Thursday, August 18, 2005

Stein v. Sheehan

Cindy Sheehan shouts that George Bush is the world's biggest terrorist. Ben Stein says he's the world's greatest asset. Whether Stein is correct or not (I think he is), Sheehan is certainly not. After all, who would you rather meet on a deserted street, a jihadi from Fallujah, if there are any left, or George Bush?

Anyway, Stein's case for claiming Bush to be a great leader is here:

A few humble theses:

There is such a thing as evil in this world and such a thing as good. It is simply not true that all is relative and similar. Beheading Iraqi civilians with a saw on the Internet is absolutely evil. Helping children in Mosul get pure water is absolute good. Sending homicide bombers to blow up elementary schools at a kibbutz is evil. Treating the children of your enemies in the finest hospitals in Israel is good.

In Europe and Asia and South America and in much of North America, this idea is unknown. All is relative and the only point is to get away another day without having the evil ones attack you. Appeasing the terrorists, ignoring them and their instigators, pretending that the good guys are the bad guys -- all of these are now standard practice in the capitals of the world, and in the academies of America and in the Democratic Party at high levels.

There is one great man standing between us and this capitulation to evil: that man is George Bush, and he has two great allies, Tony Blair and John Howard. If we did not have George Bush at the helm, if we had a moral relativist like Kerry or Gore, we would even now be playing the same appeasing games as Chamberlain played with Hitler, and which France and Germany, Spain and Italy, Norway and Belgium, tragically, even Canada, play with the enemies of the human spirit.

By a great providence, we were sent George Bush. In his mind, there is such a thing as evil. Terrorism is evil. Racism is evil. The murder of unborn babies is evil. Torturing a totally innocent Terri Schiavo to death is evil. He sees it, acts on it, actively works not just to get along day by day, but to keep evil at bay and to overcome it where it can be overcome. As time goes by, I come to realize that George Bush, with all of his faults, is the spiritual heir to Abraham Lincoln, to Martin Luther King, Jr., to Winston Churchill, to the late Pope John Paul II. How unbelievably lucky we are to have him, and how grateful we should be.

The terrifying part is that he will be gone from power in less than three years. Then what? The evil will remain in men's souls, and who will be there to fight it? We have to start thinking right now of who sees and recognizes the difference between good and evil and start energizing ourselves to make that man or woman President. George Bush's shoes will be terrifyingly difficult to fill.

Stein has a point. In order to defend Western civilization one has to recognize that evil exists. Any politician who sees evil as purely the subjective revulsion of individual or collective taste is completely unsuited for leadership in these difficult times. Above all else we need men and women at the helm who possess a sense of moral clarity and who have not succumbed to the post-modern relativism which afflicts and paralyzes the judgment of so many of our educated elites. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were/are such men. Who will follow in their train? Surely not anyone endorsed by Ms Sheehan.

Egging Cindy On

I remember once seeing a group of children surrounding a mentally retarded boy who was shouting obscenities. The group of children, instead of calming the boy down, coaxed him to continue his behavior because they found it amusing. They laughingly egged him on as he made himself offensive and foolish to anyone passing by who didn't realize what was happening. The whole episode was a sickening insight into the cruelty of which children are capable. I thought of this in thinking about how the media is encouraging Cindy Sheehan and making her protest possible.

Grant that Ms Sheehan is a bereaved mother. Of course, there are many mothers who've lost children in Iraq and Afghanistan. About two thousand of them, but they're not saying the sorts of things Sheehan is. What they are saying is that Sheehan doesn't speak for them, and no wonder.

Cindy Sheehan has, aided and abetted by the MSM, converted her status as a Gold Star mom into a platform from which to make the most absurd allegations about George Bush with total impunity. She had a right to her bitterness for a while, and we should still be loath to question her motives, but her immunity to criticism for the words she's uttering is lapsing and if she wishes to be taken seriously it's time people spoke up and told her that her statements are not only false, they're stupid. They are little more than invective and name-calling. Consider, for example, what she says in this story at The Drudge Report:

"We are not waging a war on terror in this country. We're waging a war of terror. The biggest terrorist in the world is George W. Bush!"

So declared Cindy Sheehan earlier this year during a rally at San Francisco State University.

Sheehan, who is demanding a second meeting with Bush, stated: "We are waging a nuclear war in Iraq right now. That country is contaminated. It will be contaminated for practically eternity now."

Sheehan unleashed a foul-mouth tirade on April 27, 2005:

"They're a bunch of f*****g hypocrites! And we need to, we just need to rise up..." Sheehan said of the Bush administration.

