Ranting and Ramblings of an Old Man

An answer I made to a Reddit question. July 3, 2016

It’s not uncommon that we see the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s being romanticized today. But those of you who grew up during these years (or even before that), what periods were people romanticizing back then?

My own dim recollection of the “40s and “50s was of an era more fixated on progress than on the past. Old stuff was being torn down to make way for the modern. For example: Penn Station in NYC and almost anything that Robert Moses touched in NYC and on Long Island. The developing Interstate Highway System, which certainly helped the economy generally, was a disaster for small towns and the small businesses that bordered rural highways. We certainly had no nostalgia for two world wars, the depression, or the dust bowl. What romanticism there was was directed further back to the world of our grandparents: Victorian poetry and pre Raphaelite and impressionist art. But even in art most attention was directed at living artists like DeKooning, Pollock, and Picasso in painting. Kerouac and Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti in poetry and literature were hard nosed realists not in the least romantics. This was the era which began the functional lookalike domino skyscrapers of today. The horrid yellow brick buildings of the era were cheap and quickly erected but never intended to last long as had been those of earlier days since “planned obsolescence” would certainly quickly make them outdated. Currently a new bridge is being built between Westchester and Rockland counties in NY because the 1950s era Tappan Zee bridge was only intended to last fifty years. Understandably, the greatest generation wanted nothing to do with its immediate past. It wanted higher education not just a lifetime job. It wanted a little house in the suburbs and a car, not an apartment in the crowded and dirty cities. I’m 78 and have little sympathy for those who lament the destruction of the urban slums which was what very many of the destroyed “neighborhoods” were with their “ethnic” poverty, racism and discrimination. Nor do I like it when guys like “Gunny” on TV portray WW II armaments as anything but the tools of horror and brutality that they were. GIs of that era did what had to be done but looked not backward but forward to “When The Lights Go On Again All Over The World.”

Malcolm X May 7, 2016

On May 19th, his birthday, many people will remember Malcolm X as a great civil rights leader. He was not. He was a great leader and his views were constantly evolving. But at the time of his assassination Malcolm X was a black militant who saw separation of the races as the only solution to America’s race problems. He surely would have changed that view had he lived to see the country today but in his lifetime he did not. What he did do was evolve from thinking all whites were devils as taught by Elijah Muhammad to seeing racism as only a white American problem that could be ignored by a black nationalism within the wider community.

At least where I live in the Northeast young folks are living Dr King’s dream of a race blind society. With others of my generation I have no problem with interracial couples but I do note it when I see one. Young folk don’t even notice. In fact there was a South Park episode about this. We have a president who went beyond Jesse Jackson’s all inclusive Rainbow Coalition to instead run a race neutral campaign and administration. If there is still a preponderance of old white men at the top of business and industry their seconds in command are often not. Anyone joining a company today has no reason to assume that his immediate and middle management bosses will be either white or male. Of course there is still discrimination and people everywhere have always felt at least vaguely superior to their geographical and ethnic and religious neighbors, but truly Dr King’s dream of white and black children sitting together on the hills of Georgia exists at least among the young in much of America today and in corporate business nationwide. Alive Malcolm X had no faith in the dream of complete American integration. He was a crusader for Black Nationalism. I expect his spirit is content that he’d been wrong. (Of course having converted to Islam he’d not have liked me calling him a crusader.)

And it wasn’t just Dr King who had a dream. I feel that the celebration of Dr King’s birthday should have a more inclusive name than Martin Luther King Day. His dream was not his alone. Many others shared it and fought for it in their own way. Dr King rallied multitudes of both black and white citizens to the civil rights cause, but others like James Farmer and Thurgood Marshall worked tirelessly for civil rights in the courts. Roy Wilkins was an important organizer as was the labor leader A Philip Randolph. These and others were in their own way as important as Dr. King. But how many young people today know the names of Whitney Young, Ralph Abernathy, or Bayard Ruskin, not to mention those hundreds who worked on a state rather than national stage and were as well known and important in their states. These men and women (Viola Luizzo,, Shirley Chisholm, Mary Peabody) were not militants nor were they dreamers, but hard nosed Americans who shared a vision. Not all were black either. Mary Peabody, the mother of the then Massachusetts governor, was arrested for civil rights activity in Florida. Viola Luzzzo, another white woman, was murdered by the KKK. None of these civil rights activists who risked and sometimes lost their lives had much use for black militants who mostly posed for photo ops but were no more than an angry reaction to the pace of social equality. That was perhaps an inevitable stage which had to be passed through in the 1970s but they would never have dared to pose with guns had it not been for the Rev. King and his partners.

