta do what you gotta do”, apparently even if it means the continued moral hollowing of a once-great political party.
- Incidentally, when are we going to return to sanity in the conduct of our elections and enforce the rule of law, require voter identification, and introduce some minimal level of qualification to vote? If present trends hold, we’re headed for serious damage to the credibility of American democracy.
- A recent article in The Weekly Standard by Joseph Loconte calls attention to the weakness of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which is under attack in various states by gay/lesbian groups. It seems to me that it’s time to draw a line in the sand and hold the barricade. If as a society we cannot define the nature of humanity in a relationship the basis of which is critical to the future of our children, how can we hope to sustain a republican form of government?
- It is often remarked that the Nobel Peace Prize is a continuing guilt trip for Alfred Nobel for his invention of dynamite. If so, he would feel totally vindicated with the selection of Jimmy Carter. No one is due more admiration for his personal character traits, his benevolent spirit, and good humanitarian works. But a case can be made that he did less to actually achieve peace than any U. S. President or ex-President in modern history. I realize that the Nobel is, by definition, a prize for pacifists, but Ronald Reagan did more for world peace than Carter could dream, and I predict that the Bush Doctrine, properly executed, may top even that.