"If George Bush believes his rhetoric and his bulls**t, that this is a war for freedom and democracy, that he is spreading freedom and democracy, does he think every person he kills makes Iraq more free?"

"The whole world is damaged. Our humanity is damaged. If he thinks that it's so important for Iraq to have a U.S.-imposed sense of freedom and democracy, then he needs to sign up his two little party-animal girls. They need to go to this war."

"We want our country back and, if we have to impeach everybody from George Bush down to the person who picks up dog s**t in Washington, we will impeach all those people."

This is such incoherent nonsense that it's not worth the time to construct a reply. Let it suffice to say that the MSM is delighted that someone with some (rapidly fading) moral standing can be found who's willing to trash Bush in such a way that it doesn't look like partisan politics. They give her the megaphone to do it with and coax her to shout louder.

Yet the only reason anyone at all listens to her is that her son was killed in Iraq after having volunteered for the military, re-enlisting, and then volunteering to go on a dangerous rescue mission that his status as a vehicle mechanic did not require of him. He was not drafted, he did not have to fight. He freely chose his path. The young man is a hero, but his mother's screeds and wild allegations do his courage and sacrifice great dishonor.

If the media had any decency they would simply avert their eyes from this woman's unfortunate tantrums rather than egging her on. But they are desperate to discredit Bush, and desperate people resort to whatever means lay at hand, regardless of how contemptible those means may be.

Letter to the Editor

Forgive me if I mentioned this before, but our local paper ran an editorial two weeks ago on the president's opinion on having Intelligent Design in public school classrooms. The editorial can be found here. Here's my response, only part of which was printed by the paper yesterday:

The Dispatch ran an editorial last Wednesday critical of the president's recent comments on teaching Intelligent Design about which I'd like to pose some questions. The editor wrote:

"Yet here's the president of the United States, saying schools should teach both "theories" on the creation and development of life. And global warming has no scientific basis, mercury pollution is not the threat most scientists say it is, drilling for oil in the Alaskan Arctic Wildlife Refuge will have no effect on one of the world's last great wildernesses -- and are there really such things as endangered species?"

If sarcasm were a reason to accept an implied conclusion then the paper would have a strong case against the Bush administration's attitude toward science-related issues, but it's not, and they don't. Each of these issues is framed by the writer in a highly tendentious way. The controversy surrounding global warming, for instance, is not about whether it's happening but about its cause. No one claims that drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge will have no effect. The debate is over whether the effect will be significant and permanent. Part of informing one's readers is accurately presenting the facts, but this the editorial fails to do, preferring the rhetorical appeal of snarkiness to the difficult work of thinking.

The writer then gets to the real point:

"Intelligent design is not a 'theory,' but strictly a religious concept that may have its place in Sunday school and in the home -- not in high school biology class."

Not a theory? Does the editor mean that ID is not a proposed explanation for a set of observations? Does the editor know what a theory is? Has the editor ever actually read anything written on ID by a prominent advocate?

And what about ID makes it a "strictly religious concept"? Is it religious because some wish to use it to promote a religious agenda? If so, is Darwinism fascist because some have employed Darwinian principles like survival of the fittest to justify the extermination of the less fit? Is ID religious simply because it posits a Designer? How, exactly, would that make it religious?

The Dispatch goes on to say that:

"The president's view on intelligent design would, no doubt, warm the heart of William Jennings Bryan, the three-time presidential candidate and anti-evolution champion in the Scopes trial who saw Darwin's theory as heralding the end of western civilization. But for a man who presides over the most powerful and most scientifically advanced nation on earth to be spouting such a fundamentalist mantra in the name of 'improving' education is more than unseemly, it's irresponsible and embarrassing."

Why is it irresponsible for the president to state his personal views on this issue when asked to do so? He didn't say that ID should be legislatively mandated. He merely opined that it would be a good thing to stimulate students to think about a very important question. Why should it be embarrassing to hold a view consonant with the opinion of the majority of people one leads? Is it that the editor is embarrassed that the president lacks the same level of scientific enlightenment possessed by his/her fellow sophisticates in the news media?

Moreover, what does the Dispatch mean by calling the president's words a "fundamentalist mantra"? Does the paper intend to suggest that only creepy fundamentalists believe that it's appropriate to mention the possibility that intelligence is necessary to explain the apparent biocentricity of the cosmos and the complexity of the biosphere in a science class?

What is really "unseemly, irresponsible and embarrassing" is lazy, otiose rhetoric masquerading as informed argument. The editor of the Dispatch knows nothing of what he/she is talking about so, like a middle schooler caught in an argument over matters he does not understand, the writer just sputters insults. It may make the writer feel good, but it's not very persuasive.