Some unromantic thoughts on this Memorial Day

Pictures that glorify war bother me. Of course we honor our war dead. That goes without saying except with the fringe who always see the enemy as good and the USA as all bad. (To them, though “Uncle Ho” was willing to sacrifice hundreds of thousands to have his image of Vietnam fulfilled, he was some sort of saint because he wore rubber soled sandals.) Wars happen. People, including far too many kids, die or are maimed. Some wars are more avoidable than others but none are good. At best they can be necessary even if that necessity is oil. Nor should we fall into the trap of seeing ourselves as good and enemy soldiers as bad guys. They may be wrong, and misled and they are certainly our enemy but no one willing to die for his beliefs is bad.

But thanks to Joe Stalin and some on our side like Curtis Lemay who considered atomic war winnable (Not without reason before the H-bomb) the promise of “some sunny day” “when the lights go on again all over the world” went unfulfilled after WW II. Later Mao had the same mentality. When he told Khrushchev that the USA was a paper tiger Niki replied “Yes, but with nuclear claws.”

I have no interest here in hashing over oil or war profiteering as a cause of war. (Which they are but most in the arms industry, while hardly peaceniks, really believe the high armaments budget to be vital. I met some in business. They’re just too surrounded by the forest to see the trees. On several occasions Ike put it far better than I could.)

All this said, most Americans today seem to consider Hiroshima either a good solution to the war with Japan or at least a tragic necessity and the understandable outcome of war hysteria, battlefield losses, Japanese atrocities, and the necessary propaganda to fight a war. (My brother once told me that he knew the war was nearing its conclusion when our propaganda began to depict the enemy as human.)

Now those (myself included) who have not seen war – and our government is in no hurry to accentuate it in the popular consciousness as it did during WW II – can be horrified by what our side does but, guys, it isn’t a game. (I’m thinking of gunny on the military channel.) The essence of war is hate and brutality. No one was horrified back then if a Japanese or German girl was raped. That had always been the way of war. She was an enemy who had likely heil Hitlered with the men during WW II. To her it was one more bad thing in a stew of horrid things that was happening to girls and children all around her. After the war ended eating was her priority # 1 and I recommend to those who have not heard it Marlene Dietrich’s song “Black Market.”:

The US did not pay as much attention to PTSD then as now except in the most obviously bad cases. The USA had its hands full with those who had physical injuries. It has only been in recent years that many veterans of WW II have felt that they could talk about their nightmares when, after all, they had lost true friends to death or mutilation in combat.

Just as most Americans at least accept the wisdom of bombing Hiroshima, they do not agree that Truman should have bombed Nagasaki. Many people think he was a great man. Personally I think he was a heartless and small minded SOB politician, a description that the bastard would have been proud of.

So, do we honor our fallen soldiers? Of course we do just as we honor firemen and medical personnel who daily risk and often lose their lives to help others. But getting all squishy over pretty cemetery scenes in Arlington does not reflect what they died for. They died not to wage war but to get the horror over with. I read somewhere recently that the way to end war is to make it boring, not to glorify it. One of the reasons that I hate Nixon is that he gutted the space program, probably the only thing in history that could have replaced war. It was idealistic, adventurous, and dangerous. It required commitment and encouraged children to study. Just as important, big industry could make huge profits in it so long as companies were not allowed to profit from both it and armaments. Would there still have been wars. Of course, but they would not have been considered the high point of personal or national endeavor and there might have been fewer.

