Monday, July 18, 2005

Media Dishonesty in the Plame Affair

Andrew McCarthy constructs a devastating indictment of liberal media duplicity and mendacity in the Valerie Plame case. After reading his story at NRO we wonder how the portside media can even mention this case without feeling acute self-loathing and humiliation.

Perhaps those are sensations which require a trace residuum of integrity in order to experience.

McCarthy's essay is a must-read for anyone with any interest at all in this tempest in a teapot.

Waving the Wand

Here's a good example of what Norman Macbeth once referred to as "waving the wand" in evolutionary biology. Rather than explain what cannot plausibly be explained in naturalistic terms the materialist simply says that nature just waved its magic wand and, poof, there you have it:

Natural selection is simply about genes replicating themselves down the generations. Genes that build bodies that do what's needed - seeing, running, digesting, mating - get replicated; and those that don't, don't. Helena Cronin -- Time

Well, gee, that sounds easy enough. How do we explain the amazing complexity and organization of living things? Our genes just program the construction of a body that does stuff. Start with a little DNA and before you know it you have nervous systems and immune systems and everything else. No problem.

Cronin makes genes sound like clever little engineers instead of just a bunch of mindless nucleic acids all strung together. No matter how hard materialists try to scrub suggestions of intelligence and purpose from their descriptions of living things they just can't seem to pull it off. Wonder why.

Cal Thomas' Good Idea

Cal Thomas makes a fine suggestion: The President should use the coming nominations of Supreme Court Justices to teach the American people about the Constitution, not only what it says but the distinction between and the significance of conservative and liberal philosophies of interpretation.

We are woefully ignorant of what this document says on a wide range of matters and a couple of speeches elucidating some of the basics would be an excellent use of the President's pulpit. An explanation of why it is important for the Supreme Court to stick to interpreting the Constitution and avoid rewriting it would also be beneficial.

Unfortunately, we have long thought President Bush should be regularly repairing to this pulpit to instruct the American people on the progress being made in Iraq and to give a rationale for his immigration non-policy, but educating the public on his thinking is not, evidently, a presidential priority.

This is too bad. He's squandering some wonderful opportunities.

The Left's Alternative Narrative

Victor Davis Hanson examines what he calls the alternative narrative of the Left about the current war on terror and concludes that on every point the account is wrong. After outlining what the Left believes about the war he writes that the argument that it is Arab poverty or our secularism which motivates the jihad against the West is just incongruent with the facts:

That is the dominant narrative of the Western Left and at times it finds its way into mainstream Democratic-party thinking. Yet every element of it is false. Prior to 9/11, the United States had given an aggregate of over $50 billion to Egypt, and had allotted about the same amount of aid to Israel as to its frontline enemies. We had helped to save Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo, Somalia, Kuwait, and Afghanistan, and received little if any thanks for bombing Christian Europeans to finish in a matter of weeks what all the crack-pot jihadists had not done by flocking to the Balkans in a decade.

Long before Afghanistan and Iraq, bin Laden declared war on America in 1998, citing the U.N. embargo of Iraq and troops in Saudi Arabia; when those were no longer issues, he did not cease, but continued his murdering. He harbored a deep-seated contempt for Western values, even though he was eaten within by uncontrolled envy and felt empowered by years of appeasement after a series of attacks on our embassies, bases, ships, and buildings, both here and abroad.

Iraqi intelligence was involved with the first World Trade Center bombing, and its operatives met on occasion with those who were involved in al Qaeda operations. Every terrorist from Abu Abbas and Abu Nidal to Abdul Yasin and Abu al-Zarqawi found Baghdad the most hospitable place in the Middle East, which explains why a plan to assassinate George Bush Sr. was hatched from such a miasma.

Neither bin Laden nor his lieutenants are poor, but like the Hamas suicide bombers, Mohammed Atta, or the murderer of Daniel Pearl they are usually middle class and educated - and are more likely to hate the West, it seems, the more they wanted to be part of it. The profile of the London bombers, when known, will prove the same.

The poor in South America or Africa are not murdering civilians in North America or Europe. The jihadists are not bombing Chinese for either their godless secularism or suppression of Muslim minorities. Indeed, bin Laden harbored more hatred for an America that stopped the Balkan holocaust of Muslims than for Slobodan Milosevic who started it.

We've maintained here at Viewpoint that the two primary reasons we are under assault from Islamic terrorism is our support for Israel and Muslim fury forged in the crucible of religious jealousy. The Islamists believe themselves to be favored by God but all the empirical evidence tells them otherwise. This they cannot abide. They hate us because our success is a powerful challenge to their deepest religious convictions. They must destroy us in order to vindicate their religion.

This seems so obvious that one wonders why it is that the Left persists in imputing other motivations to the jihadis. Hanson offers three reasons:

This version of events brings spiritual calm for millions of troubled though affluent and blessed Westerners. There are three sacraments to their postmodern thinking, besides the primordial fear that so often leads to appeasement.

Our first hindrance is moral equivalence. For the hard Left there is no absolute right and wrong since amorality is defined arbitrarily and only by those in power.

Taking back Fallujah from beheaders and terrorists is no different from bombing the London subway since civilians may die in either case. The deliberate rather than accidental targeting of noncombatants makes little difference, especially since the underdog in Fallujah is not to be judged by the same standard as the overdogs in London and New York. A half-dozen roughed up prisoners in Guantanamo are the same as the Nazi death camps or the Gulag.

Our second shackle is utopian pacifism - 'war never solved anything' and 'violence only begets violence.' Thus it makes no sense to resort to violence, since reason and conflict resolution can convince even a bin Laden to come to the table. That most evil has ended tragically and most good has resumed through armed struggle - whether in Germany, Japan, and Italy or Panama, Belgrade, and Kabul - is irrelevant. Apparently on some past day, sophisticated Westerners, in their infinite wisdom and morality, transcended age-old human nature, and as a reward were given a pass from the smelly, dirty old world of the past six millennia.

The third restraint is multiculturalism, or the idea that all social practices are of equal merit. Who are we to generalize that the regimes and fundamentalist sects of the Middle East result in economic backwardness, intolerance of religious and ethnic minorities, gender apartheid, racism, homophobia, and patriarchy? Being different from the West is never being worse.

These tenets in various forms are not merely found in the womb of the universities, but filter down into our popular culture, grade schools, and national political discourse - and make it hard to fight a war against stealthy enemies who proclaim constant and shifting grievances. If at times these doctrines are proven bankrupt by the evidence it matters little, because such beliefs are near religious in nature - a secular creed that will brook no empirical challenge.

If the terrorists are motivated by a deep need to vindicate their religion, so, too, is the Left. To abandon the nostrums of relativism, pacifism, and multiculturalism is to admit that they have been wrong in their most deeply held convictions. This is a very difficult psychological step. Few people can accomplish it once they pass a certain age. This is why Thomas Kuhn claims that a paradigm shift occurs in science, not because large numbers of scientists change their minds but rather because the adherents to the old view eventually die off.

Unfortunately, the ideas of the Left, like the aspirations of Islamic extremism, show no signs of abating.