Friday, November 26, 2004

PC, Common Sense, and Dan Rather

Lots of interesting items on political correctness and common sense today. The first is from Charles Krauthammer's column in the Washington Post. His subject is the upcoming elections in Iraq, who among Iraqis is likely to participate, and who is doing the fighting. The column would be instructive for doomsayers, but it's unlikely they will read it. One pearl of wisdom:

In 1864, 11 of the 36 states did not participate in the presidential election. Was Lincoln's election therefore illegitimate?

In 1868, three years after the security situation had, shall we say, stabilized, three states (not insignificant ones: Texas, Virginia and Mississippi) did not participate in the election. Was Grant's election illegitimate?

There has been much talk that if the Iraqi election is held and some Sunni Arab provinces (perhaps three of the 18) do not participate, the election will be illegitimate. Nonsense.

The columnists of the Washington Times are often what make the paper worth reading. The Times hit a home run today. Check these out:

Herbert London's column discusses the dumbing-down of America. (See my earlier item on the problem of uninformed voters). London says,

As I see it, radical egalitarianism fostered the view every opinion is valid. Even suggesting some opinions are stupid is to invite a charge of being elitist, a searing condemnation.

Melissa Pardue's column is on sex education in schools, abstinence instruction, and related new rules in Texas. I don't agree with everything she says, and I wonder why we have to rely so much on teachers for sex education. What happened to family discussions of the birds and the bees? This quote isn't the most important thing in her column, but it got my attention. What teenagers is she talking to? The only thing I ever regretted was not having more and sooner, and I doubt that today's teens are much different. That's why teaching contraception is at least as important as teaching abstinence, assuming that's the proper business of schools in the first place.

Most sexually active teens say they wish they had waited until they were older before engaging in sexual activity. Nearly two-thirds of sexually active teens say they regret their initial sexual activity.

Paul Greenberg's column is about political correctness in academia and Southern culture. It's a great read. This is his comment on the lack of philosophical diversity in academia:

Is there any sector of American life that talks more of diversity than academia, and shows less of it when it comes to ideas?

Jonah Goldberg's column is an excellent tutorial on what the terms "liberal" and "conservative" mean and how they are used. Example:

[I]n a sense it would be easier if progressives and other leftists never coopted the word "liberal," which historically means someone in favor of a limited government and maximized economic and political freedom. But I am not optimistic that the media or academia will ever lift a finger to clarify the confusion over all of this. It's just too easy to describe the bad guys as conservatives and the conservatives as bad guys.

David Limbaugh's column takes on the use of political labels from a more distinctly conservative viewpoint (yes, he's Rush's brother). But in truth, it cuts both ways.

[B]eware not of labels, but the deliberate misuse of language and concepts to demonize people for political purposes.

Finally, the Washington Times editorial on the departure of Dan Rather from his anchorship of CBS News is worth reading. Their main point:

Mr. Rather falsely concluded that his standing was beyond reproach. It was the kind of arrogance that allows one to say, as Mr. Rather did immediately following the National Guard memos story, that "if any definitive evidence to the contrary of our story is found, we will report it." That Mr. Rather could say this with a straight face to millions of Americans who had in fact seen evidence to the contrary revealed just how far he had descended in a profession he helped pioneer. The end came about when the New York Times hilariously summed up Mr. Rather's defense in a headline that read in part "fake but accurate."


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