If the North Korean claim to have a hydrogen bomb proves to be true that is both bad and good news. Bad because Kim would now have the ability to kill millions as well as intimidate his neighbors just by having it. But good also. In the 1950s when both the USA and the USSR had atom bombs there were those – Curtis LeMay for one – who wanted to use them. Fortunately saner heads prevailed, but A-bombs can be used without destroying the whole of humanity, only your enemy’s major cities. Though the human and material losses would be enormous, a war with a few A-bombs could have some sort of winner. That is why the India-Pakistan feud is so dangerous. H-bombs are another matter. Even idiots know that they are not just a bigger weapon but a planet killer. That realization preserved the world through the “60s, “70s, and “80s. The N. Korean military are enemies but presumably not idiots.

Without the dark of night of what use would be the light of stars?
Without a rainy night the mists at rosy fingered dawn would mean nothing.
Without poor miserable us of what use would all this beauty be?

A letter to a college student 12/29/2015

Below are some thoughts of mine which I cobbled together when it was even more a hot button issue.

My point in sending them is twofold. First that opinions should change with new circumstances. For example I explain the background for St Thomas opposing abortion not as killing which he did not believe it was, but as a method of birth control denying eternal life. I would hold his position to have been correct in his time when the world was underpopulated and most children died early denying their labor to the society. But times change. Today the world is overpopulated and his argument must be balanced by the way we are over stressing the resources of the planet (fossil fuels of course, but also fish and wild animals).

There is also (and it is getting worse) less need for labor. In the wake of the Black Death in the middle ages the position of peasants improved because there were too few to work the land. Today there is an opposite problem with more laborers than jobs. The results can be seen in the low wages (or none at all) paid to laborers in Asian factories. There are just too many people today. One must also consider in our open educated society what the effect of bearing a child will be on a teen mother. She would probably not complete her education. Even if she marries she will likely not be able to raise all her future children in an economically satisfactory home, thus condemning them to poverty also. There is also the psychological thing. In the middle ages having children out of wedlock was far more common than we usually believe and they needn’t get a college education to work.

My point is that situations change and while the old arguments may still be valid new situations create new arguments which must be taken into account.

But mostly what I want you to see is that ethics and morality aren’t simply. Rights are not simply what a person or even a community wants. Europeans generally might not have instituted death camps for the Jews but they didn’t look too closely when Germany did it for them. This was the error of our Supreme Court in addressing the issue. Without any guidance from the philosophical and medical communities as to the ethics it issued its decision based only on what women wanted which it interpreted as a legal right.

Birth control: How can the Vatican expect people to follow its absurd position on birth control when even its own lower clergy quietly refuse to enforce it? (A) Yes, it is an interference with nature. That is what man does. That is what makes man more than an animal. That is what allows us to not fatalistically accept sickness for example. (B) Surely the mandate to increase and multiply has long since been fulfilled. Is Rome waiting for a great war to solve the population problem? (C) It is not enough to say that any life is good because it will be eternal when that position brings suffering, war, and starvation in this life. What does Rome want – lots of unbaptized dead children in limbo?

By the Vatican logic birth control is worse than abortion, for life – any life even if terminated before birth – is better than no life at all. But this assumes that either God directly zaps an eternal soul into each potentiality and aborts defective ones or that nature itself does it. In either case, such natural abortion is a moral good. By interfering to prevent unloved, or defective potentialities from attaining certain personhood one is doing no more than catching the ones that nature misses. This is what animals do at birth with defective cubs. This is what man has done historically. I stress that I am speaking only of early pregnancy where there is legitimate doubt about the embryo having a unique life. Furthermore, what the Vatican holds to is not supported by Thomas Aquinas who it quotes when to do serves its purpose. Aquinas held that there are three souls: the vegetative, animal, and human. He believed that the human soul was injected only within days or weeks of term.

So too, stem cell research. Embryos are not and will not be people. I am old and want to get older, preferably with as little pain and as much physical and mental mobility as possible. At one point I joined the Right to Life party because they claimed to be concerned about the quality of all lives, young, old, foreign. I left because their only real issue was abortion and birth control, and I believe in birth control to maximize the quality of life of those alive, and I can’t see abortion as a simple black and white issue. (Essay below.)


The interview that retiring justice Blackmun gave points up a serious problem in American society.

Referring to his deliberation in Roe vs Wade the justice indicated his decision was intended to contribute toward the full development of women’s rights in the USA.

I will not rehash the wisdom of that decision but reflect upon the circumstances in which it was made. In the 1960s & “70s women were becoming aware of their second class status and agitating for reform. the abortion issue was tied to the slogan: “a woman’s body is her own.” Intentionally or otherwise. the abortion issue had become a battle which had to be won not because of its merit but because it symbolized the wider issue of women’s independence, freedom, and equality. Opponents had their own slogans derived from an understanding, or lack of understanding, of the development of the body, mind, and spirit of the embryo/fetus that (whether they knew it or not) was rooted in nineteenth-century science and philosophy. To them a woman’s body might be her own but the embryo it bore was not simply her tissue but another human with conflicting rights. Justice Blackmun’s statement seems to imply that such rights either were considered not to exist or were ignored in a greater cause of promoting women’s rights. An ethical position had been taken purely in support of legal progress and not on its own merit.

in recent years much science has been written undermining the preconceptions of the opponents, but indicating that the embryo is not simply tissue with some vague potentiality to evolve into a child if the woman happens to want that at any given time.

it is difficult to derive an absolutist position either pro life or pro choice yet the question remains: in a certain set of circumstances do the negative effects of bearing a child at this time outweigh terminating a process which if not interfered with will produce a human being?

This is not and never was a legal question. while there is much information available today, there was practically none at the time that the women’s rights cause thrust abortion into the headlines. People had nothing but new slogans and old science to guide them. yet because of the agitation for women’s rights the matter had to be dealt with. Since philosophers were giving no guidance to society from which it could create a consensus, it fell to the court to make a yes or no decision. Now what do lawyers know about biology and ethics? The philosophers who should have been hashing this out were instead rehashing Sartre (by then safely acadamized).

it is perhaps too late, for now at least, to mold new laws and community ethics based on today’s study and insights. The supreme court has made its decision, based not upon the advise of ethicists and philosophers but upon the evolution of the rights of women in law. Current philosophical consideration of the issue comes too late. Once the judges determined, as lawyers will, that the issue was only a matter of advancing rights, the case was lost for the pro life forces. More importantly, any possibility of dealing with the complex issues arising out of the circumstances of the pregnancy (rape, incest), and the differing effects that would arise in different cases – for parents, child, and society should the pregnancy be carried to term – was lost in the anger of the day for an all-inclusive yes or no decision. In the absence of modern philosophical opinion based upon modern biology the issue was to be viewed not as an ethical balance of the best interests of the woman, the father, the embryo/fetus/child potentiality, and society, but as one of the then-pressing issue of women’s rights only. The justices had affirmed a questionable slogan not on its merit but to advance the progress of women’s rights.

If philosophers are not in the forefront of issues all our issues will have to be settled by judges who operate as functionaries of the state which philosophy views only as a necessary evil. Instead they should be resolved by a consensus of the wider society – or at least by well and broadly advised judges relying upon wisdom rising up out of the urgent disputations of thinking men and women.

A newspaper headline stated that the Vatican could see no way to allow “a little bit of abortion.” That cuts directly to the heart of the abortion issue and merits analysis. Clearly the conflict between pro and anti abortion camps is drawn along an absolutist interpretation of the right to life and such an absolutist interpretation allows no room for negotiation – no little bit of abortion.

But should it be so clear cut?

Lest I appear to be trying to make a pure argument for pro choice let me first state that even if the Vatican is incorrect in its position that a unique human life exists from conception it does not follow that abortion is moral in all cases. A fetus, even if it is not a unique human life, still is one in potentiality. a process is in effect which if left uninterrupted with will in time produce a life. no christian watching a wobbly two-year old can say that a positive act to deny a life should be lightly undertaken.

But the Vatican position that unique life exists from conception is neither ancient christian tradition nor supported by the scriptures. For centuries it was accepted by the church that life did not exist until sometime near birth and that while abortion might be reprehensible as a form of birth control, it was not murder.

Just as that position was based upon ancient scientific opinion, the church’s current position is based upon the 19th century realization that life began much earlier than previously thought. How much earlier was unknowable at that time and it was reasonable – given the limited knowledge available and the belief that at some point or other God zapped an immortal soul into the fetus.- to take the most conservative position that since life surely existed much earlier than had previously been thought and might exist from conception, abortion should be condemned because it MIGHT involve taking a human life..

Regrettably, the conservative scientific position that life “might” exist from conception has in the hands of the bishops become “does” exist from conception; and they are not open to further scientific evidence.

Few today believe that in millions of individual miraculous interventions God somehow zaps an immortal soul into the embryo/fetus at any specific point including conception. there is no cause to believe that humanity does not mature biologically from potentiality to actuality just as the bodily organs do.

We still do not know as much as we would want to, but we do know quite a bit more than in the 19th century. It seems now that in the early days of pregnancy DNA has merged. but that does not signify individual human life since there is DNA even in dead tissue. the cells are simply replicating. In the early weeks of pregnancy. there is nothing that distinguishes the embryo from that of any other mammal.

Yet we must maintain our balance. Clearly the evolving embryo/fetus is more than mere tissue to be allowed to mature only if that is convenient with the mother at that time. And it may, in fact, be a unique human life. Regrettably there is no option to put off an abortion pending further information.

This raises the question of the value of life which applies both to abortion in itself and, as St. Thomas considered it, a method of birth control.

Certainly we agree on the sanctity of human life but it is reasonable to ask does the sanctity of human life as a race determine an absolute right to life of each individual potential life despite circumstances. I would argue that it doesn’t and appeal to certain examples from life:

1) In the animal kingdom where life in its own way is also sacred, it is survival of the species not the individual that is paramount… and it becomes increasingly difficult to retain the smug attitude that divides mankind off from the rest of creation and places him at the center of the universe.

Nature itself aborts a fetus when the mother’s body detects an abnormality. If termination is to be held a bad thing in an absolute way independent of circumstances it would seem to follow that nature is a defective creation. Even if a defective creation is held to be the result of Adam’s fall, the defectiveness is not a proximate result of Adam’s sin but a directive of the creator and therefore an absolute good.

2) Society readily forfeits lives of its individuals where necessary for the general good… in war for example.

The most serious bad effect of an abortion, the possibility that a human life is being terminated, is an unknowable bad effect, not a certainty. Moral philosophy permits choosing a known good over an unknown one.

We have no certainty that a VERY EARLY embryo has a unique life. this is not the nineteenth century and there now is sufficient information to justify defending abortion where to bring the fetus to term will create knowable, foreseeable. and serious bad effects.

I believe that abortion is morally justifiable, but only in such cases where these knowable bad effects are sufficiently serious to counterbalance the unknown possibility that a human life is being terminated and the certainty that a potentiality is being terminated.

Such cases would include: (1) Where serious birth defects are certain, and (2) Where the mother’s life is seriously threatened. With less confidence i would also consider (3) Where there is dread overpopulation and hunger/starvation of children resulting in brain damage and poor education. These seriously threaten the fabric of the society. (4) Where the mental health of the mother is clearly at risk. (5) Where the inability of teenage parents in an industrialized society to pursue their education would limit the potential of this child and their succeeding children. (6) Where the prejudices of a society will seriously impact the quality of a child’s life. (7) Where, as in cases of rape, the child may be hated or blamed for a wasted mother’s life, and when alternative forms for raising the child in a positive environment are not realistic alternatives.

To abort a fetus in such cases is to do no more than nature itself does when the mother’s body detects a defect in the fetus. One is simply catching the problems that nature missed.

Although i do not like leaving the choice of having an abortion in the hands of what is very often an immature and confused mother-to-be and her advisers of dubious ethics. there seems no better authority to decide. The state would be less sympathetic, more ill-advised, and more bureaucratic. The church has been less sympathetic and extremely absolutist. Since the commandment to increase and multiply has clearly been fulfilled (and in fact was probably less a command than a blessing), and since the earth must someday soon exhaust its already abused ability to support an ever expanding population anyway, it seems about time to consider the sacredness of life to be constituted in the whole of society’s life and its quality and purpose rather than in the individual regardless of his potentiality. I fear that unless we see this clearly and act on it, evil will do it for us. Surely wars for food, or eugenics at the hands of governments, rather than society’s freely acting individual members (the body of Christ) is a real, foreseeable, and frightening possibility. I like the French solution wherein abortion is permitted but actively discouraged. France is a Catholic country on paper at least and espouses christian ethics. a doctor there can be required to encourage a mother to investigate alternative solutions In this country no such shared ethic any longer exists and I doubt that it could be legislated. I recall an American OB saying that he could birth the child or abort it. It didn’t matter to him either way. That is a really cold attitude. Either he had no moral position himself or he had concluded that he doesn’t give a damn about the future of the potentiality.

PS: I hope that you also get from the above essay the need to know history and philosophy. The issue cannot be understood otherwise and has deteriorated into people throwing unsupported slogans at each other based on nothing but what they want because it is convenient to them. Yet like the Germans of the 1930s one cannot just refuse to take a position and leave the issue to others. If one feels that abortion is not morally justifiable he is obligated in conscience to speak out regardless of how it effects his own popularity. He should be respected for doing so – so long as his position, as also the position of the pro abortion people, is based on fact and philosophy and not just emotion or convenience. Not everything is personal. Abortion is a societal issue and not one that one can ethically ignore just because it is (once again) convenient to do so.

What is Christmas to Christians, Jews, Muslims, and infidels?

Whatever one’s religion, clearly the birth of Jesus two thousand years ago has effected Western morality in a way that no other birth save Moses and Muhammad has. He taught the highest Judaism based ethics and the world has yet to catch up.

Frankly it doesn’t matter if December 25 was once celebrated as the birth of god-the invincible sun, or of some late Roman astral mysticism which adopted the day, or of some Celtic cult whose actual beliefs have been lost in the mists of history because they were irrelevant after the coming of Jesus.

Nor does it matter if one accepts the convoluted tenants of the council of Nicaea about Jesus. He himself would answer a theological question if asked but rarely seems to have initiated such discussion. His focus was on loving others, even non Jews, not on ritual or specific interpretations of the Torah.

Unfortunately haters have used him to justify their hatred. There have always been ultra conservative Christian haters, the same as there are haters in Islam who likewise have always been ultra conservative. Nor is Israel free of such. Jewish haters just mask their hatred for anyone who is not of their persuasion with passages of the holy books. None of these are practicing Christian or Muslim or Jewish love.

Jesus taught a gospel of love. Christians have not always followed it. But Christ should not be blamed for the horrors of the Spanish inquisition which like the Sadducees of Jesus’ time was focused on ritual and theological conformity. Nor can he be blamed for the excesses of Elizabethan anti Catholicism which tortured and murdered papists. Nor for the first crusaders who wanted to free the holy land from the Arabs who had seized this once Christian land and were killing Christian pilgrims who dared to visit the site of their God and savior’s presence upon earth. What Jews and Muslims can rightly complain about is the atrocities committed by the crusaders in Christ’s name for he would never have blessed these. If they love God and people of the book they should relegate these atrocities to the realm of semi barbaric feudalism and not support the haters among them who to no advantage prefer to carry their hate till the end of time.

The ethics of Jesus have been at least a goal for the western world no matter how much they have been violated. Even those who profess no faith have adopted them. Witness the US Declaration of independence with Christian enlightenment values enshrined by a group of Deists.

Therefore I suggest that the winter carnival of Santa and Frosty and the holiday making at ski lodges belongs to us all, but Christmas day to Christians and to those who honor Jesus and his legacy. It is not a Christian season. It is a holiday season, a chance to enjoy life before the miserable months of January and February. Christmas day should be respected though, even by those who do not accept the Christ in a religious sense, as a day commemorating perhaps the most, important event in history, one which elevated the status of women in Europe, put an end to Roman cruelty, and in time to slavery in the Western world.

Not all of us who call ourselves Christian in some sense accept what the grouchy old men of Nicaea decided. They lived three hundred years after Jesus. Save for the evangelicals, for one day of the year we suspend disbelief about angelic choirs in the sky. But we do regard the life and death of Jesus as all important to our spiritual life. Paul and all but one of the apostles, along with many others, died because they had seen something which had to have been very important and it was the Jew Paul who spread ethical monotheism throughout the pagan world, surely something more important than the wars of other heroes in our history books.

This is an immigrant nation. All are welcome here, or should be regardless of how they came or where from. To new citizens this is their county now though the old country is indeed their homeland. With this comes responsibilities as well as rights. There are things to be left behind if ours is to be their country too. I do not like to hear that something of which our countrymen disapprove is justified by being “our culture.” I do not want to hear of anyone thinking that lawbreaking can be handled within their community without cooperating with the police and courts. That is not the American way which is based on three principles: Judeo-Christian ethics, French enlightenment values of human equality and individual rights, and English law.

There were once three pillars of American society. What is missing today is the social and cultural pressure which once framed small communities and limited the excesses of individual “rights,” and the religious pressure to adhere to an agreed moral code. The only remaining pillar is their weak sister, law. When I was young, students in America were not taught that ours is a multicultural society. We proudly called it a Christian country. I am a social liberal yet I find that those who define our educational standards have betrayed the soul of the county in search of some multicultural identity (or rather lack of identity.) One needn’t be a Christian to adhere to Christian values. It is part of the America that they presumably seek. If someone doesn’t want to agree to our values why is he here? Just to get money? But to anyone who wants to join on: welcome aboard. It is not necessary to turn your back on your motherland nor its culture except when the old ways undermine the values of the new country to which you are pledging allegiance. But then one should stand up to be counted. It distressed me that after 9/11 there was no call from Arab-Americans to form an Arab legion to defend their new nation. Instead there were only loud charges of bigotry against them. In fact our government could not even enlist many as translators because there was more profit in the private sector. There have been charges of Hasidic Jews refusing to cooperate with police and the general society lest their wrongdoers stigmatize the whole group and encourage antisemitism. The Catholic hierarchy, always fearful of being dominated by nation states, have opted to discipline priests themselves and failed at it. Whatever justification there may have been in the Middle East or Central America or Sicily to prefer tribal or religious or criminal authority to the rule of government, it is not acceptable in America whose police, whatever their sometimes racist attitude, do generally believe in true public safety, freedom of thought and action, and final justice. There is no reason to lose America’s core values in search of some multicultural utopia to be forced upon all by an elite educational establishment at the cost of an ethic which, whatever faults it has had, has usually been in advance of contemporary societies elsewhere.

Too many things that the right or left think proper have been identified as individual rights in educational doctrine and the media, but these sometimes conflict with the rights of the general society. Definition is needed. Too often individual freedom is a cover term for unrestrained freedom to market. Yet America avoided left wing radicalism by restraining the robber baron capitalism of the nineteenth century for the common good in the twentieth.

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone.
It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.
It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.
It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.
We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.
We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.
This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.
This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

Last night I was watching an Eisenhower news conference. (Exciting, no?) Instead of just bipartisan he said bipartisan and nonpartisan. Good point. Does everything in DC have to be a tit for tat bargain. Why not begin not by negotiating but with common threads and see how far that can take the conversation before the bargaining begins. Unfortunately as it is now the ideological partisanship begins even before the discussion. Damn, I miss men like Ike and Everett Dirksen. (They were mensch of the greatest generation not the spoiled whining and self important children of today’s “me generation”.)

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